Hoboken to Reap Benefits of Rebuild by Design Contest

By David Cruz

For any local political observer, the sight of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer chatting amiably with the men who have been her political nemeses for the last two years, is cause for a raised eyebrow, but such is the power of the $230 million in federal money awarded for the city’s winning Rebuild by Design application.

“When the flood waters receded and the lights came back on, the Mile Square City that I had once called home refused to be defeated. Led by Mayor Zimmer, this incredible community rose up and developed a bold and ambitious plan to guard itself against future disasters like Sandy,” said Sen. Robert Menendez.

Post-Sandy funding was at the center of the controversy when Zimmer made her sensational charges against Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. Flood abatement funding — said Guadagno, allegedly — would be tied to the mayor’s support of development projects along the city’s northwest. Today, Zimmer said she was getting nothing but cooperation from the state, which will help to administer the funding.

“They’ve expressed their commitment to work together and we’re gonna be meeting with them. I think everyone, we need to figure out how this partnership is going to work so that things can move expeditiously,” Zimmer said.

When asked if the governor’s office included in the “they,” Zimmer replied, “Yes.”

Zimmer has made no secret of her disappointment at not getting what she saw as enough aid from the first round of federal Sandy relief funds. The senator said he would be keeping a close eye on how the next round of Sandy funding is managed, taking a not too subtle swipe at the governor.

“While I was an advocate of having these monies flow through the state and giving greater flexibility, I’m not happy with how that money has flowed to individuals and communities,” Menendez said.

But — ever the pragmatist — Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, whose community will also benefit from some of the Build by Design funding, said nothing breeds political cooperation like a couple of hundred million federal dollars.

“This is such an important project for, not only Hoboken, Weehawken and Jersey City, but for Hudson County, that every level of government is gonna cooperate to get it done. When you get $230 million, thanks to the efforts of Senator Menendez, Congressman Sires, it’s too important to let other issues get involved,” said Turner.

Hoboken continues to boom, with development all along its north shore continuing unabated, while another 30 acres in the northwest lie in wait. But the development prospects will be severely hampered if the city can’t get its flooding problems under control.

Officials here say that with all the political infighting now over, they can turn their attention to a common enemy, the often-unpredictable Hudson River.