Defund the Demo: Save Hoboken's Historic Records Building!
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Update as of 6:00 PM, 7/1/20:
Many thanks for your interest, attention and outreach!
The Mayor's office sent a Nixie yesterday morning, which reiterated community support for some form of adaptive reuse. It identified a pending NJ Transit preference for "Demolition with Salvage" ... some elements for use around the community at some future time. Meanwhile there is a move by some to "make a list" of more important items to save ... that may not be a good sign for "adaptive reuse" in the current site or even a long-off future one.
We have not heard back from the Governor.
NJ Transit has not commented, citing the still-open Section 106 review process. But they also cited the confidentiality of Executive Session at which they could be approving any type or level of demolition service.
All of which means we may not know until we see the wrecking ball and/or the manner in which any demolition is handled.
hMag has summarized current status this way: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/hoboken/articles/new-jersey-transit-records-building-faces-wrecking-ball-in-hoboken
One Task Force member had an interesting interaction with a non-member over this. We were asked why the dollar amount was our concern. Our basic response is ...
" There is a big difference between roughly $700,000 for stabilization in place for now and $10,000,000 for careful removal, cartage, storage for an unknown time, cartage to a new site, and a rebuild elsewhere. And there are many intermediate possibilities. NJ Transit is funded with our fares and our tax-based subsidies."
Yes, they should be transparent and yes, we should know which budget level. Otherwise -- another sad example of "your tax dollars at work"?
At the NJ Transit Board meeting of 6/18/20, in spite of issues raised by members of the Task Force and the public, funding was approved for some sort of demolition activity. We urged Governor Murphy to "stay the execution" with a veto of item #2006-39 from that meeting's minutes.
Here's how the item was characterized in that meeting's agenda:
HOBOKEN RECORDS BUILDING PROJECT: CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT AWARD – Authorization for a cost not to exceed the amount discussed in Executive Session to allow NJ TRANSIT to move forward quickly with limited competition for demolition services for public safety upon completion of the Section 106 process and the selection of one of the alternatives.
Some attendees are not convinced that all Board members understood the impact of a "yes" vote. Based on this wording, and apparent further discussion in Executive Session, the public does not know what exact demolition cost was approved.
We must ask, which approach (from the ongoing and required Section 106 alternative actions analysis) was the one voted on and funded?
a. A "full" demolition with no subsequent use? (Alternative 2), or,
b. Demolition with salvage of some historic elements? (Alternative 6), or,
c. Demolition with careful storage and future re-building in mind? (Alternative 5)
We shared with the Governor 1 the strong public support for Alternative 4, Adaptive Reuse in the current location. That was seen in the well-attended virtual meeting of April 16th, where all opposed demolition. This parallels the strong win for Alternative 4 in an online survey conducted by the City of Hoboken. Thanks for all for your support in these prior stages.
Please write the Governor and Mayor Bhalla to push for Alternative 4. Writing the Governor is not as easy as you might think or hope. You'll need to use this online portal: https://nj.gov/governor/contact/all/
For those with the grit to try to message the NJ Transit Board Chair, it takes even more diligence. She's Commissioner Diane Guttierez-Scacetti. Go to: https://njtransit.secure.force.com/customerservice/site_app#/contact_board It is the feedback form for the Board of Directors June meeting but it's also used for complaints about service. it is likely it will force you to fill out things that don't apply. You could try "train" and "Morris line" and "Hoboken" to get it to accept your inputs.
Thanks for keeping informed and for your added help!