Updated: Sep 18

The vote to award the Cypreco contract for installation of the fence, trails, and lighting in the Reservoir, Resolution 20-637 passed last night 7-1. We are deeply disappointed. If you would like to see the results you may check the minutes here. If you would like to see each representative's reasoning behind each vote, the video of the meeting can be found here.


Timestamps:

  • Our representative's speech (text below) can be found at 3:17:00

  • Other citizens' statements regarding the Resolution can be found at 3:01:15 (Jeanne Daly), 3:25:45 (Cynthia Hadjiyannis), 3:33:40 (Mary Beth Botts), 3:44:10 (Zeenat Insaf), 4:08:52 (John Frohling)

  • Vote on Resolution 20-637 at 4:23:06


Moving forward, we will continue in the best way we can to protect the site and ensure any and all changes made to it are universally accessible, archaeologically sensitive, and environmentally sustainable.

We were assured that there would be a public meeting and are working to schedule this now. We will update as soon as we have a confirmed date (we have asked to avoid the High Holy Days, so do not worry if you are about to disconnect from the internet soon).


Thank you to all who have advocated for us this week. We were honored to hear so many speakers come out at the City Council Meeting in favor of our request to delay the vote until a public meeting could be held.



Please read below for a copy of the statement made last night by Board Member Sarah Burroughs:


Good evening Council Members, thank you for this time to speak. I am a resident of Ward C, the current Secretary of the Board for the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance, and its incoming President. Tonight I am speaking for the Alliance. As we have worked towards the goal of preservation and public access to Reservoir #3 since our founding in 2005, one would expect us to be ecstatic that work on the fencing and trails is going to a vote in Resolution 20-637, but we are asking for postponement.


At the Caucus it was claimed that this particular project has been underway for four years. This is untrue. It was not until our advocacy in the summer and fall of 2018 that the current administration began working with us towards rehabilitation of Reservoir #3, and it was not until fall 2019 that the grants funding the projects in question tonight were awarded. It is also untrue that we have been meeting weekly and receiving satisfactory details regarding the anticipated work and plans for the Reservoir. We have only been invited to 2 last minute calls since fall 2019 and have felt largely unacknowledged.


We have tried for months to work proactively with the City to ensure that the project moved swiftly, smoothly, and without the need for reactive advocacy such as we have been forced to make this week. Only since today have the majority of the recent documents we requested been made available on Open Data, meaning that we have spent our efforts up till now working with inaccurate and outdated documents. Due to the time and skill it takes to understand these documents, we are asking for a postponement of the vote of this Resolution so that we, City Council, and the public may inspect them and have them explained by the professionals involved in a public feedback session.


Our hope is that this is merely confusion caused by a lack of transparency and the up-to-date plan will prove satisfactory, in which case the delay would be extremely minimal. If there are aspects of the plan that could and should be changed following public feedback, would that not be beneficial to all parties involved? In either case, to award a contract tonight is premature. We are demanding the following before our City Council Representatives vote on Resolution 20-637:


(1) The remaining relevant documents be uploaded to Open Data- this includes not only Phase I but any existing plans for future phases

(2) Provide one or more public presentations with advanced notice and opportunity for feedback of

  • the Archaeological Assessment conclusions

  • the Environmental Assessment results and recommendations

  • the design by the architect(s) of the pedestrian trail and perimeter fence installation


Only then should this Resolution be put to vote. Anything else is irresponsible and puts the site at risk as well as taxpayer dollars. Thank you for your time. I yield my remaining.



Last year we started what was intended to become an annual cleanup of the Reservoir as part of the National Day of Service on September 11. This year since large events are not in the cards and as you know we've been scrambling regarding the City Council vote, we were unable to plan the event.


We have one last advocacy ask this week. Not for us, but for everyone including yourself. We're asking you to do some things that are much easier but even more important to honor the day, the 9/11 community, and our country:


  • Participate in the 2020 Census here. It is vital that everyone regardless of legal status is counted so that our communities receive their fair share of federal funds to be spent on schools, hospitals, roads, and other programs that we all utilize. 

  • Check whether you are eligible to vote. To register in New Jersey, you must be:

- A United States citizen

- At least 17 years old, though you may not vote until you have reached the age of 18

- A resident of the county for 30 days before the election

- A person not serving a sentence of incarceration as the result of a conviction of any indictable offense under the laws of this or another state or of the United States. (if you have completed your sentence you are eligible to vote)

  • If you are eligible to vote, check that your voter registration is up to date here. Register by October 13 if it is not- note that the registration form (here) must be mailed or delivered to your County Election official, it cannot be completed online. 

  • Be prepared to vote in the November 3 elections. Try to mail your ballot at least 2 weeks early, or plan to use a ballot drop box. If you cannot make it to a drop box, you can have someone serve as Bearer by filling out the Bearer section of the ballot envelope (they can take up to 3 ballots). There are 6 Ballot Drop Boxes (1 per Ward) in Jersey City: 

- Ward A - Public Library,  1841 JFK Blvd. 

- Ward B - St. Peter’s University

- Ward C - Hudson County Plaza

- Ward D - North District Police Station 

- Ward E - City Hall 

- Ward F - City Hall Annex


Thank you, everyone. Our hearts are with the 9/11 community today.

Updated: Sep 11

Meeting begins at 6pm



Regarding the City’s announcement to move forward with Phase I of construction at the Reservoir...

This project has either moved forward with poor planning, poor communication, or both. In either case, to award a contract for construction is premature. We are demanding the following before our City Council Representatives vote on Resolution 20-637:

  • All relevant and updated documents to the City’s plans for Reservoir #3 to be uploaded to the Open Data resource- this includes not only Phase I but future phases

  • Provide a public presentation with advanced notice and opportunity for feedback of (1) the results and any remediation recommendations from the Environmental Assessment of Reservoir #3 (2) the results of the Archaeological Assessment of Reservoir #3 (3) the design by the architect(s) of the pedestrian trail and perimeter fence installation


Only following these opportunities for public feedback and when your constituents are satisfied that the site will be sensitively and adequately preserved should this Resolution be put to vote. Anything else is irresponsible and puts the site at risk as well as taxpayer dollars at risk.



How You Can Help


Please contact your City Council representatives by midday 9/10 and ask them to postpone the vote on Res. 20-637 (Item 10.32) awarding a contract until the above demands have been met.


  • Council President Joyce E. Watterman: 201-547-5134/5108 jwatterman@jcnj.org

  • Councilman at Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr.: 201-547-5268 rlavarro@jcnj.org

  • Councilman at Large Daniel Rivera: 201-547-5319 drivera@jcnj.org

  • Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley: 201-547-5098/5060 dridley@jcnj.org

  • Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey: 201-547-5092/5101 mprinz-arey@jcnj.org

  • Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano: 201-547-5159/5172 rboggiano@jcnj.org

  • Ward D Councilman Yousef J. Saleh: 201-783-5552 ysaleh@jcnj.org

  • Ward E Councilman James Solomon: 201-547-5315 jsolomon@jcnj.org

  • Ward F Councilman Jermaine D. Robinson: 201-547-5338/5361 jdrobinson@jcnj.org


You can find the Council Meeting agenda using this link.


If you would like to make a public comment regarding this Resolution, please apply to the City Clerk using the this request form.


To listen in tonight, access their virtual meeting on Microsoft Teams or through your browser here.


For the details of our 9/6 Public Feedback Meeting, click here.

More Details....

Communications


The City is mistaken when it asserts that it met multiple times with the Reservoir Alliance about the work. The City may be confusing several discussions we had about opening the Reservoir this season.


There were only two meetings, one with a single Reservoir Alliance board member and one with two board members. Both were after the planning for the renovations were complete- one when the project was being put out to bid and one when the bid was already slated for tonight’s City Council meeting. In both meetings we had believed that the City would honor our wishes for a delay.


This is very much counter to the long-standing belief in Jersey City that whenever there is a community group actively involved with parks and other open space, that group should be involved in developing plans for that space. It also disregards another long-standing local idea that once plans for open space are developed, there needs to be a well publicized public presentation about those plans.


We've all just been through a serious threat to sideline Friends of Liberty State Park in its mission to safeguard and promote the best development of that incredible open space, so the City's neglect and confusion over involving the Reservoir Alliance and public in planning for another very special open space is disturbing.



Planning


Because we were not involved in the development of the plans for the Reservoir, and because there was no public presentation, we don't know if the work the City is about to hire a contractor to do to the Reservoir is the best thing. Worse, we don't know if there are some problems the City's designer has not considered.


In the past when the City has involved community groups and the public in helping to develop plans for parks, those plans have invariably been improved. And mistakes or omissions have been spotted because of community input.


And needless to say, spotting mistakes saves money by helping to avoid expensive change orders during construction.


This must be done for the Reservoir.


Right now, the Alliance and public has received from the City only a handful of the known pages of drawings/plans. And we don't have any material specifications at all.


Our concerns are heightened by the fact that when the Reservoir Alliance representative noted that there did not seem to be detailed plans for the pathway that is to be constructed at the top of the berm along the entire perimeter of the Reservoir -- a representative of the City's division of Architecture indicated that you don't really need detailed plans for a pedestrian trail. That may be true for a simple sidewalk, but nothing about a complex site like the Reservoir is so simple.


Among the many questions that are unanswerable right now:


  • What materials will be used to make the trail that will run completely around the Reservoir atop the berm? We have been informed that it is crushed stone, but part of the contract discusses concrete paving.

  • One of the two pages of plans we have shows ramps going up to the top of the berm on either side of Jefferson Avenue gate. This will be a fairly major construction -- but there are no detailed construction plans. How will this be constructed?


  • The Reservoir isn't just a beautiful and historic space, it's an ecologically sensitive wetland. What safeguards will the contractor be required to make to ensure their activities don't inadvertently pollute or otherwise damage the wetland?


  • Has the entire path of the proposed walkway been checked in terms of its existing conditions? The plan doesn't seem to indicate serious variations in those conditions, but it seems likely there are some areas that will require reinforcement, re-configuration or other special attention. There is no indication of consideration for the archaeologically sensitive locations found frequently along the trail. How will any such needs be addressed? Who will design them? Will they cost extra?


  • The plan calls for generators to be used to power walk lights. Has a noise/decibel standard for them been specified? And why generators? Even if quiet, they pollute- and that seems hardly appropriate for the Reservoir. Was consideration given to the kind of electric utility drop service that is used at major construction sites or to solar power?



The Danger Now


The City is about to approve a contract with a contractor to carry out this work in the Reservoir without these and other questions being answered and without the Reservoir Alliance's and public's input. Once the contract is approved, we're all stuck with whatever is built regardless of the damage it might cause and also with expensive change orders that may be needed to address problems.


The City should hold off on authorizing the contract for a few weeks to have time to go over the plas with the Reservoir Alliance and then get public input.


If the plans are well thought out already, there won't be much of a delay following the public presentations. But if problems or better ideas come, delay won't be a bad thing. And while the city says it's rushing to get the work started, it's never a good idea to start a major outdoor construction project with winter looming.


Let’s do this right the first time.




Reservoir #3 GPS

113-116 Central Avenue

Jersey City, NJ 07306

JCRPA Mailing

P.O. Box 7833

Jersey City, NJ 07307

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© 2018 All rights reserved. The Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance is an IRS Section 501(c)3 not for profit organization. EIN 743-136-496