Thursday, February 27, 2014

Exclusive: HHA Generators Ordered in 2012?


Folks, the riddle of 14 frosty generators languishing in an HHA parking lot just gets curiouser and curiouser.

On Tuesday, an Anon tipped off GA to Google "FM Generator Hoboken."  I did, and what I found raises more questions about why those generators are"parked" at the corner of  Fourth and Harrison Streets.  Because it appears the timeline for the order and fabrication of those units is far earlier than The Hoboken Reporter indicated:
After several backup generators failed in the low-income Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) buildings during the power outages of Hurricane Sandy, the agency was able to order 14 new ones this past fall. 
One year earlier, to be exact.  

FM Generator, a Massachusetts-based generator sales and services company, apparently met with HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia in November 2012, less than a month after Hurricane Sandy  ravaged the HHA and destroyed ten generators.

FM Generator notes the November meeting took place in a Facebook post dated June 10, 2013:


FM owner Michael Molway and president Julie Mitchell  attended an emergency meeting in November with Carmelo Garcia, the housing authority director, to study short- and long-term solutions.  Molway determined that repairing the damaged generators would be far less expensive than renting temporary generators. FM technicians were able to get all but one generator working again, though Molway made clear that the saltwater damage left the sets with very limited lifespans. On June 3, the first of the new Blue Star generators arrived. It was installed on the roof atop the 15-story building at 311 13th Street, far beyond the reach of any storm surge. On June 5 the generator set came on line. The remaining generators will arrive in July and will be installed at various locations throughout Hoboken.

Got that?  Sometime after November 2012, 16 generators were ordered, to be delivered by July.

 Um... but, but... didn't some "HUD spokesman" tell The Hoboken Reporter:
In fact, HUD said, the generators were delivered in fall on purpose. At the time, HUD, Garcia and the vendor were aware that inclement weather might be looming, but the manufacturer wanted to prove that its new model generator, more powerful than previous iterations, could withstand the elements.
In fact, it looks like FM Generator was concerned that the "saltwater damage left the generators with very limited lifespans" and worked to expedite the delivery of the product for the summer.

And were these "powerful new models" designed to "withstand the elements"?  Yes, they were custom-built with vital components raised 36"above the cement pad bases, according to FM Generator'  Facebook update on November 1, 2013:


The new generator sets are constructed with specialized stands which raise the vital components 36 inches from the top of the generator cement pad. This will help keep the water out should it rise again.
FM Generator field engineers worked with Blue Star Generator set manufacturers to custom-design the enclosures to be sound attenuated and mounted on the special bases. The generators needed to be shipped on special pallets and trucks to accommodate the extra height.  Construction and installation will begin shortly. 

If FM Generator had it's custom product ready for July delivery when did they get the contract for the work?   And if generators were ordered in Spring of 2013, why weren't the buildings prepped for installation in the Summer and Fall of 2013?


Was it because the HHA administration didn't WANT their existing buildings upgraded and "Sandy-proofed"? 

Was HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia too busy hawking "Sandy-proof" Vision 20/20 HHA redevelopment to make the existing HHA buildings "Sandy proof" with new "Sandy proof" generators?

Doesn't Assemblyman Garcia accuse Mayor Zimmer (in his lawsuit) of "blocking and denying an application to build the first 44 unit Sandy-proof building, post Sandy" at the same time he's allowed 14 "Sandy-proof" generators to languish in a parking lot on Fourth and Harrison?

It's looking pretty clear that there was plenty of time to plan and PREP for the installation of these generators in Spring, Summer and fall of 2013.  

Of course, once the existing buildings have "Sandy-proof" generators then how do you sell a "Sandy-proof" redevelopment?

Those generators, abandoned in a snowy lot, are the biggest 'tell' that the HHA administration wants conditions in its buildings to cry out from neglect, for a "resolution of need."  
How about "need" for replacement of brine-soaked, Sandy-damaged generators with the new "Sandy-proof" ones loitering in a parking lot?

As FM Generator wrote "saltwater damage left the sets with very limited lifespans."   One may assume Sandy-damaged HHA generators may be dying, just waiting for the next disaster to leave its tenants, literally, in the dark.

A recent update:


All the generators are sitting in the parking lot of the Hoboken Housing authority awaiting engineering and installation at various facilities around Hoboken. Superstorm Sandy slammed Hoboken with several feet of water damaging all the emergency generators for the housing authority.  After FM Generator repaired all the damaged generators new ones were purchased from Blue Star Power Systems. The gas-fueled generator sets are built on customized bases which raise the generators about 36 inches above ground level. This will help them avoid flooding in a future storm.  In order to make the equipment work properly a series of engineering steps and construction modifications need to be performed. The weather is making this process difficult and causing construction delays. The Director of Hoboken Housing Authority and the engineers are using this time to modify the buildings' electrical systems to incorporate the more powerful generator sets. FM Generator is working with the engineers and project managing the generator portion of the installation. All construction is expected to be complete by May 1, 2014.

Gee, FM Generator paints a different scenario than does The Hoboken Reporter.  

 FM Generator says the buildings' electrical systems are being modified to incorporate more powerful generators, while The Hoboken Reporter tells us no work is being done- the HHA hasn't found a contractor yet:

The risk that the current cold weather poses to residents is not worth taking right now, said Garcia, who added that for the time being, there is no rush to install the new generators. 

Because of the larger size of the new generators, and because rewiring that must be completed to accommodate their increased power, the HHA must wait until the snow has melted before engineers can begin the installation process.

 Don't be surprised if you find these generators for sale on eBay.

14 comments:

  1. GA - if I'm reading this correctly the generators were already custom built with their mechanicals raised 36 inches. That means they can be installed at ground level and they were custom built specifically to facilitate that. But the HR story says that stands must be built to raise the generators 36 inches. Every "answer" seems to raise more questions doesn't it?

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    1. I feel better if that is really the case. When I saw that the bases were only 36 inches "above the ground", that would put them squarely within the waters of any significant event. 6 feet is getting closer to where then need to be with the latest ABFEs.

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  2. any word from dean and his mystery hha spokesperson? i feel a little bad busting his chops because he's probably getting jerked around by his bosses. maybe he can tell you "off the record, not for attribution."

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  3. An interesting question is why HUD got involved in the first place. I seriously doubt that Dean told Garcia that he wouldn't believe him unless HUD backed him up. Dean would have just written whatever Garcia said anyway so why did Garcia refer Dean to the anonymous HUD spokesman in the first place.

    Garcia had no reason to involve HUD to back up the truth. The only plausible reason to involve them is to help cover something up.

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    1. I hear Newark's HUD office doesn't have real clean hands.

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  4. This is a costly mistake at the HHA with no proper planning. Who manages the day to day operation??

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    1. Reminds me of "Apocalypse Now" at the Do Long Bridge scene. Captain Willard asks, "Hey soldier, do you know who's in command here?" The soldier answers, "Yeah." The youtube version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f96p-IhcZhQ

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    2. Carmelo Garcia. He didn't suck enough in Hoboken now he's sucking from Trenton. He had from 2012 to prepare the buildings for wiring upgrades and new generators. He knew he was buying new generators. Instead of upgrading his buildings he did his song and dance at the City Council attacked commissioners, rigged a lawsuit with his wire, act like a victim, and cried for a certificate of need. The NEED is for a new exec director to install generators and upgrade buildings not let them go to shit so he can raze them for Vision $/$

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  5. Regarding the generator on top of the 15 story building: wasn't there a Manhattan hospital that was in serious difficulty during Hurricane Sandy because its generators were on the roof. They needed people to lug gallons of diesel fuel to the roof up 10+ stories, which just became untenable. Thus the hospital had to be evacuated.

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    1. The facebook page says they're gas, which is a good choice for situations like this where liquid fuel may not be readily available (or deliverable) in an emergency. See, looks like maybe they CAN do at least some things right ? I hope...

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  6. As a member of the press you can get the official story if you contact HUD Public Affairs: "If you are a member of the media and would like to submit a request for an interview with a HUD Principal or Program Specialist call 202-708-0980." Government Agencies move quickly to respond when they receive a letter from a Congressperson or Senator - in case, as a as a member of the press you can get the official story if you contact HUD Public Affairs. "If you are a member of the media and would like to submit a request for an interview with a HUD Principal or Program Specialist call 202-708-0980." Government Agencies also move quickly to respond if they receive a letter from a Congressperson or Senator - in case, as a constiuent, you have a contact... Go get them GA! Loyal Reader

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  7. pls excuse previous comment/mess.

    As a member of the press you can get the official story if you contact HUD Public Affairs: "If you are a member of the media and would like to submit a request for an interview with a HUD Principal or Program Specialist call 202-708-0980." Government Agencies move quickly to respond when they receive a letter from a Congressperson or Senator - in case, as a constiuent, you have a contact... Go get them GA! Loyal Reader

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  8. One other thing: any reputable media source credits sources of information, with "the issue was first raised in an article that first appeared in the XYZ" with a link to the original article. Patch does it with NJ.com stories, even seen the NY Times credit the NY Post on local news. When have you ever seen the HR credit MSV or GA for a story that those two blogs uncovered? The only time they mention them is when they try to portray the blogs in a bad light.

    This HR story almost doesn't even make sense if you don't know the back story of GA's original posts. I realize it's pretty useless to complain about the HR, but man what a piece of crap.

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