What the Parking/Transportation industry is saying about Hoboken's Automated Garage

Here is a very informative blog discussion that appears in PARKING TODAY about Hoboken's 916 Garden Street Automated Garage.  The participants are:

John Van Horn, Editor/Publisher of Parking Today
Gerhard Haag, President and CEO of Robotic Parking, Inc
Donald Pellicano, Former Commissioner Hoboken Parking authority


Blog URL: http://parkingtoday.typepad.com/parking_blog/2005/12/more_on_hoboken.html#comments

Parking Today
PO Box 66515
Los Angeles, Ca 90066 USA
310 390 5277
310 390 4777 (Fax)
jvh@parkingtoday.com
John Van Horn
Editor/Publisher


December 28, 2005

More on Hoboken

I wrote the following for the December issue of PT. As you can see, it focuses on the automated parking industry and its issues. However I received a response from an old acquaintance in Hoboken, Don Pellicano.  His response is printed below my article. >

My article in December PT:

With apologies to my friends in the automated parking industry, I bring this sad story to your attention. Well, I'm not alone; there have been a dozen articles written in local and national papers about the problems in Hoboken, NJ, in the past few weeks. Things aren’t going well at this automated facility.

Gerhard Haag and Robotic Parking got a contract to build an automated garage in Hoboken. It was the perfect application for the technology. Everyone was excited. Thus began an almost seven-year litany of issues, problems, lawsuits, blame, success and failure.

Don't think for a moment that Gerhard is the only one at fault in this story. There is plenty of blame to go around. It includes the general contractor, the mayor at the time, the parking authority, the local power company, the designer, the consultant, the architect; the person writing the specifications, the weather, and well, virtually everyone involved in the project deserves some part of the blame.

The project was way behind completion -- almost two years. When done, everyone was arguing as to whether or not it worked as it was supposed to, and who is to supply personnel to run it.

This is one of those situations where there is no absolute right or wrong. The issue is that even today, problems exist and from time to time folks have to wait a few hours to get their cars out. There is also the odd vehicle that is dropped from the third floor. Not good.

Naturally, the city is running for the hills, hiding behind contracts and lawyers. Gerhard is frustrated, of course, because he thinks the owner should begin to take some responsibility for what it bought.

And there you have it -- the reason a niche industry in our business is stalled and having such difficulty getting going. It is a classic case of what can go wrong in a project.

I remember years ago at a meeting of the Automated and Mechanical Parking Association, when rumblings of the problems at Hoboken were starting, Arturo Ressi of Trevipark spoke out strongly. "We manufacturers should do whatever it takes to make Hoboken work. Gerhard needs our support and should get it.

Ah, the great Italian solution. All for one and one for all (or was that the Three Musketeers?). Of course, Gerhard didn't get it. Most of the other manufacturers really were looking for him to fail. Arturo was right, of course. The less-than-stellar performance of the Hoboken garage has put many other projects on hold. Gerhard's competitors send me articles about the problems in Hoboken. They roll their eyes and chuckle about the issues.

What is most sad is that Gerhard Haag was the only manufacturer that put his money where his mouth is. He built a test system in Ohio. He showed people how it would work. And he got the deal. Of course, he didn't know how to work in an environment like Hoboken. Power, influence, politics, money and perhaps a bit of rubbing right up against the law were involved. Not a good place to cut your teeth on a new technology and in a country where the customs are foreign.

The result is a stalled technology. Virtually no other automated systems have been installed in the U.S. They work all over the world, but no one wants to be the first one here. (OK, there is one running in DC, and 50,000 that are going to break ground "next month.")

One can only hope that this gets sorted out. But knowing all the players on all sides personally, I'm not holding my breath. Competitors are laughing at Robotic’s problems. Little do they realize that they are joined at the hip.

Don's Response:

Yes, your story about Hoboken is sad.  But sad for the industry, Hoboken and your readers.  What needs clarification are some of the statements that you make.

1. Things have not been going too well at the facility, for a long time.  It took all of 1999,2000,(to September).  Then most if not all of 2001.  It wasn't until sometime in October of 2001 when vehicles started in.

2. But the facility could only take 25 or maybe it was 60, vehicles a week.  Then it was operation stop at around 200.

3. Gerhard Haag and Robotic, never ever had any signed agreement with Hoboken to build anything.

4. Robotics however, stated that they designed their garage.

5. The agreement (bid documents) were with the parking authority (autonomous body) and the general contractor. Robotics was a sub contractor to the general.

7. The bid stipulated, and all parties were bound by it, to conclude the job within 365 days. As you will note above.  It tool, almost over 3 years to even move a car

8. Yes there is a lot of blame but lets be objective, if we can.  Hoboken, decided to move ahead with an automated facility. We were informed, and it is in writing, that the facility would not require an attendant.  Today there are at least two plus attendants on duty.

9. You state, every person deserves some part of the blame. But the major portion of the persons are from the perspective of the parking authority.

10. Haag is only mentioned once and he should be mentioned as Haag and the authority, Haag and the contractor etc.

11.That does not mean that the opposite of Haag bears all the blame.

12. Haag was responsible from day one, for the specs and for everything relating to the so called technology, that he supposedly had.

13. If that were the case then why almost three years.  They fiddled while Hoboken burned for months and for months at triple time (24/7)

14.The only personnel that the authority was ready to supply were clerks to act as customer relations and keep the facility clean.  

15. And this is what we anticipated from day one, not from day 900.  \

16. Odd vehicle dropped. Robotics blamed the owner of the vehicle, who has yet to be paid for the total damage to his Cadillac.

17.What about the jeep that was dropped.  Robotics said that the emergency brake was not on.  Yes it was, and they have pictures of it. What about the recent vehicle that came out with the rear, forward and then dropped into the pit, breaking the axle.

These are rare, but then the Robotics blames personnel. Then who is to blame for a jacket left on a pallet that then tied up the facility for over two hours, recently.

Yes Haag put his money where his mouth is.  Anyone who visited his so called prototype would see that it was no more than an elevator that moved exactly one car, in once bay into one slot inside the building. On the occasions that I visited.  Twice. The vehicle got as far as the interior and then stopped.  I never saw the car go any further.

His money.  No John, Haag put other peoples money where his mouth is.

Yes he had an idea and a patent.  Read his patent, I did. It is fine but it contains no technology.  If it did then why did Siemens pull out of their potential deal, why did he buy the license agreement with GE for their simplicity program, and then why did he go to at least two other companies,

Well, why did his technician say to me? We do not use GE.

Yes John it is a disaster. Too bad because there are companies out there that have the technology to install automated parking

You should contact the parking utility, before you write your next store. Get the facts from them.

I'm sure they can supply you with documents regarding their so called maintenance that costs $17,500 a month, plus $5.000 a month for parts. If you saw the facility a few months ago, you would get sick.

Donald Pellicano
Former Commissioner of the parking authority


Full Disclosure:

I sold Don Pellicano and the City of Hoboken a revenue control system about 20 years ago when I worked for Secom. Although the relationship wasn't quite as rocky as that with Robotic there were many similarities, most having to do with brand new technology and the salesperson (read that me) overselling the product and the customer having expectations that were not possible for anyone to meet.


My Response to Don:

Thanks for your note -- I think its time for you to put this to rest. Your former organization made some poor decisions, as did everyone else involved in the project. That's it. If you want to place blame, why not look at the buyer.  They had plenty of opportunity to get good information. What they did was the best they could at the time. Why is that so terrible? They were then and are on the cutting edge of technology. Remember, that was almost what, 7 years ago.

I doubt seriously if there are any 400 vehicle facilities in Europe or Asia that have no attendants. Maybe the facts are that this stuff can't work with no attendants.  If that's the case, so be it.  If Gerhard was wrong about that fact, then he was wrong. Get over it, Don. 

Hell, holding people's feet to contracts do little more than give people cold feet.  There has to be some give and take when new technology is being installed. If there isn't, all will fail.

The truth is, and you know this Don, that it was Gerhard Haag that you bought, not some now bankrupt defunct general contractor. The city would have been much better off to have worked directly with him. However that, too, is water over the damn.

Relax, take a deep breath, and see if there is anything you can do to make the lemons you bought into lemonade...Become part of the solution..

1. Cut a better deal with Gerhard to cover the maintenance and/or hire someone else to maintain the system.

2. Accept the fact that the place needs to be staffed at least 16 hours a day and then staff it.

3. Hire someone who wants the garage to work and thinks its their job to do so, my guess is that it would.

4. Have a heart to heart talk with all the Don Pellicanos of the world and get them on the side of solving the problem, not fixing blame and spewing invectives.

Then they would most likely have a successful garage and and successful reputation.  As it stands now, its only downhill.

JVH

Posted by JVH on December 28, 2005 at 08:39 AM | Permalink
Comments
Hoboken Saga

Hello John

I see its time that I bring some input to this story as a lot of people are writing a lot about this subject and my person and your readers may be asking more questions after they read them than before.

Now, lets have a look at the person Donald Pellicano

A person who was voted out of post as Chairman of HPA after the situation on the garage escalated, whose agency was abolished and Attorney General investigations around him are still not ended to my knowledge.

A person who openly declares that he’ll make sure that the garage gets closed before he dies.

A person that was yelling to his juniors “I’ll kill you if you don’t do that”.

A person that brought police into the garage to arrest Robotic personnel 1 day before the testing was supposed to get done.

A person who ‘approved’ the operating budget for the very same garage that he’s now complaining as being too expensive even it is operating at less than 70 % of the estimated and approved cost back in 1999?

A person who is covered exhaustively in the “916 Scandal” report ( see bloc Mr.Snitch” ) – a report which was done by the then public relations manager for Hoboken’s Mayor.

When you digest this all and read through the report you will have your answers what’s black and white – not gray. Absurd to even listen to such a person or others who are involved with him.

Thank God, there are developers that do NOT just listen to this black propaganda but LOOK at the facts, check them on their own, perform their own due diligence and soon come to the conclusion that the smoke is coming from the very same corner that you are publishing.

In the past years there were five commissions from big and huge organizations who visited and investigated parking systems from around the world and concluded after intense research work to order with Robotic Parking. Once the Hoboken “crew” learned about this, they needed to find reasons to shut the garage for visitors. What do you expect?

Be my guest.

Ahh forgot one point on the Jeep: investigations into the software recordings revealed that the operator on shift overwrote the software, kicked it out of automatic mode into manual and moved the car into the system, than switched the system back into automatic mode again. Just that the car was NOT inside the confines of the pallet. Operator on shift: the one operator of the HPU.

So, John your comment is very welcome – let the “ne sayers” be yesterday – we’re living today and looking out for tomorrow. Robotic parking is a great and needed technology for our urban development needs and our increase of quality of life and it is well accepted in communities that look forward and are future oriented.

Onwards and upwards !

Gerhard Haag


Posted by: Gerhard Haag | January 07, 2006 at 07:07 AM

WELL

I SEE WHERE HAAG IS STILL AT IT. THEN AGAIN HE HAS BEEN MISLEADING THE PUBLIC SINCE INCEPTION OF HIS SO CALLED TECHNOLOGY WAS TESTED IN HOBOKEN. AND TESTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN. IT WAS YEARS BEFORE A SINGLE CAR WAS ADMITTED TO THE GARAGE VIA ""TECHNOOGY."""

MY REPLY TO HAAG.

WHEN WILL YO STOP TELLING THE INDUSTRY THAT IT WAS MY FAULT THAT THE GARAGE DOES NOT WORK?

AND WHEN WILL YOU START TELLING THE INDUSTRY THE TRUTH.

ONLY RECENLY YOU TOLD A POSPECTIVE DEVELOPER THAT YOU COULD EMPTY 916 GARAGE, LIKE REMOVE 200 (HUNDRED) CARS IN ONE HOUR.

DO THE MATH HAAG. THEN START TELLING THE TRUTH

LIES ALWAYS COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU, NOT ME.

YOU REAPED THREE MLLION DOLLARS AND YOU HAVE BEEN PAID ANOTHER MILION PLUS.

THE JEEP FELL OFF THE CARRIER BECAUSE, YOU ADVISED THE EMERGNCY BRAKE WAS NOT SET.WHICH IS IT?

THE PICTURES TELL A DIFFERENT STORY. GET WITH IT. AND STOP YOUR STUPID COMMENTS.

THE PUBLIC IS SMARTER THAN YOU THINK.
D. PELLIANO


I WISH E OUL ETTHE FACTS STRAIHT. BUTTHEN WHEN H STARS WITH A LIE HE ENDS UP WITHTHE SAME LI.

Posted by: donald pellicano | February 15, 2006 at 09:07 AM

next

VOTED OUT AS CHAIRMAN. YES

A NEW MAYOR AND TWO NEW COMMISSIONERS WERE APPOINTED. THEY TOO REALIZED THAT 916 WAS A DISASTER. ASK THEM

AGENCY ABOLISHED. YES

THE CITY WAS IN A BUDGET SHORTFALL. IN ORDER TO GET THE FUNDS NEEDED THY HAD TO ABOLISH THE AUTHORITY TO GET AT THE FOURTEEN MILLION DOLLARS THAT THE AUTHORITY HAD BUILT UP FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW GARAGES AND FOR PAYMENT OF DEBT SERVICE

TELLING MY JUNIORS. I WILL NOT DIGNIFY THAT COMMENT, WITH A REPLY

THE 916 SCANDAL. THAT REPORT WAS AIDED AND ABETTED BY A DISGRUNTLED COMMISSIONER AND HAAG. MISTER SNITCH DID NOT DO HIS HOMEWORK AND HE TOO TOLD A PACK O LIES.

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL YES. THE SCANDAL WAS BY HAAG. IF I WERE NOT A PUBLIC FIGURE I HAD A GREAT CASE FOR LIBEL, SLANDER AND MORE.

A PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER TO DAVE ROBERTS. YET HE CANNOT BE FOUND ANYWHERE. COME OUT JEFF FLAVIA.

ADMITTANCE TO THE GARAGE. YES WE DID STOP IT. BUT THEN HAAG HAD KEYS TO ALL THE DOORS AND PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS WERE ADMITTED AFTER HOURS AND THROUGH THE BACK DOOR. EVEN WHEN HE WAS TOLD TO NOT ALLOW ANYONE IN THE FACILITY. WHO WAS CHEATNG THEN. BUT YOU ARE USED TO THE CHEAT

THE INSURANCE FOR THE GARAGE WOULD NOT PERMIT ANYONE, OTHER THAN STAFF TO BE IN THE REAR OF THE BUILDNG WHEN YPOU HAD TO GO TO SEE THE PALLETS MOVE. TOO BAD THEY DID NOT HAVE CARS ON THEM

LOOKING OUT FOR TOMORROW. YES. THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO LOOK OUT FOR TOMORROW, BUT THEY HAVE TO DO IT NOW. OTHERWISE HAAG WILL DO THE SAME MESS SOMEWHERE ELSE.

AND THE PULIC BE DAMMED. I COULD GO ON FOREVER

ENOUGH

DON PELLICANO

Posted by: donald pellicano | February 15, 2006 at 09:22 AM


Comments (3)

Tiny car
Said this on 7-29-2006 At 10:46 am
Why doesn't anyone or mr pellicano talk about his buddies at Bellocore Construction? The Company that built the structural steel all wrong?

That company is now Chapt 11 and the owners missing!
Pellicano also had two free Hoboken Parking spaces and was an ardent support of now jailed former Mayor Anthony Russo.
Mayor at the time of this garage scandal
He also took the whole Parkingcommision to Germany on the taxpayers dime for a 10 day boondoggle/vacation to see how the garages work!
Resident
Said this on 8-12-2006 At 10:27 am
This garage problem really stinks. Why didn't the mayor pull the plug on the project? As it stands, the problem is not going to go away.

The mayor should be investigated. If he covered up the misdeeds of his friends, he is just as guilty.
Said this on 5-24-2011 At 03:34 am
BION I'm imrpessed! Cool post!

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