Dr. Mark Toback responds to Connors controversy
Hoboken Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Toback has issued a statement about a story in the Jan. 27 Hoboken Reporter about parents of displaced Pre-K children who have been forced to walk long distances since Hurricane Sandy destroyed the classrooms of the state-funded HOPES preschool program in the basement of Connors Primary School.
Parents who have been walking their children to Brandt School in the meantime have raised concerns over a lack of transportation and transparency in the rebuilding process. Parents wanted busses for their children and better communication on where the recovery of Connors stands.
“Much of what takes place in every school district is based in existing law(s) and requirements,” Toback said in an email. “Decisions about student transportation are not an exception.” Superintendent Toback also provided the state code documents which outline the requirements for transportation:
“Students must live two miles away from school to qualify for transportation. Also, any school district providing transportation when not required must do so for all students. It is not a matter of unfair treatment or lack of concern for parents and students. The BOE and administration is very sympathetic to the many problems created for so many residents due to Hurricane Sandy.”
The New Jersey code states that high school students must live beyond two and a half miles and elementary school students must live beyond two miles in order to be considered “remote from the school of attendance,” the requirement for providing transportation.
Toback also addressed the progress of Connors School.
“We were hoping things would have moved a little faster,” he said. “The total damage to Connors was between $600,000 and $700,000. We’ve seen a lot of good intentions expressed, but ultimately we have not seen the checks. Construction started this week on the cafeteria, some of the work cannot be seen from the windows like the electrical work and plumbing. There are structural issues that need to be remediated. What doesn’t make sense is to put these children back into classrooms of a building that historically gets flooded.”
Hudson County Chamber of Commerce to welcome first female chair at annual meeting
The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate Hudson County’s growth and development over the past few years at its Annual Business Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 7. In addition to kicking off the year-long celebration of the chamber’s 125th anniversary, the meeting will also be marked by the inauguration of Daryl Harrison-Rand as the group’s newest chairperson. Rand, the chamber’s first female chair ever, is the president of Harrison Rand Advertising.
“As a third-generation advertising agency in Hudson County since 1941 and a woman born into a family that has been in the area since the 1890s, it is truly an honor to be elected,” said Harrison-Rand. “I am thrilled to see so much growth, optimism and camaraderie here. It is our time and the chamber is dedicated to making it happen.”
The meeting, which will be held at Puccini’s Restaurant in Jersey City, will be attended by more than 150 local entrepreneurs. Members of the chamber will elect its Board of Directors during the proceedings.
In addition to featuring exhibits by more than a dozen local businesses, Robert Cotter, planning director of Jersey City, will be the event’s key-note speaker as he discusses the rise of “Wall St. West.” The exhibit will showcase the rise of Jersey City’s development over the past few years.
“Jersey City has been the fastest growing city in New Jersey and we will highlight the economic engine it has truly become,” said Maria Nieves, the chamber’s president and CEO.
To reserve a spot at the Annual Business Meeting, please call (201) 386-0699 ext. 27 or visit the chamber’s website at www.hudsonchamber.org.
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos calls for special hearings on Pulaski Skyway closure
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, Jr. (D-Hoboken) sent a letter earlier this week to Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski, urging the chairman to consider holding a special hearing in Hudson County regarding the proposed closure of the Pulaski Skyway. Assemblyman Ramos is a member of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.
“The Pulaski Skyway is one of the main arterial roads in this region” said Ramos. “My constituents that currently rely on the Pulaski Skyway to commute to work will be left with very few alternatives.”
The NJ Department of Transportation recently announced a temporary closure of the northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway in order to resurface the roads, rehabilitate the deck, and undertake several other repairs to the aging overpass.
“Anybody who has travelled on the Skyway recently knows that the bridge is long overdue for a resurfacing and needs significant rehabilitative work,” added Ramos, “but complete closure without providing an alternative for people to enter Hudson County will have a negative economic impact on county businesses and residents.”
“Many of my constituents in the 33rd Legislative District have voiced strong concerns about the effect that the closure will have upon their commutes or the ability of their customers or clients to reach their businesses,” Ramos concluded. “We need to seriously consider alternatives to complete closure.”
Assemblyman Ramos represents the 33rd Legislative District, which includes Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, and parts of Jersey City, chairs the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, and is a member of the Assembly Transportation and Environment & Solid Waste Committees.
Hoboken prepping for Second Annual Irish Festival
Hoboken city spokesperson Juan Melli recently said that the city is working with members of the community to host the second Annual Hoboken Irish Cultural Festival in town this March. Last year was the first year that a cultural festival was held in place of the traditional Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day parade, a parade that in recent years has drawn large crowds, public drinking, and safety concerns. That parade is traditionally organized by a committee independent of the city, and that committee decided last year not to hold it because the city wanted it moved from Saturday to Wednesday.
Last year would have been the parade’s 26th year.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer recently said that Hoboken does not have the security resources to hold the parade this year.
The Hoboken St. Patrick’s Parade committee officials did not return phone calls for comment this week.
Melli said that more details were to come soon on the cultural festival.
Meanwhile, a group of independent people is also preparing to run “Hoboken Leprecon” again. Leprecon is a bar crawl that was first held last year in Hoboken on the first Saturday in March, the day the parade used to be held.