Jersey City has become a popular destination for presidential candidates this year. Three Democratic contenders visited in three consecutive months this spring and summer.
In April, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich met with a small group of residents for a dinner discussion at the Brownstone Diner on Jersey Avenue. In May, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois held a fundraiser at the Liberty House Restaurant in Liberty State Park. And in June, former First Lady and current U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton appeared at a private fundraiser in Newport.
City Councilman Steve Lipski, who represents the city's Journal Square area, said presidential hopefuls are attracted to Jersey City because there is no consensus among county politicians on who to support in the 2008 race.
"The Democratic Party [in Hudson County] is split on who it's going with, so there's an opportunity for candidates to pick up some major support here," Lipski said.
Mayor Jerramiah Healy said he supports Obama, while Downtown Councilman Steven Fulop said he supports Clinton.
Jersey City residents donated $2.6 million to presidential candidates in 2004, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics. - RICARDO KAULESSAR
Local Artist Kicks Off World Tour
Local artist Duda Penteado was set to unveil a new art exhibit in September at the Jersey City Museum, its first stop on a world tour that will take it to at least four continents.
The multimedia installation, "Beauty for Ashes: On the Verge of Globalization," will make use of fine art as well as video projection. Artwork from Penteado and local art students will be created directly on the museum's walls.
Penteado said the exhibit represents his attempt at "considering the consequences of Sept. 11, 2001 in the face of increasing globalization."
From Jersey City, Penteado will take the exhibit to Brazil. Then, in 2008, it heads to Puerto Rico, China and Spain. At each location, Penteado will lead a seminar for local art students. Each seminar will culminate with students creating artwork on their site's walls.
"Beauty for Ashes" was set to open at the Jersey City Museum on Sept. 20 and runs through Jan. 27, 2008. - CHRISTOPHER ZINSLI
Traffic Forecast Fuels Concerns
Jersey City's roadway network will be at full capacity by 2020 if current trends continue, according to a major traffic study released in July.
The Jersey City Regional Waterfront and Downtown Circulation Study, a long-term traffic forecast for Downtown Jersey City, was designed to give city planners a guide for improving traffic flow in that part of the city.
Funded by a $176,000 grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, the study was commissioned to look at ways to improve routes to and from Downtown Jersey City and mass transit.
"As the fastest-growing city in the state, it is imperative that we look at all options available in alleviating the tremendous congestion in the downtown area," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said in a prepared statement. "Although traffic will always exist in an urban environment, my goal is to make Jersey City the most accessible city in New Jersey for those who live and work here."
The study was performed by planning and engineering consultant Stantec. The 184-page final report can be found here. - RICARDO KAULESSAR
Embankment Closer to Becoming Open Space
The Sixth Street Embankment, a massive century-old stone wall in Downtown Jersey City, went from being owned by a developer to again being public property in August.
On Aug. 8, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) ruled that railroad company Conrail should have gotten authorization from the STB to abandon the Embankment before it was sold in 2005 to New York property owner Steve Hyman.
Conrail will now have to offer the Embankment to a government body for sale during a 60-day period before looking at private buyers. That is, unless Hyman or Conrail appeal the decision.
The news of the decision was greeted with cautious optimism by members of the Pennsylvania Harsimus Stem Embankment Coalition, founded in 1997 by longtime Downtown resident Maureen Crowley and other residents to preserve the Embankment.
The Embankment Coalition has worked to turn the area into a passive park and nature trail that would link a 2,500-mile series of trails stretching from Maine to Florida, as well as a possible Light Rail route from Jersey City to Secaucus. The light rail and the park/trail would co-exist.
What the Embankment Coalition would like to see next is city, county and/or state government acquire the Embankment if and when Conrail goes through the abandonment process. - RICARDO KAULESSAR
JC Duo Trains Fledgling Entrepreneurs
Two Harvard graduates and Downtown Jersey City residents are helping local low-income and middle-class residents become entrepreneurs.
In 2004, Alfa Demmellash and Alex Forrester (the son of former New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Douglas Forrester) founded the nonprofit agency Rising Tide Capital, which runs a 10-week Community Business Academy. Students learn how to put together a business plan, business management and marketing, and how to access resources for micro loans and grants.
Graduates of the program have started an independent music production company, a 99-cent store on Martin Luther King Drive, and an outdoor clothing stand.
Demmellash said that Rising Tide Capital is an attempt to "make the world a better place." The nonprofit's efforts have earned them the attention of O Magazine (Oprah Winfrey's publication) and financial guru Suze Orman.
Downtown residents and businesses have gotten involved with Rising Tide and its students.
Amy Dubin of Janam Tea Shop on Grove Street has acted as a business mentor to Rising Tide's graduates. The IT department at Goldman Sachs has set up Rising Tide's technology center and offered a course in technology training to Community Business Academy graduates. And the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation, a private not-for-profit corporation that was formed in 1980 to stimulate economic growth in Jersey City, is helping Rising Tide put together a proposal to receive additional state funding. - RICARDO KAULESSAR
Let us know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org.