Federal appeals court upholds Beldini conviction
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld the conviction of former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini. Once a political ally of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, Beldini was among 46 public officials and religious leaders who were arrested in 2009 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation.
Although most of those arrested pleaded guilty, Beldini was among the few who chose to go to trial. But in February of last year a jury convicted her on two counts of bribery for taking two $10,000 cash contributions from cooperating government witness Solomon Dwek. As part of the FBI sting operation, Dwek posed as a developer interested in contributing to the mayor’s 2009 reelection bid in exchange for favorable treatment for his real estate deals.
The jury acquitted Beldini on more serious extortion and attempted extortion charges.
U.S. District Court Judge Jose Linares sentenced Beldini, now 76, to three years in jail. Her attorney appealed the verdict, which has now been upheld.
At press time Friday the ex-deputy mayor, who has been free on bond since her conviction, did not yet have a date to surrender to prison.
McGinley Square developer to meet with residents
Residents of McGinley Square have been invited to attend a meeting on the controversial McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan. Gary Flocco, managing director of the development firm Corvus, will be on hand to talk to residents and answer their questions and concerns about the redevelopment plan.
The meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s College (at Montgomery St. and Kennedy Blvd.) in the McIntyre Lounge.
This meeting might be residents’ last public opportunity to meet with Flocco before the McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan comes up for consideration before the Jersey City Council.
The council is expected to consider in the coming weeks a resolution that, if approved, would recognize McGinley Square East as an area in need of redevelopment and rehabilitation. The council will also consider an ordinance adopting the McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan, which was drafted by the Division of City Planning.
Residential and commercial property owners in the McGinley Square community fear that language in the ordinance and resolution could eventually open the door to eminent domain, and over the past two months they have organized a citywide campaign against the use of eminent domain.
However, a sentence has been added to the draft redevelopment plan that reads: “No property located within the redevelopment area is subject to acquisition, eminent domain, or condemnation for the purposes of private development or redevelopment under this plan.”
St. Peter’s College selected Corvus to redevelop parcels of property owned by the school. This association paved the way for the company to begin working with the Division of City Planning on a broader redevelopment plan for the McGinley Square East community. Some residents have questioned the apparent lack of competitive bidding in the city’s selection of Corvus.
Flocco has stressed that he believes he can redevelop the area without using eminent domain to acquire private properties in the McGinley Square neighborhood and will use eminent domain only as a last resort.
Property revaluations are underway in Jersey City, but many residents still have questions and concerns about the process. On Thursday, Sept. 15 the Sgt. Anthony Park Association will host a community meeting about the reval with Jersey City Tax Assessor Ed Toloza and Realty Appraisal Company. Realty Appraisal is the company that has been hired to conduct the city’s reval.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at 104 Palisade Ave. in the Community Room. For additional information, call (201) 659-8059.
Spectra Energy announces pipeline deal with Bayonne companies
Texas-based Spectra Energy Corp. announced a deal Tuesday among one of its subsidiaries, Texas Eastern Transmission, and International-Matex Tank Terminals in Bayonne, and Bayonne Plant Holding.
Under an agreement reached between the three entities, IMTT and Bayonne Plant Holding will transport natural gas from Spectra Energy’s proposed natural gas pipeline to IMTT’s 540-acre facility in Bayonne. According to a release issued today from Spectra, the proposed pipeline would interconnect with IMTT’s terminal and Bayonne Plant Holding’s facility to supply natural gas to fuel boilers and combined-cycle power generation facilities.
If the proposed pipeline project receives approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, IMTT and Bayonne Plant Holding would receive peak day usage of nearly 40,000 Mcf (thousand cubic feet) day once the proposed pipeline is built and goes into service, according to the Spectra release.
Spectra has proposed building a roughly 20-mile underground natural gas pipeline through Linden, Jersey City near the Hoboken border, and Bayonne. The pipeline would then cross the Hudson River into New York to connect the company’s existing pipeline infrastructure in the region to Manhattan and Staten Island.
The proposal has been controversial and has met with opposition from local residents, activists, and elected leaders – including Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, members of the Jersey City and Hoboken city councils, and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Opponents argue the pipeline presents a potential hazard to the neighborhoods through which the pipeline will run and will lower property values along the pipeline route. Opponents have also argued the pipeline would benefit New Yorkers at the expense of residents in the Garden State since the natural gas would be used for energy customers there, not in New Jersey.
The deal announced Tuesday between Spectra, IMTT, and Bayonne Plant Holding is the first to benefit energy customers in New Jersey.
The agreement has not changed the Healy administration’s opposition to the pipeline, however.
“Jersey City is served by PSE&G. We are not aware that they have changed their position that ‘they have no immediate plans to tie into Spectra,’ ” said Healy spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill last week, quoting an earlier statement made by the energy company. “This also does not change the position of the Healy administration, which is opposed to the current proposed route of the pipeline going through the areas of the city that are already densely developed or will be developed over the coming years.”
Report: City on verge of selling site next to hospital for $15M
The city may have clinched a $15 million deal to sell a 2.5-acre plot of municipal land for a new development that will include a cancer research center, residential housing, and retail space, according to a report in the local daily newspaper.
If approved by the City Council, the proposed two-tower development would include 1,000 units of housing in addition to the cancer treatment facility, which would specialize in proton therapy, according to the report.
The sale of this property, next to Jersey City Medical Center, for the $15 million price tag would be something of a coup for Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. The administration needed to sell this site to close its budget deficit this year and some critics earlier this year questioned whether the city could actually get $15 million for the plot.
Tessler Developments, a New York City-based firm, is negotiating the sale with the city, according to the report.
Hudson County residents/businesses can apply for help from FEMA following Irene
Help from Washington, D.C. is on the way. Residents of Hudson County can now apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following the damage from Hurricane Irene.
Affected residents and businesses are advised to document the damage to their homes or businesses with photos or video, and also keep a list of items that have been damaged or destroyed, according to a press release from the city of Hoboken.
Federal assistance may include temporary housing, repair, replacement, or other needs such as Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Small Business Administration disaster loans, according to the release.
To apply for federal disaster assistance, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or call 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362).
Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss should call 1 (800) 462-7585. Specialists are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. until further notice.
When applying for help, residents will need their social security number, current and pre-disaster address, a contact number, insurance information, total household annual income, a routing and account number from their bank, and a description of losses that were caused by Hurricane Irene, according to a release.
Local activist to receive ‘Hometown Hero Award’
Jersey City activist Eileen Markenstein will be recognized on Sept. 18 for her community service to Jersey City. The award is presented by the Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum in New York City. The ceremony will be held at the Intrepid Battleship Museum and is open to the public. Markenstein has led the volunteer initiative to save and preserve 350 years worth of Jersey City history and nature by maintaining the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery since it was abandoned three years ago. The historic cemetery, at 435 Newark Ave., is operated entirely by volunteers who are currently transforming the site into a memorial park. Once completed, the six-acre open space will host historic walking tours, educational programs, tributes for military veterans, and cultural art and music events for the community.
New date for Summer Jam library fundraiser
Book buffs, adjust your calendars. The annual fall fundraiser for the Jersey City Free Public Library has been postponed to Thursday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. The event will still take place at P.J. Ryan’s, now located at 292 Barrow St. at corner of Mercer Street.
Tickets are $20. Checks should be payable to the City Free Public Library Foundation, Inc. Checks should be sent to Priscilla Gardner, Executive Director, Jersey City Free Public Library Foundation, Inc., 472 Jersey Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07302. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. Refreshments will be served, and are included in the ticket price.
All proceeds will go to the renovation of the Main Library, which was built in 1899.