City Zoning Board approves variance for Bright Side
On May 17, the Jersey City Zoning Board approved a variance that will allow live music to be played at the Brightside Tavern, a restaurant and bar at 141 Bright Street.
Brightside owner Tom Parisi, who also owns Tommy 2 Scoops, has tried for months to get city approval so that a grand piano in his dining room can be played. On two separate occasions, the Brightside was excluded from local ordinances that expanded the city’s Restaurant Row and set new hours and rules for live music in restaurants and bars.
With last Thursday’s approval from the Zoning Board, Parisi hopes he’ll finally be able to offer live piano music to his customers.
“I’m looking forward to giving my customers and friends some entertainment that they would normally go to Manhattan for,” Parisi said after the decision was reached. “The system does work. A lot of happy people are awaiting some fun times.”
The City Council must still approve the decision of the Zoning Board.
Former Jersey City Councilman Velazquez to be sworn in as deputy mayor
Former Jersey City Councilman At-large Radames “Ray” Velazquez Jr. was sworn in as a deputy mayor to Jerramiah T. Healy on May 17 at 4 p.m.
On May 15, Healy announced that Velazquez, an attorney, will be paid $1 for the position.
“Ray showed his commitment to our city during his time on the council,” Healy said Tuesday. “He is a man of character, knowledge, and dedication to the people of this city. I am honored to appoint him to this position, where he will work hard to help our residents and continue to improve our city.”
Healy first appointed Velazquez to the council in September 2010 after former At-large Councilman Mariano Vega resigned amid corruption charges stemming from the 2009 Operation Bid Rig bust. Vega later pleaded guilty to charges that he took money from a government informant who posed as crooked developer. He is currently serving a 30-month jail sentence.
Velazquez ran in the November 2011special election to serve out the remainder of Vega’s term on the council – which expires June 1, 2013 – but he finished the race in fifth place.
In addition to serving on the council, Velazquez previously served as a Jersey City Municipal Judge and as a Hudson County Freeholder representing the 4th District. A graduate of Rutgers College and the University of Notre Dame Law School, Velazquez has operated his own law practice and also served as a partner in a prominent New Jersey law firm.
“I am looking forward to this opportunity to return to service,” said Velazquez. “Helping the people of Jersey City, my home, is something I care deeply about and I am honored that Mayor Healy has chosen me to serve in this capacity.”
Two months ago Healy swore in lobbyist Raj Mukherji as deputy mayor. Velazquez will serve alongside Mukherji and Healy’s third deputy mayor, Kabili Tayari. Of the three, only Tayari receives a salary.
Guardian Angels visit JC
Members of the New York chapter of the Guardian Angels were in Jersey City last week to meet with Councilwoman Nidia Lopez and tour the city.
Local residents and activists are taking preliminary steps to bring a model youth program started by the Guardian Angels to Jersey City. Specifically, they hope the Angels’ youth program will help keep Jersey City kids safe and off the streets by offering them a range of activities that will enhance their academic achievement and keep them out of trouble.
Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey has publicly said in the past that he is willing to work with the Guardian Angels and is not opposed to having them start a youth program in Jersey City.
A meeting between Comey, Torres, Lopez, and some of the residents who recently met with the Angels is tentatively scheduled for later this month.
State Dept. of Education to close JC charter school
According to a report last week in the Star-Ledger, the New Jersey Dept. of Education will close the Schomburg Charter School at the end of the current school year. Considered to be a low-performing school, the closure fulfills Gov. Christopher Christie’s promise to shutter any underperforming charter schools.
Citing a letter from Assistant Education Commissioner Bari Erlichson, the paper reported that Schomberg has had a poor academic record and declining enrollment since it opened in 2000. This academic year the K-8 school has only 173 students and last year 90 percent of the school’s third and fifth graders failed New Jersey’s standardized test in language arts. The Schomburg is among the lowest performing schools in both Jersey City and the state, according to the Ledger.
Holy Name Cemetery announces Memorial Day schedule
The Catholic Archdiocese of Newark’s Office of Catholic Cemeteries will hold its annual Memorial Day Mass at Jersey City’s Holy Name on Monday, May 28 at 11 a.m.
Most Reverend Thomas A. Donato, the regional bishop of Hudson County, will be the principal celebrant with guest clergy from the surrounding local parishes concelebrating.
Holy Name is located at 823 West Side Avenue.
27 books donated to library in memory of Matthew Scarpa
When Jersey City residents Dignora Aquino and Michael Scarpa lost their son, Matthew Scarpa, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on Jan. 3, they asked that in lieu of flowers, mourners instead donate a book to the Vincenzo Domrnico Bonetii Children’s Room at the Main Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library. To date, 27 books have been donated in Matthew’s honor. “Pinoccio and the Whale,” “Winnie the Pooh: Pooh Goes Visiting, and “Thomas & Friends: Tales of Discovery” are among the titles that have been donated.