A proposed passenger ferry terminal in Bayonne took another step forward last week when Mayor James Davis and U.S. Representative Albio Sires announced Bayonne as the recipient of a $650,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant to help with the construction of a terminal on the former Military Ocean Terminal Base (MOTBY).
The award comes after the city agreed in March to lease a piece of land from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for $2 million over 10 years. The site of the potential ferry would be about a half mile east of the 34th Street Light Rail station on the southern shore of the base.
Then in April, the Bayonne City Council issued a request for proposals for a ferry operator. NY Waterway, the only private ferry operator in Hudson County, is the most likely company to respond.
The grant comes from the USDOT Passenger Ferry Grant program (49 U.S.C. 5307(h)), which, according to the USDOT website, “provides competitive funding for projects that support passenger ferry systems in urbanized areas. These funds constitute a core investment in the enhancement and revitalization of public ferry systems in the nation’s urbanized areas.”
Mayor James Davis said in a press release, “Commuter ferry service is a game changer for Bayonne, and this federal grant is another step forward for our city toward a brighter future with millions in new tax revenue and an opportunity for our community to thrive.”
Plans to move Polish JC statue draws criticism from Davis
A member of the Polish senate went on a Polish radio station last week, calling the effort by Jersey City government to move a 34-foot statue at Exchange Place three blocks away “scandalous.” The statue, erected in 1991, is called the “Katyn Memorial,” and depicts a Polish soldier being stabbed in the back. It memorializes 20,000 Polish victims of a 1940 massacre carried out by the Soviet secret police.
Mayor Steven Fulop, in response, called the senator a “known anti-Semite” and stuck to his guns about his decision to move it three blocks west – the location originally designated in 1986 when it was gifted to Jersey City from Poland.
Meanwhile, Mayor James Davis offered Bayonne as a landing spot for the monument. It wouldn’t be the first time Bayonne would adopt a Jersey City monument. The Teardrop Memorial, gifted to the United States by Russia, was originally planned for Jersey City, but it now it stands as one of Bayonne’s greatest destinations.
“As mayor I would be proud to have it at one of our many wonderful parks, maybe at Rutkowski Park which is named in honor of one of Bayonne's most prominent Polish-American leaders,” Davis said last week.
Demand is high for industrial space in NJ
The square footage of space for which industrial leases were signed in the first quarter of the year dropped in New Jersey by 27 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. That doesn’t mean that space is sitting vacant. Quite the opposite. The demand for space is exceeding the supply, and as a result rents have increased by nearly 12 percent, according to the real estate services firm JLL.
That trend is no different in Bayonne, where Ports of America recently sold 90 acres of land on the former Military Ocean Terminal Base, currently occupied by 20th Century-era warehouses, to Lincoln Equities Group for the construction of 1.6 million square feet of new industrial warehouses by 2021. What entity will lease the warehouse is unknown, but the buyer said that it expects 2,700 permanent jobs to come from the site.
After years of fighting Christie, state workers to ratify contract
The 32,000 state employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America, who have been working without a contract since 2015, have ratified a new agreement, according to NJ Advance Media. Hundreds of Bayonne residents are CWA union members. The workers will receive two raises of 2 percent each and retroactive bonuses for longevity that had been withheld by the Christie administration. The contract expires in June 2019, and negotiations are under way for the next deal.
Murphy signs bill allowing property taxes as charitable gifts
Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law on Friday legislation that allows NJ homeowners to treat their property taxes as charitable gifts, according to the Associated Press. The Legislature passed the measure after the federal tax overhaul, which puts a $10,000 cap on property tax deductions, was signed by President Donald Trump.
Under New Jersey’s law, school districts and towns may set up charitable funds to which taxpayers can make donations instead of paying property taxes. The federal tax law does not cap the amount of deductions for charitable gifts.
Port Authority police superintendent abruptly retires
Port Authority Police Superintendent Michael Fedorko retired Monday, a move coming at the same time that his department is under investigation over claims that radio host Rush Limbaugh received a police escort, NJ.com reports. Fedorko, 73, had been the Port Authority’s director of public safety since 2009 and was paid more than $220,000 a year. Edward Cetnar will be acting superintendent. The Port Authority’s inspector general has been investigating reports that Limbaugh was given a rush-hour police escort from Newark Liberty International Airport to a charity gala in Manhattan.
Costco officially signs Bayonne lease
RD Management LLC, one of the nation’s largest privately held real-estate development and management organizations, and partner JMF Properties, a NJ development company specializing in transit-oriented projects, urban retail centers, and commercial office parks, announced a lease signing with Costco Wholesale, the anchor at Harbor Pointe Marketplace.
The development partners broke ground recently on Costco Wholesale, which is scheduled to open in fall 2018 and will include a Costco gas station with 18 gas pumps. The retailer will occupy 150,000 square feet of the 240,000-square-foot property. Residential and additional retail developments are also currently underway nearby.
Currently, Costco Wholesale operates 727 warehouses worldwide and employs more than 200,000 people. During the 2016 fiscal year, the company reported total sales of $116.1 billion.
NJ Attorney General creates unit to investigate data privacy
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Monday that his office will have a new unit to investigate Facebook and issues related to data privacy. The unit will be involved in enforcement of laws that protect state residents’ online data privacy.
Open call for artworks
Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University – Newark is seeking proposals from artists whose work uses food as a medium or subject matter.
The 2019 Main Gallery, Express Newark exhibition will center on food as a social, political, and bodily phenomenon. Specifically, the exhibition will consider food as a commodity; the relationship between food, death, sex, and the abject; food’s relationship to global economics and geopolitics; food and its likeness as a medium for artistic experimentation; the food chain and the environmental impacts of food production; and food justice.
The exhibition will be on display January - December 2019 and will be accompanied by a catalog. You must be able to loan your work for that period of time.
Apply online at https://form.jotform.com/81145165793158.
‘Hamilton’ actor Christopher Jackson to deliver the HCCC commencement speech
Christopher Jackson, cast member of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” will deliver the keynote address to the Hudson County Community College Class of 2018 in its 41st annual graduation ceremony.
The college’s commencement ceremonies will take place on Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m. at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark.
Playing fast and loose with worker classification
Gov. Murphy has issued an executive order— his 25th — to create a task force to investigate employee misclassification. That’s when companies intentionally misrepresent workers, classifying them as independent contractors rather than fulltime employees, so the companies don’t have to pay social security and unemployment insurance, and the like. According to NJ Spotlight, the practice costs the state an estimated $9 million every year.
Jersey City Bike Tour will roll June 3
Registration is now open for the 9th annual Jersey City Ward Tour & Festival. “Bike around JC, then party with all the bikey people,” reads the press release. The tour, which takes 2,000 riders on a 16-mile route through Jersey City’s six wards, starts on Sunday, June 3, at 11 a.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St.
Protected by rolling street closures implemented by Jersey City police, riders will make a clockwise loop around the city at a manageable pace (10 mph at the front) with several rest breaks, and finish between 1 and 1:30 p.m. on the Hudson River waterfront near the foot of Second Street.
The tour is presented in partnership with Mayor Steven M. Fulop, the Jersey City Municipal Council, and the Office of Cultural Affairs.
The Finish Line Festival follows all afternoon until 5 p.m. in and around Lutze Biergarten, featuring live music, food and drink, an expo with community/nonprofit organizations, and more.
Registration for the tour is required and is free, with a $5 suggested donation to Bike JC. Riders must be age 12 or older, and must wear helmets. Younger children may be carried securely on an adult’s bike. The tour is rain or shine.
Bike JC is a citizen-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization that aims to make Jersey City streets welcoming for bicyclists by promoting bike-friendly policies, including protected bike lanes, bicycle education, and traffic law enforcement.
Thousands of NJ Hondurans affected by change in immigration status
An estimated 3,700 Hondurans who live in NJ will have to leave the country by January 2020 after the Trump administration removed their “temporary protected status” on Friday, according to NJ Spotlight.
Hondurans were granted the status after Hurricane Mitch devastated their Caribbean nation in 1998, killing more than 7,000 and leaving 1.5 million homeless. Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security said conditions in Honduras had improved enough to remove the temporary protected status.
State A.G. asks Weehawken to lift ban on out-of-town residents making right turn
NJ Atty. General Gurbir Grewal's office recently sent Weehawken a letter, asking the town to not enforce a turning ban against out-of-town motorists until the state Department of Transportation completes a review of the area.
The ban had prohibited nonresidents from making a right turn onto Pleasant Avenue from Hackensack Plank Road, weekdays from 3-7 p.m. The town issued the ban because they say non-residents frequently use the turn as a shortcut to Route 495 and parts west. This, officials argued, caused traffic clogs and upset residents.
The letter requested a sit-down with the town and the state Department of Transportation over the ban. Town officials met with the DOT and gave them a tour of the area, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said. The state agency is currently working on a plan to alleviate traffic at the intersection without needing the ban, Turner said.
Until then, officers are holding traffic at the turn until the intersection is clear, instead of enforcing the ban. However, the mayor says that traffic has greatly improved since the restriction, as nonresidents are using other streets to get around. Officers have yet to issue a ticket.
"I think they understand the problem," Turner said of DOT efforts to fix it.