Two conditions in the city’s contract to sell a portion of the peninsula to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for a container port make it possible that the $235 million the city may collect on the sale could be reduced by as much as $50 million if those conditions are not met.
Both conditions contain complications, but a former city official with intimate knowledge of the deal and the controversy over moving the 9/11 monument confirmed the implications in the contract for The Bayonne Community News. One condition of the contract requires the city to permanently close the waterfront walkway on the peninsula because operations at the container port would make it unsafe for pedestrian traffic. But because state law requires any waterfront development permit to include plans for a waterfront walkway, the city would have to obtain a waiver to remove the walkway from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“The park will remain open until a decision is made as to where to move the monument.” – Chris Patella
The city must bear the cost of moving the monument, which so far no-one has estimated. Complicating the relocation is a requirement in the state Green Acres statutes that demands that for every acre of park land developed with Green Acres funds that is moved, three acres of new space must be provided. The monument area is about one acre, so any new location it is moved to would have to be three times as large.
Also, there is the possibility, as yet unconfirmed, that the monument cannot be moved because a federal law that protects monuments of “national significance” may apply to it.
Park stays open for now
Harbor View Park – where the 100-foot high monument to the victims of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001 stands – will remain open to the public even after leases on other property at the former Military Ocean Terminal expire at the end of September, according to Chris Patella, executive director of the Bayonne Redevelopment Authority.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey purchased three development districts in which Harbor View Park is located on MOTBY in July, and has given those leasing property there until Sept. 30 to vacate.
Robert “Captain Bob” Terzi, a local cab driver who has started a petition against moving the monument, said he feared that the park would be closed to the public when the leases expired.
But Patella said the park will remain open until another location can be found for the monument.
Then-Russian President Vladimir Putin came to Bayonne in 2005 for the ground breaking. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton – a personal friend of the artist – attended the unveiling event in 2006.
Terzi and Thomas Solari are seeking to keep the monument at its current location.
“We want to keep it where it is,” Solari said. “The artist designed the piece so that it is within sight of the place where the Twin Towers stood.”
Commerce before culture
Patella said, however, the monument will have to be moved because the Port Authority needs the site for its planned container port operations, and even if the park could be preserved, it would be unsafe for people to travel through the operation areas to reach the remote park.
“The park will remain open until a decision is made as to where to move the monument,” Patella said. “At which time, the monument will be disassembled, moved and reassembled at the new location. During that period, the public will not have access.”
Frank Perrucci, chairman of the Bayonne Remembers Sept. 11 Committee, expressed concern about where the new location might be, saying he wanted to keep it in Bayonne. Some rumors suggest it might go to Camden, but Patella said he is currently in discussions about several locations, all of them in Bayonne.
“It is our goal to keep the monument in Bayonne,” Patella said.
The monument’s location is a concern since Bayonne also has a small monument to local victims at the site, as well as hundreds of pavers the public paid for with messages to family members and victims of the attack, all of which will have to be dug up and relocated, as well.
Henry Sanchez, who was named the new chairman of the BLRA at the Sept. 16 meeting, said he wanted to be as sensitive to the families of the victims as possible.
“We want to show respect for all of them,” he said.
Sanchez named chairman
Sanchez, 83, was voted in as chairman by the other BLRA commissioners to replace Howard Fitch, who stepped down in August. Marguerite Baber was named vice chairperson at the same meeting, replacing Sanchez, who served as vice chairman for five years
Sanchez said on one hand he will have an easy transition because Fitch kept him informed of all the key situations. But on the other hand, he will be responsible for a change of mission for the BLRA.
“Originally, we planned to develop residential units on MOTBY,” he said. “Now with the change of economy, we’ll be looking for development that will create jobs.”
The BLRA is still responsible for developing the remaining two development districts, though several residential developments with agreements have filed suit for breach of contract because of the new container port operations due to start on the former military base.
The BLRA is currently in discussions for the possible construction of a new mall on the western most part of the property bordering Route 440. Cameron Group, which is currently constructing Bayonne Crossing a mile down Route 440, has expressed interest in the site.
The BLRA is also responsible for overseeing redevelopment on other tracks of land, including the former Texaco property near the Bayonne Bridge.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.