Downtown, where it seemed there was a dearth of music venues, FM filled an unmet need, with its unique mix of punk, rock and roll, funk and singer-songwriters. Certainly, the club had its ups and downs. Some nights it was so packed it was almost a fire hazard, other nights were so empty that shows got cancelled and the entire place closed early.
Friends of the Loew’s, the Jersey City-based non-profit organization that has worked to keep the Loew’s Jersey theater in operation since 1987 and that has been in litigation with the city since 2013 will cease to have formal ties with the city at the end of this month when its contract expires. Despite these circumstances, the volunteer-run group will remain involved in the Journal Square landmark theater for at least the immediate future.
Taking steps to address Jersey City Public School’s $120 million budget gap, Mayor Steven Fulop and Ward D Councilman Michael Yun partnered on the Jersey City School Funding Action Plan they outlined for the next three years. Revenue from tax abatements, a school tax levy, the sale of city-owned property along with the 1% payroll tax already in place, are all part of the $250 million plan.
City Hall’s council chambers buzzed with local residents including a group of Downtown homeowners who came to address the council. They represented 37 of the 38 homeowners who want the council to pass a resolution formalizing a plan that deems their properties in need of redevelopment with possible condemnation. The developer Lennar Multifamily Communities (LMC) has made a tentative deal with the 37 homeowners to buy their homes for agreed-upon prices. In their place, LMC will build a 50-story high-rise with 810 rental apartments and 14,000 square feet of retail space, a new public park, an expanded Filipino Veterans Plaza, and a new public school for 300-350 children.
Longtime residents will recognize that argument. It’s the same one that was used by arts advocates during the debate over the institution of the Powerhouse Arts District. The PAD was meant to anchor arts activity in the Warehouse District, and create a Downtown haven for creative people and a magnet for visitors. The ordinance passed, and the PAD was instituted, but the neighborhood never developed in the manner in which its advocates hoped it would.
Goodman spoke of a “severe and pervasive funding gap that Jersey City non-profits face and have faced for a very long time on the state level”.
“(Jersey City is) on the very bottom of the funding list for counties across the state,” Goodman said. “We have Essex, a comparable county pulling in $5 million in funding. The entire County of Hudson gets $200,000 to share, so there’s a huge funding gap.”
But property tax data published in October 2019 by the NJ Division of Taxation reveals Jersey City may once again be approaching the need for another revaluation. A driving factor is the market growth of Jersey City’s taxable real estate.
“The water pipes coming into McNair were all resolved a while ago, and there was no work required by the JCMUA,” said Hudson County Freeholder Joel Torres in an email.
Ninety-nine Jersey City residents—mostly moms, dads and teachers—signed up to speak at the Jan. 30 Jersey City School Board meeting at PS 41 (Fred W. Martin Center for the Arts) to address the $150 million budget gap. Many of the parents shared personal stories of the negative effects underfunding has had on their children’s education, and after they addressed the board, the parents ended their speeches with the battle cry, “Fund our schools!”
Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that the Jersey City Medical Center and eight other hospitals around the state will each receive $2 million in federal funds for violence-intervention efforts.