The City Council narrowly adopted the Exchange Place Alliance’s $9.5 million budget Wednesday evening, despite confusion amongst council members as to whether the public will still have a say in the SID’s plans to overhaul the pedestrian plaza.
While Alice Wozniak, a member of the committee for the Katyn Monument and Historic Objects, supported the budget, other commenters opposed it.
Krystyna Piorkowska said the SID has not made any documents public and the proposed access road would run through the plaza, removing 37% of it from public use.
Piorkowska complained that “the SID has not made any documents available to the community despite repeated requests made in writing.”
Jeanne Daly, who is engaged in a lawsuit against the Alliance for violations of the Open Public Meetings Act, pointed out there is already access for cars through York St. Speakers also stated that the Alliance has put a stop to cultural celebrations that fostered inclusiveness in the community.
Councilman Boggiano brought a motion to postpone the vote pending further information. “That’s an out and out shame because that park belongs to the people of Jersey City… We should see the plans.”
Neither Business Administrator John Metro nor First Assistant Corporation Counsel Nicholas Strasser could definitively answer councilpersons’ questions as to whether the city or the public would have a voice in the designs once the budget was approved.
Despite this, Boggiano’s motion failed 3-4-1 with Ridley abstaining, and Boggiano, Lavarro, and Saleh moving to postpone. Council President Joyce Watterman, who is on the board of the Alliance, was not present.
The budget passed 5-3 with Lavarro, Boggiano, and Saleh voting no.
Gender Neutral Bathroom Signage
An ordinance requiring gender neutral bathroom signage for single-user restrooms passed unanimously. Businesses have 60 days to comply.
Pop-Up Jackson Hill
An ordinance for Pop Up Jackson Hill authorizing the city to execute a three-year lease with the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation for the use of 351 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive for nonprofit economic development purposes was adopted 8 – 0 despite questions on the special relationship between the Jersey City EDC, a private non-profit, and the City of Jersey City.
June Jones and Jeanne Daly asked for a clear process for gaining access to these free public spaces.
Other non-profits, said Daly, “could use free spaces for meetings, fund raising etcetera. An I feel it is completely unfair that no one else seems to be given access to these freebies.”
Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera echoed their concerns and has requested a report on the EDC’s process and the Jackson Hill SID’s role in the selection process.
Harmon Street Pool Redevelopment Site
There was a request for hearing on the proposed removal of the long-closed Harmon Street Pool from parkland to be replaced with alternative development. June Jones contends that a meeting on June 29th was poorly advertised and provided scant information to the community.
Both Andrew Russo of the Prescott Neighborhood Association and June Jones asked the city to investigate and stop the current application process until the city demonstrates compliance. The Prescott Neighborhood Association is sending a letter to the same effect to the NJ DEP.