The last time members of the state Department of Community Affairs paid an official visit to Post Road Gardens, the scalding summertime temperatures made it almost unbearable in some of the apartments, prompting officials to take off their suit jackets to consider including some kind of funding for air conditioning.
Excess heat was not a problem this time, as temperatures outside plummeted, typical of February in New Jersey. But conditions inside, thanks to the weatherization program conducted over the last year-and-a-half, made the place – even the halls and the community room – comfortable.
The 250 apartments in this facility were part of 776 units in Hudson County and of 22,000 housing units throughout the state that saw weatherizing improvements.
The project, which started at the complex in October 2011, is making use of more than $1 million in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which in fulfilling its federal mandate put back to work five members of the Laborers Local No. 325 back to work through the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF) local weatherization and energy efficiency program. The BEOF covered the cost of construction materials and utility improvements. The workers installed weather stripping, window caulking, and showerheads in apartments at Post Road Gardens. The work team also replaced inefficient refrigerators in Post Road apartments.
Post Road Gardens is owned by South Shore Village Leased Housing, a private, non-profit corporation. The property is managed by the Bayonne Housing Authority.
The 250 apartments in this facility were part of 776 units in Hudson County that saw weatherizing improvements.
Between 2009 and 2012, the state expended $119 million of federal money that was issued through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Weatherization Assistance Program to facilities like Post Road Gardens, where there is a mix of senior citizens, people with disabilities, and low-income families, in an effort to improve heating systems and efficiency.
The DCA partnered with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance agency and 24 community based organizations around the state to in order use this money effectively, among these was the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation. As a result, all 250 residential apartments in Post Road Gardens saw upgrade including changing light fixtures, weather stripping of windows, caulking of doors, installing energy-efficient refrigerators, changing showerheads and faucet aerators, as well as other improvements including a state-of-the-art energy-efficient HVAC system for the public areas of the building.
According to BEOF Executive Director Ana Quintela, the project had some logistical problems early on, but through the help of state monitor, it was not only able to get back on track, but will actually finish ahead of schedule. Quintela said that when applying for the project, the BEOF did an assessment of its buildings and determined that Post Road Gardens had the population mix of low-income residents and senior citizens that the federal program called for. She said that part of the focus also met with criteria of the federal reinvestment act in putting people back to work.
Mayor Mark Smith said the project made use of union workers as part of the upgrades.
Council President Terrace Ruane said in his role in the employ of the U.S. Post Office he has had dealings with the building for more than 35 years, and said it never felt so comfortable, noting that community room could be used.
Resident Marge DeSerino, who has lived in the building for 16 years, said the she liked the changes, noting that the refrigerator was a little heavy, but worked fine and she liked the ventilation.
“The only complaint I have is about the bathroom light is that it takes a long time to light up,” she said.