Hoping to get money to clean up one of the primary gateways to the city and expand a park, the city will apply for a $500,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund.
Department of Public Works Director Gary Chmielewski said the city tried last year for the grant, but did not get accepted.
“We’re going to try again this year and see if we have better luck,” he said.
The county evaluates projects each year to determine if and how they will be funded, and for how much money.
The County Open Space Trust Fund gets its funding from a one-cent tax added for every $1,000 of assessed value on property through the county.
Because of the downturn in the economy, the county temporarily reduced this tax to a half cent in order to reduce the burden on taxpayers. This, of course, reduced the amount of money the county had to fund projects. But this year, County Executive Tom DeGise has asked for full funding to be restored, giving hope to projects such as this.
Bayonne has received county open space funding for other projects in the past, including parks and sporting facilities.
But for Bayonne, the proposed project is part of a large effort to help regenerate one of the principal entryways into the city – the Avenue E corridor that leads to and from the New Jersey Turnpike Extension.
“We’re going to try again this year and see if we have better luck.” -- Gary Chmielewski
Officials have been struggling to get largely dilapidated properties redeveloped around the city. But they have a specific interest in those areas that lead into town. The two properties up for decision were designated as part of a scattered site redevelopment area by the city in 2005.
Using a combination of state and county funds, the city hopes to purchase the gas stations in order to expand Russell Golding Park, which is located between the abandoned stations along the east side of Avenue E.
Last year, the city applied for $2.26 million from the State Green Acres Fund to purchase the properties. The city already has about $700,000 in matching funds from other grants toward the project. This includes $400,000 previously allocated from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, combined with $300,000 dedicated from the federally-funded Community Development Block Grant.
The two properties, according to City Planner Jesse Ransom, are located to the north and south side of an existing park near East 49th Street. An assessment done in 2009 valued these properties at about $2 million.
Gas stations were located on both properties in the past, but Ransom said the environmental cleanup required to redevelop former gas station sites appears to have been done.
Avenue E was once the main thoroughfare leading to the Bayonne Bridge. The development of Route 440 (then called Route 169) in the early 1990s changed the traffic pattern and explains why some of the gas stations closed.
City officials said the purchase of the properties would provide more park space on the north eastern section of the city where there is currently little, and at the same time remove two eyesores at the entrance of the city. Last year, the cost for purchasing the properties was estimated at $2.9 million.