Commission approves Liberty State Park land for natural gas pipeline project
On June 7, the State House Commission approved, by a vote of 5 to 1, the diversion of Liberty State Park property for the Spectra Energy pipeline.
Spectra will pay the state $2.2 million for a 20 year lease to divert about 1 acre of land.
The proposed pipeline would include 19.8 miles of new and replacement pipes, six new pump stations, and other related modifications in Linden, Jersey City, and Bayonne. In Jersey City, the underground pipeline route would run through a portion of Liberty State Park, nearly every municipal ward, and near such sensitive areas as Jersey City Medical Center, schools, the Holland Tunnel, the New Jersey Turnpike, and transportation infrastructure near the Jersey City-Hoboken border.
The pipeline would cross the Hudson River into New York to connect the company’s existing pipeline to Manhattan and Staten Island, supplying customers of Con Edison. Spectra has also said that it will supply energy to power facilities operated by Bayonne Plant Holding and boilers at the International Matex Tank Terminals, also in Bayonne.
Because of the pipeline’s close proximity to sensitive areas, environmental activists and city officials have argued that a natural gas explosion could cause mass casualties and significantly damage important transportation infrastructure.
Union groups, emphasize the pipeline will create thousands of new jobs in the construction trades, however.
“The State House Commission took the side of dirty fossil fuels over the people of Hudson County and New Jersey,” Jeff Tittel, director, NJ Sierra Club, said in a released statement. “The Commission put the interests of a gas company and gas drillers before protecting the public trust. This is like putting a pipeline through our Yellowstone or our Yosemite.”
The New Jersey Sierra Club has argued that the 20-year lease negotiated between the state and Spectra was specifically drafted to avoid requirements of the Ogden-Rooney Act. The law applies only to leases over 25 years and requires more public participation than what is required when shorter leases are signed.
The Sierra Club is also concerned that no replacement land agreement was entered into for the diversion of parklands. In previous pipeline leases before the State House Commission, replacement land was purchased at a 4:1 ratio.
“Liberty State Park was purchased to be held in the public trust for the public good and this project violates the public trust by allowing these preserved lands to be destroyed. By voting yes today, the State House Commission is allowing our most heavily visited State Park to be impacted with pollution,” Jeff Tittel said.
Liberty State Park is among the most-visited state parks in the nation.
Marylee Hanley, a spokesperson for Spectra, said the pollution risks are exaggerated. “The NJ – NY Expansion Project will deliver a clean, domestic and diverse supply of natural gas to the region that meets or exceeds our federal gas quality specifications,” Hanley said.
Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington gave its approval for the pipeline project.
No Gas Pipeline to hold ‘fun-raiser’
On Sunday, June 24 from 2:30 to 9 p.m. the community group No Gas Pipeline will hold what’s being called a BBQ/MusicFest “fun-raiser” to raise money for the organization.
The event will take place at Barrow Mansion, 83 Wayne St. and admission is $15.
Gazelle, Fairmont, Shayfer James, the Winner Takes All Collective, the Micks, the Milwaukees, and the Defending Champions are among the bands that will perform.
The membership-based No Gas Pipeline organization has been at the forefront of community efforts to oppose the Spectra Energy pipeline that might be routed through northern New Jersey – including parts of Jersey City – into Manhattan. Last month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the pipeline to be built. The City of Jersey City and No Gas Pipeline are planning separate lawsuits to block the pipeline’s construction.
National nonprofit releases hospital safety scores
A national independent nonprofit organization recently released its evaluation of hospitals in each of the 50 states. Giving hospitals grades ranging from A to F, the Leapfrog Group rated medical facilities on their procedures and protocols to prevent errors, infections, and accidents, in addition to the number of such incidents at their facilities. The scores were reached under the guidance of a panel of nine medical experts using public data on patient injuries, medical and medicine errors, and infections.
Jersey City Medical Center was the only Hudson County hospital to receive an A grade. Jersey City’s Christ Hospital received a B. Leapfrog also gave Palisade Medical Center in North Bergen a B grade. Bayonne Medical Center received a C, as did Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus. The grade for Hoboken University Medical Center was still pending last week.
“The Leapfrog Group’s goal is to give patients the vital information they need and deserve before even entering a hospital,” said the organization’s President and CEO Leah Binder. “We hope people will use this score to talk with their doctor, make informed decisions about where to seek care, and take the right precautions during a hospital stay.”
To read the full safety score report, visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.
Fidelity Investments opens new regional facility in Jersey City
Fidelity Investments today opened a new regional facility in Jersey City’s Newport section. The company is leasing a 185,000 square foot office space in the Newport Office Centre and has already invested $30 million to outfit the new space.
About 600 current Fidelity employees will work out of the Newport office.
With assets under administration that total $3.7 trillion, Fidelity provides investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, and other financial services. Fidelity established a presence in the tri‐state region in 1981 and expanded its operations to Jersey City’s Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City in 2002.
According Fidelity officials, the firm selected Jersey City for its new regional office for a number of reasons. As a financial services hub, the region offers access to skilled workers. In addition, the Newport site provides such amenities as public transportation and close proximity to a broad range of amenities. The local business climate also made Jersey City an attractive choice, according to Fidelity officials.
“Fidelity has long been an important and contributing member of the New Jersey business community,” said Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. “Their decision to consolidate their workforce in Newport Centre speaks to our welcoming business climate, proximity to services, and ongoing willingness to partner with firms like Fidelity that power the state’s economic engine.”
The Newport Office Centre is owned and managed by LeFrak & Associates.
“I’d like to formally welcome Fidelity Investments to its new home in Jersey City,” said
Congressman Albio Sires (D-13th Dist.-NJ). “New Jersey has long been a vital part of the financial services industry and I have no doubt that this will be a long‐term and mutually beneficial relationship for your associates, your clients and the City.”
To celebrate the move to Newport Centre, Fidelity presented a $5,000 donation to the York Street Project, one of Fidelity’s community partners. Based in Jersey City, the nonprofit York Street Project provides housing, education, counseling, and other assistant to low-income single mothers. The organization assists approximately 300 economically disadvantaged women each year.
Father’s Day on the Reservoir
On Sunday, June 17 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance will host a Reservoir Summer Landscape Painting Session with artist Marge Colavito.
Kids and adults ages 13 and older are welcome and no prior painting experience is necessary.
Participants should bring a pencil and a folding chair and be sure to wear light-colored, comfortable clothes they don’t mind getting dirty with paint. If you have an easel or palette, please bring it as well. All other supplies will be provided.
The event is free, but space is limited to 15 people. To RSVP, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Laura at (201) 259-1800.
Lou Manzo at CAS
On Tuesday, June 19 at 7 p.m. former state Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Lou Manzo will talk about Operation Bid Rig III, in which he and 45 others were arrested in a massive government sting operation.
Manzo was immediately tagged as another corrupt Hudson County pol. Although several high profile officials who were arrested in the sting pleaded guilty, Manzo consistently fought the charges against him. The defense strategy worked. A federal judge ultimately dismissed all charges against him.
Manzo will talk about his ordeal and what society must do to safeguard the civil rights of ordinary citizens who are faced with prosecution by the federal government. There will be an opportunity for Q&A with the audience.
Manzo will speak as part of the Community Awareness Series, at the Miller Branch Library at 489 Bergen Ave. The forum is free.