The expansion of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line from West Side Avenue to Route 440 was expected to get final state approval on Friday.
“As Jersey City continues to grow into the largest city in New Jersey, we have worked to ensure that our local transportation systems can sustain and enhance this growth,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “I thank NJ Transit for advancing the process in extending the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Route 440 in order to support the future growth of Jersey City’s West Side neighborhood. This expansion will improve connectivity for projects such as Bayfront and New Jersey City University’s new West Campus, and we look forward to working with NJ Transit to further the success of projects such as these, and this important neighborhood.”
County Executive Tom DeGise, who was one of the leading advocates for the project, appeared before the NJ Transit board to urge the board to approve the funding.
“This means it has cleared the next hurdle,” DeGise said. “The project is estimated to cost about $220 million. This will be a combination of NJ Transit and federal money. The developer is also expected to kick something in.”
DeGise said NJ Transit’s portion will need to be matched by federal funding before the project can start construction.
“But this is an important step, and something we’ve pushed for years,” DeGise said.
Liberty Science Center planetarium now largest in hemisphere
When the new planetarium at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City opens this Saturday, Dec. 9, it will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world. Formerly, largest planetarium in the hemisphere was the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Manhattan planetarium, told the New York Times that the new planetarium has advantages due to greater transportation access for New Jersey school groups. If the new facility has a top-of-the-line projector, he added, “That’s great.” Paul Hoffman, president and CEO of the Liberty Science Center responded that his planetarium has 10 projectors.
The LSC planetarium will officially open this weekend. It boasts 88 million pixels, an 89-foot diameter screen that can project 280 trillion color possibilities. At least 250,000 school children are expected to visit the planetarium annually.
The center, officially the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, is named after a former high school teacher who donated $5 million for its construction.
Best Christmas Decorated Home Contest
The annual Jersey City Best Decorated Home Contest returns for its 15th year, and now includes Jersey City, Bayonne, North Bergen and Union City. Put on by Hudson Media Group, the contest judges homes that have the best holiday decorations and will award three prizes of $1,000 for the best.
Pat O’Melia, the host of the Hudson Media Group’s television program “The Jersey City Show,” said that while the contest will have spotters to go through the various neighborhoods, residents who want their homes judged should contact him to give the address so that the spotter can take a look.
Every detail counts, O’Melia said, although he said he has a number of suggestions for residents.
With spotters already started, O’Melia said people should use colored or multi-colored lights.
“All white ain’t right,” he said.
He also said don’t cover your address, and people should decorate the windows. Don’t overdo it with inflatables. People should turn on the lights from 6 p.m. to midnight. Perhaps use a timer. Don’t have Santa in the Nativity scene.
Don’t depend on home spotters to find your home send your address to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to: JCHudsonMedia.
Downtown side holds holiday market
The Historic Downtown Special Improvement District will hold its Holiday Market & Craft Fair from Monday, Dec. 18 to Thursday, Dec. 21, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Grove Street PATH station plaza.
Ring Road to be renamed Rotary Club of Jersey City Way
The Board of Freeholders voted in early December to rename the Ring Road area in Lincoln Park as “Ring Road, also known as the Rotary Club of Jersey City Way.” The Rotary Club of Jersey City was formed in 1916, becoming the 249th Rotary Club in the world.
In the resolution passed, the freeholders said: “Personifying the Rotary International motto of “Service Above Self,” Jersey City Rotarians have continuously supported the efforts of many Jersey City civic, community and philanthropic groups, including the Jersey City Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Jersey City Boys and Girls Club.”
The Rotary Club of Jersey City has helped in the development of the city’s youth, as evidenced by a vigorous college scholarship program. For the past 40 years the Club has awarded to an outstanding 8th grade student in each of Jersey City’s 28 public grammar schools its coveted “Davy Jones Rotary Youth Citizenship Award.”
In the 21st Century, the club has managed to adapt to a changing city and population. The club leaders have established partnerships with other organizations and charities to meet the needs of a modern city. This created more opportunities for membership and attendance to meet the needs of a modern workforce. Regularly scheduled opportunities for hands on community service are a big part of the club calendar. Membership in the club has reached its greatest number in decades.
NJ Transit pays Franco over land on Hoboken’s border
According to reports, NJ Transit paid $6.13 million to the family of a reputed mobster in a settlement for land the agency wanted for a tunnel project cancelled in 2010.
The settlement was with Township of Washington resident Carmine “Papa Smurf” Franco over the value of a 1.89 acre piece of land of the border of Hoboken and Weehawken was condemned by NJ Transit for the ARC tunnel project canceled by Gov. Chris Christie in October 2010.
NJ Transit’s board approved the settlement with M & C Franco & Co. in August.
NJ Transit and the Franco family disputed over the property’s value in court since 2010. In 2012, a Hudson County jury valued the land at $8.15 million. However, a state appellate court gave NJ Transit a victory in 2016 after the agency appealed the verdict.
The three-judge-panel ruled that the higher value wasn’t appropriate because it depended on the landowner winning approvals from two municipalities to change zoning to allow residential development on the property.
According to reports, Franco was was sentenced to a year in prison on racketeering charges in 2014 and released on June 11, 2015.
Santa to come to Loews Theatre
Santa will come to the Historic Loews Theater in Journal Square on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pets are welcome between noon and 1:30 p.m.
This is the 24th year the program has been held, and guests are welcome to bring their kids for photographs with Santa in the grand lobby of the theatre.
Do you have a story in your head, or a piece of writing in the works?
Reporter editor and published novelist Caren Lissner is bringing her one-shot writing class to Little City Books in Hoboken again in January. Do you have an idea for a novel, story, memoir, essay, or script, or have something partly written but don’t know the next steps? You can bring up to two pages, double spaced (500 words) for critique and publication advice, or just sit in on the class and participate in the discussions, without bringing anything.
The next “Get It Out” class takes place Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the book store, located four blocks from the Hoboken PATH/light rail station. There’s a nominal fee for those bringing work to read, and a lower fee for those who just want to sit in and participate in the discussion.
“There are so many ways to get published these days,” said Lissner. “Anyone who’s working on a piece of writing is a writer. They shouldn’t be shy about getting their work out there.”
Lissner’s humorous first novel, Carrie Pilby, was published in 2003, sold 74,000 copies worldwide, and was released as a movie this year (currently airing on Netflix). She has also published both serious and humorous writing in the New York Times, Atlantic.com, McSweeney’s, Harper’s, LitHub, and National Lampoon. Read more of her writing and advice on carenlissner.com.
Those with questions can reach her via carenlissner.com. The link to sign up for the class is http://www.littlecitybooks.com/event/get-it-out-writing-and-publishing-workshop-caren-lissner (as a reader or as an auditor), or stop by Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St., corner of First and Bloomfield, Hoboken. (201) 626-READ.
Donate clothes for adults, boys, girls as part of domestic violence drive
Allstate agency owners from across New Jersey are coming together to host a supply drive to benefit the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV). The donations will support the nonprofit’s mission to provide services to help end domestic violence and financial abuse throughout the state.
Now through Dec. 11, the public can participate by donating new winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves for women, boys and girls. A complete list of most-needed supplies can be found here: bit.ly/AllstateFoundationTrenton. Through their volunteer efforts, each participating Allstate agency owner will secure a $1,000 Allstate Foundation Helping Hands® grant. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) will accept the grants and distribute the funding to local domestic violence nonprofits. The dates of the donation drives align with the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which NNEDV supports.
The following Hudson County Allstate locations are collecting items:
4914 Kennedy Blvd., West New York
315 Broadway, Bayonne
1317 Paterson Plank Road, Secaucus
Contact Natalie Terchek at 312-558-1770 for more information.