Art is coming to Bayonne, in the form of streetscapes, utility boxes, fire boxes, statues, and wall murals, from a variety of local artists in many locations, primarily in the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) Special Improvement District (SID) along Broadway. The Bayonne City Council voted to use $60,000 of UEZ funds to facilitate the project. The initiative will not only to beautify the shopping district, but attract visitors, renew old streetscapes, and prevent vandalism.
Terrence Malloy, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Bayonne, said the ordinance is modeled after the Central Avenue SID in Jersey City Heights, another Urban Enterprise Zone that pioneered streetscaping in 2009 and has installed street art and murals.
Residents can expect weathered, old, and otherwise boring traffic boxes and the sides of buildings to become eye candy instead of eyesores.
Malloy envisions a new look for Broadway, not only adding new features, but improving old ones, making for a more enjoyable shopping experience. “We’re going to essentially take ugly graffiti items in your shopping district and turn them into pieces of art,”he said. “And once you turn that into artwork you are less likely to have graffiti issues.”
It’s seen as a win-win proposition. David Diaz, District Manager of the [Jersey City] Central Avenue SID, said bringing art into the streets has been “a big help, especially with the traffic boxes. With the artwork applied to it, it’s been tremendously preserved.”
When the art inevitably gets weathered, just like anything else, Bayonne artists would get to start over. In the Heights, Diaz updates the paintings and the boxes every so often, keeping things interesting. “It’s great because we’re always being updated with new artwork,” he said.
Also as in the Heights, Malloy proposed installing statues. The Heights has three statues, at Leonard Gordon Park, Pershing Field, and Riverview Fisk Park.
“We really like what we’ve done here on Central Avenue, and it’s great to hear that we’re inspiring other municipalities to do the same,” Diaz said.
“We’re going to essentially take ugly graffiti items in your shopping district and turn them into pieces of art,” – Terrence Malloy
Just as bus lines in recent years have eased access to Manhattan, a proposed ferry terminal from Bayonne is expected to do the same. The council mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting it was still in discussions with the Port Authority to lease back land for a ferry slip on the Military Ocean Terminal Base.
The upgrading of Bayonne’s streetscapes will take place in one of 27 designated Urban Enterprise Zone across the state, which were instituted in 1983, and their main draw is a 50-percent reduction in sales tax, ideally to lower costs for consumers while allowing for more business overall. Businesses have to jump through a few hoops first. To participate in the UEZ Program, businesses have to be certified by the program, be in tax compliance, and be registered within one of the 27 designated zones.
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at email@example.com.