City may have to fight with NJ Transit to get waterfront shipping repair property

Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Mayor-Elect Ravi Bhalla have sent a joint letter to NJ Transit and its board members urging them not to acquire the Union Dry Dock business on the waterfront, which was recently bought by NY Waterway, the ferry company, but may be re-sold to NJ Transit.
The city has had its eye on the old shipping repair business so they can turn it into a waterfront park. The City Council has voted to use eminent domain, if necessary.
But since NJTransit is a public agency, its powers could supersede those of the city.
NY Waterway purchased the longtime Dry Dock ship repair facility only three weeks ago to use to repair its ferries. NJ Transit has informed the city that they will enter into an agreement with the company, and plans to allocate $12 million in its budget to acquire it, the city says.
“NJ Transit’s intentions to purchase Union Dry Dock and lease it for ferry maintenance are absolutely unacceptable to our community,” states the letter from Zimmer and Bhalla. “This use would undermine our community’s nearly unanimous vision for a connected waterfront enjoyed by residents, visitors, and businesses that continue to choose to locate in our city in part because of our beautiful and walkable waterfront.”
The letter also states that “NJ Transit has raised fares twice and raided billions of dollars from its capital fund to pay for operations over the last eight years, so it is outrageous that despite its acute financial challenges, it is considering spending millions of dollars on a plan that would permanently scar our waterfront.”
They additionally state that NJ Transit could have used its power of eminent domain to keep NY Waterway’s Weehawken repair facility, but chose not to.
“We urge you to end all efforts to acquire the former Union Dry Dock property and to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find a solution that works for the entire region,” ends the letter.
Residents may speak at the next NJ Transit board meeting which will be on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. in the Board Room at NJ Transit’s Headquarters at One Penn Plaza East, Ninth Floor in Newark.
To read the full letter from the city, go to http://www.hobokennj.gov/docs/mayor/Letter-Zimmer-Bhalla-Santoro-11-21-17.pdf .

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Hoboken mayor-elect picks former running mate as chief of staff; former opponent responds

Mayor-Elect Ravi Bhalla recently ran for office with three council candidates, two of whom won election. On Thursday, he announced that the third, John Allen, will be hired as his chief of staff.
Allen is an attorney at Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP specializing in the representation of government bodies including boards of education and municipalities.
Allen currently serves as a Hoboken Democratic committeeman and is on the Board of Directors of Easter Seals New Jersey, a non-profit dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities. He previously was involved in politics in Old Bridge.
“John will bring dedication, energy and smarts to City Hall,” said Bhalla in the press release. “I am very pleased that he is coming on board.”
“I am looking forward to helping to implement Ravi Bhalla’s vision and plans for Hoboken,” said Allen in the press release. “It is a tremendous opportunity to serve the city I live in and love.”
According to the press release, Vijay Chaudhuri, Bhalla’s campaign manager and former chief of staff for Mayor Dawn Zimmer who stepped down in August is leaving for “an exciting new public service opportunity, but will remain a key advisor to the mayor.”
Allen will begin Dec. 4.
Councilman Michael DeFusco, a former mayoral candidate who is serving on Bhalla’s transition team, released a statement on the announcement Tuesday:
“Given Mayor-Elect Bhalla’s status as an attorney at a very politically-connected law firm that has millions of dollars in government contracts, many Hoboken residents are concerned about the potential conflicts of interest that could arise when clients of the firm and the city become involved in negotiations or other sensitive matters. Hiring another politically-connected attorney in his former running mate John Allen does nothing to address those concerns, and in fact raises even more questions that have to be answered. While the chief of staff position is not subject to council approval, I believe that residents deserve a full accounting of both Mayor-elect Bhalla and John Allen’s ties to major entities that our city does business with, and I plan to pursue these issues further.”

Bhalla announces transition team; all mayoral competitors on it except one

Hoboken Mayor-Elect Ravi Bhalla announced the leadership of his Transition Team last week.
Chaired by longtime resident Phil Cohen, it will include four other leaders who were candidates in the mayoral race.
Cohen currently serves on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and is the vice chair of the Hoboken Democratic Party. He also serves on the board of the United Synagogue of Hoboken.
Councilwoman-Elect Vanessa Falco, who ran on the slate of Michael DeFusco, will chair the Affordable Housing Committee.
DeFusco will chair the Economic Development Committee. He has in the past said the outgoing administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer has been too restrictive on businesses.
Chris O’Connor and Liz Ndoye will co-chair the Arts, Music, and Culture Committee.
Assemblywoman Annette Chapparo will chair the Constituent Services Committee.
Former independent council candidate Angelo Valente, who heads up a statewide nonprofit to prevent drug abuse, will chair the Drug Abuse Prevention Committee.
Councilwoman-Elect Emily Jabbour, who ran with Bhalla, will chair the Education Committee.
Freeholder Anthony Romano, who also ran for mayor, will chair the Public Safety Committee.
Business owner Karen Nason, another former mayoral candidate, will chair the Small Business Development Committee. Former mayoral candidate Ronald Bautista will chair the Transportation and Parking Committee.
Jon Otto and Stewart Mader will co chair the Infrastructure Committee.
Former Mayor David Roberts will chair the Quality of Life Committee.
All mayoral candidates have gotten a spot on the team except former Councilwoman Jen Giattino. According to Bhalla’s spokesman, Rob Horowitz, Giattino declined to chair a committee on Bhalla’s transition team when she was invited to do so. Both of Giattino’s campaign chairs have written letters saying Bhalla’s campaign unnecessarily attacked their candidate.
According to Bhalla’s press release, each committee chair is charged with preparing at least three substantive recommendations for implementation in 2018. Hoboken residents interested in joining a transition committee are welcome to do so.
Those interested should contact Cohen via email at philiphcohen@gmail.com and identify their area of interest and the committee on which they are interested in serving.
Based on the recommendations of the committee chairs, the transition team will assemble a report to be considered by Mayor-Elect Bhalla and the members of his administration.
“One of the largest untapped assets of Hoboken is the intellectual capital of its residents,” said Bhalla in the press release. “I encourage interested residents to participate in this process so our Transition Team can provide the kind of quality recommendations that will better enable us to hit the ground running.”
“I appreciate the participation of so many of my fellow mayoral candidates,” he added. “This demonstrates unity in our common interests as a community, and promotes effective governance.”

Hudson County CASA is seeking volunteers

Learn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. The next information session will be held at Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St, Hoboken, NJ on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.
Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.
For further information, visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org.

Deck the [city] halls!

Hoboken will host its annual Christmas tree lighting on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. outside City Hall, 94 Washington St. The festivities will include local school children singing popular Christmas songs, holiday cheer, MC and host Elvis the Elf (AKA Polka Dot) and a visit from Santa Claus.
For more information call (201) 420-2000 Ex. 5100

Register now for the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce holiday decorating contest

All Hoboken businesses are invited to participate in the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce holiday decorating contest by artfully decorating their store frontage to compete for prizes.
Registration is now open until Dec. 8. The judging will occur between Dec. 13 and 17, with the winner announced on Dec. 20.
First prize is $500, second prize is $300, and third prize will be $200. There are no fees to participate.
Participants will be judged on the following criteria: Interpretation of a Sinatra Based Theme, Wow Factor and Curiosity Generating Factor, and Inclusion of Retailer’s Service.
To register online go to http://business.hobokenchamber.com/events/details/2017-holiday-decorating-contest-1059.

Holiday book sale announced

The Friend of the Hoboken Library will host a used book sale on Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Everyone is welcome to pick from a wide-ranging collection of gently used books which will be on sale on the newly renovated and yet to be open lower level of the Hoboken Public Library at 500 Park Ave.
The books span wide categories including children’s, cookbooks, mystery, sci-fi, novels, classics, biographies, non-fiction, “coffee table” art books, plays, poetry and more.
Prices range from $1 to $5 according to the organization and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to supporting the Hoboken Public Library.

Hoboken wins award for Southwest Park

The inaugural New Jersey One Water Awards, sponsored jointly by Jersey Water Works, the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey, and the New Jersey chapter of the American Water Works Association, announced that Hoboken’s Southwest Park is one of the contest’s four winners. The four projects chosen highlight innovative water management programs and best practices in management across the full water cycle.
The Southwest Park is the first resiliency park in New Jersey. It is a one-acre area that incorporates storm water management mechanisms to help control chronic flooding.
The completed park, which opened in September, features rain gardens, wood deck paths, a granite amphitheater, a dog run, open-jointed pavers, rain gardens, and vegetated bioswales and three storm water detention basins capture excess water during heavy storms.

Should the PATH run to Newark Airport? Let the Port Authority know!

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will hold two public hearings regarding a possible PATH extension near Newark Airport.
The first hearing will take place Nov. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Weequahic Park Sports Authority Community Center in Newark. The center is located at 92 Carmichael Dr.
The second hearing will happen Nov. 30, also from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Hilton Newark Penn Station’s Garden State Ballroom. The hotel is located at 1048 Raymond Blvd.
If everything goes as planned, the new station will be located on off-airport property east of Frelinghuysen Avenue (at Noble Street), per the Port Authority website. It would also be near the Newark Liberty International Airport New Jersey Transit station and PANYNJ monorail station in Newark.
“The purpose of the proposed project is to improve transit access to employment centers in Newark, Jersey City, and New York City for New Jersey commuters and increase transit options to EWR for air travelers and airport employees,” the expansion website says.
For more information, contact the project team at 917-933-7440, or email PATHextension@panynj.gov.

Judge blocks executive order restricting funds to sanctuary cities

A federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked the enforcement of Donald Trump’s executive order on Monday, Nov. 20 that called to restrict federal grant money from so-called “sanctuary cities.”
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick ruled the order unconstitutional for violating separation of powers and due process of law, because the president does not have the authority to deprive local jurisdictions of funds allocated by Congress.
A “sanctuary city” is not legally defined, but is generally considered to be a local jurisdiction that does not comply with requests from federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in detaining undocumented persons unless they are involved in a serious crime. Over 200 localities refused to cooperate in 2015, and the number has increased, according to congressional testimony from the Director of ICE.
Jersey City and Union City adopted sanctuary city ordinances in 2017, while other Hudson County leaders have voiced opposition to Trump’s rhetoric and actions.
Mayor Steven Fulop said in January, “Jersey City was founded as a city of immigrants, and we are unwilling to be part of orders that break families apart or harm immigrants who are in this country.”
When Union City passed on ordinance declaring sanctuary city status in February, Mayor Brian Stack said, “I don’t believe that the president of the United States could make local police enforce immigration laws that are supposed to be federally enforced. Second, I don’t believe the court system will allow it. I think that common sense will prevail, and they won’t allow it.”
The litigation over the executive order will continue in federal appellate court, and possibly the Supreme Court, if either case makes it that far.

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