Bayonne Briefs

City officials held two groundbreaking ceremonies on the former Military Ocean Terminal Base – for a Costco and a 525-unit residential development.
City officials held two groundbreaking ceremonies on the former Military Ocean Terminal Base – for a Costco and a 525-unit residential development.

Bayonne firefighter placed on paid suspension after alleged racist social media posts

A Bayonne firefighter, Keith Castaldo, was suspended with pay after he allegedly posted racially disparaging images and comments about people of color on his Facebook page. The account has since been deleted. Castaldo told the Jersey Journal that his account was hacked, and those posts are not genuine. The Bayonne Fire Department is investigating the matter, according to Bayonne Fire Chief Keith Weaver.
“I got a warning from Facebook a while back that something was going wrong and that I had to deactivate,” Castaldo told the Jersey Journal.“None of that stuff was mine. I don’t know what to tell ya. … That’s just not me.”

Mark Smith lands job at Hudson County Sheriff’s Office

Former Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith was hired as the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office’s first fulltime director of homeland security. Smith, who will work out of the Hudson County Administration Building in Jersey City, willbe in charge of coordinating with homeland security offices at the county, state, and federal levels, including with the FBI and New Jersey State Police. Smith, a former police officer, served as police director under former Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria.

More MOTBY groundbreakings

City officials and developers broke ground on two projects at the former Military Ocean Terminal Base (MOTBY), a two-square mile blank canvas for developers. Costco, a publicly-traded, Seattle-based membership-only warehouse club, plans to build its warehouse and a gas station on the west side of Route 440 and across from the fire station on Chosin Few Way.
The other groundbreaking ceremony celebrated one of Costco’s neighboring residential developments, a 525-unit townhouse project developed by Atlantic Realty.

The Staten Island Development Corporation has secured more than $200,000

When the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) unveiled the winner of its international design contest in September of 2016 – a conceptualaerial gondola that would take commuters from Elm Park in Staten Island to Bayonne – residents found the idea intriguing. But like mostunrealized ideas, it was initially considered unrealistic. Over a year and a half after the SIEDC has secured more than $200,000 from multiple organizations and municipalities to fund a feasibility study to gauge demand for such a service. Mayor James Davis said that Bayonne contributed $10,000.
The gondola, which would transport 4,000 people per hour over the Kill Van Kull at peak time, would have to be a private venture and would cost more than $60 million, a fraction of the cost of extending the light rail over the Bayonne Bridge.

Search called off for man who jumped off a cruise ship

A 24-year-old man jumped off the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship 65 miles off the coast of Virginia as it was making its way back to Bayonne on Friday, April 13, setting off a 24-hour search that was called off on Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship was returning to Cape Liberty Cruise Port from the Bahamas. The Coast Guard said that the man is very unlikely to be alive, considering the water’s cold temperatures, the distance from the shore, and the unfruitful efforts of the search, which used a helicopter, an airplane and cutter boats and assistance from the U.S. Navy.

NJ Legislature passes bill requiring all residents to have health insurance

Both houses of the Legislature passed a bill last week that would require New Jersey residents to have health insurance. Any individuals who do not maintain health insurance would face a financial penalty at tax time. The requirement is similar to the Obamacare “individual mandate,” which was ended by the federal tax overhaul that was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. New Jersey would be the first state to enact such legislation.

Union City teacher who fled Egypt faces deportation

A physics teacher who works at an Islamic school in Union City is being held at a detention center in Elizabeth and facing deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to WNYC Radio. The teacher, Ahmed Abdelbasit Mohammad, was a physics professor at the University of Cairo when he fled Egypt in 2014. He came to the United States in 2016 and applied for asylum, but his application was denied, and he was detained earlier this month. His students have created a website to support their teacher, who said he will be killed if returned to Egypt.

Santini’s lawyer says his client may take legal action against Housing Authority

Former North Bergen Housing Authority (NBHA) Director of Security Geoffrey Santini is mulling legal action against the agency for terminating him on March 28, according to his lawyer.
The NBHA fired Santini last month after it performed an investigation into an NBC News investigative report alleging he barely showed at his full-time position, and misused an Authority SUV for his animal business and other personal uses.
“He’s innocent of any wrongdoing,” said attorney Louis Zayas. “We believe that the determination was entirely unlawful and illegal.” Zayas also claimed that Santini never received an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations. Unless the Housing Authority rescinds the termination, they intend to take legal action, Zayas said.

NJ considering rebates for electric cars

State Sen. Bob Smith of Piscataway is proposing that the state spend $100 million a year for three years to encourage New Jersey drivers to switch to electric vehicles, according to WHYY Radio. The bill authored by Smith, a Democrat, provides rebates for people who buy electric vehicles, but it does not say how much the individual rebates would be. Smith has suggested that $1,000 or $2,000 would probably be a good incentive for car buyers.
Coming hard on the heels of the EPA’s announcement that it would relax fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks, Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week that NJ would join a multistate initiative whose goal is to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road. The eight-state compact wants to see more than 3 million EVs zipping along by 2025, according to NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey Audubon to celebrate 35 years of the ‘World Series of Birding’

Anyone involved in the “World Series of Birding” agrees: It’s an exhilarating way to spend 24 hours. At the stroke of midnight, participants begin an all-night, all-day journey to see or hear as many bird species as possible within the 8,732 square miles of New Jersey.
This treasure hunt of sorts, which serves as a key fundraiser for New Jersey Audubon, happens every year, this year on May 12, rain or shine. That’s when the last of the wintering birds are still here, and when new migrating and breeding birds arrive.
The World Series of Birding is open to anyone, at any age or skill level. Participants can join contest categories that would prompt them to travel up to 300 miles around the state in 24 hours.
Or, for a completely different experience, participants can join categories in which they are restricted to a county, or even within a 17-foot circle. You can be part of a car full of fellow birders, out on your own, or with others on bikes, on foot or by boat.
There are obvious and non-bending rules. For example, only birds found in New Jersey can be counted.
Great local spots are the Cape May Bird Observatory, Cape May Point State Park, or the NJ Audubon Hoffman Sanctuary in Bernardsville, or Sandy Hook. There is also a separate competition for children, from grades 1-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. For a full list of competitions, and for further information, visit

U.S. House of Representatives passes bill in response to Hoboken crash

A bill intended to make it easier to uncover safety problems on trains was approved by the U.S. House, according to The Record. The measure, which was introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer in response to the 2016 fatal train crash in Hoboken, is the first piece of legislation by the Wyckoff Democrat to clear the chamber. The bill would require better reporting of data to track safety problems.

Hudson County launches online ‘Homeless Services Navigator’

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced that the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development has gone live with a new “Homeless Services Navigator” page on the county website, The new page may found at this link:
Residents experiencing or faced with the prospect of homelessness or their friends and families can, with a mobile device, choose “Homeless Services Navigator” from the county’s mobile homepage “Quicklinks,” to see the link to the Homelessness Services Navigator. The same one-click process is available from a desktop computer.
The Homeless Services Navigator offers a wide range of services, including an explanation of how to connect with homeless shelters, and an explanation of eligibility for services. A “Services” tab then provides a list of services with full contact information (phone and email) available for those facing homelessness. It’s provided by the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness and lists in alphabetical where these services are in relation to the person’s current location. A map helps them “navigate” their way to help.
The list of services can be narrowed with an editable checklist with categories like “Domestic Violence Services” or “Emergency Food Assistance” to reduce scrolling. The “Services” page also allows a user to narrow the search by age for, say, appropriate services for teens rather than seniors.
Those concerned about homeless policy matters can find the Twitter feed for both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness on the navigator main page. A “Downloads” section provides .pdf files with homelessness resource guides for all residents, youth and veterans in Spanish and English that can be printed.
Call the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development at (201) 369-4520. If you believe an additional resource should be added to Navigator, please email Katelyn Cunningham