Taking his cue from a series of state of the city addresses he conducted earlier this year, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop concluded 2018 with a road trip through the city, holding a community meeting in each of the city’s six wards, highlighting plans for the future while hearing concerns of residents.
Fulop said he hosted the meetings to discuss with residents the issues that are particular to their neighborhoods.
Fulop also brought along department directors who answered questions and gave a brief overview of plans for the future.
“We’re building new infrastructure within the community to increase services for our residents, such as the new City Hall Annex at Jackson Square and the new North District Police Precinct,” Fulop said. “Downtown, we expanded the pedestrian plaza to provide more space for our residents to shop, dine and relax. Also, in redeveloping the Bayfront Properties, we created an advisory board to ensure that city officials worked with community members in moving ahead.”
Bayonne Front is one of the most significant issues to face the city in recent times. The city just signed an agreement for the purchase of a 95 acre site along Route 440 on the West Side of the city. The purchase will allow the city to control the pace and type of development on the site with the hope of being able to significantly increase the number of affordable housing units.
Although Jersey City has made strides in streamlining its permit process, zoning regulations and economic development, the upcoming year could see the unveiling of a comprehensive plan, along with technology upgrades.
Police Chief Mike Kelly said his department has just completed the first phase of its community policing program, which includes training police officers. He said that the department is focusing in particular on traffic safety, an issue raised by a number of community groups throughout the city.
“We’re also looking to become an accredited police department,” Kelly said.
The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police has pursued the concept and development of a voluntary statewide law enforcement accreditation program for New Jersey. That has resulted in the formation of the NJSACOP Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, consisting of commissioners with the overall responsibility of adopting program standards, as well as review of all assessment reports and approval of all recommendations for granting accredited status of applicant agencies.
“We’re also using new technology to make the department more responsive,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. This will include hiring more police as well as overseeing the program for crossing guards.
The police and fire departments will also have projects underway, such as a new police precinct and a redeveloped Paulus Hook fire house.
Fire Chief Steve McGill said the department will continue a smoke detector installation program that it started earlier this year.
City Prosecutor Jake Hudnut said that his department is in the midst of court reform that will conduct early case screening and reviews in order to resolve cases before they come to court, and to direct people to programs such as drug treatment or other counseling that they might need, rather than have them sentenced to prison.
Among a number a goals, the Department of Public Works will be expanding its war on litter. Jersey City has come under criticism over the last few years, especially in the Heights area, because of its close proximity to Union City, which has some of the cleanest streets in the county.
The DPW is also hoping to expand recycling by 30 percent.
Other agencies are focusing on increased technology, and this includes programs that will streamline the process for tenant/landlord complaint issues. The city intends to fully enforce its rent control ordinance, after having revamped the department in 2018.
City officials said in the past the tenant relations department tended to side with landlords in disputes, something that will change under the new leadership. The city is currently trying to get a database of all rental units in the city.
A citywide transportation initiative is also underway that includes a parking student, a bicycle master plan, and other programs. This will include a major push for 24 hour seven days a week residential parking enforcement, and expanding residential parking in areas such as Ward E. By the spring, officials expected to have developed a long term master plan for the city and will have collected data to help improve parking throughout the city.
Infrastructure, seniors, the arts
Meanwhile, the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority will continue the $500 million infrastructure upgrade that started in 2016. This has the goal of replacing old water and sewerage conduits with modern high capacity piping which can handle the increased need caused by new development.
Senior citizen health programs, and long range plans for the arts are also on the agenda for the upcoming year.
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