City council meeting roundup

Community garden, pedestrian mall, redevelopment plans, and more

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There were several noteworthy decisions made at the most recent Bayonne City Council meeting.
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Bayonne's Jared Radil was honored for his charitable work with local high school students on the autism spectrum.
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There were several noteworthy decisions made at the most recent Bayonne City Council meeting.
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Bayonne's Jared Radil was honored for his charitable work with local high school students on the autism spectrum.

At Bayonne’s Aug. 21 council meeting, the council voted on a number of measures aside from a license and lease agreement with a prospective provider of ferry service to Manhattan. They included a few redevelopment plans, the conversion of portions of Second Street into a pedestrian mall, and a community garden.

Latest on the redevelopment roster

The council adopted a redevelopment plan for a now-defunct gas station at 22 East 10th Street. According to the plan, the new development will be seven stories. There will be one parking space per unit, though the number of units has yet to be determined.

The council adopted a financial agreement with a developer planning to build on a property at 39-43 West 25th Street, between Avenue C and Broadway. The development, according to a planning board legal notice, would be four stories and consist of 40 residential units, along with 40 parking spaces. The financial agreement, according to Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, would involve a 20-year tax exemption. According to an older ordinance, 10 percent of PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) funds, which Bayonne receives instead of standard taxes, will go toward the school district.

An introduction was made to adopt a redevelopment plan for the former site of Our Lady of the Assumption school. The plan for the 2.12-acre lot calls for a sufficient number of affordable housing units to meet Bayonne’s requirements, along with environmentally sustainable design standards that require LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

The council designated Lofts on Avenue E Urban Renewal, LLC as the redevelopment entity for another defunct Catholic church, St. Joseph’s at 317 Avenue E. The property was sold by the Archdiocese of Newark in 2017. Soon after, a redevelopment plan was adopted.

The property consists of the church, as well as a parking lot across the street. Both parcels are owned by the same developer, which plans on constructing residential developments on either side of Avenue E.

Last, the council voted to designate unimproved portions of Second Street as a pedestrian mall.

The plan was first introduced earlier this summer. A stretch of road between Kennedy Boulevard and Avenue A is now slated to be reserved solely for foot traffic. It’s a preliminary step in creating contiguous open space from Fifth Street to Dennis P. Collins Park, under the Bayonne Bridge. The street is part of a 44-acre site that was formerly owned by Texaco. Several development plans for the area have long since gone by the wayside.

Garden state

The city reached a license agreement with the Matthews Foundation to establish a community garden program.

The project was started by Melissa Matthews, a first-time Bayonne Board of Education candidate in the upcoming Nov. 5 election. The program will be overseen by her nonprofit organization.

“The project, ‘Grow Bayonne,’ will include a 10,000-square-foot educational garden for students, clubs, and groups,” Matthews said, adding that there would be public tours of the main garden.

“In addition, we plan to roll out container gardens for schools, and have rented bed gardens for the public at two other locations if there is interest. Our project will build curriculum for classrooms, hold lectures on gardening, nutrition, canning, earth sciences, and other topics, as well as hold a resource library for the community.”

Matthews said that the organization hopes to work with the Board of Education on the educational prospects of the garden. She hopes to begin planting phase one of the project, which will be about 3,000 square feet, by spring, 2020.

Hefty fines for Mr. Clean

A resolution that seemed to get attention when it was made public at the council caucus meeting on Aug. 14 involved the city of Bayonne agreeing to reach a $15,000 settlement with the state Department of Health for “right to know” deficiencies.

Bayonne Law Division’s Donna Russo said the settlement fees stemmed from improperly filed paperwork on the storage of hazardous materials that first responders can access in case of emergencies.

“Right to Know” regulations are strict. Hazardous substances for which inventory is required include commonplace cleaning materials like bleach and Windex, along with rock salt used on roads in winter.

Russo said that the dispute arose some time after the DOH required municipalities to report inventories digitally rather than manually.

“We did inventory of the city garage, but with respect to supply closets in other city departments, I was asked as an attorney to certify how many bottles of Ajax or Windex we had, and how many pounds of salt we had for ice,” Russo said. “I had no way to certify inventories from several years ago under oath and penalties of perjury. I explained my dilemma with the department several years ago.”

Apparently, the original violation called for a $36,000 fine before Russo was able to negotiate it down to $15,000, which the council agreed to pay.

“The fine was entirely based on small amounts of cleaning supplies, and had nothing to do with any kind of health violation,” Russo said. “We’re up to date now, and we’re never going to have this issue again.”

Honorees

Two proclamations honored Bayonne residents for local philanthropy efforts. The first was awarded to Marist High School alum Jared Radil, for founding and running a local charity called Jared’s Helping Hands, a nonprofit that helps children on the autism spectrum transition into high school.

“Jared is highly functional, and he’s learned to help those like him learn to feel comfortable and succeed,” said Council President Ashe-Nadrowski. “He’s going to Montclair University, and we thought it was important to recognize him before we lose him to Montclair.”

“I lived in Bayonne for all of my life,” Radil said. “I’m proud to give back to the community, and anyone can be involved. I have a number of friends involved who are in the Bayonne community.”

As someone who experiences ASD firsthand, Radil is uniquely positioned to help incoming high school students on the autism spectrum.

The second proclamation went to Vincent J. Bottino posthumously. Bottino was the proprietor of the former Big Apple sports bar, and was “an integral part of Bayonne’s social fabric his entire life,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. He raised funds for Bayonne High School, the Cal Ripken Baseball and Softball leagues, and the Police Athletic League basketball program. A section of 19th Street between Broadway and Avenue E will be renamed Vincent J Bottino Way, according to the proclamation.

For updates on this and more stories check hudsonreporter.com or follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at mikem@hudsonreporter.com.