Bayonne bonds $18 million for capital improvements

One new traffic light will be at a 'dangerous' intersection of Avenue C and 49th Street

The Bayonne City Council has adopted an ordinance bonding for $18,075,000 in capital improvements and equipment, highlights of which include new vehicles such as fire trucks and street sweepers, and even some traffic lights.

City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski noted that it was the largest the council has bonded since she had been on it: “This is extremely large, the largest we’ve done in our time here.” Chief Financial Officer Donna Mauer said that the bond wasn’t actually for $18 million, but closer to $10 million considering the city was receiving $7,231,963 in grants. Ashe-Nadrowski then questioned Mauer about the nature of some of the items in the bond.

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“So, we’re getting a new fire truck,” mayoral candidate Ashe-Nadrowski said. “Are we expanding our fleet? Are these replacements, or are we expanding our forces? It doesn’t say exactly what we’re buying.”

Officials confirmed the fire truck fleet was not expanding but rather replacing a 1997 fire truck that they could no longer get parts for. Also included were replacements for other vehicles including street sweepers.

“The sweepers are older vehicles,” Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Tom Cotter said. “They’ve been breaking down. We’ve been reaping them. We would be replacing a sweeper and retiring one of the older sweepers. The oldest trucks for the snow we have are from 1989 max. We put them back together with bubble gum every year. They need to be repaired or replaced.”

Traffic lights on the way

Part of the bond also goes toward two traffic lights, Cotter confirmed. While one is still in the works for an undisclosed area somewhere between 30th and 39th Streets, which Cotter did not want to disclose as to not get peoples’ hopes up, the other is for the intersection of Avenue C and 49th Street.

“49th Street was warranted for improvement,” Cotter said. “Mr. Grimes was an advocate for that, so I’m sure he’s happy.”

Grimes and company made a detailed and nearly to scale diorama of the intersection of Avenue C and 49th Street.

The intersection is a dangerous crossing in the city, which has prompted activists to come out and ask for a traffic light. The council had previously been looking to get the state to pay for it, but it seems the city is bonding for it instead.

One activist who has campaigned for the street light, Edward “Lefty” Grimes of Sativa Cross, again approached the city council. This time, he brought with him a diorama, accurately detailed and to scale, of the intersection at 49th and Avenue C. 

Grimes thanked the council for the traffic light at the intersection which he called “deadly and dangerous,” but noted there were other areas in need of light as well, particularly wheelchair access.

Accessibility issues highlighted

“There’s a lot of wheelchair issues in Bayonne,” Grimes said.

According to Grimes, there is no wheelchair access to one of the Bayonne police stations at night. This, coupled with many businesses with one step at the entrance of their establishment, prevents wheelchair access which Grimes has said has prevented him from redeeming tax breaks at businesses in the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ). He lamented the lack of wheelchair access across the city, in both public and private entities.

Mike Vintzileos performs as “Bongholeo” before the Bayonne City Council.

Grimes then sang an original “Keep Your Wheelchairs Home” while instrumental music played a speaker as he called for the city council to subsidize the construction of wheelchair ramps at businesses with one step at the entrance. He and fellow advocate Mike Vintzileos, who dressed in a giant bong costume and donned the name “Bongholeo,” repeated the lines “Hey hey, ho ho, that ugly step has got to go,” “your wheelchair access really blows,” and “a step is a wall.” Grimes later revealed the group had filmed it for their music video.

“We tried everything, so I hope this goes through,” Grimes said following the performance. However, the council did not address his proposal to increase wheelchair access in the city.

Another light by Amazon?

Following the discussion of the other traffic lights, resident Mike Morris asked about the traffic light that was supposed to be put back in on 4th Street and Avenue A near the Amazon facility.

“It was agreed upon that… there would be a traffic light reinstalled there because it was a school zone,” Morris said. “That still hasn’t appeared yet. Any reason why?”

The diorama included a miniature version of “Bongholeo.”

“I don’t know, I asked the same question,” Ashe-Nadrowski said, noting she lives in the area and witnesses vehicles speeding in the area. “I’m a witness to that every day… The administration has to actually execute on the administrative side and get the traffic lights and hold the developers accountable.”

Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa said: “We can get a letter to the manager of the facility.

Morris thanked the council and hoped it would be resolved soon, reiterating it was in a school zone.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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