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Jersey City Council approves $131 million in bonds for city projects

Bonds would be issued for infrastructure projects around the city

The city is looking to bond $131 million to get ahead of rising interest rates by the Federal Reserve. Photo by Mark Koosau.

The Jersey City Council approved selling $131 million in bonds for a number of city capital projects on Wednesday night, mainly focused on public building repairs and renovations for City Hall, public safety buildings and other types of infrastructure.

The city wants to sell the bonds ahead of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to counter inflation, when borrowing could be more expensive for taxpayers. Out of the $131 million, about $6,550,000 will be spent on debt service.

“At this time with the market conditions, it’s best that we have a four-to-five year of all the projects that we’re gonna do and proceed with funding those projects,” said Business Administrator John Metro in a March 21 caucus meeting.

The most expensive bond to be issued is $25 million for the Loew’s Theater renovations, which is set to begin in the first half of this year. The overall renovations are expected to cost about $72 million.

The city is next looking to bond a combined $24 million to acquire property and build two new police precincts in the city; the north precinct would be at 117 Hutton Street and 18 Sherman Place in the Heights, and the south precinct at 1 West Side Avenue. Ordinances to buy the property or acquire it through condemnation, known as eminent domain, were also introduced at the meeting.

They’re next looking to bond $15 million each for the 911 call center at the new public safety building at 358 Martin Luther King Drive, and for the demolition of the old county courthouse at Journal Square that will be renovated into a park.

Twelve million will be bonded for park improvements, and $10 million will be set for public street repairs, which Metro said that they’ll work with the city council on which projects and places will be prioritized. Five million will also be bonded for the Skyway Park Project, located along the Hackensack River.

At City Hall itself, $5 million will be used for building repairs, and $3 million will be used to create a new park outside of City Hall at the current parking lot. Ten million will also be bonded for various building improvements around the city such as firehouses and libraries.

Lastly, they’ll be bonding $3 million for property on MLK Boulevard and $2 million for IT to replace radios, body cameras, laptops and so forth.

During the aforementioned caucus meeting, Councilman Frank Gilmore had asked how projects would be prioritized, to which Metro responded that are investments in the city like the new public safety building or fixing other buildings or businesses.

“Most of the money as we allocated technology citywide, and then we have specific projects that the administration puts forward with the council’s consideration,” said Metro.

Councilman James Solomon also asked on if they could outline on the council members’ requests for a number of items and to ensure that they’re funded, to which Metro said that he can and can work with the council on.

Metro also said that they could do reappropriation ordinances when there’s funding that’s freed up from existing projects, such as a $6 million park redesign only costing $5 million, to which the extra million could be used for another project that the council agrees upon.

The bond ordinance was adopted unanimously 8-0, with six votes out of nine being needed to adopt a bond ordinance (Council President Joyce Watterman was absent from the meeting that night).

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.

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