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“Save the Hudson River Palisades Act”
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Kelly: Well-intentioned bill may be too late

Sunday, June 24, 2012


SOME LAWS are meant to protect us. Some are just too late, despite all the best intentions. |Such is the problem with a piece of legislation that was dutifully embraced by the state Senate committee that monitors New Jersey’s wounded environment. This bill is meant to stop the bleeding on what many environmental activists consider a massive scar – the disturbing pace of development that threatens the majestic Palisades cliffs.

But this bill will be little more than a Band-Aid.

That’s not how its sponsor sees it. State Sen. Brian Stack, who also happens to be the mayor of Union City, was rightly responding to the cries of his constituents when he introduced the “Save the Hudson River Palisades Act.”

Residents of Union City and other towns looked at the cliffs and feared that developers were cutting into the rock too much. So why not set up some legislative safeguards?

“The Hudson River Palisades have been defaced by development in recent years,” Stack said in a statement. “We will never be able to restore them to their natural state, or to re-establish the stability and security of the cliff slopes, but we can act to prevent further deterioration of the structure.”

This is how representative government is supposed to work. An elected official sees a problem and then crafts a piece of legislation or endorses a policy program to solve it.

Stack’s bill seems to do just that. It lays down guidelines for how real estate developers and contractors can build apartments, shopping malls, offices or

other projects from the New York-New Jersey border in Alpine and along the Hudson through Fort Lee, Edgewater, North Bergen and even including pieces of Jersey City.

Most importantly, perhaps, the bill specifically prohibits builders from cutting into the slope of the Palisades cliffs or their base for most projects. In the case of exemptions for what the bill says are some public works projects and others involving water pipes or electrical, telephone and gas lines, the bill requires that developers consult with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

So what’s wrong here?

Let’s begin by consulting the calendar – and then opening our eyes.

Little open space

Today, there is almost no open space left above or below the Palisades. There could be room for new projects if developers were able to purchase some older buildings and then tear them down to put up new projects. But the essential problem is that the Palisades have been targeted for massive development in just the last 20 years, mostly in Fort Lee, Edgewater and North Bergen.

Those new projects are not likely to be torn down, especially if new developers would be held in check by Stack’s new law.

Which brings us to the basic problem of this law – namely, that it is a generation too late.

If this bill had been introduced in the late 1970s or even the 1980s, it would have had a substantial impact, especially in Fort Lee, Edgewater and North Bergen. But development in those towns exploded during the 1980s, as real estate investors scooped up almost every available swatch of land.

The result has been a mosh-pit of apartment buildings, shopping malls and town houses – many of them expensive and offering scenic views of the Hudson River and Manhattan.

Huge cost

But the cost to the Palisades has been enormous. In several cases, developers have shaved back the cliffs, then installed unsightly wire mesh or coated the rocks to prevent boulders from rolling into the living rooms of million-dollar condominiums. That kind of surreal scene raises two obvious questions: If you need steel nets to catch falling boulders, why cut back the cliffs? And why build so close to the cliffs in the first place?

The answer is also obvious: Land along the Hudson is enormously valuable. Customers have proven they are willing to pay high prices for condominiums there. You can hardly blame developers for wanting to grab as much space as possible, even if that means cutting back the cliffs or building perilously close to the base and drop zone of boulders the size of tractor trailers.

With little guidance from the state, developers simply came up with their own solution – steel nets and glue-like coating for loose rocks.

Stop-gap measure

As a stop-gap measure, the nets and coating seem to work. But as an artistic triumph or a monument to a natural wonder, these nets and synthetic coatings are the equivalent of replacing a violin with a banjo in the New York Symphony.

As if that isn’t bad enough, consider the avalanche of criticism last week of North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, who also happens to be a state senator.

“This ill-conceived bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever encountered,” Sacco said. “It would halt nearly all development and take away the property rights of homeowners between Kennedy Boulevard and Tonnelle Avenue from Jersey City through North Hudson.”

Is Sacco taking public speaking lessons from Governor Christie? What’s with the venom?

Sacco went on to describe the proposal for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to oversee land-use decisions as “an enormous government overreach” that would “hurt taxpayers, kill jobs, take away local control and would be disastrous to the economy of the region.”

He ended with this rhetorical coup de grace: “This ridiculous bill has no chance of being enacted.”

Stack shot back with a few stones of his own.

“It’s Sacco who has obviously destroyed the Palisades,” Stack said. “North Bergen is the poster child for the destruction of the cliffs.”

Stack said “hundreds of people” in Sacco’s legislative district who “are outraged by what’s going on have contacted me. This is about the people.”

One of those people, Peggy Wong of North Bergen, has organized the Coalition to Preserve the Palisades Cliffs. But she concedes she is fighting an uphill battle.

“A lot has been damaged,” she says.

Much of that damage occurred while Sacco was in charge of North Bergen. The township has scheduled a series of hearings over the coming months to assess several projects. Don’t count on too many restrictions for developers.

It’s too bad North Bergen does not have Stack’s legislation to look to for guidance. But that bill has yet to be voted on by the entire legislature and then signed into law by Christie.

This will take time.

But time has mostly passed by for the cliffs.

It may be too late. ... elly_062412.html?page=all

Posted on: 2012/6/25 1:50

Re: One person dead, one wounded, after shoot-out in parking lot of Jersey City diner
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Jersey City police asking public's help in finding driver who fled mayhem at diner last weekend

June 23, 2012, 3:02 AM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

Officials are again asking for the public’s help in locating a Jersey City man wanted for leaving the scene of a fatal accident in which a car struck a garbage container that crushed a man after gunfire erupted at Al’s Diner in Jersey City Sunday.
“We do believe he is on the run,” Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said yesterday of William A. Sparrow, 26, of Ocean Avenue. “He is not in his usual locations.”

The prosecutor said Sparrow contacted his office on Wednesday to arrange his surrender but never showed up.

During the 3:30 a.m. incident in the parking lot of the Communipaw Avenue diner, officials say Lamont Settles, 28, and Nasir Barnes, 23, both of Jersey City, opened fire on a Lexus driven by Sparrow, wounding his passenger.

Sparrow attempted to flee, but the Lexus struck a garbage container that pinned Jason Jenkins, 29, of Bergen Avenue in Jersey City, against a concrete wall, officials said. He died of head and torso trauma, DeFazio said.

Barnes and Settles are each charged with two counts of attempted murder, and all three men are charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, the complaints say.

Barnes, aka Brandon Santiago, has been arrested and is being held on a $500,000 cash-only bail. Settles also remains at large. Sparrow’s passenger was shot at least twice and has since been released from the Jersey City Medical Center, officials said.

“The motive, we believe, is due to a prior altercation at another location,” DeFazio said.

The Prosecutor’s Office has released a more recent picture of Sparrow. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Sparrow or Settles is asked to call the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345. ... y_police_asking_publ.html

Posted on: 2012/6/25 1:46

Jersey City gun buy-back program
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Jersey City gun buy-back program expected to take hundreds of firearms off the streets

June 23, 2012, 3:16 PM
By Stephanie Musat/ For The Jersey Journal

The third gun buy-back program, sponsored by the City of Jersey City, has already taken at least 2 rifles, 12 handguns and 5 BB guns off the street as part of the annual amnesty initiative where residents can trade in the guns for cash.

Gun owners could have gone to three sites in Jersey City and receive $100 for every rifle and shotgun, and $150 for every handgun and automatic weapon in an effort to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of those who might abuse them.

Those numbers came from only one site - the Ocean Avenue Baptist Church - so the number is expected to triple, adding firearms from the other two sites at St. Joseph's Parish and First Wesleyan Church.

A full count of how many guns were received will not be available until tomorrow, officials said.

Officials at the Ocean Avenue site said there were a few more rifles turned in in previous years, but some guns brought in are vintage, including one estimated from the 1920s.

They said a lot of women have been turning in the guns after their father or husband passed away and they don't want them around the house anymore.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy launched the city’s gun buyback program, dubbed Operation LifeSaver, in 2005. That year police recovered more than 900 guns. Last year, 310 guns were taken off the street to curb city violence in three weekend buy back programs.

“In our effort to make our streets safer, we will continue to be creative and use whatever means available to us to stop the carnage caused by the proliferation of illegal firearms on city streets here and across the country,” Healy said in a statement.

The program is funded by donations from residents, businesses and a $10,000 donation from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, which comes from forfeited money ... gun_buy-back_progr_1.html

Posted on: 2012/6/25 1:36

Re: HUGE GAS PIPELINE COMING - through Jersey City
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Federal agency that approved Spectra pipeline is running 'a rigged game,' Jersey City claims in new filing

June 22, 2012, 11:32 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City has issued a scathing, 43-page rebuttal to a federal agency’s decision to approve Spectra Energy’s natural-gas pipeline, with a top city attorney claiming the agency is biased toward energy companies and has ignored the city’s concerns about safety along the pipeline route.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that gave the controversial pipeline its approval on May 22, is “running a rigged game,” approving pipeline routes proposed by energy companies while ignoring “viable alternatives” suggested by other parties, the attorney writes.

The document is the city’s official request for a rehearing in front of FERC, the first of only two options the city has to stop the pipeline now that it has federal approval. Houston-based Spectra wants to begin constructing the roughly 15 miles of new pipe, which will snake underneath Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore Hoboken, this summer.

Assistant Corporation Counsel Derek S. Fanciullo, who drafted the petition, throws a host of anti-pipeline arguments at FERC in the petition. Many of the arguments are familiar to anyone who has followed Jersey City’s voracious opposition to the $1.2 billion project, including the city’s fears that the pipeline would be a target for terrorists and that the area is too densely populated for a high-pressure, 30-inch gas pipe.

But Fanciullo makes a few points that constitute what a city official called a “novel” legal argument against Spectra’s proposal.

He argues that FERC, a federal agency governed by five presidentially appointed commissioners, is “entirely incapable” of providing due process to aggrieved parties because its operating budget is dependent on the fees its collects from pipelines it approves.

“When FERC makes adjudicative decisions involving the pipeline and energy companies that entirely fund its existence, the agency cannot guarantee it is a ‘neutral and detached judge,’ Fanciullo writes.

Fanciullo told The Jersey Journal he believes this is the first time a municipality has attempted to overturn a FERC ruling using this kind of argument.

“I think it’s a sound strategy,” he said.

If FERC declines Jersey City’s request for a rehearing, the city’s final chance to stop the pipeline would be an appeal to a federal circuit court. Fanciullo said the city will “litigate this as long as we can.”

A FERC spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the agency doesn’t comment on pending matters.

The agency approved the pipeline last month, saying it would have minor effects on public safety and the environment. Spectra has repeatedly stressed that they believe the pipe will be one of the safest in North America, and officials there have argued the project will bring jobs and lower energy costs to the region.

“We remain committed to safely constructing this critically-needed pipeline and look forward to a timely notice to proceed,” Spectra spokeswoman Marylee Hanley said yesterday. “We will continue to cooperate with the community and appropriate regulatory agencies throughout the construction process." ... ency_that_approved_s.html

Posted on: 2012/6/23 3:26

Re: 3 at Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) arrested in license sales to illegal immigrants
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Former N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission clerk pleads guilty to conspiring in illegal sale of licenses

June 22, 2012, 7:06 PM
By Christopher Baxter/Statehouse Bureau

TRENTON — A former clerk at the Jersey City Motor Vehicle Agency pleaded guilty to conspiracy Friday for illegally selling driver’s licenses to unauthorized applicants, state authorities said.

Sonia Noel, 48, of Union City, admitted that on more than one occasion in 2008, she entered false information into a state database for two people who did not have the identification necessary to get a license, the state Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

Under a plea agreement, state authorities will recommend Noel be sentenced to four years in prison. She must pay $3,000 in restitution and will be barred from public employment in New Jersey. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7.

In May, Noel’s daughter, Melody Noel, 27, of Union City, who was also a clerk in Jersey City, pleaded guilty to tampering with public records or information, the office said.

She admitted helping process one of the license applications sold by her mother. She was sentenced Friday to two years probation, community service and a $1,000 fine, the office said. She will also be barred from future public employment in New Jersey.

Last month Hernan Chica, 53, of Hackensack, one of the customers who illegally purchased a license from Sonia Noel, pleaded guilty to computer criminal activity, the office said. Chica was sentenced Friday to two years probation, community service and a $750 fine, the office said.

Chica and the Noels were among 40 named in indictments last year in connection with alleged conspiracies at motor vehicle agencies in East Orange, Edison, North Bergen and Lodi motor vehicle agencies. ... motor_vehicle_commis.html

Posted on: 2012/6/23 3:19

Re: New hotel planned for One Exchange Place
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Developer buying 10-story Exchange Place tower in Jersey City

June 22, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The developer who is acquiring a 10-story Exchange Place tower in Jersey City plans to add three stories and open a luxury hotel at the location, with a public restaurant and skyline viewing area at the top, city officials revealed last week.

One Exchange Place, which once housed a Cosi restaurant on the ground floor, closed almost entirely last April after the lobby ceiling collapsed. City planning officials said at last Monday's council caucus that the structure's interior is "very dilapidated."

But the building, which city records show has been owned by Onyx Equities of Woodbridge since 1978, is being acquired for $14 million by North Carolina-based Concord Hospitality, which plans to open a "boutique" hotel on the property, chief of staff Rosemary McFadden said.

"They feel it will be very successful down there," McFadden told the council.

City Planner Jeff Wenger said the developer plans to install an express elevator that would take riders directly from the ground floor to the top-floor restaurant and viewing area.

Wenger said that asbestos has to be removed from the building, which would then need to be renovated.

Six businesses operated inside 1 Exchange Place before the lobby ceiling collapsed. Only two, a Dunkin' Donuts and a Subway restaurant, are open today, according to Fire Director Armando Roman.

The council would have to approve amending a redevelopment plan for that site before the project can proceed. ... buying_10-story_exch.html

Posted on: 2012/6/23 3:08

Re: Thirty Acres Restaurant- Jersey Avenue
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Innovations, Both Raw and Cooked
A Review of Thirty Acres, in Jersey City

The New York Times
Published: June 22, 2012

JUST when I thought I had experienced almost everything the restaurant scene had to offer, I walked into a renovated pizzeria in Jersey City and ordered a spicy barbecued squid salad. The pickled pearl onions, jalapeño peppers and fresh, bright cilantro seemed to pop in my mouth, to set off intensifying waves of flavor. Here was a kind of cuisine I had never tasted in New Jersey.

Thirty Acres is the source of the squid salad and other innovative dishes prepared by Kevin Pemoulie, who opened the restaurant with his wife, Alex, in April. During the previous 10 years, he had worked with the masters. From Akhtar Nawab at Craftbar, he learned to rely on seasonal and mostly local ingredients, he explained during a telephone interview after my visits. From David Chang at Momofuku Noodle Bar, where Mr. Pemoulie was chef de cuisine for almost five years, he learned to be daring. Instead of merely sautéing his greens in olive oil, he mixes them with mustard seeds he pickles and tops them with sweet and crispy onions, a remarkable ingredient he gets in plastic bags from the Pakistani grocer around the block. The results are rousing. I could eat bowlfuls of these greens.

His other vegetable combinations are even more brazen. Broccoli, crisp and juicy from having been charred, raw, on the griddle top, arrives with hon shimeji mushrooms and — surprisingly — chicken livers puréed with cognac. They turned this simple dish into a deeply satisfying one. Now I want chicken livers with all my vegetables.

The atmosphere inside Thirty Acres is as lively as the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood around it, and the décor is as authentically Jersey City. The base of the bar, for example, is constructed of wooden beams from an old local brownstone. It’s an exciting room to be in, alive with the energy of an enterprise that is young but already knows it is going to be successful. Even the ever-changing menu at Thirty Acres is unconventional. Instead of the usual appetizer, salad and entree categories, it features — in various sizes — platters of cooked and raw ingredients, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables and fish.

Two of the raw fish dishes on the menu surpassed even the pleasures of sushi. The Arctic char features slices of lightly cured fish mixed with trout roe, jewel-like cubes of pickles and sesame seeds pulverized with bits of Balthazar rye bread, all served beside a purée of beets and goat cheese. Such a hodgepodge, yet the ingredients only intensify, rather than detract from, the fish, which is rich, slightly salty and luxurious.

The other great raw appetizer is the sea scallop marinated in lime vinaigrette and Cholula, a commercial hot sauce. Before you taste the tiny flecks of gold illuminating the scallop, you’re likely to mistake them for some kind of roe. They are bits of country ham, shipped from Tennessee, dried overnight in an oven and then grated over the scallop. They give the dish a haunting, slightly smoky flavor. And what a novelty — a plate of raw fish that doesn’t contain soy sauce.

The only species of pasta served is cavatelli, and it is perfect: soft and buttery and, because of its density, more fun to eat than other kinds of pasta. I especially liked it with grilled asparagus and floppy, slippery oyster mushrooms. Another, heartier dish is Mr. Pemoulie’s beautiful roasted trout, its interior filled with lemon slices and whole fronds of lemon thyme. The fish is fine on its own, but it is irresistible paired with lardons of bacon; we dug for them among the glazed baby turnips and onions as if they were diamonds. The poussin, roasted so that the skin is crispy and the meat is juicy, offers other treasures: fingerling potatoes cooked in duck fat and hearty hen-of-the-woods mushrooms.

Mr. Pemoulie mixes ingredients and takes chances, but sometimes his playfulness backfires. A bowl of fingerling potatoes meant to evoke the experience of eating a chili dog at a baseball game misses the vital ingredient — the excitement of the game. Without it, the dish is just chili. And although I love his perfectly cooked sweetbreads, which are crisp and creamy, the purée of white Spanish anchovies meant to dress them up overwhelms them. All I tasted was anchovy.

“There’s something a little dictatorial about offering just that one dessert,” my friend Alice said at the end of our visit. I disagree. The lemony zing of the lone dessert, “Kevin’s mom’s lemon bars,” with their rich and buttery crust, is the perfect note on which to end a meal that includes so many explosively exciting dishes. The only more appropriate ending to a meal at Thirty Acres would be fireworks.

Thirty Acres
500 Jersey Avenue
Jersey City
(201) 435-3100

Posted on: 2012/6/23 2:58

Re: HUGE GAS PIPELINE COMING - through Jersey City
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Jersey City mayor says natural-gas explosion in Nyack is 'perfect example' of dangers of Spectra pipeline

June 22, 2012, 12:00 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy is pointing to a natural-gas explosion in Downtown Nyack, NY yesterday as yet another reason why Spectra Energy should not build a gas pipeline here in Hudson County.

According to NBC News, no one was hurt in yesterday’s Nyack explosion, which was the result of sparks hit gas in a pipe during a gas main replacement project, according to a utility spokesman.

But Healy nonetheless believes that what happened in Nyack -- a village about 40 miles north of Jersey City -- could happen here if construction of the Spectra pipeline proceeds.

“One thing we know for certain is that Jersey City is far more densely populated than Nyack, and should something like this happen here, it would be nothing short of catastrophic,” he said in a statement.

Healy said city officials will reach out to Nyack today to learn more about yesterday’s incident, which witnesses say led to flames 50 feet high.

Nyack-Piermont Patch has video of the aftermath of the explosion.

Spectra officials have stressed that they believe their pipeline will be one of the safest in North America. Approved by federal officials last month, the Spectra pipe will snake underneath Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore Hoboken. ... y_says_natural-gas_e.html

Posted on: 2012/6/22 16:21

Re: 'Jersey Shore' Spin-Off in Jersey City
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Nothing in this first show is filmed in Jersey City; at the end there is a preview that indicates show 2 will start the Jersey City scenes. Stay tuned.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 5:38

Re: Two Boots Pizza
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Two Boots Pizza - Jersey City
133 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302


Photos of the grand opening: ... 489683.31135174702&type=1

Posted on: 2012/6/21 6:22

Re: BOE approves huge $268K settlement -- paves the way for Epps to leave in December
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Jersey City Board of Education has paid former superintendent Epps, who retired in December, $422,644 this year

June 19, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Longtime Jersey City schools superintendent Charles T. Epps Jr., who retired in December after more than 40 years with the district, has been paid $422,644 so far this year, according to the school district.

Epps received a $268,000 settlement, roughly equal to one year’s salary, from the Board of Education in exchange for his agreement not to sue the district over a contract dispute. Epps had a contract that permitted him to stay through the 2012-13 school year, but a board majority believed that contract wasn’t valid.

The additional sum comes from Epps cashing in unused sick and vacation days, to the tune of $154,444, according to district spokeswoman Paula Christen. Epps received $86,362 for 621.5 accumulated sick days and $68,081 for 66 unused vacation days, Christen said.

Gov. Chris Christie and Democrats, who control the state Legislature, have been battling since last year over proposals to cap sick-time payouts for public employees.

State legislators passed a bill last year that would have capped the payouts at $15,000, but Christie vetoed it. Democrats then suggested making the cap $7,500, but the governor has said he wants the practice to end entirely.

“Why should anybody be entitled to a $7,500 check when they leave just because they don’t get sick?” Christie said at a West New York town hall meeting in December. “It’s ridiculous.” ... oard_of_education_11.html

Posted on: 2012/6/20 2:30

Re: Body of woman believed to have been abducted from JC is found in Newark
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Jersey City woman who was abducted and killed identified as 27-year-old Bidwell Avenue resident

June 19, 2012, 2:50 PM
By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal

The woman who was abducted in Jersey City Saturday and whose body was found in Newark late last night has been identified as a 27-year-old Bidwell Avenue woman, Jersey City police said.

Her identity is being withheld by Jersey City police since the Essex County Prosecutor's Office is handling homicide investigation, police spokesman Stan Eason said.

According to police reports, the woman was forced into a black, four-door sedan on Saturday at 10:30 p.m., and there were a number of witnesses. Her body was found late last night in Newark, according to another law enforcement source.

It was originally reported that the abduction occurred at Communipaw Avenue and Grand Street.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office has not immediately returned calls for more information on the woman's death.

The abduction was not reported to police until Sunday afternoon, 16 hours after it occurred, Eason said. On Sunday afternoon police at the West Precinct said they were interviewing "persons of interest." ... y_woman_who_was_abdu.html

Posted on: 2012/6/20 2:28

Re: Bergen Lafayette 19-year-old accused in 5 of the 25 murders last year in Jersey City (Maybe 6)
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Woman accused of killing Jersey City couple testifies: 'I didn't shoot anyone'

June 19, 2012, 3:42 PM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

JERSEY CITY — Speaking softly from the witness stand, the woman being tried in the murder of a Jersey City couple returning from their engagement party in 2010 was adamant that she had didn't shoot anyone.

Latonia Bellamy said she feared her cousin, Shiquan Bellamy, would kill her if she seemed to be opposed to the killing and robbery and only took a cut of the proceeds because “I was afraid he would kill me if I didn’t take it ... he would think I was going to go to police.”

Both Bellamys and Darmellia Lawrence, all 21, are charged in the April 4, 2010, slaying of Nia Haqq, 25, and Michael Muchioki, 27, in front of the couple's Randolph Avenue home.

Latonia Bellamy told investigators the three were at Shiquan Bellamy’s home when he took out a shotgun and pistol and she said she had always wanted to shoot a gun.

On the stand today she said the three took a walk with the weapons and when they came across the couple unloading gifts from their car, Shiquan Bellamy ordered them to the ground and fired a shotgun blast at Muchioki's head. She said he turned to her and said “You want to shoot a gun. Shoot the (expletive) gun.”

“If I had the chance to run, I would have ran,” Latonia Bellamy testified. She said she was “paralyzed” and fired the handgun at the ground, “away from" the victim.

“I didn’t shoot anyone,” said Bellamy, who was on the stand from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The defendant said the three got into the couple’s vehicle, but could not take it because of a steering lock so they all fled together.

But during an interview before her arrest she told investigators she had fired once into the air and once at the ground, and finally, she said she fired twice toward the ground and the shots may have hit the victims.

She admitted sharing in the proceeds of the robbery and having gotten into the couple's car when the three were going to take it.

Under cross examination, Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael D’Adrea questioned Latonia Bellamy on inconsistencies in her statements. “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”

“I was lying then” she told the jury.

Latonia Bellamy said the inconsistencies were because she was tired when interviewed by homicide detectives and was just trying to get the process completed. She noted that she had voluntarily gone to speak to investigators and and had simply attempted to tell the truth.

Defense attorney John Elefthrow rested his case at 2:19 after calling a family member and four friends as character witnesses who said the defendant had a reputation for being honest and truthful.

The prosecution rested at about 10 a.m. today.

Closing arguments will be heard Wednesday morning. The jury will then be charged prior to beginning deliberations on Latonia Bellamy's guilt or innocence. She faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. ... sed_of_killing_jerse.html

Posted on: 2012/6/20 2:25

New Hyatt Hotel - Downtown Jersey City
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New hotel planned for One Exchange Place
Renovation to finish in 2014, will boost city tax revenues

June 17, 2012
by E. Assata Wright
Hudson Reporter staff writer

Resized Image

A dilapidated, nearly-vacant office building at Exchange Place will be transformed into a 13-story, 247-room hotel, complete with an observation deck and restaurant with sweeping views of the New York skyline. If current plans for the site stay on schedule, the hotel should open sometime in fall 2014, according to the hotel’s project manager.

At present, the site at One Exchange Place is home to just two businesses after the Jersey City Fire Department issued a vacate order in April 2011 following a ceiling collapse on the ground floor. The city’s Building Department subsequently issued a Notice of Imminent Hazard and a Notice of Unsafe Structure.

Last week the City Council unanimously declared One Exchange Place in need of redevelopment, which clears the way for a massive renovation of the site by the Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company. Concord has acquired One Exchange Place and will spend the next two years renovating the building. The council also introduced the One Exchange Place Redevelopment Plan, which could come up for a vote on June 27.

Concord owns and manages 84 hotels across the country, including five in northern New Jersey. The company’s portfolio of hotels includes such brands as Courtyard, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, Renaissance, MainStay Suites, Hilton Garden, Doubletree, and Sheraton.

One Exchange Place will be the company’s first site in Hudson County. Christopher Brenner, Concord’s project manager for the Exchange Place project, said last week the company has not yet released which of its brands will open in Jersey City.

From ‘dilapidated’ to ‘upscale’

Originally built in 1920 as a bank, Once Exchange Place had become a run-down 10-story office building at the foot of Montgomery Street by the time it was condemned by the city last year. At present, only two tenants, Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway sandwich shop, remain in the building on the ground floor.

In a presentation last week, city planner Jeffery Wenger told the City Council that while the “exterior of the [One Exchange] is in good condition, most of the building’s interior is non-functioning and is in need of serious repair.”

The building has active leaks and water damage, there is asbestos which will need to be removed. Several walls have holes, some additional ceilings have collapsed in the year since the initial collapse in April 2011. All of the upper floors, Wenger said, are “completely dilapidated.”

The building will, however, be completed gutted and remade into a new hotel.

According to Brenner, Concord plans to do a substantial renovation of the property.

“The existing building constructed in 1920 is 10 stories. We are adding three stories to the existing building and a story addition at the southeast corner of the property,” said Brenner. “The 13th floor, or roof terrace level, will have…views of the Jersey City waterfront and the Manhattan skyline. The first floor of the existing building will have 10,000 square feet of commercial retail space.”

The entire facility, he added, will have a total of 190,000 square feet.

“Demolition is [already] in progress,” said Brenner, “and will continue through December 2012. We expect to commence construction on the new addition and renovations in January of 2013.”

Exactly which hotel brand will move into the site will, Brenner said, be announced later this summer.

“We are currently in conversations with two of the top global brands to develop an upscale hotel,” he added. “We will announce the brand in the next few weeks.”

New site will boost hotel tax revenues

The Concord project will be Jersey City’s sixth reputable hotel. The city currently has a Westin, a Doubletree, and a Courtyard Marriott in the Newport neighborhood. The Hyatt is just two blocks from One Exchange Place. And there’s also a Ramada Inn on Tonnelle Avenue in the Journal Square area.

The nearby Hoboken waterfront also includes a W Hotel that is not far from Jersey City’s Newport community.

A long-planned mixed-use Hilton development at the end of Marin Boulevard, near Liberty Harbor North, has yet to break ground. In 2010 the city approved an $8 million loan for the $118 million development, which was supposed to include 342 hotel rooms and 470 residential units.

Still, the addition of the Concord property to the city’s roster of hotels will boost local revenue from the hotel tax. Municipalities throughout the state of New Jersey receive a tax from each hotel room booked within their city. The hotel tax charged is not uniform, and varies from one city to the next. Jersey City currently receives a hotel tax rate of 6 percent from every hotel room booked at the city’s hotels.

Jersey City currently gets between $4 million and $5 million annually from the hotel tax, according to the administration of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. ... ce=lead_story_left_column

Posted on: 2012/6/18 15:09

Edited by Webmaster on 2014/8/13 3:42:24

Re: Corruption indictments hit Louis Manzo and brother Ronald -- charges they accepted $27,500 in bribes
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Not guilty, and not intimidated
Former sting defendant Lou Manzo warns the public about feds

June 10, 2012
by E. Assata Wright
Hudson Reporter staff writer

If Lou Manzo considers himself a ruined man, he sure doesn’t talk like it. The former insurance businessman, state assemblyman, perennial mayoral candidate, one-time defendant, and nemesis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark talks like a winning quarterback after a Super Bowl victory.

As one of 44 public officials and religious leaders arrested on July 23, 2009, in a massive federal sting operation known as Operation Bid Rig III, Manzo was immediately tagged as another corrupt Hudson County pol. In the weeks and months following the arrests, a public narrative of the sting began to unfold. Several high profile officials pleaded guilty – after months of maintaining their innocence – admitting that they did indeed meet with a federal cooperating witness and took cash in exchange for political favors.

But Manzo was different. From the outset he decided to fight the charges against him, a path few other Bid Rig defendants would take. And he took it a step further. Not only did he fight his case, but he was consistently vocal in his belief that the Bid Rig investigation was politically motivated and was specifically designed to clear a path to the governor’s mansion for Christopher Christie, who launched the sting before leaving his post as U.S. Attorney and was campaigning as the arrests took place.

The defense strategy worked. A federal judge ruled that since Manzo was not a public official at the time he allegedly met with the government informant, he had no political favors to sell and charges against him were dismissed.

Even though Manzo won, however, he lost a lot in the process. The victory came with serious personal, professional, and financial sacrifices. But the experience has turned him into something of a crusader for the U.S. Constitution and for the rights of people facing charges from what Manzo calls over zealous federal prosecutors. Because he believes a lazy media and apathetic public helped create the climate that allowed the Bid Rig investigation to ruin the lives of many people – some of whom have been found not guilty – he’s taking his anger directly to the community.

On Tuesday, June 19, Manzo will give a talk titled “A Movement for Justice to Safeguard Civil Rights” at the Miller Branch Library at 489 Bergen Ave. The talk begins at 7 p.m.

A path not chosen

“This isn’t a path I chose. I feel like this is a path that was forced on me,” said Manzo. “Never in my dreams did I think I would be going through something like this. But since this is where I am now, I’m going to call attention to what I think is wrong with our justice system.”

Since his arrest, Manzo said he has been unable to find work and has essentially gone into a kind of forced early retirement. Once the owner of an insurance business, he said it cost him $125,000 to defend himself against the charges.

“This made me open my eyes to the other people that simply pled guilty, not only in this instance, but in other instances, simply to avoid the consequences of a lengthy defense,” said Manzo, admitting that he was fortunate to have an attorney who believed in his case. But to pay for his defense and support himself financially after his arrest, Manzo said he was forced to sell his business and home and also borrowed what money he could.

“I’ll never recover from this financially. I don’t foresee being able to recover.”

In the weeks following the July 2009 arrests, Manzo tried unsuccessfully to convince other defendants to band together and fight the charges against them.

“The U.S. Attorney’s office says, ‘Manzo makes these allegations, but look at all these people that pled guilty.’ But what people don’t realize is the enormous pressure they bring down to bear on an individual,” said Manzo. “There is no individual on the face of the planet that has the ability to withstand a prosecution from the federal government.”

A new direction

With his professional and political life over, Manzo is now turning his attention to educating the public about the alleged dangers of unchecked political power and its impact on the civil rights of ordinary people. Next Tuesday’s appearance at Miller Branch Library is part of his new path. He is also completing a book that he hopes to sell to a major publishing house soon.

In addition to being critical of federal prosecutors, Manzo is also critical of the media, which he maintains ignored many aspects of the Bid Rig III investigation, which, he said, only obscured important details from the public.

“The media not only missed an opportunity to investigate some of this, they missed an obligation,” he said. “This was a complex sting. But when I started to put out the information that we had uncovered from our investigation, and from discovery information, it showed clear corruption in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“The real eye opener was when I revealed that many of the attorneys who had been working and investigating the case made contributions to Christie’s campaign and they violated their obligations to recuse themselves from the case,” he said. “We dug up a Christie speech in February 2009 where he’s basically saying that he was in constant contact with these same attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and promising that he would give them jobs in Trenton. These conflicts of interest are not allowed. I spoon fed this information to the media and they ignored this story. They missed the boat.” ... ndary_stories_left_column

Posted on: 2012/6/18 15:03

Bike riders will soon be able to take bikes on trains and Light Rail
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Hudson County bike riders will soon be able to take bikes on trains and Light Rail system at specified hours

Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 7:52 AM
By Celeste Little/The Jersey Journal

New Jersey cyclists and their bicycles will be able to travel a different path, starting July 1. That's when NJ Transit will start allowing bikes aboard PATH trains and rail lines through their Bike Aboard program.

Previously, bikers were only allowed to carry collapsible bicycles on trains. But in response to customer feedback, the transit agency's board of directors decided to make changes. Now cyclists will be able to board trains with bikes of all types, except during rush hours, holidays and certain weekend hours.

"For many customers, bicycles are a way of completing the 'last mile' between the train station and their destinations," said James Weinstein, NJ Transit's executive director. "By relaxing our program, we are encouraging an environmentally friendly mode of travel that promotes the use of our rail service throughout the state."

Last month, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy unveiled a pilot bike path on Grove Street, encouraging commuters to drive less.

With the exception of NJ Transit's Atlantic City line, standard frame bikes will not be permitted on trains between 6 and 10 a.m. and between 4 and 8 p.m. on weekdays, or between 9 a.m. and noon and between 5 and 8 p.m. on weekends.
Standard frame bikes will also be banned on holidays and the business day before them. ... y_bike_riders_will_1.html

Posted on: 2012/6/13 13:30

Proposal to tie affordable housing dollars to wards where development generates them
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Jersey City council to vote on Fulop proposal to tie affordable housing dollars to wards where development generates them

June 13, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Affordable housing units constructed with funds from Jersey City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund would have to be built in the same ward as the project that generated the funds if Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop’s proposed revisions to the city code are approved.

If a developer builds Downtown and is asked to contribute to the fund instead of building affordable units on-site, Fulop told The Jersey Journal, then that contribution should be used to build affordable units Downtown, not elsewhere in the city.

“The administration lets people basically build on the waterfront and ship affordable housing to the lower-income portions of the city,” he said. “I want more diverse neighborhoods.”

The issue last arose in May, when Lloyd Goldman, property owner of 110 First St., said he can’t find anyone to partner with him in developing the 452-unit tower because of a requirement to include 25 affordable units. Goldman suggested donating to the AHTF so the units could be built elsewhere instead, but council members balked.

Fulop’s measure, which is set for introduction at tonight’s council meeting, would also require developers to hire 25 percent of their contractors in Jersey City, as well as mandating that trust-fund dollars go toward hard costs only, meaning they could pay for construction, but not for engineering studies or attorney fees.

“The administration is preparing an impact analysis on this ordinance in the event it passes,” said city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill. ... y_council_to_vote_on.html

Posted on: 2012/6/13 13:25

Re: Red light traffic camera
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State OKs red-light cameras at Routes 1&9 & Manhattan Ave., 14th St. & Jersey Ave. in Jersey City

June 12, 2012, 3:49 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

State officials have given the OK for Jersey City to install two more sets of red-light cameras, at Routes 1&9 and Manhattan Avenue and at 14th Street and Jersey Avenue.

The city has 24 cameras at eight intersections already, and they plan to install 14 more cameras at six additional junctures.

City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill told The Jersey Journal last month the city expects to net $1 million this year from the cameras, far short of the $7 million the city initially hoped to receive.

City officials have stressed that the primary goal of red-light cameras is to reduce motor-vehicle accidents, not increase revenue for the city.

The red-light cameras at the two newest intersections have not been activated yet. City officials give motorists 30 days from activation of the cameras before they start issuing tickets.

A sign warning of a red-light camera has been installed at the foot of Newark Avenue, when it intersects with Routes 1&9, but that camera has not been activated yet either. ... red-light_cameras_at.html

Posted on: 2012/6/13 6:19

freeholders approve $3.9M on restoring Lincoln Park fountain
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Hudson County freeholders approve spending $3.9M on restoring Lincoln Park’s 100-year-old fountain

June 09, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal

Some $3.9 million will be spent to completely restore the century-old ornamental fountain in Jersey’s City’s Lincoln Park.

The Hudson County Board of Freeholders recently approved the funds for the project, which will completely restore the cracking and crumbling sculpture, Hudson County spokesman Jim Kennelly said.

The county will use funds from its capital bonds to pay for the project, Freeholder Bill O’Dea said. The county has also applied for federal Green Acres funding, which could cover as much as $1.95 million of the cost.

Built in 1911, the fountain was designed by Pierre J. Cheron features an eagle perched atop a 53-foot column with a large bowl above sculptures of mythological creatures at its base.

Concrete frogs on pedestals spout water into the 108-foot-diameter pool that is ringed with planters.

Design and engineering consultant Helena Roman is in charge of the project that will use laser technology to map the fountain’s ornaments in order to recast the fountain in new concrete.

The current fountain is roughly a foot deep, but was originally several feet deeper, officials said. A new bottom was created over debris that had accumulated over the years, Kennelly said.

The project will go out to bid by the end of August and the county is to complete the restoration project before next June, officials said. ... y_freeholders_appr_1.html

Posted on: 2012/6/11 5:11

Re: Jollibee Restaurant coming soon?
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June 10, 2012, 9:39 p.m. ET
Sweet Spaghetti, And a Bit of Pride

The Wall Street Journal

JERSEY CITY, N.J.—A growing Filipino community here has a new community center of a sort—a chain restaurant that offers purple yam tapioca shakes and sports a bee mascot.

Jersey City's Filipinos turned out in droves on Sunday for the opening of the East Coast's second Jollibee, a Filipino fast-food restaurant that is revered as the island nation's McDonald's.

For the hundreds of Filipinos who flocked there, the debut offered a coveted chance to eat the crispy fried chicken and sweet spaghetti of home. It also stood as a sign of their community's rising stature in Jersey City, which just swore in its first Filipino councilman last year.

"I've been waiting for this for months," said Rayanne Ella, 32, a Jersey City sales manager who dined with her entire family at the opening. "It's a point of pride."

For years, Filipinos from New Jersey's second-largest city have made pilgrimages to the Jollibee in Woodside, Queens. The lines there, much like at the opening here on Sunday, often stretch out the door and down the block.

"It's very heartwarming," said Iyoh Villamayor, a Jollibee vice president, about Sunday's turnout. Hundreds of people drove to the nondescript strip mall in the city's Greenville section and walked over from the nearby Our Lady of Mercy Catholic church during the day.

While better known for its Indian community, Jersey City boasts New Jersey's largest Filipino population, with 16,200 inhabitants, according to the 2010 Census. Bergenfield and Union Township were ranked a distant second and third.

Filipinos began migrating to the waterfront city in the 1960s, settling in the Five Corners neighborhood in Journal Square and in more residential neighborhoods in the southwest section. A vibrant downtown community concentrated around Manila Avenue has dwindled in recent years.

Many of the first-generation immigrants were doctors, engineers and other professionals looking to escape the Marcos regime and fill trade-worker shortages in the U.S., said Rolando Lavarro, the city's new councilman-at-large, whose parents immigrated to New Jersey in the 1970s.

More recent immigrants have tended to come from lower-skill trades, and the community is a mix of the working and middle class, said Mr. Lavarro, adding that concerns about crime and the draw of the suburbs have led some to leave. Census statistics show that the Filipino population rose only 2.2% between 2000 and 2010, while Indians more than doubled in the city.

Unlike members of the older generation, who looked to assimilate, newer residents are more inclined to teach their children Tagalog and to seek out Filipino pop culture, Mr. Lavarro said. Two local cinemas occasionally show Filipino movies, and Jollibee was filled with youthful dinners speaking the country's dialect.

Jersey City "is definitely a destination. There are a lot of the trappings of home," said Mr. Lavarro, a 42-year-old grants manager, who is the first Asian-American to sit on the city's nine-member council.

Anticipation for the opening of Jersey City's Jollibee grew for months, stoked by Facebook and word of mouth. The company—which owns restaurant chains worldwide and reported $3.2 billion in earnings last year—is famous for its bee mascot wearing a chef's hat.

"I have memories of this from when I was a kid," said Sai Ansano, 32, a creative-arts director who has lived in the city since 1985.

The restaurant's most popular items are fried chicken, burgers and spaghetti topped with ham and a sweet tomato sauce. More traditional Filipino dishes, such as milkfish and thin noodle pancit, are also served.

The food is an acquired taste.

"My boys were scared at first. I got them to get into it," said Michael Szymanski, a 54-year-old who works in Jersey City's school. He was one of the restaurant's few patrons Sunday who wasn't Filipino.

Born as an ice-cream parlor in Cubao in 1975, Jollibee is now the largest restaurant group in the Philippines, with 746 branches, according to company statistics. Outposts have also cropped up in Vietnam, Brunei and Qatar, where there are large numbers of Filipino guest workers. Most of the 27 branches in the U.S. are on the West Coast.

The company spent two years planning the Jersey City outpost, spending $1 million to remodel an old gym, Ms. Villamayor said. The chain aims to further expand into the U.S., with a branch in Virginia Beach, Va., set to be the third on the East Coast.

The company's expansion could bode well if the devoted following in Jersey City is any indication. One man set up a director's chair outside the restaurant at 5 a.m. to be the first person inside.

Said Ms. Villamayor, "He wanted to make history." ... 6.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Posted on: 2012/6/11 1:57

Re: Embankment- Update Thread
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Using the High Line as a Model, Jersey City Bets on the Embankment

Friday, June 08, 2012
By Sharyn Jackson - New Jersey Public Radio

At the intersection of Jersey Avenue and 6th Street, in downtown Jersey City, stands an imposing structure of stone and granite that towers over a Brownstone-lined street. Ivy cascades down the sides, while 20- and 30-foot-tall trees grow on top. Huge reddish brown boulders pile up for two stories, with tiny fern-like plants breaking out of the crevices. It’s Stephen Gucciardo’s favorite section of the Embankment, a six-block, half mile-long spur of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

“Without any of us having touched the Embankment, it’s already a park,” Gucciardo said.

He is the president of the Embankment Preservation Coalition, a group that has fought to preserve the rail spur that slices through the historic Harsimus Cove neighborhood. The tracks haven’t been used since the early 1990s.

“The stones are beautiful, the color is delicious. They beautifully fit together, and the top is perfectly level,” Gucciardo said. “You’re looking at master craftsmanship here that was hard to come by and expensive at the turn of the century when this was built.”

Jersey City residents and government officials are closer than ever to concluding a 13-year battle to acquire the Embankment and turn it into an open space at the center of this urban neighborhood. The process has been saddled by a series of lawsuits involving the city, private developer Steve Hyman and railroad company Conrail, over who has the right to own the property. The issue hinges on arcane federal railroad law over whether Conrail’s sale of the property to Hyman in 2003 for $3 million was legal. So far, the city has spent $500,000 in legal fees, according to corporation counsel Bill Matsikoudis.

But a settlement authorized by the City Council in February may finally move the process forward — if Conrail and Hyman sign on. Under the terms of the settlement, Hyman would get $20 million, Conrail would get development rights on one block of the Embankment, and the city would pay $7 million for the remaining five blocks to build a park and mass transit corridor. The Council voted unanimously to authorize the settlement in February.

The city wasn’t always so supportive of the project. The price tag for the acquisition, legal fees, clean up, planning and building could cost upwards of $50 million dollars, Mayor Jerramiah Healy explained. He admits it took some convincing to get him on board, but was ultimately won over by the possibility of extending the New Jersey Transit Light Rail along the Embankment, from the Hudson River waterfront all the way to Secaucus.

“You know, we’re always concerned about the bottom line here in Jersey City and you can’t hit the tax payers over the head all the time, so that was a concern,” Healy stressed.

But the success of the High Line across the Hudson has also shown officials what could be possible in Jersey City.

“I would say we get a call almost every week from somebody doing a similar kind of project,” said Robert Hammond, the co-founder and executive director of Friends of the High Line. “They’re not all elevated rail lines, but they’re just community-initiated projects of reclaiming industrial space and trying use them in different ways.”

Hammond serves on the advisory council for the Embankment, and one piece of advice he passed on is remembering that the High Line wasn’t always what it is today.

“In the beginning almost all the main groups were opposed to it,” Hammond recalled. “To some people they just thought it was a relic and wasn’t attractive, and would look better torn down. To others, there was a lot of people that [said], ‘Oh it’s a great idea but it’s never going to happen.’”

Now the High Line is one of New York City’s most popular attractions, drawing more than 7 million visitors since the first section opened in 2009. That was the same year, Hammond toured Jersey City’s Embankment, and was impressed by what he saw.

Hammond thinks the “Embankment has a whole other feel to it” than the High Line.

“It feels more natural in some ways because of these stone walls. And then what’s growing up there is so much more robust and stronger than anything that was ever growing up on the High Line. In the Embankment, you really feel like you have a forest in the middle of Jersey City,” he explained.

Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop, whose district encompasses the Embankment, is optimistic that the project will follow in the High Line’s footsteps. “We think we have an opportunity here to create something at least as powerful, if not better,” Fulop said.

If all three parties agree on the legal settlement, the city could acquire the land in as few as six months. But if the other litigants don’t agree to the terms, another court battle could set the project back five or six more years. With the neighborhood around New York’s High Line booming, city officials are more motivated than ever to see the project through to the finish.

And that excites residents in the neighborhood. Dolores Rennar has lived on 6th Street facing the Embankment for all of her 68 years, and fondly remembers the railroad where her grandfather worked.

“I loved it,” Rennar said. “The kids used to write their names on the wall, and climb it to get coal.”

“I don’t care what they turn it into,” Rennar added, referring to the plans for the Embankment, “as long as they don’t take it down.” ... s/2012/jun/08/embankment/

Posted on: 2012/6/9 3:11

Re: HUGE GAS PIPELINE COMING - through Jersey City
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Spectra Energy wins state approval to put gas pipeline under Liberty State Park in Jersey City

June 08, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

A state commission yesterday approved Spectra Energy’s proposal to run a section of the Houston energy giant’s controversial natural gas pipeline below ground in Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

Spectra Energy was seeking a 20-year lease on a nearly an acre of parkland that will house the pipe. The company, which received final federal approval for the pipeline on May 21, plans to pay the state about $2.3 million over the course of the lease.

Jersey City and Hoboken officials have been vocal in their opposition to the pipeline, which would run for about 15 miles underneath Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore Hoboken before heading into Manhattan.

But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month said the pipe would have limited impact on the environment and public safety.

State Sen. Bob Smith of Middlesex and Somerset counties was the lone “no” vote. Smith told The Jersey Journal he thinks leases like the one approved yesterday leave New Jersey residents “shortchanged.”

“They’re doing a flat fee of 15 cents a square foot,” he said. “Well, the companies that are involved are making hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Spectra’s payments to the state include about $862,000 for the 20-year lease of the roughly 1 acre that will house the pipe, about $66,000 for use of temporary work space as the company installs the pipe and an additional $1.4 million lump sum to compensate for the “ecological, environmental and recreational impact” of the work.

Marylee Hanley, a Spectra spokeswoman, has said that the pipeline will create jobs and bring down energy costs in the area. Speaking at a hearing on the Liberty State Park proposal in April, she said the pipe would not cause any disruption to the park once it’s installed.

“The pipe is buried underneath the ground,” Hanley said.

Spectra plans to begin construction on the pipeline this summer. ... ergy_wins_state_appr.html

Posted on: 2012/6/9 3:04

Re: Bayonne man charged with luring 15-year-old girl to Jersey City and raping her
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Jersey City rape suspect's posing as a Navy SEAL on dating website could be prosecuted under Stolen Valor Act

June 08, 2012, 11:38 AM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

JERSEY CITY — The Bayonne man who impersonated a Navy SEAL on a dating website could have been prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act before being charged with raping a 15-year-old girl this week, according to veterans who track these cases.

"This would have been a slam dunk Stolen Valor case," said Doug Sterner of Gregory John Schaffer, 33, who is charged with raping the Brooklyn girl in Jersey City after pretending he wanted to hire her to work at a store and then threatening her.

Sterner, 62, of Virginia, is a decorated Vietnam veteran who tracks people who falsely claim to have received military medals and decorations. His wife, Pam Sterner, was the driving force behind the Stolen Valor Act of 2005.

On the dating website, Schaffer claims to be a Navy SEAL and is wearing a white Navy uniform with a Navy SEAL pin, a Silver Star and Purple Heart, Sterner said.

Sterner said Schaffer could face up to a year in prison if he were prosecuted successfully under the Stolen Valor Act.

Retired SEAL Don Shipley, 50, of Virginia, hunts down and exposes fake Navy SEALs on the Internet and he said Schaffer is no SEAL. Shipley said there are many SEAL impersonators and noted there are currently only about 2,500 actives SEALs and fewer than 10,000 former and current SEALs alive.

Shipley said there are two kinds of phony Navy SEALs.

The first is "the barroom loudmouth looking to get next to a good looking woman. The second kind of phony lives that lie. His parents, his kids, his wife, all believe him to be a secret ninja jungle fighter. You live a life like that and you are not quite right."

Sterner said there have been many challenges to the Stolen Valor Act but only recently has an appeal gone to the Supreme Court. In that case, a man falsely claimed to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Oral arguments have been heard and a ruling may be coming soon, Sterner said.

Sterner said prosecutions under the Stolen Valor Act have stalled since it went to the Supreme Court a year ago as prosecutors wait to see how the justices will rule.

Information on the number of cases prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act each year was not immediately available from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to authorities, Schaffer contacted the 15-year-old he is accused of raping through a posting she did on Craigslist saying she was looking for a summer job.

Schaffer told the girl he owned four stores at the Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City, including a lingerie store, all of which was false, the criminal complaint says.

On March 18, at an office on Summit Avenue in Jersey City, Schaffer had the girl sign contracts that he said was for employment, but then told the girl the signed paperwork obligated her to have sex with him, or else she and her legal guardian could be sued, the complaint says.

The girl unwillingly complied out of fear, authorities said. ... y_rape_suspects_posi.html

Posted on: 2012/6/9 3:01

Re: Space Shuttle Enterprise in Jersey City today Monday, June 4th
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Space Shuttle's final voyage to the Intrepid Museum has been delayed till Wednesday

June 04, 2012, 6:05 PM
By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is spending an extra day in a Jersey City shipyard as poor weather conditions have postponed the shuttle’s journey to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum till Wednesday.

The bad weather has delayed crews from properly preparing to ferry and crane the shuttle before it leaves for the museum, according to an Intrepid Museum press release.

A new moving date has been tentatively set for Wednesday, the press release said, but cautioned that plans may change if the weather and tidal conditions don’t improve.

The press release did not specify at what hour the shuttle is expected to set sail.

Enterprise was scheduled to make its final voyage on Tuesday morning from the Weeks Marine in Jersey City down the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty before arriving at the Intrepid.

As a commemoration to the end of the NASA shuttle program, Enterprise will be on exhibit at the museum starting on July 19.

Enterprise flew over Hudson County to plenty of fanfare before it landed at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on back of a jumbo jet on April 27.

On Sunday, the shuttle sailed on a large barge pulled by a tugboat from the airport to a shipyard in Jersey City where it waits to set course to its final historic destination. ... tles_final_voyage_to.html

Posted on: 2012/6/4 22:25

Journal Square in Jersey City becomes 'Condom Nation'
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Journal Square in Jersey City becomes 'Condom Nation' as group gives out thousands of free condoms, along with HIV testing

June 02, 2012, 3:03 AM
By M.G. De Guzman / The Jersey Journal

Young men and women darted in and out of the traffic lanes, smiling and talking with pedestrians and drivers alike, all the while asking anyone who looked their way a question you don’t hear every day: “You want some free condoms?”

Even for Journal Square, where people from all walks of life converge, the scene was strange.

“We wanted to be seen,” said Marco Benjamin, the project manager for Condom Nation, which made Journal Square its capital, if only for a few hours. “It’s important.”

Mission accomplished. From the curious onlookers to the “if-it’s-free-it’s-for-me” crowd, to the people who were thoroughly offended at the image of a large condom adorning a tractor trailer in the Square, Condom Nation certainly got people’s attention.

“Whoever allowed this should be fired,” said Jersey City developer Tony DeLuca, who was walking with his daughter when they saw the 18-wheeler.

“It sends the entire wrong message about Jersey City and the people of Jersey City,” said DeLuca, who argued that the campaign negatively affects the image of an area that is looking to recreate itself.

Besides distributing free condoms, the group performed free HIV tests. The event was also sponsored by local groups Hyacinth AIDS Foundation’s Project LOL Mpowerment Jersey City and Hudson Pride Connections Center.

“So far, we’ve given out 50,000 condoms today,” Benjamin, 31, of Jersey City, said at 2 p.m. “We should give out 70,000 by the end of the day.”

Condom Nation plans to visit 40 cities and 25 states in an effort to promote safe sex and HIV awareness. The tour was originally scheduled for six months, but has been so well received that it may continue it until the end of the year, Benjamin said.

Jersey City teacher Kathleen Hawkes, 56, doesn’t think handing out condoms is the answer.

“Why don’t they educate people? That’s what they need to do, not give out free condoms,” Hawkes said.

While the event had its detractors, there were plenty of people who were glad to receive the gift. For one woman, a small strip of condoms wasn’t enough. When told she couldn’t have any more, she grabbed as many as she could and took off.

“That’s not the first time that’s happened,” one volunteer said.
Shannon DeLuca, the developer’s 14-year-old daughter, a student at St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, was disgusted by the display.

“I understand what they’re trying to do, but it’s not the message I’d send out to people. To people my age, they would think it’s OK to have sex,” she said.

Jersey City spokesman Stan Eason said that the groups obtained the proper permits needed to occupy the space and distribute the contraceptives. ... quare_in_jersey_city.html

Posted on: 2012/6/2 18:45

Congressman Albio Sires faces challenger who backs legalization of marijuana
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Congressman Albio Sires faces challenger who backs legalization of marijuana

June 01, 2012, 10:59 AM
By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal

Rep. Albio Sires may be the overwhelming favorite to win Tuesday's primary in the Eighth Congressional District, but his opponent, Jersey City resident Michael J. Shurin, has at least one attention-grabbing campaign issue: The legalization of marijuana.

Shurin, who says he left his job as a computer developer in September to focus on his Quixotic campaign, also wants to call off the War on Drugs.

"My number one issue is the War on Drugs and the minimum of 50,000 dead bodies across the (Mexican) border," said Shurin, 25, arguing the best way to end gang violence and put a crimp in crime is to make pot legal and stop asking people to fight a fruitless war.

"I am an underdog, I'm not in self-denial," said Shurin, adding he's running to give "voice to issues that are under-represented."

Raised in Glen Ridge, Shurin is single and said he's supporting himself with money he saved over the past five years in anticipation of this race.

However, Sires, 61, endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and all the Democratic Party county chairs in Hudson, Bergen, Essex and Union counties, is clearly in the driver's seat.

He is seeking his fourth term in Congress after serving three terms representing the 13th Congressional District, which was redistricted.

The former West New York mayor served 12 years in the state Assembly, four of those years as speaker.

Sires is "honored to have the tremendous support" not only of Democrats, but people with various political views, said his spokeswoman Erica Daughtrey.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission show Sires has raised about $430,000 for his campaign, with about $227,796 remaining in his war chest. Shurin said he's already spent the $22,000 he loaned his campaign.

And he doesn't plan to raise any more money since he doesn't want any "strings attached" to corporations and labor unions.

Sires continues to push for funding to raise the roadbed of the Bayonne Bridge, a critical component of keeping the local ports humming, Daughtrey said.

In addition, he intends to keep fighting to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and other safety-net institutions, she added.

The winner of the Democratic contest will square off against Republican Maria Pineiro Karczewski, a former Bayonne councilwoman, in the general election in November. She's running unopposed in the Republican primary. ... _district_democratic.html

Posted on: 2012/6/1 15:41

Re: Lincoln Park Area: A teacher was killed by a single shot to the head near his car at 10:30PM
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Jersey City man acquitted of 2008 murder sentenced to 16 years on weapons offenses

May 31, 2012, 12:13 PM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

A self-professed "five-star general' in the Bloods street gang was sentenced to 16 years in prison this morning for weapons possession in connection with a 2008 murder of a Jersey City man.

Darnell Reeves, 26, of Jersey City, was sentenced to 16 years for possession of weapon by a convicted felon and eight years for unlawful weapon of a weapon by Superior Court Judge Lisa Rose, with the sentences to run concurrently. Reeves had been acquitted of the most serious charge, the murder of Henry Molesky.

Reeves, who has been in jail three years since his arrest, must serve eight years before becoming eligible for parole.
At the sentencing, Reeves noted that he has already served three years and asked the judge for leniency.

"If it would be possible to take it easy on me at the sentencing it would be appreciated," Reeves said. "It truly would be a blessing."

In handing down the sentence, Rose noted that Reeves has three prior criminal convictions and a disorderly persons conviction, which made him eligible for a longer sentence as a persistent offender. Reeves was facing up to 20 years in prison.

It was also pointed out in court that during the trial Reeves admitted he was a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang.

Molesly, 41, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head on Dec. 14, 2008 during a robbery gone wrong.

Reeve’s half-brother, Nicquan Scott, was accused of participating in the Molesky killing. Scott was similarly acquitted of murder charges but found guilty of a weapons offense after his 2010 trial. Scott was sentenced to 10 years in prison. ... y_man_acquitted_of_2.html

Posted on: 2012/5/31 16:39

Re: West Side / 440: PJP Landfill burned for 30 years
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Forty Jersey City residents briefed on new 32-acre park to be built on cleaned-up landfill

May 29, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal

A Jersey City landfill in the shadow of the Pulaski Skyway is slated to become a park and roughly 40 residents gathered at the Ethical Community Charter School on Broadway earlier this month to get briefed on amenities planned for the site.

"It's a much better ending to the PJP saga than I could have imagined," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said May 17 to the residents inside the school's lunchroom.

PJP Sanitary Landfill Co. leased the property, located between the Hackensack River and Route 440, from 1968 to 1974 and engaged in the disposal of solid waste. The EPA designated the landfill, which for years was the site of underground fires, a federal Superfund site. The clean-up is complete, city officials said.

The city has hired T&M Associates, an architectural firm based in Middletown, to design the proposed 32-acre park. So far, plans include a "riverwalk" path with benches and site furnishings, rose gardens, multipurpose fields, parking, and a pedestrian bridge over a stream that runs from the Hackensack River through the center of the park, officials said.

The city also plans to build a pedestrian bridge to the park across Route 440.

"We watched that thing burn for 40 years," said Mike Manzo, a retired firefighter who lives on Wright Avenue. "Something like this, where you watch the grass grow and geese is wonderful."

Residents suggested adding more facilities for children. Some residents raised concerns about traffic and crime. Phase 1 of the project is expected to cost $2.5 million, and the entire project will cost roughly $10 million, according to T&M Group Manager Evan Stone.

Officials hope to begin construction in early 2013 and are exploring county and federal grants to help with the costs.

Two more public meetings and a tour of the site are being planned for the summer, officials said ... ey_city_residents_br.html

Posted on: 2012/5/30 4:28

Re: Red light traffic camera
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Red-light camera is cash cow for Jersey City and Hudson County

May 28, 2012, 12:33 PM
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal

Drivers caught on camera running red lights at Kennedy Boulevard and Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City over the past year were issued 20,000 traffic tickets and shelled out $1.7 million in fines, county records show.

After paying fees to the state and to the private company that monitors the cameras at the profitable intersection, the City of Jersey City pocketed $658,765 while the county collected $354,553, the records show.

The records pertain to the period of May 2011 to April 2012.

"The primary purpose of the cameras is to slow up traffic and to ensure that drivers abide by traffic signals enhancing the safety of the driving public," Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said in a statement.

"A secondary and incidental benefit of the red-light cameras is certainly the funds they generate for the municipalities in which they are placed, many of which have seen drastic budget cuts and reduced revenues."

Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said that based on $979,348 collected so far this year from cameras installed at eight intersections in Jersey City under a state Department of Transportation pilot program, the city expects to collect $3 million in fines this year, of which the city will net roughly $1 million.

About a third of the money is kicked backed to the state and pays American Traffic Solutions, Inc. for monitoring the cameras, Morrill said, noting the city plans to install red-light cameras at six more intersections.

Gary Biller, president of National Motorists Association, an advocacy group for motorists, believes the decision by municipalities to install red-light cameras is driven by the devices' lucrative payoff.

"The fact that one camera made $1.7 million over one year and the city is adding more cameras shows that it is clearly about increasing revenue," Biller said. "If the aim is to improve traffic safety there is no need for the cameras."

Biller argues that other measures, such as increasing the amount of time a light remains yellow and improving the visibility of the lights have proven "time and time again" to reduce traffic-ticket violations and make intersections safer.

Hudson County and the City of Jersey City share the income generated by red-light cameras installed at four intersections along Kennedy Boulevard, which is a county road.

"The ones (red-light cameras that) I know that have been installed enhance safety in area as well as generate revenue," said Hudson County Freeholder Bill O'Dea. ... camera_is_cash_cow_f.html

Posted on: 2012/5/28 16:51

Re: Did the NYPD Conduct A Widespread Surveillance of Jersey City Muslims?
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NYPD Muslim Surveillance Is Legal, New Jersey Finds

AP - The Huffington Post

TRENTON, N.J. — New York City police did not violate New Jersey laws when they conducted surveillance of Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups, Gov. Chris Christie's administration said Thursday following a three-month review, a finding that angered Muslim leaders who had sought a clampdown on the cross-border police operations.

The conclusion by Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, a Christie appointee asked by the governor to look into the spying, means New Jersey Muslims have no state recourse to stop the New York Police Department from infiltrating student groups, videotaping mosque-goers or collecting their license plate numbers as they pray.

Such operations were part of a widespread NYPD program to collect intelligence on Muslim communities both inside New York and beyond. Undercover officers and informants eavesdropped in Muslim cafes and monitored sermons, even when there was no evidence of a crime. The result was that many innocent business owners, students and others were cataloged in police files.

The interstate surveillance efforts, revealed by The Associated Press earlier this year, angered many Muslims and New Jersey officials. Some, like Newark Mayor Cory Booker and the state's top FBI official, criticized the tactics. Others, like Christie, focused more on the fact that the NYPD didn't tell New Jersey exactly what it was up to.

In response, Chiesa launched what he described as a fact-finding review. That review concluded that the NYPD's operations violated no state laws, either civil or criminal.

Further, authorities found that New Jersey has no laws barring outside law enforcement agencies from secretly conducting operations in the state, representatives of the attorney general's office told the AP. However, New York police have agreed to meet with New Jersey law enforcement regularly to discuss counterterrorism intelligence and operations, the attorney general said.

Chiesa, the governor's former chief counsel and a longtime confidante, outlined the state's findings in closed-door meetings Thursday afternoon with Muslim leaders.

"We remain committed to striking the appropriate balance of ensuring the safety of our citizens through vigilance in fighting terrorism, while not undermining the public's confidence in how we approach that mission," Chiesa said in a written statement.

Muslim leaders said they were told that every instance of NYPD activity in New Jersey had been justified by a lead, but that the attorney general would not provide any details on the nature of any of those leads, saying the fact-finding was ongoing.

They said that they did not find the assertion credible and that their efforts to maintain communication between the community and law enforcement would be hurt by the findings that the NYPD had done nothing wrong – and could keep doing what they have been doing.

"It was basically an, `FYI, good Thursday afternoon, let it die in the media before the Memorial Day weekend,'" said Mohamed El-Filali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, across the Hudson River from New York. If the surveillance of every mosque, burger joint and barbershop targeted was justified, he asked, why were no arrests made?

Aref Assaf of the American Arab Forum said the attorney general made them feel like second-class citizens.

"I said to him it's not only insulting, it's offensive to our sense of justice, that you bring us to Trenton to tell us that you accept as legal and valid the actions of the NYPD, and I will not be surprised if you're issuing an order informing your law enforcement officials that they too can spy on American Muslisms because if it's legal for NYPD, than it must be legal for NJ to do the same."

The Muslim leaders said they would consider all legal options, including renewed appeals for action by the U.S. Justice Department. A federal civil rights lawsuit has also been considered.

The governor was not at the meetings. He was on a visit at the same time to Atlantic City. Asked about the findings, he said: "I have every confidence in Attorney General Chiesa. If that's what he determined, it's good enough for me."

The NYPD has long maintained that its operations were lawful and necessary to keep the city safe. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the NYPD can gather intelligence anywhere in the country it wants and is not required to tell local authorities. NYPD lawyers say they are not bound by jurisdictional lines because they are just collecting intelligence, not making arrests or otherwise acting as police.

Told of New Jersey's findings, Bloomberg's spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, said in a statement: "We've said it time and again, NYPD has kept the city safe and they conduct their work legally."

The attorney general said a directive he issued requires all New Jersey law enforcement agencies to notify the New Jersey State Police Counter-Terrorism Bureau and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness if they hear of outside departments working in New Jersey. The state agencies will then coordinate with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, of which the NYPD is a member.

Chiesa said he is also establishing a Muslim outreach committee.

Christie, who was the U.S. attorney for the state at the time of the New Jersey surveillance, has said he didn't recall ever being briefed on the NYPD operations. He was one of several state and federal officials who had earlier criticized the NYPD's conduct in New Jersey, accusing the agency of acting like "masters of the universe" by sending agents into his state.

New Jersey's FBI chief, Michael Ward, also has been critical of the NYPD for not conducting the operations within the umbrella off the Joint Terrorism Task Force, to which the NYPD belongs. He said the actions undermined the bureau's own efforts by sowing distrust of authorities among Muslims and weakened national security.


Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo in Washington and Wayne Parry in Atlantic City contributed to this report. ... 1542338.html?ref=new-york

Posted on: 2012/5/25 16:38

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