The Jersey City Planning Board has postponed until Feb. 9 a hearing on 183 Pine St., where former high school basketball stars Jerry and Jasper Walker want to create an after-school tutoring program for seventh and eighth graders to be operated by the non-profit group Team Walker.
While the delay was requested by Walker, residents opposed to the project may use the time to try to persuade him to build his project at another location nearby.
The proposed facility would be two stories and have a few classrooms and a driveway for a transportation van. Walker plans to have 15 seventh and eighth-grade kids at a time in the building for after-school prep classes, aimed at preparing the students to get into some of the top high schools in the city, such as St. Peter’s Prep, St. Dominic Academy, or McNair Academic.
The Jersey City Planning Board will hold a hearing on 183 Pine St. on Feb. 9.
Not on our block
The Pine Street site is a double lot that Walker said is zoned for commercial use, and currently occupied by a boarded-up house that he would tear down. Walker has not purchased the property yet, saying they are awaiting approval for the facility from the Planning Board. Walker says they have over $920,000 in financing, including an $822,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
But some neighbors say while they support Walker’s program, they are unsure if 183 Pine St. is the right location. They spoke out at the Dec. 16 City Council meeting, their second appearance in front of the council in a one-month period.
The residents, including Lycel Villanueva, her husband Miles Poindexter, and fellow resident Deborah Sinico, have said the project will be a magnet for increased traffic and noise on a quiet, dead-end street.
The street is located in the city’s Bergen-Lafayette section.
They also expressed frustration at Walker for resisting their suggestions for alternative sites. Poindexter said he has reached out to Walker with different addresses within a few blocks of the site he is considering. Poindexter also read an e-mail in which Walker objected to a location at 378-380 Communipaw Ave., an abandoned two-story brick building, claiming it was located in an “unsafe area” based on a shooting that occurred in the vicinity.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.