To the Editor:
Over the course of the last couple weeks, I have attended three different meetings regarding the downtown bridge construction. Two of these meetings were held in at the Bayonne Initiative and one at St. Andrew’s, hosted by the city. I did also attend the initial meeting held at 174 Broadway in Sept., 2014.
So here we are about 10 months later and it’s unfortunate that summer is coming and most residents feel that their issues are either still not being addressed, or they continue to have quality-of-life issues. In addition, getting access to real-time information continues to be an issue regarding noise monitors, etc. I think it is really sad and disheartening that in all reality, it is like a war zone near the bridge. Either way, there is no going back, and we can only all move ahead to try to remediate resident issues.
At the last meeting, I sat down with Port Authority, and I asked them about two specific programs that I feel would benefit residents.
One idea is what I call “Operation Relocate Quality of Life.” This program would unite city government, local landlords, homeowners, real-estate firms, and affected residents. Local real- estate firms or local homeowners would contact City Hall and let them know of a vacancy of a house or apartment. An office in City Hall or an individual would try to match up affected families for the short or long term. Port Authority would pick up the costs associated with the move and rental costs. This program makes a great deal of sense for local residents because residents can stay in town and not leave our wonderful city. Residents can move even temporarily to enjoy a summer breeze and enjoy the air and not be afraid. Residents can actually enjoy a full night’s sleep with the windows open and even move to a house with a backyard for their children.
My second idea is called the “Fair Value Homebuyer Program.” Obviously, there are many residents who cannot leave or even sell their houses now because of the construction. It is not through any fault of their own that values have gone down. Why should a city resident pay the ultimate price? Port Authority should offer a program in which the homeowner and Port Authority will look at sales in the affected area before the construction started and agree on a reasonable amount of money for which the Port Authority would purchase the house. The homeowner then can choose to buy another house locally or move on. The Port Authority would work with local real-estate firms to sell the house.
I believe the main theme here is quality of life. Residents are nervous and frustrated about their health, traffic, and damage to their property, not only now but in the future. Children should not suffer anymore either. Bayonne residents should not continue to pay the price, period. We deserve a quicker response from the Port Authority and demand more programs to help residents.
JOHN MILAN SEBIK