Freeholders yank grant money from Loews

JERSEY CITY — In a power struggle for control of the Historic Loews Theater in Jersey City, the Hudson County Freeholders voted to redirect grants to pay for a new park.
Seven of the nine freeholders voted to take away the money with Freeholder Gerald Balmir absent and Freeholder Bill O’Dea abstaining. O’Dea is a board member on the Friends of the Loews Theater, which currently holds the lease on the property.
The Freeholders voted to redirect a large portion of the original $600,000 in grants awarded to Loews from the Open Space Trust Fund.
The grants were originally awarded to FOL in 2009, one of which was to install air-conditioning at the theater. But some of the money was redirected to help the theater meet Jersey City building and health codes.
The Freeholders voted to honor Mayor Steven Fulop’s request to have the money used to help fund the creation of Berry Lane Park in Ward F instead.
Fulop previously tried to wrestle control of the theater away from the FOL, claiming the lease was invalid. But a court ruling earlier this year ruled in favor of the FOL. Fulop had hoped to turn over the theater to corporate management, allowing the theater to be renovated and operations conducted by a professional talent booking company.
City spokesman Ryan Jacobs said the city saw no point in investing this grant money into the theater when the city plans to spend millions to upgrade the property in the future.
“That makes no sense, said FOL’s director, Colin Egan. “This money was to be used to bring the building into compliance with the city’s code on a building the city owns. Any other property owner would be in jail, if they failed to do it.”

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group