Show off your holiday decorating skills

Think no one can match your holiday decorating skills? This is your chance to finally prove it.
The Hoboken Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual holiday decorating contest with a special Frank Sinatra theme in honor of the crooner’s 100th birthday this year.
“Incorporate in your holiday decorations a Frank Sinatra theme,” organizers said in the event’s announcement. “Use his image, homage to one of his classic songs, or a tribute to some of the characters he portrayed. Let your imagination be your guide.”
Registration for the contest closes Friday, Dec. 11 and judging will take place from Dec. 16 to Dec. 19.
Second and third place runner ups will take home $500 and $200 respectively, with the 1st place winner earning the grand prize of $1,000 and bragging rights for the year.
Winners will be announced Sunday, Dec. 20. To learn more visit www.hobokenchamber.com.

Urban Arts to open student exhibit

Urban Arts at Monroe, a program at the Monroe Arts Center that offers classes for children and adults, will host the opening reception for their 10th Annual Student Art Exhibit on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.
The exhibition will include imaginative art displays from the center’s youngest Picassos in the making. Live music and refreshments are also on tap.
Urban Arts is led by Justine Uva and Patricia Morale. The duo’s mission is to provide “creative and nurturing environment where students use the visual arts as a vehicle for self-expression and discovery.”
The Monroe Center is located at 720 Monroe St., Suite E206. To learn more visit www.urbanarts.nj.com.

Law enforcement to crack down on impaired drivers

Hoboken law enforcement officials announced this past week that, as part of a statewide year-end campaign, they will crack down on drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.
New Jersey’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign begins Friday, Dec. 11 and continues through Jan. 1, 2016.
City officials said in a press release that, “local and state law enforcement officials will conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints looking for motorists who may be driving while intoxicated.”
According to officials, last year 27 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey were alcohol-related and nationally more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving crashes.
“This is a critical law enforcement program that can save lives during a time of the year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent,” said Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante in a statement. ”People that choose to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using drugs pose a grave danger to all roadway users and this initiative is designed to bring attention to this important issue.”

‘Goblin Market’ adapted for the stage

Christina Rossetti’s 1862 poem, “Goblin Market,” about sisters Laura and Lizzie who encounter zealous goblins, will be adapted for the stage by The Hudson School with performances Friday Dec. 11 and Saturday, 12 at 7 p.m. and matinees on Saturday Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m.
In the school’s version, the two Victorian sisters, now mothers, take a trip to their childhood nursery and are suddenly magically sent back to their girlhood.
“Blending music, poetry and entrancing imagery, the play is a dazzling journey through the psyches of the two sisters as they struggle to regain the present and to reconcile the fervent, sensual yearnings of their adolescence with the matter-of-fact world that they now inhabit,” said Hudson School organizers in an email. “Their voyage in and out of the past through the labyrinths of their vivid imaginations weaves an enchanted spell that will linger long in the memory.”
The play, directed by Adam Sentoni, spans about an hour and a half, and features Ali Gilman as Laura and Milena Karpukhina as Lizzie.
Tickets for the performances, held at 601 Park Ave., cost $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For tickets and reservations contact Adam Sentonie at asentoni@thehudsonschool.org.

Pictures with Santa events to benefit local foster children

Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will hold two Pictures With Santa events to raise money for CASA and foster children living in Hudson County. The two events will be held on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Lulu’s at the W Hotel, 225 River St., in Hoboken and on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Battello, 502 Washington Blvd., in Jersey City, both beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. Food and drink will be available throughout the day at both locations.
Last year, more than 1,100 children came through the foster care system in Hudson County. CASA provides advocacy for over 200 children each year.

Fire department promotions

During a ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 3, the city of Hoboken promoted William Rozmester to the rank of battalion chief and Anibal Vasquez to the rank of captain.
Recently retired Battalion Chief Paul Kasely was honored for his service to the community and graduates from the Fire Academy, Christopher Markey and Nico Ratto were sworn in as firefighters.

The Waterfront Project achieves milestone

The Waterfront Project, which specializes in civil cases throughout the county, was added to a list of Judiciary Pro Bono Organizations. The milestone, approved by the state Supreme Court, will help the organization continue to aid Hudson County residents who cannot afford representation.
“Hudson County did not have many recognized Pro Bono centers so for the many disenfranchised residents of waterfront towns, help was often out of reach,” Waterfront Project Executive Director Elizabeth F. Caraballo said in a statement.
The legal center, which has two lawyers on staff, helps residents with cases dealing with landlord/tenant, basic contract negotiations, testamentary documents, social security matters, and medical insurance contract reviews.
“This recognition from the State Supreme Court gives us more visibility to help those in need and to focus the efforts of pro bono lawyers in our county,” said Caraballo.

‘Urban Landscapes’ Pop Up Show

Tim Daly and Roy Kinzer will present the pop up show “Urban Landscapes: Darkness & Light” from Dec. 5 to Jan. 4 at 1414 Grand St.
Curators of the show, which held an opening reception on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m., describe it as “a study in the nature of the urban environment” with a “dark underbelly, decaying infrastructure and hidden beauty.”
To learn more about the show visit www.falconpowerart.com.

Jury decides price for Southwest Park

The price for nearly 1 acre of land which would be part of Hoboken’s 6 acre Southwest Park has been up for debate.
The property owner was initially seeking $8.4 million and a condemnation board later set the price at $5.4 million, which the city and property owner appealed, according to a press release. The city announced on Wednesday, Dec. 2 that a State Superior Court jury in Jersey City has set the final price at $4.48 million. $3 million of the project’s cost has been paid for from a grant provided by the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, and $1.48 million will be funded through the city’s own Open Space Trust Fund, according to city officials.
The park’s property is bounded by Jackson Street, Observer Highway, Harrison Street and Paterson Avenue.
City Spokesman Juan Melli noted that Mayor Dawn Zimmer hopes to expand the park into a larger park through a redevelopment process. The Southwest Area Redevelopment Plan is underway.
“This result is a huge victory for Hoboken and its taxpayers,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer in a statement. “By using the eminent domain process, the City has been able to acquire the land needed to begin building the Southwest Park in the most cost-effective way, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. As a resident of the southwest I look forward to cutting the ribbon on this new park as soon as possible. I want to thank the City’s attorney, Ed Buzak, for his exceptional work in achieving this great result.”
The U.S Bill of Rights details eminent domain as allowing local governments to condemn property for public use as long as “just compensation” is provided to the owner.
The city’s use of eminent domain allowed them to obtain the Southwest Park for public use, the same tactic they are using to try and obtain the BASF property in the northwest. The Southwest Park (able to hold over 200,000 gallons of stormwater runoff) – also referred to as Block 12 – is one of three of the city’s attempts to add storm runoff to public parks, which also includes the park at 7th and Jackson streets.
The city took hold of the parcel in 2013 under a state condemnation process. Although the lawyer from the former property owner, New York’s Ponte Equities, was not available for comment, they told NJ.com they are considering appealing the Nov. 19 jury decision.
Pending final permit approval from the state, the city anticipates to bid out the construction for the project in early 2016.
“We are waiting for the DEP to provide us with the authorization to advertise. We expect that to happen by the end of the month. At that point, we will advertise the bid, award a contract, and then begin construction,” said Melli in an email.

Does terminal seating policy discriminate against the homeless?

“Seating for ticket customers only. 2 hour limit,” reads a sign at Newark Penn Station and applies to Hoboken Terminal transit riders as well. Whether the signs, which NJ Transit says are meant to reduce large crowds during rush hour, single out the homeless is up for debate.
“The intent of the seating policy is to ensure that our ticketed customers have access to seating while waiting for their travel,” an NJ Transit spokesperson told Fox 5 News for a story this week.
According to published reports, some homeless patrons that frequent the station are opting to stand up in fear of being told to leave the Hoboken station. The new seating policy, according to Fox 5, is an attempt by NJ Transit to balance rider convenience and sensitivity for the less fortunate.
But the issue is nothing new. Homeless dwellers in the train station have asked questions about NJ Transit’s policy toward them for many years, as noted in a Hoboken Reporter cover story years ago: www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/2369979/article.

Have your say on final concept for $230 million flood protection project

Share your thoughts about how Hoboken, and neighboring coastal cities, should protect themselves from future storm surges and flooding at a public meeting on Thursday, Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The meeting, hosted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), aims to solicit input on potential concepts for the Rebuild by Design Hudson River: Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge project. In September, a public meeting was held to discuss the scoping portion of same very project (updates of which will be provided at the upcoming meeting).
“I hope everyone will come and join this important discussion about how to best protect our City from future severe storms while also preserving access to our treasured waterfront,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a press release.
The meeting will be held at the Wallace Elementary School gymnasium at 1100 Willow Ave.
Over a hundred people attended the first meeting at the Multi Service Center to discuss the beginning stages of the $230 million project, including Mayor Zimmer, City Council members, and residents. The plan is designed to avoid the kind of disaster that Superstorm Sandy caused in October 2012 when flooding and power outages were fervent throughout Hoboken.
A year after the storm, which exposed many of the mile square city’s weak spots in regard to flooding, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design competition to spur innovative ways to fend off future storm surges and heavy rainfall.
After gaining the $230 million for the first phase of the “Hudson River Project: Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge,” the meeting was a way for the city, contractor Dewberry whose experts were on hand, and the state DEP to gauge the public’s perception of the project’s scoping portion: the feasibility, design, and environmental analysis of the project as a whole.
Though the $230 million was provided to the state, it is Hoboken’s prize for winning the “Rebuild by Design” competition with the inclusive anti-flooding strategy it developed. The concept also encompasses southern Weehawken, and northeastern Jersey City in the event of a Superstorm Sandy-level storm event.
At the upcoming meeting, the Rebuild by Design team will introduce five concepts to the community to provide feedback on. Ahead of the meeting, residents can look over project updates and documents at www.rbd-hudsonriver.nj.gov. Read our story “Turning back the tide” on the first meeting at www.hudsonreporter.com.

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