School trustees to ask city to modify abatements

Under the possibility that the state may cut back school aid to Jersey City, Board of Education Trustee Ellen Simon says the city may need to modify its abatement policies.
Jersey City leads the state by far in issuing abatements to developers in order to attract construction. Under an abatement the developer pays the city more than regular municipal taxes but only 5 percent of county taxes, and nothing in school taxes.
Currently, the school district gets about $100 million in supplemental aid from the state over and above the aid the state gives the school as an Abbott District. This aid, Simon said, is to make up for the loss of school tax revenue on abated properties.
Simon said Gov. Christopher Christie is considering withdrawing the supplemental aid.
“This would have a devastating effect on our schools,” Simon said. “And it appears the state is looking in particular at Jersey City.”

Exchange Place to become sixth SID in Jersey City

Mayor Steven Fulop announced on April 20 that he has created an advisory board, the first legal step required, in order to codify the creation of the Exchange Place Special Improvement District – the sixth SID in the city.
The goal of the Exchange Place SID is to change the Jersey City waterfront from a community that is mostly active only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays into a place that attracts visitors regionally.
Special improvement districts support the business growth of an area while providing maintenance services, capital improvements, and event programming. They create an added assessment for membership which is used to enhance programming. For example, many of Jersey City’s special improvement districts host farmers’ markets, concerts, and other community building events that promote the city as a destination for commerce and culture.
“Special Improvement Districts have played a strong role in the growth of Jersey City’s small businesses and work closely with local neighborhood associations to add vibrancy to a community,” said Mayor Fulop. “An Exchange Place SID would enhance the already bustling commercial district and further develop Jersey City as a destination by providing increased services and programming to be enjoyed by employees, residents and visitors to Jersey City.”
The Exchange Place SID advisory board, created last week by executive order, is the first step in the process. The seven-member committee will review the proposal and make recommendations to the council, who would then create legislation establishing the SID later this summer.

Opposition mounts against barges near Ellis Island

A proposal that would moor barges of trash near Ellis Island has environmentalists and Friends of Liberty State Park outraged.
“The notice went out on April 1, but we only recently found out about it,” Sam Pesin, president of the Friends of Liberty State Park. “And the deadline for public comment is April 25.”
A commercial barge mooring is proposed to be built right next to Ellis Island, in front of the Liberty State Park promenade. NY/NJ Baykeeper and the Friends of Liberty State Park oppose the permit application by New York State Highway Transportation Company for this project which would also be directly in the ferry path between Ellis Island and the Central Railroad Terminal at Liberty State Park.
“Mooring barges here, possibly garbage barges, in the path of this historic Ellis Island immigrant ferry journey would mar the views of these great American cultural and historic landmarks of the NYC skyline from Liberty State Park,” Pesin said, noting that millions of people visit Ellis Island, Liberty Island and Liberty State Park each year. “Many reflect on the fact over 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island and that a quarter of our nation’s population can trace family ancestors to this historic gateway.”
Pesin said a raft of work barges would also interfere with existing transport and timely access to these international tourist destinations that include Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and crossing from those landmarks to Manhattan.
“Impacts include rerouting existing ferries, which would delay and limit access to these international treasures; diminished visitor experience, and economic losses from both impeded ferry access and reduced tourism,” said Greg Remaud, deputy director of NY/NJ Baykeeper.
At a depth of 12-feet in areas of flats and shallows, there may also be an impact to various species such as shellfish, clams, marine invertebrates, and grasses.
“NY/NJ Baykeeper shares the pride that the Port of NY/NJ is one of the great ports in the world and appreciates that the larger harbor region requires working waterfronts and on-water maintenance,” said Remaud. “However, the flats between Ellis Island and the Central Railroad terminal is not the place for such activities. Hopefully, seeking this location is an oversight by an applicant focused on activities below the waterline.”
Comments can be emailed to or be mailed to the US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District – ATTN: Regulatory Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 1937, New York, N.Y. 10278. The public comment period ends April 25.
Visit to view a map of where the barges would go and to read letters to the Army Corps of Engineers opposing the proposal.

Home energy assistance is available

P.A.C.O., a nonprofit community-based organization, reminds residents that assistance is available for energy costs for those who qualify.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allows individuals meeting various income qualifications to apply for bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and energy-related home repairs. Monies are from the federally funded Department of Health and Human Services. LIHEAP bill payment assistance ends April 30.
Applicants for LIHEAP are simultaneously enrolled for the Universal Service Fund (USF), a state program aimed at making natural gas and electric bills more affordable for households. In some cases, residents may receive both LIHEAP benefits and assistance from USF. Applications for USF are accepted year-round.
New clients, as well as returning clients, can visit the P.A.C.O. Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization Office at 346 Central Ave., Jersey City, or contact (201) 217-0583 / 864-3774 or for additional information, applications and income guidelines.

Sires votes for pipeline safety bill

Rep. Albio Sires says he voted in favor of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016 in a Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure markup. The legislation authorizes $696 million over four years for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety program, including $211 million in grants to states.
“I am pleased that the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure came together to pass this important bill with robust improvements to our pipeline safety program,” said Congressman Sires. “New Jersey is home to over 35,000 miles of pipeline that connect over 8.9 million residents to their energy needs. Ensuring the integrity of our pipeline infrastructure in high density areas like ours is vital to ensuring the safety of our communities.”
Specifically, the PIPES Act would provide the Secretary of Transportation with new authority to impose emergency safety measures on pipeline operators to address an imminent hazard. The bill would boost funding for grants to states to help administer pipeline safety programs and provide $1.5 million annually for grants to local communities and safety groups to conduct pipeline studies and public awareness campaigns. It would also direct DOT to establish safety standards for underground natural gas storage tanks.

Women in the arts fundraiser will be May 19

Dress for Success Hudson County will present the First Annual Women in The Arts Fundraiser and Cocktail Reception Art and Soul at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City on Thursday, May 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 16 professional and emerging female artists, many from the New York tri-state, will showcase and sell original works of art that include sculptures, mixed media, photography, paintings, water colors and hand-crafted jewelry. There will also be a Pop Up shop in the art gallery where event attendees can purchase various works of art from these artists.
“We are very excited about this up and coming first annual fundraiser for Dress for Success. Join us for an evening of art, style, and conversation. It promises to be a fabulous evening,” says Joy Devlin, Event Chair.
The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased online at Tickets are also available the night of the event.

Lupus Y Latinos to honor Dr. Gilberto Gastell

May is Lupus Awareness Month, and the Union City-based Lupus Y Latinos Foundation will pay tribute to Dr. Gilberto Gastell of Union City at its fourth annual Lupus awareness benefit dinner next month.
Gastell, an internist, is celebrating his 30th year serving the North Hudson community in his doctors office located in Union City. His dedication to his profession along with his altruism has created one of the largest practices in the state of New Jersey, where he daily makes use of his motto, “I treat every patient as if they were my family”.
The event will be held on May 6 at 8 p.m. at La Fortuna, 430 Kamena St., Fairview. Tickets to the event are $75 per person. This includes buffet dinner, an open bar and live music by Maria “Azuquita” Rivas.
The Lupus Y Latinos Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating those about lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, was founded by Armando Hernandez and Tania Arteaga. Hernandez’s and Arteaga`s daughter, Joamelly R. Arteaga, died nearly four years ago from the disease. She was only 22 years old and had recently graduated from college.
It is estimated that nearly 2 million people in the United States suffer from Lupus, and 71 percent of those are minorities.
For tickets and more information, call Armando Hernandez at (201) 751-4292 or send an email to

St. Dominic Academy announces opportunities for prospective students

Saint Dominic Academy will host its Spring Open House for grades 7-12 on Tuesday, May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will feature club and athletic demonstrations, including a performance by the award-winning Dominoes, presentations by academic departments and the administration, tours of the school and complete information about the application for admission process for all grades 7-12, including transfers.
Information about the Saint Dominic Academy Rising Leaders Summer STEAM Program for girls entering fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade can be found on the school’s website ( The program will be held from June 20 – July 21 and the deadline to register is May 20. The academy is also offering a COOP Entrance Exam Preparation Course the week of July 27.
Questions about the admissions process and/or any of these programs and events can be directed at any time to Andrea Apruzzese, Saint Dominic Academy Director Admissions at (201) 434-5938, ext. 14 or

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