May 2015 VVPA Meeting Minutes

03 Jun 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

Meeting Minutes – May 19th, 2015

Call to Order – 7:05 pm Officer/Committee Reports

  • Treasurer Report – Tom Ogorzalek
    • All accounts in good standing. As a reminder, the funds that are raised by VVPA go towards community enhancements/events.
  • Construction Liaison Report – Tom Ogorzalek
    • 128 Bright St – part of redevelopment plan, got approvals, delayed construction but should start in ~30 days.
    • 265 York St – will start construction in ~15-20 days, will post sign w/ phone #s on site.
    • Bright & Barrow – storefront glass going in – Tom will review plans to see if it the construction conforms to the approved plan. It was approved years ago by Historic Board. The project is part of the Bright Street redevelopment plan.
    • Concerns have been raised regarding the building under construction on the corner of Barrow and Wayne. (Delforno Building) – Historic Board approved it already, but it appears that construction is taking a long time and appears to be stopped.
  • Bright & Varick Committee – Ceci DeLeon
    • VVPA attorneys filed a Motion to supplement the record; The Developer’s attorney then filed Motion of Opposition to that. VVPA attorneys then filed a Motion Requesting Leave to reply to that (basically to oppose developer’s opposition). We are currently waiting to see if the Motions will be accepted into the record.
  • Events/Cultural Affairs Committee –Marlene Sandkamp
    • June 10th – first showing of 11thAnnual Films in Van Vorst. Movies will be every other Wednesday in the summer, rain date is the following week. Rain announcements are posted on JC List, tweeted, and emailed. Popcorn available!
    • June 20th – Van Vorst Salsa night – will have DJ & dance instructor, food truck available to purchase food
    • August 22nd– 2nd annual disco in the park
    • Special Donation – Dixon Advisory is supporting by making a $10K donation to the Films in Van Vorst. 237 Montgomery Street is most recent renovation —- Rebecca is available to give neighbors a tour to see what types of renovations Dixon does (tour before June 15th!)
    • Always looking for volunteers! Come 30-45 minutes before films to set up, or stay behind to help pack away the movies paraphernalia. Send an email to if you are interested in volunteering for Films or any of the other community events.


Issues for the Good of the Community

  • Canopy onbodega on Wayne– gates always down, aesthetically unsightly.
    • Call/use RRC app for Mayor’s residence response center
  • Jersey Ave & Newark St. – potted plants/benches – benches are facing the street, not potted plants.
    • Write letter to City Parks/Recreation because city owns benches
  • Who issues parking permits? Building on Barrow/Wayne – permits for 4-5 cars for months on end
    • Call/use RRC app for Mayor’s residence response center
  • First time attendee – Chairman of Board for JCMC – all neighbors invited to behind the scenes enhancing life tour. Next tour June 9th. New Women’s Health Center opening on Grove Street by PATH.

Guest Speakers

  • Jonathan Schwartz & David Minno of BNE Group
  • Project located on corner of Barrow & Columbus. Currently there is a historic 4 story brick building and large parking lot on the site (comes mid-block between Columbus & Wayne).
  • Proposal to restore building at front of property to current 4-story size. Taller portion of building would be set back from rear, Columbus & Barrow – proposed full height of the building – 18 stories. Club room & fitness room @ 4th floor – some units have private terraces. This level begins the setback. Proposed green wall along height of garage on Wayne St., proposing green roof as well. Vehicular entrance in/out proposed on Barrow.
  • Current redevelopment plan is zoned for 8 stories. When Developer initially came to VVPA, they preliminarily discussed plans for 14 stories all along site. The new plans keep heights at 4 stories along curb to address community concerns, and in order to make this an “economically feasible” project (according to the Developer), they need to make up the difference by making an 18 story tower in the back of the property.
  • Looking to amend redevelopment plan. Parking lot is outside bounds of historic district. When redevelopment plan gets reopened, it is available for public comment.
  • Community Concerns:
  • Trafficvehicular entrance on Barrow will add too much traffic on one way streets that are already congested. Consider moving entrance to Columbus.
  • Building HeightProposed 18 story height not appropriate for community. Plan is Egregious and obnoxious. Adjacency of PATH stop and width of Columbus, according to developer, makes it appropriate.
    • Community Impact – blocking light of surrounding community, impact to other neighborhood associations/concern for setting precedent to build large towers in small neighborhoods, noise concerns from constant hum of machinery.According to developer, won’t throw shadows to south to surrounding neighbors. For pedestrians, they will notice cornice line along the street, not the full height of the building.
    • Environmental Impact – Potential pile driving would severely adversely affect historic homes, community is full of toxins in the ground and in the buildings – how will you protect the neighbors/neighborhood from contamination?
    • Parking – 140 units planned, but only 56 parking spots planned. How is this good for the neighborhood?   Where are all the extra cars going to park when the neighborhood is already congested? Also, if you are getting rid of the parking lot that currently exists, where are all those cars going to park?
    • Infrastructure – How can PATH keep up with this influx of people when we are currently underserved? How will this impact the already overtaxed sewer system?
    • Elected Officials
      • When does this stop??? You create ordinances to stop chain stores, yet you allow this monster construction proposal to go through without question.
      • Constant changes to redevelopment plans – our elected official need to recognize this and help in this matter. We can’t always be fighting requests to change redevelopment plans – you need to stop this at the source.


Because of numerous concerns regarding this proposed Development, VVPA will schedule a follow up meeting dedicated to this topic.

  • Candice Osborne, Councilwoman, Ward E
  • Comments to Councilwoman about Development:
    • Very frustrating and wasteful of community time to have to keep fighting Developers that come in with ridiculous asks. This was a final Redevelopment plan – when does final mean final?! Redevelopment plans being amended don’t require public notice (Candice looking to change this to include notice process).
    • If we are opposed to plan, how do we make our voices heard?
      • Funnel through neighborhood association, or call councilwoman. Speak at planning board (public hearing), city council 1st reading (not allowed to speak during this reading, but can sign up 5 minutes at the end of the meeting to speak), or 2nd reading of city council.
    • Parking Update – Conducted brainstorming session w/ 2 neighbors from each association. New construction – can’t get parking on street if parking is available in the building (developers feel tenants won’t pay for parking, but if your building has parking you can’t get zone permits). Loophole in parking enforcement because hours are 8-5pm w/2 hr window on each side where you are allowed to park. Looking to close loophole. Proposal to reduce street sweeping to 2 day/week, not 4 days/week. Limited resources/employees. Too many zones – maybe dual zones? Streets where we have no parking where it shouldn’t be.
    • Quality of Life/Crosswalks – 50 new intersection signs ordered. Crosswalks – all but 5 painted that are not on repaving schedule or PSEG schedule.
    • Newark Ave Pedestrian Mall – Taken all feedback, trying to organize comments into buckets to address (design, operate, legislate). Permanent closure = traffic feeding into other neighborhoods. 3 lanes – 2 will be closed, one will remain open.
    • Combined sewer storm systems – What will proposed project do to our neighborhood? Will need to follow up w/ MUA. Consent decree to replace sewers. Different ways to solve problems.Depending on developer’s plan, there may be retention requirements for the plan – could be less impact to sewer system (especially if plan is replacing a parking lot where all runoff goes into the system).
  • Committee person elections
    • Bertram & Lorraine – 29th district (ward F). Every district has 1 male, 1 female. Vote on reorganization of state/city democratic committee. Lowest level of political entrée. Large voices. Bertram is interested in school, kids. Election is June 2nd.


Announcements &Events

  • Full listing of events and announcements available on May Monthly Newsletter


  • Winner of Golf 4Some package was announced

Adjournment – 9:10 pm

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