March 2017 VVPA Monthly Meeting Minutes

02 Apr 2017, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Updates

Meeting Minutes – March 21, 2017

7:05 pm – Call to Order – President Oona Moore

  • Tribute to Margaret Webber who recently passed away. Margaret was a Mercer St. Resident, Longtime member of VVPA, founding member of Drawing Room and Pro Arts.

Officer/Committee Reports

Treasurer Report – Dermot Ronan

  • All accounts in good standing, donations welcome

Events Committee Report –Marlene Sandkamp

  • Holi Event – very well received.
  • 80’s Prom April 29th – 7pm – 11pm, DJ, light food, cash bar. $25 in advance, $30 at door, prizes for prom king/queen, etc.!
  • Golf Outing – June 9th – target tee time 5pm.  Scramble & putting contest

Guest Speakers

  • Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti
    • Background:
      • 31st Legislative District, JC is large part of district, also has Bayonne
      • Formerly worked for Bob Menendez
      • Strong believer in improving infrastructure, he is a member or Transportation Committee including Port Authority, NJ Transit and Hudson Bergen Light Rail
    • Concerns w/ budget and school funding formula
    • Committed to protecting JC and resources we are currently getting
    • Jersey Ave Bridge Extension – project funding is allotted and ready to go ($ from Washington).
      • He will help to get Turnpike Authority to come back to meet with us to discuss final plans and how it impacts city transportation plans as well.
    • Challenges – PATH – need another tunnel and capacity to expand.  PA needs to re-think entire way we think about PATH system.  Can’t just maintain the system, have to grow it.
    • Revals – State is very reliant on property taxes in NJ, so it may be difficult to change reval system.
      • Reval company will hold a meeting after the reval is done for addressing concerns and making adjustments.  If still have issues, can file tax appeal.
    • Taxes – A community member suggested a theory that due to an overlap of services this may be leading to high taxes.  In less dense counties, consolidation makes sense, may not make sense everywhere.
      • Response from Mayor Fulop:  consolidation doesn’t always work – example: bid out garbage contract w/ Union City – bids higher, less vendors that could handle size/geography.
    • He will schedule periodic visits with VVPA as he is our conduit to Trenton.


  • Executive Director of Parking Mary Spinello
      • Lost employees with merger.  Since then, city has hired replacements, still looking to hire more, including more of a night crew.  Wants to have 1 officer per zone per day (2 for larger zones).  Doing 1 day/month Sunday for enforcement.
        • Focus areas: Permits, prohibited areas (corners, fire hydrants, handicapped spots)
        • Trying to balance giving tickets with understanding residents having limited parking
        • 25’ from corner is illegal (doesn’t’ have to be painted or posted).  Try to keep crosswalks clear.
        • Call the office 5am – 11:30pm M-F; 6:30am-5pm Sat for immediate complaints (blocking fire hydrant, etc.).  Other more steady complaints, use See Click Fix/RRC Ms. Paretti Spinello’s contact info:; 201-547-5538


  • Parking Questions from Community


    • Hoboken has modern system – can we do this instead of Band-Aid repairs?
      • In process of looking at permit programs connected to license plates
      • Muni Meters – tried in heights — didn’t work.  Downtown may be more familiar with their use.
      • Working on plan for pay by phone
      • Evaluating possibly re-creating the parking zones to be by Ward vs. how they currently are today
      • Happy to revisit resident only parking on one side of the street proposal
      • She is open to trying new ideas, willing to sit down w/ VVPA and other neighborhood associations to try and work on solutions
    • Shuttle busses by PATH – Police giving hassle to bus drivers, so the pickup location changes periodically without notice.  Community needs consistency re: what side of street to meet on.
      • Ms. Spinello will work w/ Commerce Dept to help address it.
    • Double parking on Columbus/lack of enforcement = danger for bikes and pedestrians.  Cops not there consistently.  Generally happens between 5-8pm.
      • Ms. Spinello will alert the parking officer in the area to increase focus/enforcement.
    • Has the department caught up on the parking permits computer issue?  [People didn’t know they had to re-up their permit because reminders weren’t being sent out]
      • They believe they are caught up, not 100% sure.
    • Parking options for non-residents?  Not a lot of options.
      • This needs to be looked into further in a more holistic approach w/ City
    • Can we modernize appeal system for tickets?
      • Municipal courts responsible for driving this process.
  • Mayor Fulop – Sci Tech City
      • Wants to clarify misinformation out there
      • Project has been out there for 2+ years and thoroughly thought through
      • Once in a lifetime opportunity to develop a world class science institution , train /develop/teach young persons on JC STEM, attract brightest mind
      • Property is 16 acres – was junk yard for decades, went through 3 decades of no one wanting it for development.  Not worth anything unless zoning and density is changed.
      • Not a gift, it is a partnership.  We share in revenue stream.  LSC not buying at market value bec then City would have to create a re-development that warrants sale at market value and the project wouldn’t happen.
      • LSC will have to raise $78M for project –will also try to get Federal funds/grants, etc. to offset the amount they have to raise.  After LSC recoups their investment, revenue stream will be split between JC & LSC according to prescribed schedule in contract.
      • If it fails, or any of the items are defaulted in the project, land comes back to the City
      • Plan is for a traditional public school K-12.  Will need to discuss more fully with Board of Ed when time comes with donor money
      • Protected not to transfer to a not for profit; Getting a school out of the deal
      • Questions from Community
      • What is plan to address impact of traffic, infrastructure, etc.
        • Will need to do site plan approval, including traffic study.
      • Source of Revenue flow?
        • Business incubator, tech lab, visiting professor housing.  Nurture small businesses to become large businesses
      • Where exactly is this located?  Is Liberty Humane Society being kicked out?
        • 16 acres south of LSC – not kicking out Liberty Humane Society.  Working w/ LHS on this.
      • Community engagement – was this fast tracked through?  Discussions with Ward F?
        • Has been out there in the public for 2 years.
      • Any educational institutions on board with this project?
        • None affiliated with the project as of yet.  But Mayor Fulop believes that it will be successful even w/o them on board
      • Jersey Ave Bridge: concerns that it will become a “hidden highway”
        • State earmarked $10 M for that bridge. Shovel ready.  Small piece of property under federal control – working it out with them.  Mayor does not have access to what designs are right now.  Goal: not use it as a cut-through.  Design it with islands, etc. or use calming measures or lights, etc. to address this.
      • Any similar projects in the city we can learn from?
        • Not that he is aware of.
        • Rolando Lavarro indicated NYC is building a tech hub where land was donated and this could be a comparator
      • He hopes you join w/ FOLSP and Morris Canal Group in supporting this


  • Councilman Yun – alternative viewpoint on Sci-Tech City from his constituents in The Heights


    • Agrees on Sci-Tech city idea.  But need to know small fine print
    • Not clear what the effect will be on tax bill and budget, especially in future
    • Land has value – concerns about transfer of land to JCRA who will sell to a designated developer.  LSC will hold land and lease land to private developers
      • Note: Lawyer on project says that statement is incorrect and that land has to stay in non-profit status
    • Concerns that after construction is finished in 7 years, developer may say that they can’t find people to rent space in Sci-Tech city then it will be filled with non-scientific residents.  Further, we may never see a penny in revenue.
    • Better option: Lease it; Propose: Sell land to JCRA who will sell to LSC, or lease land to private developer – rent income from builders.  Need to study financial benefit.
  • City Planner Annisia Cialone
    • Background: 11 year resident in JC.  Worked as an architect, and urban planner, doing urban design.  Represented community organizations for development oversight.
      • Believes it is important for open dialogue w/ city planner.  Focused on big ideas professionally.  Look to future and ask: what do we want things to be?  Have dialogue early and set vision for city and work within that vision.  Currently one-off discussions and approvals.
      • Best way to have input and dialogue?  Through neighborhood associations


    • Opportunities/Comments:
      • Master Plan
        • Tools need to be updated to match the vision and master plan (regulations, zoning, etc.)
        • She will have a detailed action plan with follow ups, responsibilities and funding to ensure that it is a living, breathing document.
        • Vendor will need to have a variety of community engagement sessions
        • RFP was drafted – stopped for now to make sure we do it right before we proceed, and wants to ensure adequate staffing to be ready for handling master plan
      • Increase citizen participation and involvement earlier in the process
        • Need early citizen participation codified by administration to get weight behind that requirement.  Creates partnership, saves time & money, reduces stress
      • Need better way to get information to the masses to prevent misinformation
        • Public Notice time should be advanced – will look at this.
      • End of compartmentalization of development – cutting up fabric of the city
        • Need an urban designer on staff in the city – she is working on that.  She has to develop comprehensive staffing plan and responsibilities to be able to fill position and get funding to properly staff.
      • Volume/pace of development in City – how will planning director be able to push back on this?
        • Need to continue to dialogue with Port Authority to address transportation concerns.
        • Mayor Fulop: Port Authority is reactive and they will adapt to our growth/change
        • PATH in capital plan extending cars and platforms
        • Need more imagination to get across the river
        • Intra city transportation – how to connect communities?  Transportation planner on her staff will be looking into this.  Will start Bike Mater plan (city-wide)
      • Access to Information
        • Office of Innovation – efficiency audit of the planning office, moving on many of the items.  More modern, better functioning office, getting ne system to get ability to digitize documents.
      • Community boards vs. neighborhood associations?  Could be a way to formalize the process and could get input from residents that don’t come to the neighborhood associations.
      • Blighting – why is the City doing redevelopment plans in downtown anymore?  Shouldn’t be blighting!
        • Brunswick Triangle.  Rehabilitation, not redevelopment.  Developers picking up parcels one by on and going to zoning for variances for more development.  Getting renovations for the nearby park.

New Business

  • Acquiring a building to make a museum near PATH system Journal Square

Adjournment – 9:20 pm

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