October 2015 VVPA Meeting Minutes

23 Oct 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

Meeting Minutes – October 20th, 2015

7:10pm – Call to Order – President Oona Moore

  • Appointed Director – Angelo Estrada, founding member of association, will be tasked with outreach
  • Appointed Director – Dermot Ronan – will help w/ VVPA brochure, sponsorship
  • New Position: Past President – Marlene Sandkamp

Election for Board Members – Slate Announcement [Voting Scheduled for November Monthly Meeting]

  • President – Oona Moore
  • 1st VP –Gerry Bakirtjy
  • 2nd VP – Jeff Agnew
  • Treasurer – Tom Ogorzalek
  • Secretary – Yolanda Foley
  • At Large – John Ross
  • At Large – Ben Bernouy

New Business

  • Parking changes proposed by Candice Osborne – Aaron Morrill, Committee Person
      • Concerns/Ideas:
        • Muni-meters on all streets – residents can have stickers and flags for guests;
        • No Change in street cleaning due to accumulated debris from trees causing blocked culverts;
        • Lack of vetting with neighbors for proposed changes;
        • Use of public garages will get more use if muni-meters exist on streets;
        • All changes are dependent on ticket enforcement;
        • Increase in non-resident parking from 2 hour to 3 hours is detrimental to residents, encourages non-residents to use spots residents are competing for;
        • Many huge restaurants coming in – where is the parking that goes along with it? City needs to incorporate issues like this into the master plan.
        • One neighbor’s recommended reading: “The High Cost of Free Parking”, by Donald Shoup.
      • 2nd Reading will be at next City Council Meeting – all are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions
      • Link to Slideshow containing the proposed parking changes can be found here.  Please send all comments you may have on this proposal by November 1st to Candice Osborne (candice@candiceosborne.com) and copy VVPA (vvpanews@gmail.com) to help establish a neighborhood position.

Officer / Committee Reports

Treasurer Report – Tom Ogorzalek

  • Tabled

Construction /Development Committee Report – Gerry Bakirtjy for Tom Ogorzalek

  • 224 Barrow – will come to next meeting, still need to meet w/ Historic Preservation
  • 224 York St – revising drawings
  • 87 Bright St – revising drawings to address our concerns
  • City Hall Redevelopment Project – Civic JC Lawsuit filed lawsuit.  VVPA and Hamilton Park voted to support. Cynthia will go to DCNA whenever we need her to discuss with other associations.
  • Jersey Ave Bridge – Candice replied to DCNA letter. Due to deep DEP issues, bridge is on hold for now. Want new person in traffic/engineering to come to next meeting.
  • Christopher Columbus Project – on hold with developer.

Bright & Varick Committee Report– Ceci de Leon & Marlene Sandkamp

  • Cynthia (lawyer) hasn’t heard from city, would like to send letter to City on our behalf indicating what VVPA would like to see at this lot.
    • Per letter from Rushman (developer), his terms are: 24 units, 12 ground floor parking spaces, 20 year tax abatement; Dismissal with prejudice, but keep automatic approval in place; Formal action saying there was no ambiguity in the plan; JCRA modify contract dates
    • VVPA’s position: 16 units/no parking or 24 units/12 parking spots; Cap development at a height that is consistent with historic neighborhood, No abatement, no automatic approval. Any plan will need to be looked at for massing and density before being approved.
    • Motion made for VVPA’s position as described above, seconded, and majority voted in favor of the VVPA position.

Events Committee Report – Eric Carter/Marlene Sandkamp

  • Halloween Ghoul Bash – Buy tickets online, will also need volunteers throughout the night – contact VVPA to volunteer. Food, drinks, DJ, dancing, prizes at the party. Tell your friends!
  • FREE! Haunted Gazeebo in Park – Bring kids!
  • FREE! Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday, 10/24, in Van Vorst Park

 Voting on Changes to VVPA By-Laws

  • Proposed changes to VVPA By-Laws can be found here.  All will have until next meeting for suggestions/changes.  Will discuss and vote next meeting on the proposed changes.

Guest Speakers

Board of Education Candidates Presentation – Elections 11/3/15

    • Everyone has skin in the game: good public schools paves the way for our future leaders. Having a strong education results in strengthened community, good jobs for kids and enriched lives. As homeowners, you need to be concerned with the school budget as some of your taxes pay for schools.Gina Verdibillo – Independent Candidate, Ballot Position 2D
      Vidya Gangadin – Current Board President, Ballot Position 3D
      Marilyn Roman – Current Board Vice President, Ballot Position 4D
      John Reichart – Ballot Position 1D – not in attendance

Announcements & Community networking

  • Committee People working on appointing block Captains
  • Thanks to Sheridan Bell , 1st VP, who is stepping down from the board after his term ends this year.
  • Petition for lighting in Van Vorst Park Dog Park is posted on “Next Door” app/website.  You can also access the link to the petition here – all are encouraged to check out the petition and to join the Next Door application for additional information

Adjournment – 9:05 pm

June 2015 VVPA Meeting Minutes

01 Jul 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

Meeting Minutes – June 16th, 2015

7:10pm – Call to Order – President Oona Moore

  • Reminder that we are all volunteers – we are working on documenting processes to make it easier for all to volunteer in the future
  • Working on getting tips onto the website for how to contact elected officials
  • September nominations; October elections for board positions


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 Committee Report – Tom Ogorzalek

  • Last month – Columbus redevelopment plan project. A lot of community input. Collected all emails and concerns and sent letters to elected officials, Mayor, City Council & planning committee. Community in favor of development, but it should be in accordance with development plan.
    • Next step? Committee will reach out to Planning on this.
    • History: owners of the property created the development plan, but that deal fell through. They want to change redevelopment plan based on income projection that parking lot will generate.
  • 243-245 York St. – proposed addition to garage (build on top of it). Looking to expand a non-conforming use so will have to go in front of historic and planning.
  • No construction started on York St. project
  • No news on 3 projects that another developer wanted to do on York St. Developer doing redesign
  • Important Public Meetings – All are encouraged to attend and learn more about what is going on in your neighborhood.
    • Monday 22nd – Turnpike Authority meeting on Jersey Ave. Extension – 5pm City Hall
    • Tuesday 23rd – City Hall property study (non-condemnation study). No current redevelopment plan, but one may be in the works.

Bright & Varick Committee Report– Ceci de Leon

  • Motion to Oppose to Motion to Supplement – denied by judge. Rushman offered us settlement to stop the appeal. Made options and offers. Legal committed convened, Corporate Council wanted to get together
    • 16 units on corner of Bright & Varick – best option
    • Corporate council asked for what VVPA wants – ideally parking on 1st floor if 5 stories, no parking if only 4 stories. At this time we did not ask for legal fees as Corporate council essentially thought it might be a deal breaker.

Events Committee Report – Eric Carter/Marlene Sandkamp

  • Films underway! Runs every other Wednesday in summer, schedule available on filmsinvanvorst.com.
  • Summer Salsa in the Park – June 20th, 7pm; Disco in the Park – August (date TBD).
  • Potential Golf Tournament in September
  • 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 vvpanews@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering for Films or any of the other community events.


Guest Speakers

Deputy Mayor Marcos Vigil

Attorney by trade, started this year in JC. His role essentially is:

  • Economic Development/Real Estate Development – usually gets involved in a big projects and projects outside of the norm, meets with Planning & HEDC and new innovation team (Grant from Bloomberg Foundation to development main street businesses/permitting processes).
  • Interacts with JCRA/MUA/EDC (separate entities from the city). Dialogue with the city for overall policy, but they report to their own board
  • Push for Affordable Housing
    • MLK Drive and Monticello Ave (Ward F). Area has been ignored by largely by previous administrations, trying to make amends now.
    • Pep Boys facility – 20% affordable at 80% of AMI (Market Rate) for 20 years (Pilot Program). Formula is based on HUD Guidelines. For this project, it is specifically called out for how many of each type of unit is required (X number of 2-BRs, X number of 1-BRs, etc.).
    • Want to balance how we do development and the types of citizens that gravitate towards JC.
  • Master Plan for the City? Would be ideal if we had the right staff or if the city had developed at the same rate across the city. Not in the works at the moment. City needs to take more of a leadership role in pushing for community concerns (parks, transit within the city, etc.) as well as others that may not be in the City’s jurisdiction (PATH, schools, etc.). Need to take advantage of what developers want to get what city/community wants.
    • Need a more systematic and effective process for getting notified of development (not a handshake encouragement – needs to be more firm).
    • Using “Inadequate Staffing” as a reason is not acceptable to the community. What about Open Sourcing, Competition, Turn to Citizens to pull on their resources?
  • RRC is best way to get quick action and get guided to the right department.
  • Ordinance passed streamlining cultural affairs processes and making cultural affairs department responsible for helping manage the process. Working on putting this online to be able to track where you are in the process.
    • Met with SID recently to address concerns of small business and how events impact the community. Sometimes these events have a material impact on the small businesses.

Joyce Watterman

  • Working on improving process for disseminating information to community re: development
  • Bring concerns to your council people and they will do their best to fight it
  • She is an advocate for affordable housing
  • Work closely with councilpersons
  • Public notices is a major issue that has been skirted over for years. Needs to be fixed. Why can’t we put an ordinance in place to make this a requirement? We also need to know when redevelopment plans are amended. Candice created an ordinance for the redevelopment plan notification, Joyce will ask her to include notifications in the ordinance.
  • Is City equipped to address Jersey Ave Extension? If we can’t fix simple things like traffic lights, how do we have hope for major things like the bridge? Need to look at community input into concerns. We need to hold our professionals to a higher standard!
  • Suggest having Directors (such as Traffic Engineering Director Joe Disouzza?) come to Community to come to our meetings. Could this be coordinated to be more community-wide?
  • Joyce suggested Town Hall meetings to Council – not approved yet, but still under consideration.

Announcements & Community networking

  • Reminders:
    • Monday 22nd – Turnpike Authority meeting on Jersey Ave. Extension – 5pm -8pm, City Hall. Reach out to elected officials to encourage them to come to this meeting to understanding our concerns (Freeholders, Assembly people, committee people, etc.)
    • Tuesday 23rd – City Hall property study (non-condemnation study). No current redevelopment plan, but one may be in the works.
  • Full listing of events and announcements available on June Monthly Newsletter
  • Allison will follow up with Block Captain idea

Adjournment – 9:15 pm

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 vvpanews@gmail.com 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

March 2015 VVPA Meeting Minutes (Updated)

19 Mar 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

Call to Order

Officer Reports

  • President – Oona Moore
    • No pressing concerns
  • Treasurer& Construction Liaison – Tom Ogorzalek
    • Accounts in good standing
    • 265 York St. – Presented letter at Historic Board Meeting re: concerns about cornice, window size, massing for project. Project conditionally approved pending change to windows
    • 518 Jersey Avenue Laundromat approved
    • 227 Montgomery – minor concern re bulkhead – project not approved, special meeting needed by Historic Commission
    • 124 Bright St. – tabled
    • 223-225 Pavonia – spot zoning concerns, precedent setting concerns, once variance granted, it is allowed for the life of the property – several of the neighborhood associations against it (Paulus Hook and Harsimus Cove). Item pulled from meeting agenda at developer’s request
    • DCNA pressuring for new master plan
    • Purpose of Various Meetings:
      • Historic Preservation Commission – all projects inside Historic District
      • Board of Adjustments –projects asking for something not allowed by zoning (variance requests)
      • Planning Board – projects in conformance with zoning, but due to scale, may need to come in front of this board; also, projects asking for change to redevelopment plan
        • City Planning usually requests that developer comes to local community before presenting to them (although this is not codified yet)

Committee Reports

  • Events/Cultural Affairs Committee – Eric Carter
    • 80’s Prom in Barrow Mansion on April 11th – Porta official after party – need to update on Website; Need additional volunteers for specific duties on the night of the event – contact Eric Carter (ericblairc@yahoo.com) to volunteer
    • Salsa Merengue & Disco nights planned outdoor in park – Summer
  • Bright & Varick Committee – Ceci DeLeon
    • Briefs due April, attorney looking for extension due to other obligations. No further updates at this point.

Other Issues for the Good of Our Community

  • Pedestrian Mall (Newark Ave.) – Nothing resolved yet, need another meeting to address multitude of concerns (police issues, traffic, noise)
  • Re-examination report – historic district expanded to include parts of Lincoln Park; all re-examination reports become an addendum to the ordinance
  • No updates on playground equipment for Angel Ramos Park
  • Metro Towers – No final redevelopment plan yet with City planning yet
  • Street sweeping started, will start enforcing Thursday
  • Potholes aggressively being addressed by city – call Resident Response Center to report them
  • Community concerns re: “911” calls – lack of response, untimely response and giving hard time – Angelo to discuss with Police Captain

Guest Speakers

  • Continuum Design (Tom Ogorzalek) – 220 York St. – Ish Sadek, Owner, Silverman, Construction Manager – Project exceed allowable bldg. coverage for the property and requires a deviation, but is in conformance with all the setbacks. Project will be scheduled to be heard at Historic Commission and Planning Board in April.
    • Met with Historic & Planning already
    • Tried to keep in look and massing of other buildings in the area


January 2015 VVPA Meeting Minutes (Revised)

19 Feb 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

January 20th, 2015 Meeting Minutes

  • Guest Speakers
    • Bill Matsukoudis & Fanciullo LLC & Studio V Architecture presenting on Metropolis Towers
      • Requesting revision of an existing approved redevelopment plan for the coop (Metropolitan Towers). The residential towers approved by the existing plan would be similar to the existing towers and would be aligned along Christopher Columbus. Jay Valgora, architect from Studio V, described the new plan as essentially that the overall goal is to reintegrate the new development back into downtown, including green roofs.
      • Redevelopment plan existing for ~40 years. Within plan, got approval to build 2 new towers. None of stakeholders like the tower ideas, so want to scrap it and get a revised redevelopment plan that will help to reintegrate this property back into the community. Site originally encompassed first city hall and park. Want to bring in elements of how city originally was. Will take 8-10 years to complete, in phases. First phase will be the parking and supermarket.
      • Proposing: narrower towers with a light & airy feel, structured parking within the interior (3), a new street within the property, a new park/green area/green roofs, carry pedestrian walk of Newark Ave into the property, and include retail along the edges (no more fences) so that it leads into Newark Ave.
      • Sustainable strategies / storm water strategies (storm water retention that will help this site and surrounding community)
      • Community concerns
        • High Winds – you address it by breaking up massing of site
        • Rentals vs Coops? Will be decided as project advances and as market dictates
        • Why difference in heights of bldgs.? To be able to incorporate green space, need to go up in height. And, this fits in with the surrounding bldgs.
        • Could this storm water solution carry over to other projects? Possibly – this will be a pilot and hopefully a model for other developments.
        • Permeability and Retention: Today 100% impermeable; future: 32% is green space which will be permeable + green roofs.
        • Today: 800 units. Approved for 1200+ units total. Developer looking to do 1883 units (which is ~600 additional units above approval). Retail – 160K sq ft proposed.
        • Impact of additional ridership on PATH with new towers – have met with Port Authority (PA) to address concerns. Can’t force PA’s hand, but
        • Next step: Drafting redevelopment plan, then will put up website with all the info/renderings. Will do mailing (with email address for questions and the date for the planning board meeting). Bob and Jeff are the planners involved in the project.
    • Derk Garlick, Architect for 518 Jersey Ave
      • The project is the Carolinas Laundromat located at 518 Jersey Avenue. They have filed an application with the HPC and will file one with the Zoning Board shortly.
      • Owner wants to move family into top 2 floors and put retail space below (possibly restaurant instead of Laundromat)
      • Proposing two separate retail stores with a more historic detailing
      • Looking to get on the February Historic Meeting, board of Adjustments in March and Construction in the spring. Will also need planning variances for increasing bulk over existing non-compliance, building & lot coverage, and maintaining existing non-conforming parking
    • Elena from Pasta Dal Cuore – 527 Jersey Ave – www.pastadalcuorejc.com
      • “Pasta Dal Cuore began as a dream born in Colorno, a small town outside of Parma, Italy in 2010 while attending culinary school at ALMA. After traveling extensively thru Italy researching the best restaurants known for their fresh pasta, I returned home to Jersey City with the goal of owning my own pasta shop. It is our mission to make fresh pasta with all-natural quality ingredients. In the near future we are planning on adding cheeses, butters and home-made sauces to accompany our fresh pastas.”
      • Opened in November, 2014 – fresh pasta sold up front, soon will have restaurant in back
    • New Business
      • In the spirit of volunteerism, we ask for folks to help out in any way that they can
      • Planning & Development sub-committee – need help! See Tom to join committee. This is an opportunity to learn about the process and shape the committee around you
      • Liberty State Park – looking for conditional veto for language in a bill which, if allowed in the bill, would allow for the park to be run by concessionaire and allow development on the land
      • Events Committee – community builders, fundraisers, movies, etc.
      • Bright & Varick – VVPA has filed appeal of automatic approval that was granted by Judge via NJ Appleseed (non-profit). Will need help from volunteers, and will continue to need to do fundraisers to pay for this
      • Pedestrian Plaza – Harsimus Cove is running the show on this issue – it really should be a DCNA issue for a more collaborative voice. Oona will bring it up at next quarterly DCNA meeting.
      • Change of use/ownership of real property proposed amendment at the City Council’s 1/20/15 meeting. As realtor, redundant system in place to ensure that property is used as zoned – don’t need this additional fee – adds unnecessary time and month. Community was opposed to it, issue was tabled pending revision.
      • Events: North River Sing at St. Matthews; Art House Productions Snowball on 24th; City Council Meeting on 28th – see vvpa.org for details

February 2015 VVPA Meeting Minutes

19 Feb 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

Meeting Minutes – February 17th, 2015

Call to Order

Guest Speakers

  • Jeff Zak – Revised Plans from 333 Grand St. (Liberty Harbor)
    • Revised redevelopment plan to switch buildings around in plan to accommodate community input.   Looking to be in front of planning board in next month or two. Corner of Jersey & Grand will be resident entrance – the Jersey Ave and Grand Street sides will have retail.
      • “Wet Flood proofing” – allows retail to remain on ground level by using waterproof construction materials inside the retail spaces and utilities located above ground level.
      • Parking – amended zoning to allow VVP residents to park in there (internal ~160/month, external ~100/month). Jeff Zak to send information regarding parking.   Eventually looking to have parking authority create a liberty harbor zone when streets are dedicated.
      • Looking to attract a large, upscale, gourmet “food market” to the location, not a giant supermarket (101 spots allocated for retail market)
  • Ed Ciolko – Construction Manager for 274 Barrow Street (at Montgomery St.)
    • Dr. Florence Chan (owner) – would like to put carriage house on top of 3 garages that are located on Montgomery St. to improve neighborhood, and improve own property aesthetics. Haven’t spoken to Historic Commission yet (formally) about this.
    • Carriage house will be two 1-bedrooms apartments with common means of egress/ingress. Building will be brick with small Juliette balconies that don’t protrude into the neighborhood.
    • Community generally in agreement with idea, with some concerns about stairs and roofline. Concern is about awkward stairs which will be eyesore to neighborhood/not consistent with historic standards and that roofline is not consistent with the neighborhood. Community also wants to know which variances are needed for this project.
  • Angie Szani of United Rescue Recruitment – angieszani@gmail.com, aszani@unitedrescue.us, 201.294.5479, www.unitedrescue.us
    • Community based Emergency Care sponsored Mayor Fulop & JCMC. Volunteers (18+) are trained to respond to health emergencies in JC. Can stabilize people, not administer medication. Pilot program will be the model for the United States.
    • 60-90 hours of training for first aid care until first responders can get there. Volunteers given equipment and app on phone to respond. Goal is to cut response time in half, and looking to recruit ~100 volunteers by July (throughout JC). Training expected to begin in next 3 months.
    • Concern regarding liability Issue – United Rescue volunteers are covered under the JCMC for liability issues.
  • Councilwoman Joyce Watterman – Community Update – Postponed for future meeting.

Committee Reports

  • Events/Cultural Affairs Committee – Eric Carter
    • 80’s Prom in Barrow Mansion on April 11th – Van Vorst Boogie Facebook Page will be updated soon, and looking for people to submit pictures of themselves in the 80’s.Will go on sale 3/1/15 on EventBrite
    • Salsa Merengue outdoor in park – Summer
    • Country Western Hoedown – Fall
    • Meetball – No date yet – still need to find place
    • Always looking for volunteers!
  • Bright & Varick Committee – Ceci DeLeon
    • VVPA gave Rushman points of what we would negotiate for, but for now negotiation is off the table. Full steam ahead on appeal.
  • Construction & Planning Committee
    • Had 1st planning meeting tonight – some folks on committee following up on Metropolis Towers that was discussed at last month’s VVPA meeting
    • Historic Preservation meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, 2/18/15) – City Hall, 6:30pm. All are encouraged to attend. Items scheduled for tomorrow’s HP meeting:
      • 265 York St- Hasn’t addressed majority of changes community requested
      • 124 Bright St. – Not much controversy when it was presented to VVPA in 2014, the Planning + Development Committee reviewed some recent revisions to the materials for the building and did not have any problems with the changes.
      • Grove Street Synagogue – controversy regarding taking lions down when it was presented to VVPA. No idea what they are going to present on or if they incorporated our feedback into the plans.
      • 11 Wayne St. – existing non-conforming issues.
    • Planning issue in Hamilton Park – looking to put a restaurant with liquor license in a location that does not allow this use. There is also an issue with respect to proximity to school. City looking to make this a part of restaurant row overlay to allow the liquor license at this location. The project will need to go to Board of Adjustment for a Use variance first to make this happen. If this mechanism gets used in this location, it can be copied in other neighborhoods. This issue came up at the DCNA meeting – some people want this, but neighbors recognized that if they support it, it can be precedent setting for all of Jersey City.
    • Planning issue – Tom & Ceci (in an advisory role) gave help to planning board to draft Café ordinance.

Officer Reports

  • President – Oona Moore
    • No pressing concerns
  • Treasurer – Tom Ogorzalek
  • At-Large Members – Ben Bernouy (Parking Issues Meeting with Candice Osborne)
    • February 4th meeting with Candice Osborne with Parking Enforcement and Safety. Attendees identified top 5 issues, along with potential solutions:
      • Capacity(abated builders to contribute to fund to build municipal lots; unused spaced in public housing spaces, reach out to retailers to create drop off/pick up zones {e.g. Pathmark, Hospital}; angled parking for double wide streets
      • Day lighting (bumping out curb to prevent parking too close to curb)
      • Enforcement (parking meter through phone – free for residents)
      • Expanding zone hours (make past 5pm)
      • Street sweeping (change time and/or frequency, or hire a person to manually sweep sidewalk).
    • Will create poll on Facebook page to have community vote on top 2 issues they want addressed from the list brought forth at this meeting.
    • Community also very concerned about traffic lights issue that was brought up several times but hasn’t been addressed yet (timing of lights for pedestrians to safely walk)

Other Business/Events

  • Killing Lincoln Movie at 5 Corners Library
  • City Council Meeting – 2/15/15
  • Newark Ave pedestrian experiment from last summer – Early March for community input
  • Safety concerns – attend the Captain’s Meeting for East District – typically 4th Tuesday of the month, but for this month only meeting was moved to 4th Monday of the month at 7pm in the MS4 Library


December 2014 VVPA Meeting Minutes (Revised)

19 Feb 2015, Posted by Yolanda Foley in Minutes

Meeting Minutes – December 16th, 2014

  • Call to Order / introduction of board
  • Old Business
    • Review of Putting on the Ritz Soiree
  • New Business
    • The Lincoln Park West Golf Course – Norman Guerra, Chief Executive Officer , Hudson County Improvement Authority
      • Norman Guerra, Michel Cohen, Dale Wesselmen
        • Autonomous agency partners with towns in Hudson County: Re-development work, solar projects, recreation
        • Landfill/wetlands restorations project and capping of landfill
        • Vision: 9 hole golf course
        • Created public walkway and restoration of marine life in the area
        • Eventually (next phase 3-4 years) will get a permanent club house and mini golf
        • Will be open 7 Days a week, will offer tours starting in April, 2015
        • Irrigation system in place, no need to use potable water
        • Target opening date: May, 2015
        • Public Transportation: Busses at corner of Duncan Ave.
        • First public golf course – projected fees of $21 (without cart); will offer in-county and out-of county rates
        • Company called Kemper will maintain/operate course
        • Cost to build? Some of costs financed by DEP for wetlands restoration. In total, approx. $25M
    • 265 York Street – Phillip Gesue will present a design for a new townhouse at 265 York Street with a 4′ height variance
      • Phillip Gesue and Jeff Jordan, Misa Odanaka
      • 12 unit condominium currently with large gravel parking lot
      • Will add a 4 story building, 4 units + site improvement to address drainage and parking issues on site
      • Vision: showpiece for neighborhood with a lot of landscape architecture
      • Plan: reduce parking lot area (~15 parking spots) to allow for landscape architecture to buffer between buildings. Plan is that condominium owners will be allotted a space, except the owner
      • Will additional landscape in front of building will have to be a franchise? Probably, as the existing landscape is franchised
      • Flooding concerns will be addressed as per FEMA. Outside of historic district, can raise to allowable limit plus FEMA elevation. Inside historic district, not clear cut, but overall building height is currently taken from street level. FEMA flood zone is 30”, have to be 1’ above it. Need to figure out how to address windows to complement surroundings – presenters gave 2 options
      • Balance: respect tradition and history, yet be true to yourself and where the profession is going
      • Community concerns: factory looking – do something with the windows to address it? Where is the design at the top of the building (cornice) – building is lacking without it. One comment is that it’s not historic, and yet it’s not modern……it’s too much in the middle and it “doesn’t’ work”. Another comment: put a requirement for mandated uniform window treatments.Brick color is jarring – consider going back to grey option.
      • What specific elements make it fit with the neighborhood? Being brick, proportions of windows, rhythm of windows, overall mass of buildings, and proportions of openings. Building should be “of its time”, and as an architect you need to build something that will “stand the test of time”
      • Going for height variance due to flood issue.
    • Eric Flemming – Lacrosse Program March – June, K-8. No experience or equipment required. www.jerseylacrosse.com. FREE CLINICS!
    • Potluck Dinner Celebration!

October 2014 VVPA Meeting Minutes

22 Oct 2014, Posted by Oona Moore in Minutes

Thank you to all who came out last night.  It was a packed house–

Thanks to Leah Guy from Modern Sage a new wellness, meditation, massage you name it feel good store on Newark Ave.  She kindly brought us a gift bag from her store which we used last night as a door prize.  One lucky gal went home with a bag of goodies!  If you haven’t been to Modern Sage–it’s really a treat for the senses. And Leah knows every product in there…Check it out!  Modern Sage 315 2nd Street.

Dixon Leasing gave us a rundown on their processes and properties in the Van Vorst Park area.  Dixon is an Australian company that bought a number of houses in Hudson County, NY and Brooklyn.  We currently have 22 of their properties in our neighborhood.  They discussed the renovation of a number of those properties and addressed some concerns about the construction and tenants.  Rebbecca Symes  and John Wellendorf are available at anytime if anyone has any issues with their properties.  For a full list of those properties contact us at vvpanews@gmail.com, Rebecca at Rebecca.Symes@dixon.com.au or John at John. Wellandorf@dixon.com.au

We also welcomed a number of school board candidates.  There was plenty of questions raised and some spirited discussions.  The candidates are participating in a forum hosted by Historic Paulus Hook  Association (HPHA) this Thursday October 23rd 7 pm at PS16 96 Sussex Street.  You can check out their FB event page here.In the meantime here are the candidates we met last night.  Get to know them a little better–

The Parents for Excellence Team:  Bertram Okpokwasili, Moncia Kress & Carol Harrison-Aronold.  Betram and Carol are currently Board members and Bertram is a Van Vorster.  Check out parentsforexellence.com

The Children First Team: Gerald Lyons, Gina Verdibello, Lorenzo Richardson.  You can read more about them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheChildrenFirstTeam

Joel Torres—Joel is running independent of a ticket. He has his own Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/MrJoelTorres and website: http://www.torres4jcboe.com.

Take a few minutes…make an informed vote on November 4th!

Reminder we will be in the park this weekend hanging ribbons on our Breast Cancer Awareness tree.We will also be  ghouling it up on Halloween in the park from 4-8pm handing out candy and hot cider. AND….

SAVE THE DATE!  December 12th–Van Vorst Boogie is back!  In the Barrow Mansion….this one will be a fundraiser for us to continue the free dances in the park next summer.  But wait…it’s going to be a “great” night….food, drinks, live music, DJ Dancing Tony….a very spirited holiday party!

There is still time to get really involved in your community….we are looking for a few good men and women to join our Board of Directors…if you’ve attended at least 3 meetings last year and live in the Van Vorst district you are eligible.  Community service is cool and rewarding…look what it did for Steve Fulop! He was once the president of HPHA!





October 2013 VVPA Meeting Minutes

26 Oct 2013, Posted by admin in Minutes

Ellen Simon & Micheline Amy-Board of Education Candidates

Ellen & Micheline spoke with us briefly on their background and goals
if they were to be elected to the Board of Education. They both have children in public schools here in Jersey City and have been active PTA members. Some of the highlights of their campaign…longer school days for our children to allow time for recess, expanding the federally funded school breakfast program, bringing translators to BOE meetings and having them start later to accommodate parents coming home from work, engaging Neighborhood Associations with their local schools, etc. Great meeting them and we wish them luck.

CAKE LUSH 437 Jersey Ave:
Our construction liaison gave an update on CAKE LUSH/CARVEL, LLC at the corner of Bright & Jersey. This property has been denied a zoning variance in the past for restaurant use, appealed and lost in NJ Supreme Court and was denied by Historic Preservation Commission last month. The same applicant will be asking for the same variance this evening at the Zoning Board of Adjustments, City Council Chamber, City Hall at 6pm. Please come and voice your concerns. STOP BY on your way home from work!

Latest update and strategy meeting for the Bright & Varick Redevelopment project. We have uploaded all our research on this project to a website. If anyone is looking for more information, feel free to direct them to: http://www.brightandvarick.blogspot.com/–

We are still unsure when the developer will present his plans to the Planning Board. We were unable to obtain a set of plans to post on our blog. The JCRA told us that the developer “is concerned with having plans privately reviewed that are not approved by the Planning Department.” You can call the Planning office at 201.547.5010 and ask when they will be available to view. Or if you can go to Planning office: 30 Montgomery 14th Floor. We will let you all know as soon as we do when this in on the Planning Board agenda.

We discussed fundraising. We’ve added a donate button under the What You Can Do page on our blogspot.


Thursday October 24th 7-9pm-BOE Candidate Forum
The HPHA will host a BOE Candidate Forum at PS16 Bradford School 96 Sussex Street. Free and open to the public.

Thursday October 31st 4-?? HALLOWEEN in Van Vorst Park!!
We’re back!!!! Ready for a Ghoul Time??? Stop by for candy, hot cider and spooktacular fun with the Van Vorst Park Association and Friends of Van Vorst Park on Halloween. After darkness, 8:30pm, Hudson Shakespeare Company will be performing a special Halloween treat…

J City Theater is BACK!!
October 11th through 26th 8pm Wednesdays through Saturdays
J CITY Theater launches their 8th Season with Apartment 3A, written by actor and playwright Jeff Daniels. The play is a sardonic romantic comedy that revolves around Annie Wilson, a public television employee who loses her faith in God, men and even PBS. Underground Theater at St Michaels Church 252 9th Street Jersey City. Check out http://www.jcity.org/ for more info!!

February 2013 VVPA Meeting Minutes

24 Feb 2013, Posted by admin in Minutes

Our next meeting will be March 19th–hope to see you there!!All are welcome; snacks served!Email us with questions or ideas for upcoming meetings at vvpanews@gmail.com

Meeting Minutes:

Representatives from FEMA came…   Seymour Smith of FEMA Region II presented and explained the Advisory Flood Maps developed by FEMA from data collected over the past couple of years not including Superstorm Sandy however.  These study maps are advisory only and have no regulatory or insurance implications. They shall be used to update the information on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) which are due out sometime in August when it will undergo a 12-18 month comment period before going into effect. The FIRM maps show each community’s flood hazards and is required for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The FIRM is used to determine who must buy flood insurance.     FEMA Region 2 website: http://www.region2coastal.com/home   Link to  FEMA Advisory Base Flood Elevation Map http://fema.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=2f0a884bfb434d76af8c15c26541a545   Bob Durrin, of FEMA Region 9, a  NFIP ( National Flood Insurance Program) Specialist also addressed our communities questions as to flooding issues that effect the Historic District and how the new rate maps will affect our insurance. He said these flood maps are informative but not regulatory. The new maps out in August will be the ones that will indicate whether or not you will be required to have flood insurance.  He was unsure if there are historic structures in the new flood maps how they would be impacted. Questions were asked regarding storm sewer flooding and he said  the City of Jersey city would need to apply for a 406 grant that would mitigate fixing the storm sewers.   He also spoke about a possible funding option called Increased Cost of Compliance, available to policy owners in high risk areas whose repairs would cost 50% or more of the pre-damaged market value. These funds can be used to reduce future flood damage, “FRED”   to Floodproof, Relocate, Elevate, or Demolish.   A link to the program is here: http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-2/increased-cost-compliance-coverage   FEMA website – flood insurance manual http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program/information-homeowners-renters

FIRM Maps https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/FemaWelcomeView?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1

Also at our meeting…

Developer John Neu presented his proposed project with his Business Partner and Architects. The project is located within the Liberty Harbor Redevelopment Plan. He will be going back to City Planning requesting amendments to the original zoning that will increase the proposed unit count from 677+/- to about a 1,000 units. A increase of 328 +/- units. These will all be rental units, mostly (1) bedroom. He will also be requesting increases to the allowable building height that range from 38 to 42 stories. There will be 3 phases of construction. The first phase of their plan would include a 40,000 square foot. supermarket, a 30,000 square foot community space (possibly a YMCA) and a high rise residential unit. The architects plan to make it a LEED certified building and they will come back for community input regarding aesthetics.
The developer Scott Seale for 100 Wayne Street presented his project with his Architect and Planner. The project was proposing 7 units for a new building on a currently empty lot. There was discussion about the project, but generally people seemed to like the proposed building elevation and aesthetic, but there were serious concerns over all the variances the project had associated with it, specifically the density. (4) units are allowed by zoning and the project proposed 7, plus renovation to the adjacent building that currently has 11 units. When asked if he had spoken to the Planning office about the project Scott replied that he had and the office was not in favor of the application as it is currently.  He is scheduled next to present before the Historic Preservation Commission.