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Crime & Safety / Knockout
« on: 11-18-2013, 04:37pm »
From JCPD East District Captain Sollitti, November 18:

     Recently, a viral video has raised concerns that juveniles in Jersey City have been engaging in an illegal activity called “knockout.”   The video, from Channel 2 News  interviews various young men & women in and around Jersey City.  The news report was produced after a terrible crime in Hoboken in which juveniles  attacked a homeless disabled man resulting in his death in September.  Three juveniles have been apprehended and  charged.
     The circulation of this video has sparked concerns that this type of assault is increasing in our community.  My office has fielded several inquiries via email as well as in community meetings.  I want to take this opportunity to inform you that there have been NO reported instances of this type of assault within the East District.  Further, I am aware of no instances of this type of assault occurring within the confines of Jersey City.  I want to allay the fears that this is an emerging crime epidemic in our City.  It is not.
     As in any other major City, I would advise our residents to exercise due diligence when encountering any large group.  If the group appears disorderly or exhibits any aggressive behavior, please notify the Jersey City Police without delay.  In emergency situations please dial 911 or in non-emergency situations, please dial 201-547-5477.  We will endeavor to keep the community updated with factual information on this or any other emerging issue of concern.


JERSEY CITY — Once an unfashionable town named after an unfashionable state, this has become a place of bike lanes and brunch spots, organic farmers’ markets and free yoga in the parks. Brought on by the swell of affluent young residents who followed financial firms across the river, strollers now crowd the sidewalks and shimmering towers filled with luxury rentals line the waterfront. Kumon, the supplementary after-school program of the anxious elite, occupies a shiny storefront downtown.

Through all of this, however, Jersey City politics have stayed stubbornly within the mold of Frank Hague, the early-20th-century mayor and political boss who set the standard for corruption, even by New Jersey standards. Newly vigorous community groups have complained of projects stumbling because of bureaucracy. Developers have accused the city of playing favorites with tax abatements. A bribery scandal has swirled around City Hall.

But on Monday, Jersey City will swear in a new mayor, one whose campaign slogan — “enough” — and impressive résumé seem to match the city’s new ambition.

The new mayor is Steven Fulop, a 36-year-old former trader at Goldman Sachs. After 9/11, he took a leave to serve in the Marine Corps, and upon his return from Iraq worked his way up as a city councilman, helping to organize community groups and crusading for better schools and stronger ethics laws.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Tony Frier, who moved here two decades ago and opened the 9th and Coles Tavern with his husband three years ago. “There was so much bureaucracy and red tape, it was bogging everything down. There was no progress being made. He’s got a vision. It’s going to give everybody new life.”

Mr. Fulop, a Democrat, has built a reputation as a reformer, impressing even his former adversaries with his plans to standardize tax abatement procedures, restructure the Police Department to reduce crime in neighborhoods that have been left out of the city’s rebirth, and produce greater civic involvement from the financial firms that have made this area Wall Street West, including the creation of a program to offer summer jobs to local students.

“People are finding us across the river, and I want to expand that,” Mr. Fulop said. “Historically, people outgrow the West Village, come here and then move to the suburbs. Our goal is to stop that last move.”

Already, more families with children are staying. Tribeca Pediatrics has an outpost across from Hamilton Park, which was rebuilt by neighborhood groups after years of occupation by the Latin Kings.

Still, the city’s public schools remain under state control, with all but a handful classified as failing. Residents pay premium taxes, even as garbage cans overflow and potholes go unrepaired. Though downtown neighborhoods have gotten safer, neighborhoods farther out still struggle with high crime rates. Many have long suspected that the city’s recent success was due to its proximity to New York, and not because of, but in spite of, the city’s political establishment. Hudson County residents have reason to temper their optimism: the fresh-faced new mayor of Hoboken, Peter Cammarano, was one of 44 officials swept up in the bribery scandal that brought down Jersey City’s deputy mayor four years ago.

The second of three sons born to immigrants from Israel and Romania who own a deli in Newark, Mr. Fulop grew up in Edison, N.J., and like so many of his new constituents, moved here to work for Goldman. He bought an apartment near the waterfront in 2000, figuring the influx of financial firms would make the city a good investment.

After his tour in Iraq, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress before narrowly winning a seat on the City Council in 2005. Four years ago, Mr. Fulop expanded his political influence by sponsoring a winning slate of school board members. More recently, he helped bring in a longtime veteran of the New York City schools, Marcia Lyles, as superintendent.

And he has hammered city officials about ethics violations since 2009, when the sweeping corruption investigation known as Operation Bid Rig ensnared several dozen Hudson County politicians, including several associates of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, on charges of accepting bribes from a developer.

“I don’t think people realize how much that left an impression on the city,” said Shelley Skinner, who met Mr. Fulop after he responded to an e-mail complaining about the quality of the schools, encouraging her and a group of parents to organize. “O.K., Hudson County is corrupt, but this is what our tax dollars are going toward? People with kids think, ‘I’m not getting a quality school because of this?’ ”

“After his election, so many of my friends said, ‘We can stay,’ ” she said.

The election was nonpartisan, expensive and rollicking. Mr. Healy and Mr. Fulop together spent about $2 million.

Mr. Healy was endorsed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, and, remarkably in a city with little national profile, President Obama. But Mr. Fulop ran ads with footage of Mr. Healy, who was not accused in the bribery scandal, meeting with the developer who had been at the heart of it. A week before the election, Mr. Healy found himself explaining a long ago incident in which he had been photographed naked on his front porch.

Mr. Fulop won with 52 percent of the vote, winning over new residents but also what he calls “the born and raiseds.”

“They saw in Steve a young guy with new ideas who was going to turn the city around,” said Junior Maldonado, the incumbent councilman Mr. Fulop defeated in 2005, and who later turned into a supporter. “I have been watching him developing a vision and a mission for Jersey City, and I liked what I saw,” he said. “I think the people in Jersey City radiated to his message.”

Since his election, Mr. Fulop has held meetings with residents and sent out surveys to ask them what they want from City Hall. He has hired Howard Safir, the former commissioner of the Police and Fire Departments in New York, to reorganize the Police Department. He has done away with a fleet of city cars.

It is a sign of the new Jersey City, and the excitement surrounding its new mayor, that his inauguration will be filmed for an episode of Cake Boss.

Downtown / Verizon Cellular Antennas on Fifth Street
« on: 04-19-2013, 03:03pm »
On the evening of March 17, the Harsimus Cove Assocation (HCA) distributed 80 letters to Fifth Street residents on the same block as of 238 Fifth Street. (Read the letter.)  Verizon is applying to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to get approval for this project.  There are issues with the appropriateness of this project given that it is visible from the public right of way from many vantage points and that it would compromise the integrity of the Harsimus Cove historic district.

About 20 residents showed up to the meeting and half of those spoke out against the application during the public hearing.  After more questioning by the HPC largely based on the points we made, Verizon decided to withdraw their application and to come back in the future with revised plans.

Verizon has since submitted revised plans and they are on the next meeting's agenda.

Historic Preservation Commission Meeting
Monday, April 22, 6:30 PM
Council Chambers, City Hall, 280 Grove Street

It is imperative that all concerned parties appear at the meeting and be prepared to make remarks during the public speaking portion of the meeting.

Verizon's revised sims and plans:

Architectural drawings of the plan:
Simulation of the roofline from the east:
Simulation of the roofline from the west:

Some things to note:

1. The number of antennas has been reduced from 12 to 6.  That makes it 2 per cluster instead of 4.
2. The shed has been removed and will no longer be a visual obstruction from the Erie/5th vantage point
3. The cluster that was on the SW corner has been pushed back but still on the very edge of the building.  It will now be referred to as the west cluster.


I've been in touch with the SHPO based on the following tip from this blog, "What to Do if a Cell Tower is Proposed in Your Neighborhood."

Neighborhoods listed as historic districts by the National Historic Preservation Act may have more protections against a cell tower than non-historic neighborhoods. A tower cannot be placed in a historic neighborhood if it can be demonstrated that the tower negatively affects the neighborhood's historic quality.  The Irvington neighborhood was designated a historic district last year, and Kirk Ranzetta helped the neighbors appeal the issue to Oregon's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

Ranzetta says wireless companies are required to file an application with SHPO, and SHPO has to agree that the neighborhood will not be adversely affected. "The applications are not always full or not always as accurate as they probably should be," Ranzetta says. Neighbors can then file a notice of objection to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). "It's a little bit more of a legal challenge," Ranzetta says, and the FCC is legally required to respond to the objection.

According the SHPO, Verizon and any other mobile carrier who wants to install antennae in a historic district, they must go through the Section 106 process as defined by the Historic Preservation Act.  This process requires that the applicant conduct an "alternatives analysis" whereby the applicant demonstrates their justification for the chosen location with regard to other options. According to the SHPO, Verizon has not yet submitted their alternatives analysis, but this is not abnormal. Applicants often conduct it after community consultation has happened. Given that several members of the community specifically asked about this topic at the last HPC meeting and the given that Verizon has not conducted the alternative analysis, the HCA will request that the analysis be done before any City agency, board or commission grant approval.  In short, we have unanswered questions this analysis would answer.


On the heals of Verizon is AT&T.  While they are not on the agenda for Monday's meeting and we have not received any plans or sims, we are in touch with the attorney representing their application.  I bring this up now so as to give you an accurate vision of the scope of what's going on at 238 Fifth.  Will T-Mobile be next?

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