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Jersey City Council Approves Water Street Redevelopment Plan Changes

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The Jersey City Council approved a number of legislative items on Wednesday night, including changes for the Water Street Redevelopment Plan, and sending a request to the state treasury for a study on a local income tax for school funding.

The council also introduced regulations for cannabinoids and smoke shops, and steps to acquire property for two new police precincts.

Water Street Redevelopment Plan

The council unanimously adopted an amendment (with Council President Joyce Watterman absent from the meeting that night), to make changes to the Water Street Redevelopment Plan on the West Side.

The changes are in regards to a 621-unit mixed-use development at 100 Water Street. To facilitate the development of a new Route 440 boulevard, the floor area ratio requirements on Lots 4 and 5, located between Clark and Clairemont Ave., can be transferred over to Lots 1 and 2 that are between Ege and Clark Ave.. Additionally, Lot 2 will be allowed three additional floors for up to 15 stories to accommodate the floor area.

In exchange for the changes, the owners of Lots 4 and 5, WSI Developer, must demolish any existing structures on those lots, create public parking spaces alongside the eastern side of Water Street, install curbing, sidewalks and landscaping, and repave and restripe Water St.

Former Councilman Chris Gadsden, who used to represent the West Side-based Ward B that the development is in, had questioned the people behind the development, noting that Katerra, who had acquired Water Street’s developers, Fields Development, filed for bankruptcy last year.

He also said that there should be more affordable housing in the West Side. “Affordable housing [has] not been built (besides the project at 16 Bennett St.) in over decades,” he said. “We have to do a lot better.”

Jim McCann, who spoke on behalf of 100 Water Street LLC, said that he argued back at the caucus meeting that the inclusionary zoning ordinance wasn’t triggered because of the floor area transfer and they aren’t asking for additional floor area, to which Corporation Counsel Peter Baker backed up by saying it wouldn’t.

Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, the current Ward B representative, said that affordable housing is being set aside for the Bayfront and University Place projects, and that none being built is “false.”

She also said that the development will add parking, storm flood mitigation, and lighting to make the area safer. “It’s not perfect, but it’s giving the residents something that they need,” she said.

Income tax study for school funding

The council then passed a resolution to ask the state Department of Treasury to conduct a study to see how much revenue from a local income tax would be generated to fund the city’s school district.

The resolution, which was sponsored by Councilman Frank Gilmore, would ask to see how a tax up to one percent could help the school district’s funding crisis after being subject to millions in state aid cuts since 2018.

The school district is expected to lose $68.5 million in state aid this year, and a preliminary $973 million budget that was approved last month had a $184 million shortfall and could cost property owners $1,611 per household over a year.

“Once we receive that information as a council, then we will be armed with directions we should go as it relates to a threshold or how are we gonna implement the tax and things like that,” said Gilmore.

While Gilmore acknowledged that the treasury could ignore their request and they might have to go through the State Legislature instead, he said that they have due diligence to take steps to take care of the city’s children.

Councilman James Solomon also said that the important part was to be proactive and converse on how to fund the school district that doesn’t completely fall on taxpayers. “It’s why we did the payroll tax back in 2018, but we know that [it’s] insufficient, given the extraordinary volume of cuts that are coming,” he said.

While the rest of the sitting council members were on board with the resolution, Councilman Yousef Saleh was the only one opposed, saying that they should look at other solutions such as cost saving measures and lobbying the state and federal Departments of Education to get federal pandemic funds.

The resolution passed 7-1, with Saleh being the only dissenting vote.

Other legislation

The council unanimously adopted a $131 million bond ordinance for a number of capital projects in the city. The bond ordinance needed six votes to be adopted, and would fund projects ranging from the Loew’s Theatre, parks and roadways and other infrastructure projects.

They also unanimously introduced a set of regulations for cannabinoids and smoke shops. The regulations would make it illegal to distribute cannabinoids to those under 21, and require all smoke and tobacco stores to register within 60 days of opening or qualifying as a store to register with the Department of Public Safety.

The council also introduced a combination of three ordinances that will allow the city to buy or condemn, through eminent domain, three properties for two new police precincts. The north precinct would be at 117 Hutton Street and 18 Sherman Place in the Heights, and the south precinct at 1 West Side Avenue.

All three of those ordinances were introduced 7-1, with Councilman Rich Boggiano, a former police veteran, being the only dissenting vote.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.

The post Jersey City Council approves Water Street Redevelopment Plan changes appeared first on Hudson Reporter.

Original Source: hudsonreporter.com

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Lupus Foundation of America Rallies Communities to Make Lupus Visible for Lupus Awareness Month

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WASHINGTON, April 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Lupus Foundation of America is leading the effort to Make Lupus Visible throughout the month of May for Lupus Awareness Month as it rallies communities across the country to raise awareness of lupus and funds to support lupus research, education programs and support services.

Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body, causing the immune system to attack healthy tissue instead of fighting infections. It is difficult to diagnose, hard to live with and a challenge to treat. Many of the debilitating symptoms and impacts of lupus can’t be seen – from extreme fatigue and excruciating joint pain to impacts on the organs like the kidneys, …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

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USPS Sued by States and Environmental Groups Over Purchase of 8.6 Mpg Trucks

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Enlarge / The USPS’s new mail truck. (credit: United States Postal Service)

The US Postal Service is facing lawsuits from 16 states and several environmental groups challenging its decision to buy tens of thousands of gasoline-powered delivery vehicles instead of electric vehicles.

As previously reported, the Environmental Protection Agency says the gas-powered trucks being ordered by the USPS “are expected to achieve only 8.6 miles per gallon (mpg), barely improving over the decades-old long-life vehicles that achieve 8.2 mpg.” The USPS countered that the vehicles get 14.7 mpg when air conditioning isn’t being used and that the trucks’ size will make it possible to deliver the same amount of mail in fewer trips.

The USPS plan is to buy 50,000 to 165,000 vehicles over 10 years. Of those, at least 10 percent are slated to be battery-electric vehicles (BEV). Amid controversy, the USPS last month said its initial order of 50,000 trucks for $2.98 billion would include over 10,000 BEVs for “specific delivery routes that present the best initial application for electric vehicles.”

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Source Here: arstechnica.com

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Enough Money Raised to Bring Chuck Wepner Statue to Bayonne

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A Bronze statue of Chuck Wepner, the famous “Bayonne Bleeder” will soon be on its way to Bayonne. 

A close friend and perhaps the biggest fan of Wepner, Bruce Dillin of Dillin Tire Company in Bayonne, has secured enough funds to bring the statue to the city following a third and final fundraiser. Dillin runs a small museum dedicated to the boxer out of the lobby of his auto repair shop.

Wepner famously boxed 15 rounds against Muhammad Ali during their heavyweight title fight in 1975 before Ali bested him with a technical knockout. Wepner’s career and fight with Ali is said to have inspired the movie series “Rocky.”

The scene from the film where Rocky runs up and down the stairs in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in preparation for the big fight is said to be inspired by Wepner. He apparently ran up and down the stairs in Stephen Gregg Park in preparation for his fight with Ali. As such, Dillin has been seeking to erect a statue of the boxing legend at the top of the stairs in Bayonne’s county park since 2015.

By 2017, Dillin had found a sculptor, and he didn’t have to look far. Next door neighbor Zhen Wu agreed to sculpt the mold for the bronze statue for free as long as Dillin provided what he needed. However, Dillin still needed the funds to have the statue cast in bronze using that mold. So he set out to raise the money himself.

Dillin has held a number of fundraisers, including a premiere of the movie “Chuck” starring Liev Schreiber and the Roast of Chuck Wepner. The proceeds of both fundraisers went toward the cost of the statue, which has since sat in a state of near-completion at a bronze foundry in Philadelphia.

A scene from the crowded fundraiser at the bustling brewery. Photo courtesy of Bruce Dillin.

Fundraiser bash at a brewery

The third and final fundraising event was held at the 902 Brewing Co. at 101 Pacific Avenue in Jersey City on April 19. While Dillin previously eyed an event in Bayonne in October of 2021, COVID-19 and other factors delayed things until now.

Many came out to support the effort to secure the Wepner statue, including Bayonne Mayor James Davis. Davis touted Wepner as being Bayonne, “through and through.”

“Chuck can live wherever he wants, do whatever he wants, and he chooses Bayonne, the greatest city in the world,” Davis said.

Wepner himself, at the young age of 83, was also there. He thanked the crowd, noting many familiar faces had been there along the way.

“I’m so proud to be from the city of Bayonne,” Wepner said.

Wepner also noted he lived in Jersey City at one point, making the event’s location more fitting.

“I’m also from Jersey City,” Wepner said. “I lived in Jersey City for a while too when I was in the Marine Corps.”

Dillin, the man who made it possible, also addressed the crowd.

“Fifteen years ago, I was being honored at a dinner and I made a joke that they were making a statue of Chuck Wepner,” Dillin said. “Everybody laughed at the joke then asked me when we were doing the statue and I said ‘Well, it was a joke, but sure, why don’t we have a statue?’”

Thanks to the event, Dillin was able to raise the last amount of the money needed.

A flyer for the event touted future access to the statue unveiling for ticket purchasers. Photo courtesy of Bruce Dillin.

A long time coming

After the event, in an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Dillin explained what will happen next with the statue.

“It’s from the love and respect of the people that supported this,” Dillin said. “Some of them were at every event. And some gave more than they had to give to come to an event.”

According to Dillin, many organizations donated their time and effort, such as the lighting for the event done by F&S Lighting or the DJ. 

“Everbody did this for Chuck,” Dillin said. “It was unbelievable.”

According to Dillin, 902 Brewery Co. was quickly on board once Dillin brought Wepner to the brewery. 

“I walked in there one day, walked up to the owner and said I want to have a party and wanted this and that,” Dillin said. “He asked me to bring Chuck Wepner there. The next day I brought him and then he agreed to do it.” 

The brewing company even did a beer release in Wepner’s honor that night, with a new beer dubbed “The Real Rocky,” another nickname for Wepner. Dillin said the can featured an image of Wepner he also had commissioned, which shows Wepner in the moment when had knocked Ali down in their legendary bout.  

“If you ask anybody that went to any of my events, they were overwhelming successes with entertainment you can’t match,” Dillin said. “Needless to say, I’m going to get that statue.”

Approximately $16,000 of the total $80,000 for the statue was raised. Dillin now has the funds necessary to have the job finished and bring the statue home. Wu recently went to the foundry to inspect the statue as the finishing touches are put on it.

“He critiqued them on a few things he wants changed,” Dillin said. “Then it will be ready for something called the patina. It’s the preparation of the surface to last outside.”

Wepner (back left) and Dillin (right with red bowtie) at the premiere of ‘Chuck’ in Bayonne in 2017.

Installing it in the park?

Following that, the statue will finally be on its way to Bayonne. And Dillin said that the funds raised will likely cover the cost of the base of the statue and any surrounding landscaping at the park.

When it comes to putting it in Stephen Gregg Park, which is a county park, Dillin said he has not had any conversations with any county officials yet. After all his efforts, he said he’d rather wait for the county to come to him and ask. 

“After all of this time I’ve been doing this for years, not one of them ever said anything to me,” Dillin said. “But that’s alright, we’re bringing this statue home.“ 

Ideally, Dillin wants to unveil the statue sooner than later. Wepner is getting older and it would be nice to do it while he is alive, especially as he battles cancer.

“This statue will still be there in 100 years,” Dillin said. “It will still be there and it will still be a relevant story.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

The post Enough money raised to bring Chuck Wepner statue to Bayonne appeared first on Hudson Reporter.

Original Post: hudsonreporter.com

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