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Team Davis Councilmen to Vote Down Resolutions Targeting MOTBY Redevelopment

Joel Davis

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Mayor James Davis is vowing to stop City Council President and mayoral candidate Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski from voiding the city’s sale agreement on a major development project at the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY).

According to Davis, the incumbent councilmen running on his slate all plan to vote against Ashe-Nadrowski’s resolution to dissolve the contract at the April City Council meeting. This includes First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll, City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez, and Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa.

Davis added that city redevelopment attorneys have reviewed the matter and have produced a legal opinion memo stating that the redeveloper, Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal, LLC, is not in breach of its contract with the city. According to Davis, he said this would mean Ashe-Nadrowski’s actions to cancel the project’s financial and redevelopment agreements would actually constitute breach of contract by the city.

The redevelopment deal has become a point of controversy between the two candidates ahead of the May 10 municipal election.

Davis called Ashe-Nadrowski’s plan “bizarre” and said it would cost Bayonne taxpayers millions of dollars by breaching a contract that she previously voted in favor of. According to Davis, her campaign manager Joe DeMarco personally negotiated the deal when he worked for city government. DeMarco is Davis’ former campaign manager, and has also served as Business Administrator and Special Redevelopment Counsel under his administration.

“I will not stand by and let Sharon Nadrowski cost each and every Bayonne taxpayer thousands of dollars to further her political agenda,” said Davis. “Let’s be perfectly clear here: if the city tries to exit this contract we will get sued and we will lose, but even more dangerously it would create a precedent for other developers to sue. Bayonne taxpayers would be forced to pay thousands of dollars more every year to pay for this costly mistake by Nadrowski, and I will never let that happen. Not over my dead body!”

Davis takes aim at Ashe-Nadrowski claims

Ashe-Nadrowski claims that the agreement between Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal and the city should be null and void because the agreement stated closing needed to occur by Nov. 3, 2021.

According to the Davis, this clause can only be triggered if the city and state meet certain conditions that must be met prior to the sale, including providing a highway access permit, an NJDEP waterfront development permit and the extension of certain utility improvements to the site. Without those conditions being met, Davis said the buyer was under no obligation to close the sale by the Nov. 3, 2021 date.

The city has faced delays in meeting those obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state has yet to supply the necessary permits, which Davis said is out of the city’s control. He intends to complete these conditions as soon as possible to allow this project to begin.

Ashe-Nadrowski also claims that the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) granted was for a project with a maximum of 850 residential units, and that the current project now has 1,250 residential units.

According to Davis, the redevelopment agreement was amended in 2017 to increase the unit count from 850 to 1,250. He added that the city will receive more revenue due to this change, because the PILOT payment is based in part on the number of units at the site. He said that the PILOT agreement is still “completely valid and enforceable,” and reiterated that Ashe-Nadrowski had voted for the amendment to the plan.

“Sharon Nadrowski can’t even keep her own destructive political stunt straight, as this latest attempt to defraud Bayonne taxpayers is now the third version of it she has expressed,” said Davis campaign spokesman Phil Swibinski. “First she said the developer only had an ‘option’ to buy the land, which was proven to be false. Then she said she wanted to ‘renegotiate’ the already-settled contract, and now she lies again and says it’s ‘null and void’ when in reality it is active and legally enforceable. If Nadrowski’s million dollar plus threat to Bayonne taxpayers wasn’t so real it would almost be comical. The bottom line is that Mayor Davis and his team are going to defeat Nadrowski’s ridiculous resolution, save Bayonne taxpayers millions of dollars and prove that Nadrowski is the wrong choice for mayor.”

Ashe-Nadrowski moving on MOTBY redevelopment

The deal at the center of discussion is between the city and Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal, a subsidiary of Boraie Development, of which Wasseem Boraie is the vice president. Ashe-Nadrowski first criticized the deal between the Boraie subsidiary and the city following a Politico report that Boraie had donated $25,000 to the now-defunct Government for the People political action committee (PAC) to re-elect Davis for a third term.

Ashe-Nadrowski criticized the deal, noting the land was probably now worth $60 million more than when the agreement was signed in 2015, and that Davis was close with the redeveloper. However, she said she was still unsure which way she would vote, and didn’t mind if the Boraie subsidiary redeveloped the lot but that they “needed to pay their fair share.”

The Davis campaign countered that the project is a key part of Davis’ vision to revitalize Bayonne and alleged Ashe-Nadrowski was trying to sabotage the proposed redevelopment. The campaign noted that she had voted to approve it in the past as well as for a payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement, and that the “stunt” would lead to legal trouble for the city.

Following that back-and-forth with the Davis campaign, Ashe-Nadrowski announced that she would draft the necessary resolutions and ordinances to reopen negotiations for the land. She said the land is now worth nearly $95 million, as opposed to roughly $35 million per the agreement.

Responding to the Davis campaign’s previous assertions that meddling with this redevelopment would jeopardize the overall revitalization at MOTBY, Ashe-Nadrowski countered that the area is already bustling with construction and other activities and that the redeveloper should pay the current value of the land.

In response to Ashe-Nadrowski’s proposal, the Davis campaign called it “insane” and claimed it would lead to legal trouble with redevelopers. Swibinski said this redevelopment was a “critical” part of the revitalization of MOTBY, and could cost taxpayers if it does not come to fruition. While Davis has put a pause on redevelopment, he said MOTBY was excluded from this due the revenue and jobs the redevelopment there brings the city.

Candidates clash over project throughout April

Recently, Ashe-Nadrowski held a virtual press conference announcing that she would be introducing two resolutions and one ordinance at the April council meeting to nullify the redevelopment agreement, re-list the property for sale through the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, and to rescind the PILOT agreement. To which, the Davis campaign was mum until now.

And while the Planning Board was set to hear final site plan review for the site on April 12, due to time constraints only the major subdivision was approved with the rest of the application set to be heard on May 10. This seemingly provided Ashe-Nadrowski with an opening to move to introduce the items at the April 13 caucus council meeting and the April 20 regular council meeting.

While Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace seconded the resolutions and ordinance, they now face stated opposition from Carroll, Perez, and La Pelusa. Unless anything changes, the agenda items may be dead in the water with 3 of the 5 council members voting against it.

Things will plan out at the next Bayonne City Council meeting on April 20 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.

The Ashe-Nadrowski campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment following the Davis campaign’s press release.

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 Team Davis councilmen to vote down resolutions targeting MOTBY redevelopment appeared first on Hudson Reporter.

Source: hudsonreporter.com

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

Joel Davis

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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

Original Post: benzinga.com

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

Joel Davis

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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

Joel Davis

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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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