Thomas Swartz Dear Editor:A cruel pall has descended upon the taxpayers of downtown Jersey City. This week downtown homeowners are waking up and learning the results of the tax reval. They are learning that for most – taxes will increase maybe 40%, 60%, 100% or in some instances 200%. The tax reval was required under the idea that some taxpayers were overpaying their taxes and others were underpaying their taxes because property values have changed. Property values in downtown have risen so much, some say, that they are not paying enough in taxes; they are not paying their, “fair share.” In other words its origin was in the idea to pit one neighborhood against another or one taxpayer against another. Well, the tax reval has truly accomplished its goal. The level of acrimony and anxiety in the City has increased tremendously. But let’s make one thing perfectly clear.The notion that anyone was not being taxed enough before the reval is simply preposterous. We live in one of the highest taxed jurisdictions in the nation. This is not a recent development, but one of long standing obvious reality. The amount of taxes you pay are determined by one thing and one thing only, and that is the amount that the City, County, and School District spend. Your taxes would not be as high, either before or after the reval, if these entities did not spend so much money.That is the fundamental reality that all taxpayers need to come to grips with to in order to reverse this perverse paradigm of trying to get people to pay, “their fair share.” Is there anything that taxpayers can do? Yes. First and foremost every taxpayer needs to tell every City, County and School Board elected official that they want their respective budgets cut. Tell them that you want workforce and salary reductions, and tell them you want them to eliminate all unnecessary projects and programs. Second, every landlord who has seen their taxes increased should pass the increases onto their tenants while telling that them their rents have had to be increased because the City, County, and School District spend too much money. Third, every taxpayer whose taxes have gone up should decrease the equivalent amount of money they spend on Jersey City businesses explaining to them that they now have to patronize their businesses less because the City, County and School District spend too much. This will happen quite naturally as when your taxes double, you simply do not have as much to spend on discretionary items. This will activate the business community to convince local officials to reduce spending and taxes.Finally, every taxpayer should change their voting party registration from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. We all know that the Democratic Party has held a stranglehold on all elected positions in this area for decades and decades. Nothing will send shivers down the spines of every Jersey City and County Government elected official more than a large switch of voter registration from the Democratic Party to the Republic Party. And when the next round of elections comes around, whether at the State, City or County level, vote for Republican candidates. Republicans will cut government spending and cut your taxes.
HOBOKEN – In a press release, Hoboken Councilwoman Emily Jabbour called on state legislative leaders to advance bill A-1801, which permits the use of instant runoff voting in local elections.“Instant runoff voting is something we would like to explore in Hoboken in order to ensure we do not return to the days of expensive, low-voter turnout runoff elections that are historically susceptible to political gamesmanship and potential election mischief,” Jabbour said. “With the passage of A-1801, we would be allowed to offer ranked choice voting to Hoboken residents, which asks voters on Election Day to list their first, second, and even third choice of candidates, incentivizing positive campaigning and encouraging candidates to appeal to everyone.”Instant runoff voting is a system that allows each resident to vote for a preferred candidate, as well as alternative choices in order of preference. In the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes in an election, the people who voted for the last place candidate will have their second choice options added to the total. The process would continue until one candidate is a majority winner.Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro of Hoboken, a sponsor of the legislation, said she supported the bill and wanted to give municipalities the option.“Offering ranked choice voting to our municipalities would change the negative dialogue in our campaigns, save money for candidates and the government, and avoid winter runoff elections, which often result in a lower participation rate,” Chaparro said in the press release. “This bill would not force any municipalities into using ranked choice voting, but rather would permit local governments to implement this option should they see fit in their community. I was happy to discuss this important issue with Councilwoman Jabbour, and I hope this bill will move forward expeditiously.”The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.“I encourage Hoboken residents to contact their state representative, Assemblywoman Chaparro, and members of the committee, to inform them that this bill is important to you, it has your support, and is crucial to avoiding the days of the past when machine candidates fight to just get to a runoff and then take advantage of low voter turnout in subsequent runoff elections,” Jabbour said in the release.The city council has already approved of a referendum on November’s ballot which asks the public whether or not the city should reinstate runoff elections.The council also passed a resolution urging state legislators to consider allowing instant runoff elections in New Jersey. ×
Yvonne Balcer Dear Editor:Jersey City is introducing legislation that might have life changing consequences for its residents. The first is the introduction of recreational marijuana. While the state benefits greatly, most likely the local residents will be stuck with higher car insurance rates with undeniably increase of car accidents. Recreational marijuana has contributed to more fatal accidents according to the Denver Post, the daily newspaper in Colorado. It is the reason many towns in New Jersey said they will not have recreational marijuana; they do not want to put that strain on their police enforcing traffic violations.The second is the removal of burlesque from the city codes. While I will admit, there are more racy videos and movies on the internet, those archaic laws have kept Jersey City from becoming Newark with their adult entertainment establishments and Times Square during the 1960s to the 1980s. Times Square was a seedy place when Burlesque, go-go clubs, and peep shows littered the area. Adult entertainment attracts crime.Newark is still a high crime while Times Square has improved its image when New York City closed down these adult entertainment places. This is similar to the State of New Jersey changing the requirements for bail because they felt it discriminated against poor people. Yet even Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said too many defendants facing firearms charges are allowed back onto the streets within hours of their arrest. This is another example of a bill being passed without addressing the negative impact of a law.In the need to be politically correct, I don’t think Jersey City has thought of the consequences that might affect the residents of Jersey City.
The new “Little Rec’ers” program in Ocean City is open to 3- and 4-year-olds on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.The Ocean City Community Services Department has announced a new recreational playgroup program for 3- and 4-year-old preschool children called “Little Rec’ers”.The program is held at the Ocean City Sports and Civic Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. through Memorial Day Weekend. Preschoolers will enjoy a variety of activities including games, children’s fitness activities, swimming at the Ocean City Aquatic and Fitness Center and more.“We are excited about this new program and the flexibility it offers parents with preschoolers,” said Wendy Moyle, manager of Recreation Programs for Ocean City. “With our Little Rec’ers ‘drop-in’ program, parents can choose the days they want to have their children participate to accommodate their busy schedules.”Registration fees are $80 for 10 sessions or $150 for 20 sessions. Children must be three years old by October 1, 2014 and proof of age is required.Registration is available online at www.ocnj.us under Recreation Activities or in person at the Sports & Civic Center, 6th & Boardwalk or the Aquatic & Fitness Center, 1735 Simpson Avenue.For more information, contact Kristie Fenton at 609-525-9304 or via email at [email protected]— News release from the City of Ocean City
Ocean City Public Safety Building By Donald WittkowskiMayor Jay Gillian proposed a $112.2 million, five-year capital plan Tuesday night that would pack a series of big-ticket projects in 2017, including an overhaul of the antiquated public safety building and the continuation of upgrades to the tourist-friendly Boardwalk.Calling it a “bold” blueprint for the future, Gillian said the plan spreads out improvements across the entire town and addresses Ocean City’s critical infrastructure needs after years of neglect.“The five-year capital plan you’re about to see dedicates more than $112 million to fixing up everything in the city – from flooded streets to shallow lagoons, from tip to tip, from Boardwalk to bay,” Gillian said in prepared remarks while unveiling his proposal to City Council during a budget workshop.The mayor told Council that his plan reflects what he has heard over and over from local residents – that they want action and are “tired of waiting for somebody else to kick the can down the road.”“They want their streets to drain. They want to be able to take their boats out. They want open space. They want to enjoy the beaches and Boardwalk and downtown. They want Ocean City’s exceptional services,” Gillian said.The plan runs from 2017 to 2021 and represents a 14 percent increase over the five-year, $98.5 million capital program that Gillian proposed in 2016.“It’s a lot of money,” Gillian said. “And I don’t make this recommendation lightly. But I’m confident that it’s a responsible plan.”Mayor Jay Gillian, second from left, and members of his senior management team unveiled the $112.2 million, five-year capital plan.There is a financial cost for local property owners. On average, the capital plan would increase the local property tax rate by about a penny per year. On a home assessed at $500,000, that would mean about an extra $50 annually in local taxes, or $250 over five years.“It’s going to come with a price, so we want to be honest with the taxpayers,” said Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer.The biggest tax hit would be felt this year, because the plan proposes spending more money – nearly $52 million – in 2017 than in any other year.“Much of the funding is front-loaded for 2017, and taxpayers may feel the greatest impact this year,” Gillian said. “Once we get through some of the major projects in the next year, the plan calls for trimming back – without losing a focus on roads and drainage.”Donato explained that the tax rate would increase by about 2.5 cents to 3 cents in 2017, reflecting an extra $125 to $150 in property taxes on a home assessed at $500,000.The capital plan is in response to local property owners who have urged the city to complete long-neglected projects in virtually every part of town, the mayor said.“I hear from residents every day, and this plan delivers what they ask for,” he said.City Council will scrutinize the plan and is scheduled to take a vote on Feb. 9.City bonds backed by local tax revenue would finance a large portion of the capital plan. The plan also would depend on grants and a variety of state and federal funding.Major improvements proposed for 2017 include a series of road and drainage projects in every ward of the city. Altogether, $10.4 million worth of paving and drainage upgrades are planned in 2017 to help reduce flooding, particularly during coastal storms.Gillian said Monday’s powerful nor’easter, which unleashed widespread flooding along the Jersey Shore, illustrated the importance of Ocean City’s plan to improve its roadway and drainage network.Continuing what he started in 2016, Gillian is once again placing a big emphasis on dredging projects to clear out the city’s sediment-choked lagoons and channels along the back bays. After setting aside $10 million for dredging projects in 2016, Gillian will follow up with $7.5 million for similar work this year.Boat owners have repeatedly complained that they are often trapped at their docks or have to wait until high tide to navigate through the shallow lagoons and channels.Similar to last year, the Boardwalk will be another major focus of the capital plan in 2017. In all, the Boardwalk would receive about $6.6 million in upgrades, including $4.7 million for its reconstruction from 10th to 12th streets. The Boardwalk’s reconstruction between 10th and 12th streets represents the final phase of a multiyear project to replace aging wooden planks with new timber from Fifth Street to 12th Street.The single-most expensive project proposed in the capital plan for 2017 is a $17.5 million renovation and expansion of the public safety building, a century-old structure that houses the police department and municipal court. Gillian originally proposed tearing down the building and replacing it with an all-new public safety complex, but now considers the renovation plan the most cost-efficient option.“This plan preserves a historic building while stabilizing and updating it,” the mayor said. “It does not eliminate parking from any other area of town. It does not require the purchase of any land or impact any other part of Ocean City. It does not entail any interruption of services during construction. And, again, it’s the most responsible way to do it.”The boardwalk improvements will continue under the new capital plan.One local resident, Michael Hinchman, a former president of the government watchdog group Fairness In Taxes, questioned the renovation cost of the public safety building. He argued that the building really only needs a new roof and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.“I can’t get my head around that,” Hinchman said of the estimated $17.5 million price tag.The first floor of the old building will be removed to comply with flood requirements by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gillian noted that much of the project’s construction cost will come from stabilizing the building once the first floor is removed.Meanwhile, the capital plan will be scrutinized by Council for possible changes before it takes a vote, which is scheduled for Feb. 9.Although Council members generally seemed receptive to the plan during Tuesday’s budget workshop, there were some questions about the impact on local taxes and whether more road projects could be done.Councilman Michael DeVlieger, who represents the First Ward, urged Gillian to consider building more road projects for the north end of town and getting them in the pipeline sooner. DeVlieger said he receives more complaints from local residents about the roads than any other issue.“I’d like to find a way of doing more,” DeVlieger said of the possibility of adding road projects in the First Ward.Councilman Keith Hartzell asked Donato a series of questions about the capital plan’s tax implications. Donato told him that the increase in the local tax rate would average about a penny per year. Hartzell said he believed residents would ultimately support a tax increase to fund capital improvements.However, Hartzell stressed that the public should not think the governing body will simply write “a blank check” to finance the capital plan. He said the proposal will be closely reviewed by Council before it takes a vote.“I guess this will take a leap (of faith) from us and a lot of questions from taxpayers,” Hartzell said.
An architectural rendering depicts the proposed North Island Inn all-suite boutique hotel. By Donald WittkowskiA proposed all-suite boutique hotel that languished on the drawing board while the economy remained sluggish for several years was granted final approval Wednesday night by Ocean City planners.Called the North Island Inn, the 15-unit complex is planned at the corner of 10th Street and Ocean Avenue and would join a cluster of hotels in the same area owned by the project’s developer, Anthony J. Frank, and his family.By a 9-0 vote, the Ocean City Planning Board granted final site plan approval for the hotel, welcoming the project as a key addition to the city’s hospitality district in the heart of town.“We would love to see a new, modern hotel in our city,” planning board member Gary Jessel said. “It looks like this is going in that direction.”The board originally gave the project preliminary approval in 2014, but the hotel was put on hold during the fragile economy, Frank explained in an interview.“Now, the economy is definitely picking up,” he said of the reason for reviving the project.Although he now has final site plan approval in hand, Frank plans to wait until the fall of 2019 to begin construction and would open the hotel in 2020. It would include three stories of hotel space built over a ground-level garage.Members of the planning board welcomed the addition of a new hotel in town while giving the proposed North Island Inn project their unanimous approval.North Island Inn would be located across the street from Frank’s Impala Island Inn at 10th Street and Ocean Avenue. It would be the latest addition to an enclave of Frank-owned lodging facilities in the same neighborhood, including the Wild Dunes Inn and the Ebb Tide Suites. Frank also owns the Beach Club Suites on the Boardwalk.Frank said the experience he gained from developing other hotels has given him the confidence to move forward with the North Island Inn.“I’ve done it before. All of them were successful,” he said.North Island Inn will not be affiliated with any hotel chains, Frank noted. The inn’s all-suite accommodations will allow the property to market itself to families that are taking extended vacations in Ocean City.To create space for the North Island Inn, Frank plans to demolish a small annex of the Impala Island Inn as well as an old garage that occupies the corner of Ninth Street and Ocean Avenue. The annex and the garage will continue to operate through the 2018 and 2019 summer tourist seasons, but will be torn down when construction begins on the hotel.In other business Wednesday night, the board gave preliminary site plan approval to a proposed condo-hotel project that was rejected last year but gained new life during a legal battle with the city.A Superior Court judge ruled in August that the planning board exceeded its authority and acted in an “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” manner when it denied site plan approval in April 2016 for the proposed Soleil Resort project.Judge Julio L. Mendez found that the project fully complied with the zoning requirements in the city redevelopment zone where it would be built. He ordered the planning board to approve the project.Faced with no other choice, the board gave Soleil its unanimous approval Wednesday. There was no discussion about the project before the vote was taken.Select Properties Inc., of Colmar, Pa., and Ernst Brothers Designers and Builders, of Spring House, Pa., have teamed up to develop the Soleil project on what is now a parking lot at the corner of Ocean Avenue and 11th Street, adjacent to the Flanders Hotel.An architectural rendering depicts the proposed Soleil Resort project at 11th Street and Ocean Avenue.The developers have proposed a 111-unit oceanfront complex that would function as a hotel. While the six-story building would remain a hotel resort, the individual units would be sold as condominiums.The planning board members had expressed skepticism that Soleil would truly be a hotel. They argued that the project was a hotel in “name only” when they voted 7-1 last year to reject the project.Soleil also drew objections from some local business owners and members of the community last year. They contended that it was a poorly disguised condominium complex, not the condo-hotel that the developers had insisted they wanted to build.In particular, the project aroused fierce public opposition from residents in the adjacent Flanders Hotel, which operates as a condo-hotel. Soleil is regarded as a potential formidable competitor for the Flanders, one of the city’s most historic and iconic businesses.During three stormy public hearings that led up to the planning board’s rejection of the project, opponents claimed that the Soleil was too big for the surrounding neighborhood and would create gridlock on local streets already congested during the peak summer tourist season.Soleil’s developers must return to the planning board at some point to seek final site plan approval, a process that will subject the project to further public scrutiny.In an interview last month, Joe Ernst, one of Soleil’s partners, said the development team hopes to begin construction in 2018. He noted the developers are in the process of applying to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for a coastal construction permit needed for the project.Select Properties and Ernst Brothers have indicated they intend to build Soleil in three stages, starting with a condo tower on Ocean Avenue, followed by a parking garage and ending with another condo tower on 11th Street.According to plans, Soleil Resort will be built on what is now a parking lot adjacent to the Flanders Hotel, in the background.
Cape Assist & the Cape May County Healthy Community Coalition sent out an urgent appeal to local legislators and stakeholders to consider a number of local regulations that can be put in place should marijuana become legalized for recreational use. The letter was sent to the Senator, Assemblymen, Freeholders, Mayors, Council members, Chiefs of Police, Business Administrators, Prosecutor, Chamber of Commerce members, and Zoning Board members of each municipality in Cape May County.“Cape Assist is dedicated to preventing substance abuse and promoting health & wellness in our communities,” said Cape Assist Executive Director, Katie Faldetta, “We know that legalizing recreational marijuana in other states has led to an increase in traffic fatalities, hospital admissions for marijuana ingestion and an increase in youth drug use. The letters sent urge our fellow community members to have a conversation about what they want for their town. We want every municipality to discuss the potential ramifications of marijuana legalization for recreational use in their town and decide what is right for their community.”The letter urges policy makers to consider the impact on communities and provides suggestions for policies and ordinances on a local level that could help prevent or reduce harm if recreational marijuana becomes legal in NJ. These suggestions include a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, zoning restrictions, and many other regulations and ideas borrowed from local governments of other states where marijuana has been legalized.“We understand the complexity of the issue and the financial appeal, however, our concern is to reduce the harmful impact and prevent youth and problem use of cannabis in our communities,” said Natalia Wilber, CMC Healthy Community Coalition Coordinator, “We care about the health and welfare of our county and its residents and would like to let them and legislators know that they can reach out to us at any time regarding research, raising awareness, training and any other questions about the issue of recreational marijuana and other drugs”.If you would like to express your concerns, please contact your local elected officials. For more information, contact Cape Assist at (609) 522-5960, visit capeassist.org or like us on Facebook.The Cape May County Healthy Community Coalition is a community-based initiative of Cape Assist.The Cape Assist organization is a non-profit agency, dedicated to servicing Cape May County for over 30 years. Cape Assist promotes health and wellness in the community, implementing research-based services to seniors, schools, businesses, and organizations, all structured to enrich families and build healthy communities. 609-522-5960. www.capeassist.org 3819 New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260
Friday March 16th at St James Memorial Hall, 17 S. Newport Ave, Ventnor, N.J.Doors open at 6pm, games will begin at 7pm. Ticket cost is $35.00.Prizes will include 13 Designer Bags by Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors and more. There will also be door prizes, 50/50 and raffle baskets. Complimentary coffee, tea and desserts will be provided.The purchase of ten tickets will get you a reserved priority table and one free entry which includes 13 rounds of Bingo.For Tickets or information please contact Sandy Centrone at 856-361-8466 or [email protected] Designer Bag Bingo Hosted by Ocean City High School Crew.
The Chip Miller Amyloidosis Foundation announced Thursday it will host three fundraising events this July in Ocean City as part of its 2019 schedule.On Friday, July 19, surfers and beach lovers will converge on the surf beach just off Seventh Street to Hang 10 and soak up the rays during the 16th annual Chip Miller Surf Fest. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.The CMAF’s second event in Ocean City also occurs on July 19, but is later in the evening. Following a day on the water, supporters will gather for the fourth annual Slide for Amyloidosis and Taste of Ocean City. This event serves as the after party for Surf Fest and the doors open at 5 p.m.Each event carries a rain date of July 20.With the Surf Fest and Taste of OC on Friday, July 19, guests can make a weekend of things by hanging out for the final event of the weekend, Skate Fest, on Sunday, July 21.The third annual Skate Fest takes place at the Ocean City Skatepark and once again will be supported by local first responders. They’ll be on site to help serve food and meet the community. This event is open to skaters of all ages, costs $10 and starts at 9 a.m.Chip Miller Skate Fest is scheduled for July 21 at the Ocean City Skatepark.Lance Miller of Ocean City serves as president of the Chip Miller Amyloidosis Foundation, named in honor of his late father, Chip, who died of amyloidosis in 2004. Chip Miller was a renowned Corvette collector and car show promoter as well as a major surfing supporter in Ocean City.According to www.mayoclinic.org, amyloidosis is a rare disease that occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in the organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is produced in bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ.There’s no cure for amyloidosis, but treatments can help manage symptoms and limit production of amyloid protein.CMAF raises money for amyloidosis awareness. More information on CMAF fundraising events in 2019 can be found at www.ChipMiller.org. The weekend kicks off Friday, July 19, with a surf fest at the 7th Street beach.
Due to ongoing public health precautions during the coronavirus pandemic, Ocean City’s calendar of special events from the June 27 Antique Auto Show through the month of July will be canceled, the city announced Friday.The cancellations include shows and concerts on the Ocean City Music Pier, Wacky Wednesday activities, Fourth of July events and fireworks, Night in Venice, sand sculpting contests, and the Freckle Contest, among others.“Protecting the health and safety of everybody who loves Ocean City will always be our top priority,” Mayor Jay Gillian said.Decisions on August events will be made at a later date, according to a city press release.Separate from the city’s events, the Ocean City Gardens Civic Association has canceled its annual Fourth of July bike parade that winds through the north end of town.Stretching for blocks, the parade is one of the traditions of Ocean City’s old-fashioned Independence Day festivities. Organizers say it has been held for at least 20 years and usually attracts around 1,000 bicyclists.However, the decision was made to cancel it this year in response to the need for social distancing during the pandemic. There are plans to bring it back for Fourth of July in 2021.At the opposite end of the island at the same time, a Fourth of July bike parade rolls through the south end of town under the direction of the South Ocean City Improvement Association.But the SOCIA announced earlier that it was canceling this year’s south end bike parade because of the pandemic. There are plans to resume the parade in 2021.Andrea Kohr, of Ocean City, and her 5-year-old twins, Keo and Kai, participate in the Fourth of July bike parade in the north end of Ocean City in 2019. There will be no Fourth of July fireworks this year. (Photo courtesy City of Ocean City)