SERVING HUDSON COUNTY • STORIES UPDATED CONTINUOUSLY AT WWW.HUDSONREPORTER.COM • A PUBLICATION OF NEWSPAPER MEDIA GROUP
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2021
Officials break ground on Rebuild By Design Project aims to protect Hoboken, Weehawken, and Jersey City from flooding
Jersey City officials discuss challenges to school funding Mayor says Payroll Tax is ‘practically optional’ By Marilyn Baer Staff Writer
ersey City officials from the Board of Education and City Council held their second joint meeting to discuss funding the Jersey City Public School District. A main topic was the Payroll Tax which the city collects on behalf of the school district from local companies, but Mayor Steven Fulop said the legislation
creating the tax is so flawed that the city has no way of forcing companies to pay, making it practically optional. “It’s important to discuss a major flaw, like when everybody says ‘we’ll audit these companies’ or ‘get more people to pay’ the city, and the board of education via that legislation was given no tools in order to enforce the legislation,” Fulop said. “For all intents and purposes, the see MEETiNG page 12
North Bergen police tout low use-of-force rate Officials point to ‘resident-only’ hiring policy local, state, and federal officials, including Governor phil Murphy and United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, broke ground on the Rebuild by Design project.
By Marilyn Baer Staff Writer
nited States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Governor Phil Murphy, legislators, and local officials broke ground on the Rebuild by Design Hudson River Project in Hoboken this week. The resilient infrastructure project, made possible by $230 million in Superstorm Sandy recovery funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, aims to protect Hoboken and portions of Jersey City and Weehawken from storm surge flooding and rising sea-level threats posed by climate change. Effective June 1, 2021 The Bayonne Community News and The Hudson Reporter will be moving their offices to 166 Broadway, Bayonne (between 5th & 6th Sts.)
WE ARE MOVING
Murphy and Fudge celebrated the groundbreaking alongside several federal, state, and local partners, including U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Albio Sires, Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Shawn LaTourette, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Superstorm Sandy devastated communities throughout the tristate region,” said Fudge. “We needed bold action to rebuild and prevent damage from future natural disasters. I am proud to join Governor Murphy in this groundbreaking, made possible by a partnership between local, state, and federal government. This site is an example of the powerful promise of investing in our infrastructure to ensure more resilient and prosperous communities for generations to come.” “Our partnership with both the federal and local government to build a stronger and more resilient future for New Jersey’s waterfront communities is transformational,” said Murphy. “The comprehensive and innovative Rebuild by Design infrastructure project will mitigate the range of weaknesses along the Hudson River exposed by Superstorm Sandy see pRojEcT page 14
By Daniel Israel Staff Writer
ew data released by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office shows that the North Bergen Police Department employed use of force at a lower rate than any other municipal police department in Hudson County last year.
According to the data, North Bergen’s rate was 6.0 percent, with just seven use-of-force reports filed between Oct. 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. Mayor Nicholas Sacco and other officials celebrated the ranking as proof that its fostering of better police-community relations is succeeding and helping see policE page 12
Hoboken and Ironstate deal progresses Council adopts redevelopment agreement; introduces plan amendments By Marilyn Baer Staff Writer
he Hoboken City Council has adopted a resolution in favor of the redevelopment and land swap agreement between the city and the developers of the embattled Monarch site as well as
plan amendments to the Public Works Garage site. The latest iteration of the agreement between the city and Ironstate Development includes the transfer of both the Monarch waterfront property and 1.45 acres of land at 800 Monroe St. to the see AGREEMENT page 10
BRIEFS North Bergen marks AAPI Heritage Month The township celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islanders and pledges its “commitment to combating racism, violence, and xenophobia in all their forms.”
Hoboken daycare worker charged with abusing infant issyra Gallery, 300 observer Hwy., Hoboken, will present christina Fazio’s first solo show, “The Sea Bridge.” Gallery goers can meet her each Saturday in May from 6 to 9 p.m.
Diana Camacho of Jersey City, 52, was arrested after she allegedly abused a ninemonth-old girl in her care while an employee of the Kiddie Academy of Hoboken, according to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. She is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Hoboken High School invited to Thespian Festival
Food and nonfood items distributed in Hoboken
Hoboken High has been invited to perform at the International Thespian Festival (ITF) which begins June 22 in an all-virtual format. The school will be represented by Troupe 7268 performing She Kills Monsters Virtual Realms by Qui Nguyen, directed by Danielle Miller.
The Hoboken Food Pantry will distribute food May 21 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 1301 Washington St. and 124 Grand St. or 311 Harrison St. The HFP Family2Family program is for Hoboken residents in need of nonfood items, at 1301 Washington St. on May 25, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Contact the pantry at hobokenfoodpantry@ gmail.com. To donate, visit https://www.hobokencc.org/ foodpantry.
North Bergen marks National Nurses Week The township extends its gratitude to nurses here and across the globe for their efforts during the pandemic.
For more of this week’s news, be sure to visit our website HudsonReporter.com
North Bergen pool opens June 26
For the latest Hudson County
READ Jim Hague
see BRiEFS page 14
There will be sessions for swimmers, including for seniors only. Registration is online. More to come.
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Over 35 percent of Secaucus residents are fully vaccinated Mayor Michael Gonnelli said more things are returning to normal By Daniel Israel Staff Writer
ore than a third of Secaucus residents over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “I am happy to announce that as of April 19th, 35 percent of Secaucus adult residents have been vaccinated,” Gonnelli said in a May newsletter to residents. “That is impressive indeed, but we still have work to do! I thank all residents who have made efforts to secure a vaccination appointment and took the time to ensure the continued safety of families, friends and our community.” According to census data, Secaucus had a population of approximately 21,893 in 2019, meaning that the roughly 35 percent of adults fully vaccinated is around 7,663.
Get vaccinated “For all those who wish to be vaccinated, please know that there are vaccinations available right here in Secaucus,” Gonnelli said. The town’s vaccination point of distribution is at the Recreation Center at 1200 Koelle Boulevard. The site is open to Secaucus residents as
well as those working in town. Appointments are required and can be made at secaucusnj. gov/vaccine or 201-330-2007. Recently, the town began offering the vaccine at a second site at Hudson Regional Hospital (HRH). Vaccinations at HRH are by appointment only to qualified Secaucus residents who register through the town’s COVID-19 vaccination representative. Residents should email their names, phone numbers and Secaucus addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointments for both shots will be booked upon registration. NonSecaucus residents can email email@example.com to be added to the waiting list.
Hopeful for the months ahead “The Town Council and I are excited about the next few months as we work to Restart Secaucus,” Gonnelli said. “We are doing all we can to support local businesses. Our recreation programs, Town facilities, and events around Town are steadily coming back to normal.” The Secaucus Senior Center and Tot Center at 145 Front Street are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Teen Center at 150 Plaza Center reopened on May 11. For
Many doses have been distributed to residents of the town’s senior buildings.
hours, go to secaucusnj.gov. Masks are required; capacity limits and other restrictions may apply. For more information and to reserve a space, call the Secaucus Social Services Department at 201-330-2014. Plans to reopen the Teen Center at 150 Plaza Drive are in the works. Those details will be announced soon. For hours, call the Recreation Department at 201-330-2011. “Don’t miss the Annual Memorial Day Parade that kicks off at noon from Trolley Park on Saturday, May 22,” Gonnelli said. “And I’m looking forward to one of my favorites—the summer concert series!”
Planning for these and other annual town events is in full swing, according to Gonnelli. He added that spring sports programs for young residents have started with “robust participation.” “The next few months hold so much promise,” Gonnelli said. “At the same time, let’s continue to follow all recommended measures to keep people around us safe and healthy. Let’s work together to Restart Secaucus.” For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 3
Hoboken Council rejects fine for blocking on social media Council members won’t pay $500
The ordinance, sponsored by councilmembers phil cohen, Emily jabbour, and Michael Russo, failed by a 4-5 vote.
By Marilyn Baer Staff Writer
new ordinance that would have fined Hoboken elected officials $500 for each resident they blocked on social media failed on first reading with a 4-5 vote. The legislation, sponsored by Council members Phil Cohen, Emily Jabbour, and Michael Russo, came about after the council members
said they received complaints from residents who were blocked on Twitter and Facebook by Councilman Michael DeFusco. The trio said the ordinance aimed to protect the First Amendment rights of constituents and ensured that council members would hear multiple opinions on any matter. The officials would not have had to pay the fine in the instance of targeted harassment as defined by the social media platform. But with
the failure of the ordinance they remain free to block anyone they want. “As elected officials, we should be embracing a diversity of opinions and respecting the very valid questions that may be raised by individuals and constituents,” said Russo. “We need to allow full access to our residents. Blocking those opinions and limiting access runs counter to everything we should believe in as leaders in office, and I’m glad to co-sponsor this ordinance to ensure every individual in this great city can make their voices heard without restriction while providing full access to those they choose to lead.” According to the ACLU, if social media is used by a public official to conduct government business, blocking members of the public from seeing the site or from posting comments may violate the First Amendment. However, blocking someone on a site used for official government business is not always illegal, and if public officials are using social media as private persons, the First Amendment protects their right to limit their audience.
Opponents call it an ‘overreach’ Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said she opposed the ordinance prior to the meeting calling it another political stunt ahead of the November election in which residents will vote for mayor and three at-large council people. So far Mayor Ravi Bhalla is running unopposed for a second term, but many believe DeFusco will also run. “This is an incredible overreach of local government and a political stunt that has a real po-
Chiaravalloti legislation outlaws fake vaccination cards He also wants to ‘save the bees.’
By Daniel Israel
s more people across the United States and New Jersey roll up their sleeves to protect themselves against COVID-19, the risk of scammers selling fraudulent vaccination cards is now higher than ever. Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (DHudson), who represents the 31st Legislative District, including Bayonne, proposed legislation on May 5 that would criminalize the making, selling or displaying of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. Those caught buying, selling, or possessing fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are subject to a fine. “As we begin the slow recovery back to normalcy, we must not allow people to cheat the 4 • The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021
system at the expense of others,” said Chiaravalloti. “Falsifying medical documents poses a serious risk to those around you, and it must be taken seriously.” COVID-19 vaccine cards document the date that vaccinated people received their doses, the manufacturer of their vaccine, and its batch number. For some schools such as Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology, students will not be allowed on campus in the fall without proof of vaccination. “The act of falsifying a COVID-19 vaccine card in order to enjoy the freedoms that come with it is a serious concern, not just from a health but also a public safety perspective,” Chiaravalloti said. “This law will ensure that people will be kept safe, especially after the year we’ve all had.”
The proposed legislation would establish penalties for falsified coViD-19 vaccination cards. photo by Evgenia parajanian for Shutterstock.
‘Save the bees’ Also on May 5, Chiaravalloti introduced a joint resolution that would designate the third Saturday in August as “Save the Bees Day” in New Jersey. The resolution would recognize the significance of bee colonies and will bring attention to their collapse due to pesticides. “New Jersey wouldn’t be known as the ‘Garden State’ without bees, which play a vital part
tential to weaponize local campaigns, “ Fisher said. “We should leave it to the courts to decide First Amendment rights, not a local municipal prosecutor.” The council does not discuss introductory ordinances on first reading nor did the measure reach the stage when the public could comment. Council members Cohen, Jabbour, Russo, and Doyle voted in the ordinance’s favor while council members Fisher, DeFusco, Vanessa Falco, Jen Giattino, and Ruben Ramos voted against the measure. Though the measure failed by a slim margin, Jabbour and Cohen said they were glad they put forward the ordinance. “While we would have liked to have seen this ordinance advance to second reading so that the public could weigh in on this matter of great public interest, we are gratified that by our introducing this legislation. Councilman DeFusco has now “unblocked” many individuals he had previously prohibited from engaging on his ‘Councilman Mike DeFusco’ social media platforms … We strongly maintain that any official social media account which communicates about official city business must not unfairly censor individuals and infringe on First Amendment rights,” said Cohen and Jabbour in a joint statement. For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter. com.
in our state’s food production,” said Chiaravalloti. “By being conscious of the products used, we can do more to support bee colonies in New Jersey, and across the country.” Bees depend on pollen and nectar produced by flowering plants as their main food source. In the process of collecting pollen and nectar, over 20,000 species of bees help pollinate plants, which in turn become essential crops for humans. Due to the increasing use of herbicides, pesticides, and agricultural monocultures, the number of bees and managed bee colonies has dropped dramatically. Since World War II, managed bee colonies have decreased from 4.5 million to 2 million, a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder.” “Bees are essential for humanity to survive,” said Chiaravalloti. “Through simple outreach and education, we can affect the global bee population in a meaningful way.” For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.
KEEP GETTING EMERGENCY CARE
STAYING HEALTHY IS PART OF STAYING SAFE. We’ve all spent the past few months taking extra precautions in order to stay safe. But right now, staying healthy is just as important. If you or a loved one is experiencing severe symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, vision or balance problems or severe abdominal pain, go to the closest emergency room or call 911.
The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 5
Shop for produce in the open air Farmers markets reopen in Hoboken and Jersey City By Marilyn Baer Staff Writer
oboken and Jersey City farmers markets are open, and more are on the way as residents embrace warmer weather and search for fresh produce and delicious baked goods. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, outdoor farmers markets provide a lower risk shopping option for shoppers and the community-at-large during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to food security in the United States,” states the CDC. “Access to healthy food options and nutrition are an important part of overall physical and mental health. Across the United States, farmers markets have been named an essential service because of their role in supporting local farms and providing communities access to fresh, healthy food during the pandemic.” Ten farmers markets take place in Hoboken and Jersey City. Here are a few of the farmers markets near you.
Hoboken markets Hoboken announced the start of one of its two farmers markets this month. The Uptown Farmers Market, sponsored by Bijou Properties, takes place on Saturdays under the 14th Street Viaduct between Grand and Adams streets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will remain open until fall. Vendors include Stony Hill Farms, Cotton Cattle, Hoboken Farms, Roger’s Seafood, Picklicious, Choc o Pain and Paolo’s Kitchen. There will also be live music on select dates. The Hoboken Farmers Market, sponsored by
the Quality of Life Coalition, will return for its 23rd season starting June 1. It takes plan on Garden Street at Church Square Park between Fourth and Fifth streets Tuesdays from 2 to 7:30 p.m. Union Hill Farms, Melick’s Town Farm and Circle Brook Organic farms will sell New Jersey produce. Pickle-Licious, Gourmet Dried Fruits and Nuts and Hoboken Farms will sell locally made products. Both markets offer fresh fruit, vegetables, and other local products. “The City of Hoboken is proud to bring back both farmers markets for another season,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “I thank Bijou Properties, the Quality of Life Coalition, all of the vendors, Director Jen Gonzalez, and Dave Calamoneri for once again providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for our residents.”
Jersey City markets The Historic Downtown Jersey City Farmers Market is at Grove Street PATH Plaza near the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza every Monday and Thursday through December 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. It’s sponsored by the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District. Vendors include Gourmet Nuts & Dried Fruit, Pickles Olives Etc., Stony Hill Farms, Jersey City Fish Stand, Hoboken Farms, and Sweet Cheeks Farm and Apiary. Hamilton Park Farmers Market is back every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m., near the large dog park. Vendors include Stony Hill Farms, the Cake Pound NJ, and Scale Fish Market to name a few.
Hoboken’s Upton Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Riverview Farmers Market, operated by nonprofit Farms in the Heights, takes place every Sunday at Riverview Fisk Park at 320 Ogdon Avenue between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Vendors include Fed Direct, Oh Honey, Headquarters Farm, and Riggs Provisions. The Friends of VanVorst Park Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays at VanVorst Park until December. Vendors include Asprocolas Acres, Jersey City Fish Stand, and many more. The Historic Paulus Hook Association sponsors the Paulus Hook Farmers Market that takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until December. It ‘s at the end of Washington Street in the Morris Canal State Park next to the Korean War Memorial. Stony Hill Farms is a vendor, and shoppers can pick up produce and cut flowers, plus pies, muffins, donuts, cookies and breads, and other seasonal items.
The West Side Community Alliance hosts the Lincoln Park Farmers Market in Lincoln Park by the water fountain, according to the WSCA website. The not-yet-announced market typically begins in June and runs every Sunday until October. The Journal Square Green Market in the Journal Square PATH Plaza is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 7 p.m. until December, according to its Facebook page. Past vendors included Alstede Farms, Stony Hill Farms, and Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit to name a few. The Arlington Park Farmers Market has not yet been announced but typically takes place in Arlington Park on Saturdays from July until October. For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter. com.
Jersey City council to form committee for Arts and Culture Trust Fund Committee would distribute funds to local artists By Marilyn Baer Staff Writer
n May 13, the Jersey City Council could vote on an ordinance establishing a new committee, which would distribute funds from the Arts and Culture Trust Fund to local artists and art institutions. New Jersey’s first municipal Arts and Culture Trust Fund will generate $1 million annually in critical long-term funding for Jersey City’s burgeoning arts community. It was created following the November 2020 election in which voters largely supported the sustainable funding source’s direct benefit to local artists and arts organizations, including youth and community programming. The new tax levy is set to one-quarter of a penny per $100 of assessed property value, meaning property owners with a home as-
6 • The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021
sessed at $100,000 would pay $20 annually to the fund.
A new committee According to an introductory ordinance, the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund Committee will meet four times a year and consist of seven voting members nominated by an open public nomination form and appointed by the mayor with the council’s consent. They will include the mayor or a mayoral designee, and six Jersey City residents, one from each ward. One city staff member, a designee of the Jersey City Arts Council, a designee of the Jersey City Director of Culture Affairs, and a council member or his or her designee will also sit on the committee, but they cannot vote. see FUND page 10
The new committee will be in charge of distributing funds from the Arts and culture Trust Fund to support local artists and art organizations. (photo by city of jersey city)
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The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 7
Getting greener Secaucus events mark Arbor Day and Earth Day By Daniel Israel Staff Writer
he town’s Environmental Department held a number of events in April to mark Arbor Day and Earth Day as it continues to maintain the environment. Two cleanup days brought together more than 70 participants. The first, at Mill Creek Point, was followed by one at Mill Creek Marsh Trail. Volunteers hauled away several bags of Styrofoam, plastic bags, beverage bottles, tires, car parts, and a large plastic trunk. “We had an amazing turnout at both cleanup sessions,” Environmental Coordinator Jennifer Schneider said in the town’s May newsletter. “It was a great group of enthusiastic volunteers to work with! I hope people are more aware of what and where they are discarding litter, because what is left on land will end up polluting our waterways through stormwater runoff. Hopefully one day we will not have to organize cleanups, but until then, if a group is interested in volunteering to keep Secaucus beautiful and clean, please call us, and we’ll be more than happy to coordinate it.” As part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle pro-
gram, the Environmental Department collaborated with GreenDrop, which raises funds through the collection of donated clothing and household items. The town arranged for GreenDrop to pick up items left over from the garage sale. About half a truckload of items were donated by residents. Proceeds will benefit The Purple Heart Foundation. For more information, go to GoGreenDrop.com or call 888-944-3767.
Trees, please The Environmental Department in conjunction with Harmon Cove Recreation Association also celebrated Arbor Day. Young participants planted trees, sunflowers and milkweed, and learned about the importance of trees and pollinator plants to the environment. The Annual Arbor Day celebration, along with the Secaucus School District, was held on May 7. Public Works staff will planted a few new trees with students outside both elementary schools ahead of the celebration. At the event, winners of the annual Arbor Day Poster contest were announced. This year marks Secaucus’s 28th year as a Tree City USA. see
EARTH DAY page 14
Many bags of trash and debris were recovered.
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North Bergen Health Officer Janet Castro is ‘Woman of the Year’ Library Executive Director Sai Rao, the 2020 designee, was also honored By Daniel Israel
Sai is a member of the North Bergen Board of Education and is president of the Hudson County Library Directors Association. She is a member of the BCCLS Executive Board, Scholarship Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and the chair of the Capital Plan Task Force and Branding Task Force. She also serves on the Community Relations Committee at HackensackUMC Palisades Hospital.
ayor Nicholas Sacco and the Board of Commissioners recently presented certificates of appreciation to North Bergen’s Women of the Year for 2021 and 2020. Health Officer Janet Castro was named the Township’s Woman of the Year 2021 by Hudson County in late March, and Library Executive Director Sai Rao received the honor in 2020. County Commissioner Anthony Vainieri presented the women with county proclamations. Also on hand were Commissioners Hugo Cabrera, Frank Gargiulo, Julio Marenco, and Allen Pascual; Schools Superintendent Dr. George Solter; EMS Chief David Prina; NHRFR Executive Director Michael DeOrio, and many other officials.
Castro honored again
‘Exceeding everyone’s expectations’ Due to the rapid onset of the pandemic, there was no official presentation last year for winner Sai Rao. A resident of North Bergen for 30 years, she is the first woman Executive Director of the Township’s Free Public Library. “While striving to meet the needs of her community, Sai passionately serves residents by continually gauging their needs and exceeding their expectations,” the proclamation reads. A winner of the New York Times Librarian of the Year Award, Sai “has secured many grants which provide a myriad of services and resources for the community, such as career assistance, citizenship
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training, adult education, technology, collection, programming, health, youth services, construction, and more.”
Janet Castro has served in the North Bergen Health Department for 17 years and as the township’s licensed health officer since 2014. Through shared services agreements with neighboring municipalities, she also represents Union City, Guttenberg, Weehawken, Secaucus, and Harrison. The county proclamation states, “Janet has proven herself to be an incredibly dedicated public servant, especially in the last year when she guided the Township of North Bergen’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” In April, Castro was named one of Hudson County Women’s History Month Honorees, with designees chosen from each town. Castro received the honor for her work as health officer throughout the pandemic, including spearheading COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations. For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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15-Year Fixed Rate First Lien The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 9
AGREEMENT from cover city from Ironstate for public open space. In exchange, Ironstate will redevelop the city’s Department of Public Works Garage at 256 Observer Hwy. This development will include no less than 15,000 square feet of commercial retail space along Observer Highway and Willow Avenue, 331 market-rate residential units, and 40 affordable housing units. The DPW garage will be relocated to the north end. According to the agreement, the city will no longer need to vacate the garage by September of next year but instead will be permitted to stay for three years while it locates a new permanent site for the garage. In exchange, Ironstate will add another 30 units to the DPW redevelopment, increasing the number to 361. If the city vacates the site in two years or less, Ironstate will give the city $500,000. Ironstate will also pay the city $2.5 million to account for the difference in assessed value between the Ironstate properties being transferred to the city compared to the assessed value of the DPW garage site. Ironstate will pay the city an additional $1 million to improve and clean the Monarch site or “for any other public purpose connected to the agreements.” The council also introduced an ordinance sponsored by council members Emily Jabbour and Michael Russo to amend the redevelopment plan for the DPW garage site to accommodate the agreement. Plan amendments include decreasing the minimum size of residential units from 1,100 square feet to 600 square feet, increasing the number of units from 240 to 361, and increasing the height of the building on Park and Willow Avenues from 87 feet to 90 feet, and the height along Observer Highway from 127 feet to 165 feet from Design Flood Elevation.
Too tall? A number of residents urged the council to move forward with adopting the redevelopment and land swap agreement, noting it would provide the city with more open space and protect the public’s access to a continuous waterfront. Several residents who supported the plan overall, and lived in the first ward, opposed the amendments to make the development at 256
FUND from page 6 The voting committee members should “reflect the diversity of Jersey City,” be Jersey City residents, have an appreciation of the arts, professional expertise in an arts field, have an understanding of the city’s population and landscape, and/or be interested in public service, according to the ordinance. Committee members will serve staggered terms for two years which will begin with the appointment of members from Wards A, B, and F to a term of three years and members from Ward C, D, and E to a term of two years upon the committee’s launch. 10 • The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021
Under the proposed plan amendments, the public Works Garage will be redeveloped into a roughly 16-story building with ground floor retail space.
Observer Hwy. taller. “The height of the building is the main concern that we’re having,” said resident Sean Iaquinto. “I agree with what Councilperson DeFusco has been maintaining in the community, the idea that if we keep increasing the height of the DPW, it could threaten other buildings and construction around the area.” Said Resident Jason Lagomarsino, “It’s going to set a bad precedent for other developers. I just encourage the town to really make sure they take a hard look at it, with the idea that sensible development is the most important thing for the community and large, monstrous buildings are not going to fit well within the neighborhood.” Adam Lederman said the tradeoff of a protected waterfront for increased height was worth it. “The complaints that were coming earlier in the meeting claim to be from the community at large, but in reality, they were from the first ward residents and neighbors who don’t want to be inconvenienced with construction … and it’s
not about the first ward, it’s about everyone in Hoboken and making Hoboken better overall,” he said, arguing that Hoboken’s waterfront attracts people and stimulates the economy.
No committee person will be allowed to serve for more than two consecutive terms. Voting committee members may not sit on the board or be on staff of an organization applying for grant funding from the Arts and Culture Trust Fund
The Arts and Culture Trust Fund Committee will distribute monies from the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund to support creative and cultural activities, including performing, visual, and fine arts, music, dance, graphic design, film, digital media and video, architecture and urban design, humanities, literature, arts and culture education, historic preservation, museum curation, and crafts and folk arts. Funds will be granted by the committee based on the recommendations of a Grant Review Panel and a review of the applications for funding. This review panel will be composed of residents selected by the Jersey City Arts Council from open public nominations.
Fund distribution According to the ordinance, 95 percent of the money will be distributed by the Arts and Culture Trust Fund Committee while the remaining five percent will be given to the Jersey City Arts Council, which will serve as an administrative partner by supporting and counseling applicants, as well as promoting the Arts and Culture Trust Fund to the Jersey City community.
Council discussion Several council members discussed pushing the vote to the next council meeting, with First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco opposing the height of the Observer Highway Development along Willow and Park avenues and Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher questioning why the development does not include a project labor agreement. Fisher and Council Vice President Jen Giattino asked why the administration seemingly rushed to put the measures before the council instead of waiting two weeks for the next council meeting. Attorney Joe Maraziti explained that negotiations with Ironstate have been intense, noting that the settlement agreement adopted in Febru-
ary delineates a strict schedule. “Based upon the intensity of the negotiations … it has been the very rigid position of the other side that time is absolutely of the essence and fixed in stone in their mind,” he said. He added that Ironstate is “anxious” to finalize an agreement with the city quickly so as to not lose the opportunity to begin developing the Monarch site if the agreement does not come to fruition. He explained that the NJ DEP permit obtained by Ironstate to demolish and reconstruct the pier has a time limit and can be done only during certain months so as not to adversely impact endangered species in the Hudson River such as the short-nosed sturgeon. The council adopted the redevelopment and land use swap agreement with a 7-1-1 vote. Giattino voted no, and DeFusco abstained. The Public Works Garage site redevelopment plan amendments were introduced with a 7-2 vote. Giattino and DeFusco voted against the measure. The redevelopment plan amendment will now go before the planning board for a Master Plan Consistency Review before a final vote by the council which could be by the next meeting on May 19. If there are no setbacks, the city could acquire the titles to the Monarch and 800 Monroe properties by this fall, according to the city. “Last night’s vote cleared the most important hurdles to date in facilitating the acquisition of the Monarch waterfront property and the 1.45 acres at 800 Monroe for public open space, along with the revitalization of downtown Hoboken and the relocation of the municipal garage to the North End,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “My administration will continue to aggressively pursue this once in a lifetime opportunity to protect our waterfront while moving forward with a park on one of the few remaining parcels of undeveloped land in Hoboken. I thank the residents who made their voices heard at the council meeting, as well as the seven Councilmembers for their affirmative votes.” For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter. com.
Once funds are granted, the committee will perform an annual review and report of the grant recipients to ensure that recipients are reflective of the city’s demographics and that marginalized communities have increased access to the arts. According to the city’s website, the council is scheduled to meet virtually on Thursday, May 13, at 6 p.m. For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter. com.
Can I still enroll in a Clover Health Medicare Advantage plan? Even if you missed the December 7th Medicare Annual Enrollment Period deadline, you may still be eligible to enroll if: • You are new to Medicare • You’ve lost your employer or union coverage • You’ve moved outside your current plan’s service area • You qualify for assistance with paying for your prescription drugs These are just a few of the circumstances that qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. There are many more, and we can help you find out if you qualify.
To learn more, call Clover Health toll-free today: 1-855-553-7203 (TTY 711) 8 am–8 pm local time, 7 days a week* Or visit cloverhealth.com/nj-sep
*From April 1st through September 30th, alternative technologies (for example, voicemail) will be used on the weekends and holidays. Clover Health is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Clover Health depends on contract renewal. Y0129_21EX009B3_C
The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 11
MEETiNG from cover payroll tax is an optional tax for people to pay because there’s no mechanism for the city or for the board of education to audit and do an accounting of how many employees actually work at an individual business which is a major problem.”
The ‘optional’ tax State Sen. Sandra Cunningham introduced legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, allowing Jersey City to implement a payroll tax to help offset the cost of cuts in school funding. The ordinance establishing the tax imposes a 1 percent payroll tax on an employer’s gross payroll to benefit Jersey City public schools. Employers are required to file and pay the new tax on a quarterly basis. Employees of the municipality, school district, and those who live in Jersey City are exempt from the tax, but not subcontractors for the city or schools. Before it first went into effect, it was estimated that the district would receive close to $100 million each year, but according to Fulop it’s never been that high. “Last year … we certified $58 million and then $30 million from what the surplus fund which we drew down on, “ he said. “This year, despite the pandemic, we also certified $58 million, and we used the remainder of the surplus fund which I believe is close to $7 million. Next year, we’ll certify whatever that number is, but there will be no more surplus, which is a challenge.” He noted that the city has no way of knowing how many employees work for any given company, and thus it’s up to companies to volunteer that information accurately. He said he reached out to the governor’s office to suggest that the state collect the tax because the state has access to quarterly information
jersey city Board of Education president Mussab Ali and Mayor Steven Fulop discuss school district funding at joint meeting of board and jersey city council.
via insurance and unemployment filings which would “obviously clean up any problems, and it would obviously increase the amount that we collect every single year.” But he said it is not an easy fix because he was told it could require a constitutional amendment and statewide support. He said the city’s largest employers voluntarily comply with the tax “for fear of being shamed.” As far as using municipal tax dollars from the city budget, he said that he was on board as long as there was “a clear program.” “If somebody thinks, anybody here collectively on the council or board of education, that there is a place that we should be cutting the municipal budget, we are happy to explore it,” he said. “If you think that the number is 600 police officers as opposed to 900 police officers, email it over. Say it. If you think that we are overfunded in Health and Human Services, say it. Send it over. If you think that we should cut recreation, say it. Send it over. To date, when we talk about ‘the city should send money over
make residents safer. “We’ve always known that our North Bergen Police Department is one of the most outstanding law enforcement agencies in the state, and this new set of data proves that our officers are not only keeping us safe from crime, they are doing it in a professional manner that shows restraint and respect,” Sacco said. “I commend Chief Peter Fasilis and his entire team for making this possible and thank them on behalf of our entire community.”
Hiring residents only
12 • The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021
School funding In 2018, the state approved the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 changing the way state aid to school districts is calculated and distributed. Under the updated funding formula, the state Department of Education now allocates more money to districts that were considered underfunded by the previous formula, while gradually reducing aid to districts like Jersey City that were identified as being overfunded. According to Board of Education President Mussab Ali, the district will face a loss of $250 over the next three years. He said that if instead the state made the same cuts over a longer period of time, it would be more manageable. He further explained that the New Jersey School Development Authority has also underfunded the district by almost $1 billion, which possible,” Fasilis said. “I believe strongly that we are most effective when the residents know us, trust us, and believe we are here to protect them. Reducing use-of-force encounters helps build those relationships and makes our entire community safer.”
policE from cover
Since taking office last year, Fasilis has instituted changes to improve the relationship between residents and officers and to reduce use of force. He’s emphasized de-escalation training, which encourages officers to handle tense encounters by talking rather than resorting to force. Officers are trained in interacting with people with mental health disabilities and in crisis de-escalation. Officers showing signs of stress are offered increased support.
here’ or ‘give money over there, ’ there hasn’t been one concrete example on where that money should come from.”
chief Fasilis gives his department two thumbs up. photo by Art Schwartz.
“Building trust between our officers and the community we serve has never been more critical to our mission, so I could not be more proud of the men and women of the North Bergen Police Department who are truly living up to our values by limiting the use of force whenever
Fasilis cited the township’s longstanding “resident only” hiring policy in reducing use of force. Since Sacco and the commissioners instituted the policy mandating that new hires be residents, the department has become significantly more diverse and representative of North Bergen. Currently, 66 percent of NBPD officers are Hispanic, and 14 percent are women, The department includes several Arab American officers. “The North Bergen Police Department is becoming a model for what a successful law enforcement agency should look like in 2021,” said Public Safety Commissioner Allen Pascual. “I want to thank Chief Fasilis and his command staff as well as the rank-and-file officers who are living up to their training and showing
is the subject of ongoing litigation. “We’ve seen that the city has approved tons of housing units all over the city, but at the same time as an SDA district, we do not have the ability to bond, and we do not have the ability to build new schools,” Ali said, noting that new families would continue to move to Jersey City, and the district cant sustain that with the funding it currently has from the SDA. He called for reform at the SDA. “When you think about the solution, there is no easy way out,” said Ali. “I think that’s part of the reason that I’m appreciative that the city council is here today because I think for too long the board of education has kind of had this burden of fixing this problem on its own and that too often people have pointed fingers at us and said, ‘look, why don’t you find a solution,’ ‘why don’t you figure this out,’ not understanding the complexities of school funding and not understanding just how large this problem is.” To help find solutions to the funding crisis, the board and the city council formed three subcommittees: operations, legislative, and financial. Ali said he was thankful for the collaborative effort between the two government bodies but warned: “the road ahead is tumultuous.” “As we move forward, decisions will have to made, numbers will have to be drawn up, and that’s going to require asks of both the city council as well as the school board, and my only hope is in anticipation of those challenges we recommit to our goal and recommit to the idea that the children of Jersey City and that education in this city is something that matters to everyone here.” For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter. com.
the restraint and professionalism needed to reduce harmful encounters.” The department with the highest rate of use of force in Hudson County was Guttenberg with 38.5 percent with 12 reports, followed by Secaucus at 27 percent with 23 reports; West New York at 25.8 percent with 40 reports; Kearny at 25 percent with 32 reports; Union City at 24.1 percent with 48 reports; Bayonne at 23.9 percent with 77 reports’ Hoboken at 23.3 percent with 40 reports; Jersey City at 15.2 percent with 218 reports; Weehawken at 14.5 percent with nine reports; Harrison at 7.3 percent with four reports; and North Bergen at six percent with seven reports. The only department with a lower rate of use of force was the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department with .4 percent, also making it the lowest in the state. For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.
DUE TO COVID-19, ALL RESIDENTS MUST REMAIN IN THEIR VEHICLE AND PLACE THEIR MATERIALS IN THEIR TRUNK.
HCIA SPRING HHW DAYS 2021
Saturday, May 15 9AM – 1PM (RAIN OR SHINE)
• • • • • • •
HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE, COMPUTER & TIRE RECYCLING
Jersey City Municipal Complex 13-15 Linden Ave
WHAT TO BRING:
Thermostats Tires Cleaners & Corrosives Pool & Photographic Chemicals Oil Based Paints & Varnishes Rechargeable & Car Batteries Propane Tanks (from BBQ grills only)
• • • • • • • • •
Solvents & Thinners Pesticides & Herbicides Formaldehyde Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Used Motor Oil Old Gasoline Fire Extinguishers Antifreeze Smoke Detectors
TIRE AMNESTY COLLECTION
• • • • • • • • •
Hudson County residents are asked to bring no more than 4 tires for proper disposal. If you cannot participate in this year’s Tire Amnesty Event, eitherstore tires indoors (in a garage or shed) or cover them until they can bedisposed of properly.* *CONTACT YOUR MUNICIPAL DPW FOR DISPOSAL LOCATIONS. This program is sponsored, in part, by a grant from the NJDEP-Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste. Residents can drop off materials at any site. Proof of residency may be required.
County Executive • Thomas A. DeGise
Kearny DPW 357 Bergen Ave
WHAT NOT TO BRING:
Alkaline Batteries Latex Paint Explosives Compressed Gas Cylinders & Tanks TCBs, TCCD (such as Freon & Helium) Woodlife Asbestos Kepone Infectious Waste
• • • • • •
Silvex 2,4,5-t Radioactive Material Unknown or Unidentified Material Ballasts Washers, Dryers, Refrigerators, Air Conditioners Any OTC or Prescription Drugs
COMPUTERS ONLY RECYCLING Computers, monitors, computer mice, keyboards, tablets and cellphones can also be recycled. Household appliances will not be accepted.
Chief Executive Officer • Norman M. Guerra
Chairman • Frank Pestana The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 13
from cover and provide a suite of innovative solutions to address sea-level rise. Smart, future-focused infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient from the adverse effects of climate change, while creating good-paying jobs, is the future of American infrastructure.”
Years in the making The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development authorized funding for the project in 2014 as part of a design competition that followed widespread flooding from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The storm transformed Hoboken into an “island unto itself” with portions of the city under seven feet of water and residents stranded without electricity, heat, and clean water. The project which aims to protect against future storm events consists of four integrated components—resist, delay, store, and discharge. They include a combination of hard infrastructure and soft landscaping to defend against storm surge and flooding, interconnected infrastructure to store and control stormwater runoff, and water pumps and other drainage projects to support controlled drainage during and after storms. The groundbreaking comes after years of diligent work by the NJ DEP, local planners, and residents who participated in public community meetings, stakeholder meetings, workshops, and surveys. It represents the start of construction on the first phase of the project, a $5.26 million investment in modifications that include much-needed upgrades to portions of Hoboken’s aging infrastructure. This work will convert portions of the area’s combined sewer system into separate sanitary and stormwater lines. Construction will begin at 20 downtown locations, 14 of which will be conducted overnight, spanning over a roughly seven-month period from the border of New Jersey Transit rail lines north to roughly Third Street. This work will pave the way for the installation of flood-risk reduction infrastructure. This infrastructure includes hard structures such as an 8,846-foot resist barrier or floodwall from grade level up to 11 feet in some places, deployable gates, and subsurface foundations as well as landscape architecture elements and a new park in northern Hoboken along the waterfront. The resist structure will be primarily in southern and northern Hoboken. The southern barrier would begin on the east side of Washington Street at Newark Street and extend south toward Observer Highway. The barrier would begin at about grade level before climbing to about six feet near the intersection of Washington Street and Observer Highway. At Washington and Observer, a rolling gate would be deployed to block the street during a storm surge. The barrier would cross onto NJ Transit property behind the NJ Transit pump house and extend west out of public view. It would then reemerge on Observer Highway at about 11 feet high in front of the NJ Transit engine house. 14 • The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021
From there, the barrier would continue west along the southern portion of the Observer Highway bike lane in front of the engine house before once again turning onto NJ Transit property, where it will continue toward Marin Boulevard. The northern barrier will extend from 19th Street in Weehawken past Weehawken Cove through what will be Hoboken Cove Park to 15th and Garden Street. It then will run along Garden Street to the alleyway between 14th and 15th streets and then turn right on Washington Street before stopping at 13th Street. The resist structure will be built from ground level near 13th Street to over six feet high near Garden and 15th streets. Construction of the resist structure is scheduled to start in early 2022. Originally, the project had a completion deadline of September 2022, which the team would have to meet in order to receive the $230 million in relief funds. Last year, the funding deadline was extended until September 2023, but, according to Dennis Reinknecht of the Office of Flood Hazard Risk Reduction Measures for the NJ DEP, the DEP seeks a deadline extension of two more years to complete the project by the end of 2025. “Climate change is not some far off prospect; it is here now, and its impacts on New Jersey communities will only worsen,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “The Rebuild-by-Design Hudson River Project is an innovative investment in New Jersey’s infrastructure and an example of the climate resilience engineering that will help protect New Jersey from climate threats. Once fully complete, RBD-Hudson River will protect lives, property and infrastructure along the Hudson River, and represents just one of many nationleading efforts that New Jersey is undertaking to reduce and respond to climate change.”
A model of resilience “Help is finally here for Hoboken in our effort to substantially reduce flood risk with today’s historic groundbreaking of Rebuild by Design,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “This project will now serve as a model for the rest of the country, integrating proven resiliency features with community amenities and a park that will help prevent storm surge from breaching our community, like it did during Superstorm Sandy. I’m very grateful to our partners in government at the federal, state and local levels for their steadfast commitment to helping Hoboken adapt to climate change, and look forward to the project’s completion in the years ahead.” Said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, “Now we are beginning! This has been an extremely complicated and, at times a difficult process. I want to thank all those involved in this tremendous undertaking. I look forward to its competition for the safety of Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City residents. “ For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter. com.
BRiEFS from page 2
Teen charged with murder of Jersey City man A male, 16, has been arrested and charged in the death of Benjamin Stone of Jersey City, 40, who was found deceased in his apartment at 44 Storms Ave. The cause of death has been ruled to be multiple blunt force trauma to the torso and the manner of death to be homicide. The juvenile is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
North Bergen thanks teachers The township honors teachers across the country for “truly going above and beyond during this past year to help shape all our futures.”
Fresh vegetables for Secaucus For fresh vegetables delivered daily from June through September 28, Secaucus residents can join the CSA program. Visit secaucusnj.gov/csa, call 201-330-2000, x3222, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up by May 14.
Son of Jersey City fire victim charged with murder The death of Jacqueline Nelson, 60, who died following a one-alarm fire at 18 Virginia Ave. in Jersey City where she lived is being investigated.
EARTH DAY from page 8 For more information, visit secaucusnj.gov/ trees. Visit the town’s new Environmental Department website for information about recycling, open space, environmental programs, and more at green.secaucusnj.gov. For more information, call 201-864-7336 or email email@example.com. As part of its ongoing effort to be more environmentally friendly, the town has been reminding residents of the proper way to recycle under the “Recycle Right” program. In 2020, the town updated its recycling policies to impose fines on residents for failure to recycle properly after multiple warnings. For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, her son Terrance Nelson, 29, of Jersey City has been charged with her murder and remains at large. He is considered innocent until proven guilty. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call 201-915-1345 or leave an anonymous tip at http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.
Art and Music in Union City An Art & Music Festival will be held at: Washington Park on 2nd St. and New York Avenue. Performances at 7 p.m.: May 17, 26, or June 15. Celia Cruz Park on 32nd Street and Bergenline Avenue. Performances at 7 p.m., May 13, June 1, or June 7. War Memorial Plaza on 46th Street and Broadway. Performances at 7 p.m.: May 19 or June 3. Free admission and chairs will be provided. Wear masks and maintain social distance.
Jersey City fatal shooting under investigation Law enforcement is investigating the fatal shooting of Emmanuel Garcia of Jersey City,23, killed May 3 on Princeton Avenue and Brown Place in Jersey City. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Jersey City Police Department are investigating the case. Anyone with information should call 201915-1345 or leave an anonymous tip at: http:// www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/ homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.
TO PLACE A CLASSIFIED AD CALL 201-798-7800
FULL TIME FLAGGER Traffic Plan seeks FT Flagger to set up & control traffic around construction sites. A valid drivers license is a must, good pay & benefits. If interested please apply at www.trafficplan.com
SELL YOUR STUFF! For more details call the Classified Department 201.798.7800
AUTO CLASSIFIED Junk Cars LOOK! AAA ABBAS AUTO WE BUY ALL CARS IN ANY CONDITION! WE ARE THE JUNKYARD NO TITLE OR KEYS NEEDED USED AND JUNK CARS WANTED. TO 25K! 732-278-3579
SERVICES CLASSIFIED Handyman ELIGIO HANDYMAN- Free estimates. Painting average:$199/room. Loose tiles, carpentry, doors, leaks, caulking, cement cracks, kitchens/baths, drywall. 201589-5311. Email: eligiohandy email@example.com
GENERAL CLASSIFIED Personals ATTENTION: If you or someone you know worked at Poggi Press in Hoboken between 1970 and 2001, please call Rebecca at Simmons Hanly Conroy toll-free at (855)988-2537. You can also email Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021 • 15
16 • The Hudson Reporter • May 13, 2021