Newark: Stories of Urban Renewal, Communities, Triumph and Defeat

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Santiago Giraldo Anduaga Sara Bissen Luis Macias December 2013


INTRODUCTION Near site of proposed ROUTE 75. People’s Choice Lounge 105 Hartford Street Central Ward, Newark November 2013

Newark, New Jersey, like many cities, has a long history of growth and development. Often times, the true stories of how cities evolve and the

Introduction 3 Newark Map 4 Hess Power Plant 6 Route 75 28 Rutgers University & NJIT 60 Ecological Framework 82

effects these changes can have on a city’s residents, are blinded by the dominant and incomplete stories created by people in power, city officials, private developers, and profit-driven interest groups. These stories are the ones presented for the public to see, masked by benefits that ultimately negatively affect marginalized low-income communities and people of color the most. The stories of Route 75, Rutgers University/New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the Hess Power Plant are very different stories with different outcomes, and the similarities do not arise from the stories told today. The similarities between the stories are only seen when they are understood through the tales of the people and communities most affected by the hidden costs of these projects. Told here are the stories of communities, families, and residents. These are the stories of neighborhoods that have paid the price as a result of these development projects. These are the stories that bring to light the unseen struggles for equitability, the coming together of communities in triumph, and the heartbreaking defeats faced by residents. The stories in this book are the stories of the people.









Existing fuel tanks owned by HESS Corporation’s oil refinery operations. The construction site of Hess’ proposed natural gas power plant is located nearby, on a 23-acre brownfield site, also currently owned by Hess. The land used for the Hess power plant has been declared contaminated. Once the land is cleared of hazardous waste, there is a potential for land re-use. Near Newark Bay 1111 Delancey Street, East Ward, Newark, NJ November 2013



In May 2012, HESS Corporation presented plans for a natural gas power plant to be built in the City of Newark. But … fears of ever-growing air pollution, and attempts to bury a residue left by

big industry meant HESS’ arrival triggered not only the memory of community battles against a past scarred by contamination, but it made today’s air in Newark heavier, and even harder to breathe.



We, HESS, will provide construction jobs for 300 residents in need of work! We will even cut your energy bills!

Forget about air! Think of all the benefits! Our company is one of the cleanest company’s around! After all, we use clean energy natural gas  —  not dirty coal.

. . . and, we promise to pay the


city $100 million over the next 30 years.


Outcries by environmentalists and communities in Newark’s

East Ward fell on deaf ears. The HESS proposal inched

forward . . .

The City’s Planning Board approved the Hess Power Plant by a 7—to—1 vote, with lone

dissenter, Commissioner Jermaine James.

The HESS proposal moved to the Municipal Council level.

“They just sent a death sentence to the city of Newark.” —  Kim Gaddy, Newark Resident from the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance 12


The East Ward community responded with their own alternate


“As early as next week, we will be getting our paperwork together . . . unfortunately, this lawsuit has to be the consequence,

because our health was not consequence enough.”

—  Kim Gaddy, Newark Resident from the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance 14


“ . . . everybody keeps saying gas

is cleaner than coal . . .

it’s like saying being shot with a .45 is better than being shot with a shotgun.”   —  Leonard Thomas, Newark Resident



HESS will cause a dramatic rise in Newark’s air

pollution, so environmentalists at the City and State levels pushed for an environmental impact study to be done before  —  not after  —  the plant affects the health of Newark’s people. In an effort to“clear the air,” HESS, as an oil corporation, hired independent experts to evaluate the new power plant’s impact. HESS experts deemed the project safe. The “natural gas power plant will use the best available technologies and be one of the cleanest fossil fuel power plants ever constructed.”

—  Adam Zipkin, Newark’s Deputy Mayor of Economic Development

Even though there will be a lot more air pollution,

it appears HESS is clean enough and safe enough. 18


It is good that HESS’ experts live just far

enough away from HESS.

But the people of Newark, live


right here . . .


But ‌ the City Council was distracted by the deal HESS had sweetened: Over $22

million for easement payments to the City,

advance property-tax type payments, and city renovations.

Not to mention regular payments in lieu of taxes. This was the sweetest 22

deal Newark had seen in a long time. 23

In May 2013, the Newark

City Council approved the decision.

HESS Power Plant moves to town.



In the end, the people of Newark are denied

their right to choose how they produce

and consume their own electricity . . .

and the community will pay the price with their health.



Abandoned lot, Newark. Site of the Westinghouse demolition. During the 1980s, Newark had received a $1.3 million grant from the state’s Department of Transportation to acquire property nearby. Off Route 280, Near proposed Route 75 3.7 Acres at 95 Orange Street, Central Ward, Newark November 2013

ROUTE 75 28


In 1961, increased

populations in Newark caused streets to become gridlocked and over encumbered with commuter traffic. With mounting pressure on city officials, something

had to be done.

The New Jersey State Highway Department unveiled their proposal to construct Route 75; a highway running north to south directly through


the heart of Newark.


The route, would connect

two major highways:

—  Route 280 and Route 78.

It was immediately supported by Mayor Hugh J. Addonizio, Head of the NHA Louis Danzig, and development groups such as Fidelity Union Company. Without Route 75, “we would find ourselves with traffic

pouring into the city

within the present local streets, which are already overburdened, unable to handle the increased flow … unless the highway is built soon, we

will all suffer”.

—  Malcolm Davis, President of Fidelity Union Company 32


What the route’s supporters didn’t see is who would really suffer if the route was built . . .



Construction plans threatened to forcibly remove over 15,000


working class people from their homes to be relocated in the outskirts of Newark. Their neighborhoods, parks, businesses, and streets  —  once places of family and community — would be

demolished and cleared.

To top it off, funding for construction could have re-purposed $80

million or more taxpayer

dollars away from public services, public spaces, and communities.

Enough was enough. Something had to be done.



On February 28th, 1964 a public hearing was held with 125 people in attendance. The proposal was met with unprecedented

opposition by both local government and the people of Newark. The affected groups were outraged and demanded to be heard.

“The route is a divider between ethnic-economic and social strata’s!” —  Mrs. Rose Heyman, President of Clinton Hill Group “It is the finest block on Springfield Ave. It

is my home! If you could only deviate it a little bit!”

—  Mrs. Selma Andells, Newark Resident



Despite opposition, the Federal Bureau of Roads approved

the alignment

with a 50% Federal grant for construction.

A massive

blow to the pride and resiliency of the affected communities and families.



By 1966, The Head of the Newark Housing Authority, Louis Danzig, began to

preemptively acquire land, displace families and demolish buildings between Avon and Springfield Ave. along Belmont.

By 1967, the people had enough and the

Newark Rebellion changed the face of the city forever.



The Newark Rebellion marked a turning point in the City’s social and economic landscape. Wealthy residents began to prefer economically segregated suburbs instead of the inner city, and Newark’s time of economic growth gave way to abandoned lots, failing business and

large-scale economic collapse.

Also, the Rebellion was a moment of hope and power for the oppressed populations of Newark. For the first time in Newark history, the people


had the power.


The year after the Rebellion, a diminishing economic situation, poor public image, and increased population in the suburbs of Newark; gave rise to debate about Route 75.

Scheduled construction would continue as planned, unless

strong measures

were taken by communities and organizations. The situation led to the creation of the

Model Cities Emergency Committee, an activist group brought together by lawyer and activist Junius Williams. Thus, the Committee became the new


face of the opposition.


destroy any chance of Newark Negroes gaining political power.” “[The route was] politically motivated to

—  Junius W. Williams




Committee gave residents and communities the power to effectively present an opposition for the Route 75 project.



On December 15th, 1968, a large-scale protest was organized that brought hundreds of residents to the streets. The goal of the protest was to bring “graphic

demonstration of opposition”

to construction of the route in the Clinton Hill area, along Belmont Ave, and the Central Ward’s Presbyterian Church.



“It [Route 75] is of

no use to the people of Newark. It is only for outsiders!”

—  Reverend William Pierce

The protest was a definitive success.



Shorty after the protest, the Committee confronted State Transportation Commissioner David Goldberg, and presented an organized plea from all involved residents, organizations, and City Councils.

The people had spoken.

It was now up to officials to make the right choice.



In 1969, the first signs of community

victory began to emerge when David Goldberg

publicly stated that “acquisition of land for the highway should not be undertaken” due to the lack

of alternate housing for displaced residents. Mayor Addonizio and City

Council follow-up by calling for cancellation of all contracts negotiated for relocation of displaced families.

A massive win for communities, rights organizations, and the Model Cities Committee. With people’s homes safe the Route 75 project begins to lose traction. In 1971 the Route was unprogrammed. Then, in 1972 the project was officially

eliminated from Newark’s Master Plan. 58



Rutgers University in Newark. University Heights, Central Ward, Newark November 2013



In 1959, due to the growth of industry in Newark, the federal and the city governments negotiated an urban renewal bond to make the city a world recognized

regional economic center.

One of the projects contemplated was the

expansion of

Rutgers University and the Newark College of Engineering.



University Enrollment forecasts showed an increased demand for student capacity. Franklin Conklin Jr., President of the Board of Trustees of Newark University, saw the expansion of Rutgers University and Newark College of Engineering as an opportunity to

“extend democracy’s frontiers”.

“Education is a serious undertaking … it can only be made to work if the constant process of improving the individual is carried on.”

—  Louis D. Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice



Going to college was typically only an option for economically wealthy individuals. Universities were filled to capacity with students who were there because their families could afford it. Educational leaders in Newark saw the lack

of equitable opportunity in the city.

“Is not society

failing, therefore, in self protection when it

bases college opportunity largely on ability to pay?” “One task of education in Newark is therefore to develop within a city a civic conscience and a social intelligence devoted 66

to Newark”

—  Franklin Conklin Jr. 67

The Mayor Leo Carlin saw an opportunity to shape a new

future for Newark.

In 1963, the expansion of Rutgers University and the Newark College of Engineering was incorporated into the Master Plan.

For the first time, Urban Renewal was seen as a way to meet the city’s needs for

skilled professionals such as laboratory technicians, sales managers, comptrollers, bankers, economists, and marketing executives.

Also, the additional capacity could provide

opportunities for low-income families. 68


But at what price?



The expansion plan sought to demolish and rebuild 110

acres of Central Ward that was

composed of residential, commercial and industrial areas.

The amount of money for the project totaled $123


By 1965, the expansion project broke ground, but authorities forgot one big element in this urban renewal equation:


the community.


The new construction of Rutgers University and Newark College of Engineering increased

4,700 to more than 20,000 students, but also displaced hundreds of primarily Puerto Rican and Dominican low-income families. student capacity from

Due to lack of organization and unity, the community opposition had little impact in preventing the devastating


effects of the project.


By 1966, a total of 600 families, 2,700 inhabitants approximately, were

forced from their homes to make room for the new educational centers.

The mounting pressures of this and other oppressive city projects evenually gave way to the Newark

The new

Rebellion of 1967.

vision that the Rebellion brought to the city had an immediate effect within the university complexes. 76


A combination of factors influenced how the expansion of Rutgers University and the Newark College of Engineering was being operated. The black community demanded

better conditions and more job positions for their people. In 1969, the Black Organization of Students, a group inspired by the Rebellion, demanded that officials follow through on their promise of additional student and faculty spaces for the black community. University African American demographics

shifted from 5% to 20% due to

the efforts of BOS. The power of communities and organization had prevailed, and the voices of the people were finally heard. 78


By 1971, the majority of the project was completed, but under difficult


The Central

Ward resembled Berlin in 1945 because of the parallel effects of the Rebellion of 1967 and the expansion of Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark College of Engineering before) —  David C. Berliner, The Washington Post Burned down stores standing

lifelessly . . . vacant lots coexisting with a clusters of towering housing projects . . . this was the scene created by inequitable city structures and projects that failed to address the needs of the people. 80




Affected Resident Health

Affordable and Reliable Energy

No Destruction of Homes

Experts Support Proposal

No United Organization Entity Created

No Demonstrations or organized protests

Poor Resident Organization

Strong Public hearing presence

Monetary Incentives to City

Privately Funded by HESS

Ironbound Community Defeated

HESS Power Plant

Community and neighborhood Fabric Preserved

Alternate Traffic Solutions Explored


Considerable Destruction of Homes

Experts Support Alternatives

United Organization Entity Created

Demonstrations and organized protests

Strong Resident Organization

Strong Public Hearing presence

Funding Allocated From Public Services

Funded by Taxpayer Revenue

Affected Communities Victory

Determining Outcomes

Route 75

Social, Political and Spatial Inequity Created

Educational Opportunities

Moderate Destruction of Homes

Experts Support Proposal

No United Organization Entity Created

No Demonstrations or organized protests

Poor Resident Organization

Weak Public Hearing Presence

Funding From Urban Renewal Budget

Funded by Taxpayer Revenue

Affected Community Defeat

Rutgers/ NJIT

What factors affect community empowerment?

Who Has The Power?

The determining factors in each of the cases are characterized by instances of power shifting between communities and proposal supporters. Power shift in favor of Proposal Argument Power shift in favor of Community Argument Neutral Item or Little Argument Sway


Central Ward + East Ward November 2013


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