Ahead of pivotal SciTech Scity vote, Jersey City releases details of the plan


Ahead of the Jersey City Council’s pivotal vote on what has turned into a controversial joint effort with the Liberty Science Center, the city has released specific details on the $280 million SciTech Scity project.

An artists' rendering of Edge Works, specialized labs that would be a part of the Liberty Science Center's SciTech Scity project. Photo via www.scitechscity.com/.
An artists’ rendering of Edge Works, specialized labs that would be a part of the Liberty Science Center’s SciTech Scity project. Photo via www.scitechscity.com/.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

According to a fact sheet posted on the city’s official website, the effort is a joint venture between the city and LSC where Jersey City will receive a 50/50 surplus share until it receives the appraised value of 16 acres of land being given to LSC.

Furthermore, once the city receives the money for the appraised land value, a permanent 80-20 split between LSC and Jersey City will continue on “forever,” the fact sheet says.

The measure currently in front of the council would sell the land to the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency for $1, who would then sell the land to LSC for $10.

This process has caused critics of Mayor Steven Fulop to lash out against the initiative, stating that the land has to be worth at least $20 million.

Today, the city is further arguing that not only are they “protected in every scenario” as a revenue partner, but have also implemented reverter clauses where the entire property would be returned to the city.

Those three scenarios are if the project is never built, if LSC violates the terms of agreement or if property is transferred to, or ever owned by, a for profit entity.

Additionally, the fact sheet also says the city isn’t selling the property because that would result in the construction of either a convention center, hotel or high-rise condos – as opposed to a long-term investment in the city.

The city also said that LSC has 650,000 annual visitors and generated $4.5 in operating funds last year, further stating that they repaid a $2.5 million loan in 2008, which they received from the city’s urban enterprise zone, back on September 1, 2011.

Last week, the Jersey City Education Association spoke out against the project, asking for “a seat at the table” for any decisions that impact educators and students – the project is set to include a public school.

Again, according to the fact sheet, the school will be “a traditional public school” that will come at no cost to the taxpayers.

On Monday, the Friends of Liberty State Park board voiced support for the SciTech Scity endeavor, the largest vote of confidence the project has received so far.

The first reading of the ordinance passed by a vote of 7-2 earlier this month, with Councilmen Rich Boggiano and Michael Yun voting no, both pushing for the land to be appraised before the council votes on the measure.

The Jersey City Council meets at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m. and is expected to vote on the project in what is expected to be an uncharacteristically long meeting.

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