Bayonne Mayor Davis: ‘You either adapt or you die’ to overcome $19.5M debt

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Bayonne’s economic decline in previous administrations has led to a future that is desperate for development, according to Mayor Jimmy Davis during last night’s State of the City Address at the Knights of Columbus hall.

Jimmy Davis

Davis gave a glimpse into future projects funded by applied grants including: park redevelopment, affordable housing, and future extracurricular refurbishment all during his 45-minute speech to a plentiful audience.

“The biggest thing we can’t do is forget where we came from because we need to take our past so we can change our future. Change is growth, change is maturity, change is adaptation … ,” said Davis.

“Because no matter what part you think of whether it’s nature, whether it’s business, whether it’s life, you either adapt or you die,” referencing to not only the 19th Street and Broadway Avenue empty lot that was once an M&M’s factory, but also the failed/abandoned small businesses on Broadway Avenue and throughout the city.

Instead of demolishing history that resonates with city inhabitants, Davis took the crowd back to an industrial period where an old Maidenform factory was redeveloped into luxury condominiums.

“We were an industrial city. I’ll take from 1st Avenue A to 4th Street [and] Avenue A, four blocks. We had Time Warner Cable, Texaco, Cascon, Best Foods. We probably had 14 to 16 hundred jobs that were working three shifts, for 24 hours a day,” Davis recalled.

The mayor also explained how development plays a key role in eliminating the structural deficit that he says has only decreased by $5 million dollars since 2014. There still remains $19.5 million dollars of city debt, according to Davis.

After the city’s annual budget was introduced in March, Bayonne officials have been working to close a $15 million revenue shortfall by the end of June. The mayor responded by issuing a hiring freeze last month.

The shortfall was caused by the collapse of a Harbor Station South deal between the city and Kate Howard LTD.

Additionally, Davis indirectly defended the right of public questioning and spoken word against or for the city’s government to help establish an open door policy for the community. The event was sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.

Davis’s city address came during a time when a potential recall effort is being led by a childhood friend and a key campaign organizer of the 2014 election when Davis became mayor.