Bayonne Planning Board approves new county vocational school on site of high school tennis courts


The Bayonne Planning Board unanimously approved (7-0) the construction of a new Hudson County Schools of Technology on the site of the high school tennis courts at 669 Avenue A at last night’s meeting.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

Architect Ralph Walker explained they want to construct a two-story, 36,000-square foot building where the high school’s tennis courts currently are located.

Parking will be reconfigured to add 38 parking spaces and a load dock and there will be entrances on all sides. Designed to accommodate a cosmetology program, there would also be mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and building trades training programs, Walker noted.

“This self-contained program works directly with the Bayonne High School,” he added, also indicating there will be 20 to 25 teachers and staff who will work there and approximately 200 students.

Walker further stated it has been designed to fit in the Bayonne High School and middle school and it’s designed to look similar.

“It really is shorter than the buildings that surround it. We are trying to be very careful that this building fits in … both in use and architecture.”

HCST attorney Jack Dineen asked if it would complement and be in accord with the current school campus.

Walker said the Bayonne BOE and HCST are working together on the project, with Dineen noting that the state has already approved the preliminary proposal.

As far as the timeline is concerned, Walker noted that if approved, it would take approximately 14 months to construct the building. However, construction would not start for about another five to six months.

“Do you have an idea as to when this school would open?,” Dineen asked.

Walker replied that the school would be ready to open in the fall of 2024.

“We certainly would just want to make sure even if you had to go above and beyond the minimum amounts of the code that’s what you were doing,” Planning Board Chair Pro Tempre Clifford Adams said.

“Absolutely,” Walker said.

“Parking is an extremely important issue here in Bayonne,” said Bayonne Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, a mayoral challenger that also sits on the planning board.

She asked how many parking spots would be added as a result of the plan.

“I believe it would be a gain of … five or six spaces overall,” said Walker.

“That’s taking 32 spots that are currently used for the current Bayonne staff. So where are those people going to be going?,” she responded.

Nadrowski noted teachers using street parking has made it difficult for nearby homeowners, who have complained about the situation.

“I believe the Bayonne BOE is working on a parking plan both for construction and post-construction. Because there will be displacement,” Walker said.

“That’s a lot of spots to lose,” Nadrowski replied.

“There are existing vo-tech facilities that this building will be incorporating. It’s probably less dramatic than that. But we would expect Bayonne school district to come up with a plan that’s going to address all of its parking concerns,” stated Dineen.

Bayonne Superintendent of Schools John Niesz also weighed in on the situation.

“We’re going to be taking 40 people out of the school district that drive since we’re moving our central office to St. Andrew’s on another property. I think we’ll be more than fine,” he explained.

“So there will be no STEM programs right?” Nadrowski asked.

Walker said the programs in the building include cosmetology, the building trades unions, classroom space for law enforcement, computer science, and accounting for continuing education courses.

“Is lunch going to be provided there? Or are they going to Bayonne High School?” Nadrowski continued.

Walker said many students in the vo-tech take half days and then work in the field, so few would eat lunch there.

“This is really contained in terms of education,” he added.

Nadrowski noted that the plans for the upcoming Sci-Tech Scity in Jersey City include a vocational HCST school, the Liberty Science Center High School.

“Jersey City has in their plan a caveat: they are guaranteed a higher percentage of Jersey City residents get in the school. Is there any protection for Bayonne students?,” Nadrowski inquired, referring to the plan to have 60 percent of LSC High School students be from Jersey City.

Both Dineen and Walker said they were unsure if there was any such plan in the works for the Bayonne vocational school.

“This is absolutely something we want. Is there any plan to have an agreement like this?,” Nadrowski pressed forward.

“I have a meeting with them on Friday and we’ll discuss that. I don’t believe we have any students from out of Bayonne in the current classes now,” added Niesz, noting that would likely continue.

“Ok thank you,” Nadrowski said.

“It’s not a secret that in Bayonne, it’s really really hot topic, parking. In those particular parking spaces, are those just for teachers or would it include the students also?,” asked Commissioner Ramon Veloz.

“The parking space will be for teachers and administrators only,” Walker said.

Veloz asked where the maintenance staff would park, to which Walker said they would be included in the anticipated parking spots for 20 to 25 staff members.

“Some of the programs will be on different schedules. So there may not simultaneously be using the parking at the same time,” he added.

“Public money being spent needs to be reviewed for consistency with the Master Plan. If that isn’t done, the plan would still be able to go forward but they might have some difficulty,” Planning Board Attorney Richard Campesino said.

“The Department of Education requires they be reviewed.”

“It seems like a net loss of seven to nine spaces. Can the witnesses speak to the loss of parking spots?,” resident Adrian Smith asked during the public portion.

“From the survey we had worked from, we had a net gain of six parking spaces. We can provide that to the board if that’s required,” stated Walker.

“Zoning requirements require … 28 spaces based on your zoning. We’re providing a total of 38 spaces.”

The subdivision of the land so that the project could begin was also unanimously approved (7-0).

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  1. This is a long time coming. What was done with all the shops in the main?For that matter tech. Where did all that great equipment go? Why are Jersey City residents allowed in? Why at 60 percent. Why???I have all the faith in the world in you Sharon. I know when you are mayor it will be corrected.