Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said that the only way to get the city out of its $19 million deficit is to develop land during a master plan re-examination meeting last night.
Davis took a few moments to address the residents at the Bayonne Senior Center, located on 16th West 4th Street, stressing the city needs a change in order to fix its financial future.
“This is about fixing our financial future, right now the city of Bayonne has a $19million deficit, it’s a structural deficit that comes back every January. When we took office it was $24 million,” he explained.
“The only way to make the deficit go away is that we need recurring money. For the last 15-20 years everybody would sell off something and paid off that structural deficit but it came back the following year. We can’t do that anymore, we have nothing left to sell, we have to develop.”
Francis Reiner, the redevelopment consultant/senior urban advisor for DMR Architects, led the night’s discussion by reviewing information obtained from a survey that was previously available to residents.
According to survey findings many concerns pertained to availability of parking in residential areas, preservation of historical buildings, and growth of active retail in the city.
“Of the major problems that were asked, the number one response was the availability of parking followed by economic issues,” Reiner stated.
“The highest percentage of any question was almost 81 percent of people talked about was preservation of historical buildings was critical, so that again says a lot to the history of the city and to the residents.”
Also noting businesses along Broadway, Reiner added, “There was a range of answers, clothing being number one, specialty foods, restaurants, bookstores, so really more active types of retail on the street.”
When it came to public participation for the night, many of the residents had some of the same concerns and suggestions to bring to DMR.
“We want appropriate development, we want to see increases and maintenance of current open spaces,” said Baer Hanusz-Rajkowsky. “We talked about inappropriate density which we’ve all talked about the two 22-story towers going up on North Street right in the middle of the city, which we think all the development should be at the edge of the city.”
“We talked about variances being too easy to get, if a developer comes in and says I need a variance, they’ve got one. If a lot is supposed to be 30 by 100 feet and the developer says I need to do a development on less land they go in and a lot of the time they get it and that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
Hanusz-Rajkowski said that the city needs to stand by the ordinances they have on the books in regards to development, also expressing dissatisfaction that neighboring municipalities are earning revenue that could be going to Bayonne.