Hundreds attended the first of six State of the City addresses by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, where he focused on affordable housing, public safety and economic revitalization specific to Ward F.
â€œThis neighborhood has long been a forgotten place and the level of neglect that can been seen took decades to occur. Many of these issues wonâ€™t be solved overnight or even in one single mayoral term, however I truly believe we are starting to lay the framework that will revive the community,â€ stated Fulop.
The beginning of his 40-minute address was about how his administration has generally improved the quality of life in Jersey City, beginning with the unemployment rate being the â€œlowest rate itâ€™s been in 25 years.â€
The creation of 7,000 jobs, and over 600 new small business open in Jersey City made Jersey City number one for jobs and business creations in the entire state of New Jersey.
The mayor also talked about developments in the south and west side of Jersey City.
â€œFor the first time in decades we are seeing developments occur in Journal Square. Something that past administrations has promised to do time and time again and finally it actually happened.â€
Fulop also emphasized inclusivity by announcing the increase in affordable housing units and housing for homeless veterans including the 21 priority veteran units as part of the Ocean Avenue Project in 2017.
â€œWe were in the first in New Jersey to take Michelle Obamaâ€™s challenge to end veteran homelessness,â€ the mayor, a U.S. Marine veteran, proudly stated.
Also included in his address was how Jersey City has served as a model for many socially conscious policies.
Fulop mentioned enacting the paid sick leave legislation, increasing minimum wage to $15 an hour for municipal workers, transit inclusive coverage to city employees and a nationwide model for the prisoner reentry program.
Additionally, Fulop touted the executive order he signed to establish Jersey City as a sanctuary city.
The residents in Ward F were also happy to hear that there will not be an increase in municipal taxes for the fourth year in the row.
There were also a loud applause for the increase of the number of police officers from 779 to 922 when Fulop began his administration.
Along the lines of public safety, the mayor also explained that recruits are now spending their first month of training integrating and learning about the community they will be serving.
â€œMany policy officers have been placed in the south and west districts on the walking posts on the south side of the city to start their career. The most recent class spent a month with the communities they will soon be serving,” explained Fulop.
“This is the first time recruits has begun their training this way by being immersed in their community.
Furthermore, he pointed out that 70 percent of the recruited officers since 2013 have been minorities so that the police department will represent the diverse composition of the city.
The installation of 200 CCTVâ€™s has also begun starting with the south and west districts.
As for Jersey City being a nationwide model for prisoner reentry, Fulop stated that Martinâ€™s Place is â€œproviding a second chance for previously incarcerated residents should be a major priority for urban cities everywhere, because when we work to break the cycle of recidivism, in positive and productive ways, we help build stronger individuals, stronger families and ultimately stronger communities.â€
As for Jersey City youths, aside from improving the quality of education by regaining close to full local control of public school education, the creation of Dr. Maya Angelou school, the first new public school over a decade, the mayor also mentioned the youth employment and enrichment programs available to 1,000 students a year during the summer.
There are also 30 new recreation programs made available by adding an additional $1 million to the city budget to expand the recreation programs which includes engineering workshops and homework assistance.
Liberty Science Center will also be expanding. Sci Tech City, a $280 million project, will feature â€œa bio tech lab, coding lab, technology business incubator and a K-12 stem focused public school.
As for Ward F, the mayor pointed out that programming has been made available to everyone of all ages and used the Bethune Center as a prime example. Residents can now come to the center for salsa, drama and art lessons.
Fulop also referenced the improvements with open space with Berry Lane Park and the redesign of Fulton Avenue Park.
Also specific to Bergen/Lafayette area is the mayorâ€™s focus on improving resident life, with an approved project that will create 54 units of affordable housing right at the hub and, if approved later this month, an ordinance that will strengthen city rules against door-to-door solicitation.
This ordinance will establish a â€œno knockâ€ registry that will safe guard the privacy of homeowners.
Fulop concluded his address with the topic of economic revitalization in Ward F. He spoke about the City Hall Annex, a $20 million project specifically designed to bring in 300 city jobs and is expected to attract more small business and restaurants.
In April of this year, there will also be the opening of the Baker Building which will be the first major private residential development in Ward F in decades.
â€œAs we look to the future please know that we will continue to act with personal care attention and offering everything we have to creating one Jersey City that affords resources and success to all our residents,â€ stated the mayor towards the end of his address which was then followed by a standing ovation from the attending public.
The mayor has scheduled five additional State of the City addresses, all commencing at 6:30 p.m.
â€¢ Ward A, Thursday, February 9th, Cityline Church, 1510 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
â€¢ Ward B, Thursday, February 23rd, St. Aloysius Academy, 721 West Side Avenue
â€¢ Ward C, Monday, February 27th, Franklin L. Williams M.S. 7, 222 Laidlaw Avenue
â€¢ Ward D, Thursday, March 2, Christa McAuliffe School P.S. 28, 167 Hancock Avenue
â€¢ Ward E, Tuesday, March 7th, Grace Church Van Vorst, 39 Erie Street