Jersey City Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore held a hybrid Town Hall event last night with police officials and community activists.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“You see a host of different service providers. A lot of the time, we ask people to do a thing that is not in their realm of expertise. We want to create a mechanism to bring everyone to the table,” Gilmore said before introducing several city officials who attended.
Police Director Tawana Moody introduced several captains and deputy chiefs and spoke of the need for the police to create a good rapport with civilians.
“Everyone needs to see the community. We need everybody to help us. We don’t always know what’s going on,” she said before speaking highly of block associations.
“When you have block association [meetings], please let us know, so we have some representation there. We won’t know what the community is saying if we don’t show up.”
She then introduced South District Captain Patrick Sullivan, which includes parts of Ward F.
“We are the first contact into city government. More than a band-aid fix, we want to do problem solving. I can’t arrest out of these problems, and nobody wants us to … send people to an imaginary place,” Sullivan said with regards to mental health and addiction issues.
He also said that issues sometimes arise by trying to get all these services to work together, as well as that they often seek to work with Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation and Special Improvement Districts (SIDs) on community issues.
Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association (POBA) President Joe Cossolini, a detective who is also the vice president of the Bidwell Avenue Block Association, touted an open door policy at their new headquarters at 398 Martin Luther King Dr.
He also recognized that many police unions are “exclusively pro-police” and said that he disagreed with that approach, noting that healthy relationships with the community are needed.
“Who would be in charge of trying to acquire a parking lot of the police district in the south district? I was wondering if they could get that lot off of Bostwick Avenue through eminent domain to park their vehicles because it’s a danger zone for the children,” Monique Andrews asked.
“We are definitely trying to look for a location in the south. Right now, we don’t have another parking lot,” Moody said.
She noted police officers are parking at Snyder High School, to which Andrews replied that she is a PTA leader at Snyder.
“There is a lot directly across the street owned by a developer. That can be taken by eminent domain,” she said.
“That space is available on Bostwick and Bergen Ave. Because it’s a public safety issue, it can be taken by eminent domain,” Andrews asserted.
Moody gave her number to Andrews and encouraged people to reach out to work on the issue.
After the police officials spoke, Morris Canal Development Community Development Corporation (MCDC) Executive Director June Jones described her group’s work.
“It really hard to get a seat at the table when it comes to development in Jersey City,” she said. We do welcome development. However, when you’re living in a neighborhood, mostly of two, three, and five stories, 17 stories of development is outrageous,” Jones said about the Morris Canal Manor project that is currently on hold.
“There’s a place for that and right next door to two-story buildings is not the place. We would like to sit at the table with the developer and give him somewhere near the density he’s looking for 400 units, but just not at that height. You have power in numbers,” Jones said.
Sherwood-Claremont and Bayside Park community activist Chris Perez said that they are considering taking action after the planning board approved a project at 25 Clinton Ave. last month.
“We do believe there are some issues with that approval. The community is strategizing their plan,” he said.
Perez also encouraged people to form block associations and become familiar with the intricacies of the planning board process.
“This is the kind of stuff we have to when development comes into our community we make sure it’s the kind of development we want,” he said.
Gilmore concluded that he plans to host more town hall meetings at the beginning of each month.