The Jersey City NAACP announced that they are seeking a court injunction to halt the Fulton Avenue Park project, particularly the construction of a new parking lot which they believe will be utilized by a synagogue that may be opening soon.
As large dump trucks were entering the site early this afternoon, JC NAACP President Rev. Nathaniel Legay said that the city had the ability to renovate this park for the past three years.
“This park, there’s no reason for it to be changed. $500,000 was allocated to this park, for three years or more that money was never spent,” Legay said.
“The money was transferred to Berry Lane Park on Garfield Avenue to make improvements with the intention of returning that money to rebuild and reconstruct this park, not as a parking lot, but as a park.”
The branch hired attorney Yvette Sterling, to try to get immediate relief against the construction in federal court, filing a lawsuit just before the presser.
“I’m basically here to ensure that all procedures are followed in regards to the demolition of any buildings or structures and also ensure that the citizens of this neighborhood are represented and respected,” said Sterling.
Additionally, Legay said that Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson needs to be vocal on the issue.
“He’s outnumbered [on the council] and the mayor uses him however he wishes, and he has no voice, he cannot speak freely for the people of this community. So we want to make sure that he also stands up as he represents this community.”
Robinson said over the phone that he supported the new plan for public safety reasons, noting that this iteration faces the street, as well as indicating that the lot was being built for everyone that uses the Mary McCleod Bethune Center.
Additionally, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione called the notion that anyone will have “special access to the parking lot” is misinformation and that residents in the area signed a petition indicating they wanted this park plan.
“It is unfortunate that the NAACP is spreading misinformation. To be clear, there were actually three public meetings to decide the fate of the park and each meeting included members from the city, both current and former council representation from Ward F, the council president, leadership from the Jackson Hill SID, some members of the NAACP, business representatives, and members of the public,” she said.
“Secondly, despite what the NAACP is stating, they know that this is clearly false as no church or synagogue will have special access to the parking lot. Finally, the residents in the area provided the councilman a letter and petition at the time showing overwhelming support for this park.”
Nevertheless, Legay insists that a synagogue will be opened at the intersection of MLK Drive and Fulton Avenue because services are already being offered quietly.
“Our view is that the synagogue already exists and they’ve been conducting services under the radar. All that remains for them to continue services indefinitely is a certificate of occupancy from the city,” Legay said.
Legay also said that the NAACP believes synagogue worshippers will have access to the parking lot since there is a city ordinance that states that no religious institution can be established without access to parking.
Furthermore, the NAACP expressed concerns that there is no environmental review on record of the property.
The presser streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: