Faith-based community group Jersey City Together called on Honeywell Industries and Mayor Steven Fulop to ensure that a project built on formerly polluted land contains housing and creates local jobs.
Rev. Mona Fitch-Elliot, a pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church and a former Interfaith Community Organization leader, said that the opportunity is now for Honeywell International to rectify what they did regarding polluting the site with chromium contamination.
“For decades, Honeywell and it’s predecessor companies polluted our fair city with toxic waste. And now, we have the potential opportunity to turn that evil into good,” she said during a press conference held in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Route 440 – right across from the land in question.
“The proposals that have been made thus far are insulting. As I look back at that sign that says ‘Live here, work here, play here’ I keep asking myself: who are they talking about? Apparently not us from what we’ve seen.”
Rev. Dr. Williard W.C. Ashley, a pastor at Abundant Joy Community Church and another former ICO leader, also noted the chromium contamination cleanup cost Honeywell over $450 million while explaining the history of the 95 acres of land.
Rev. Jessica Lambert, another pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, thanked the press for their diligence in the matter and discussed “the toxic deal” made in the Honeywell project.
The final speaker at the press conference, Rev. Geoffrey Curtis, a retired episcopal priest and another ex-ICO leader, called on both Honeywell and Mayor Steven Fulop to consider new, fair project proposals for the land.
“We are challenging both the mayor and the boardroom at Honeywell to sit down with us and to consider alternatives. We can go back to our 1986 alternative when, if we got clean land, we were ready to build affordable owner-occupied housing,” he recalled.
“That plan is still available for us and being done in other parts of the … cities across this country. And we want to see this happen.”
During a question and answer session with the media, Curtis clarified that Jersey City Together wants to see what Honeywell is putting into the request for proposals, noting that Kushner Companies now defunct plan to market housing units to the Orthodox Jewish community would be unlikely with a new RFP.
As Bloomberg first reported last month, Kushner Companies, formerly run by President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, backed out of a potential 8,100 unit project due to financial concerns.
Victoria Streitfeld, a Honeywell spokeswoman, said the Bayfront Redevelopment Plan, passed by the Jersey City Council in 2008, includes a number of amenities such as affordable housing.
“The Bayfront Redevelopment Plan, which was passed unanimously by the Jersey City Council in 2008, will allow for the transformation of 95 acres of former industrial properties into new housing, including affordable housing; office and retail opportunities; public waterfront access; considerable open space; job opportunities, including local hires; and access to mass transit,” she said in an email.
“The cleanup is complete, and when environmental approvals are in place we will go to the market and offer the property.”
At one point last year, some Jersey City residents expressed concern over whether the chromium at the Berry Lane Park site had been cleaned up properly, but the ribbon cutting for the $38 million endeavor went off without a hitch almost exactly one year ago.
A spokeswoman from Fulop’s office did not immediately return an inquiry seeking comment.