The Jersey City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would transfer 16 acres of city-owned land to the local redevelopment agency as part of the early stages of the Liberty Science Center’s $280 million “SciTech Scity” project.
“If we hand our land to somebody else, JCRA, we have to know [the] value of [the] land,” expressed Ward D Councilman Michael Yun, who called on his colleagues to table the measure until the next meeting.
The ordinance was initially on the February 22nd council agenda, but was tabled during the caucus meeting.
Despite that fact, two critics of the Mayor Steven Fulop administration still urged the council to rethink the land deal, which will give the property, estimated to be worth $20 million, to the JCRA for $1.
During the council’s vote on the first reading of the measure last night, Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano called it “a slap in the face of the council” that no one from the city or the JCRA called for an appraisal of the land.
“I vote no on 3a and I think it’s a slap in the face to this council that the redevelopment agency and the city didn’t demand that we have an appraisal of this land,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yun said that while he supports the project as a whole, he felt like the process was being a bit rushed and he would like to see more information being moving it forward.
“I can say that I support the SciTech Scity [project] … I really appreciate the effort to bring up the SciTech Scity in Jersey City. I support 100 percent the project, but it seems like the JCRA is not ready to make any deal, negotiations, with the Liberty Science Center,” Yun stated.
“Also, when I see their package, I’m very disappointed what they’re providing the City of Jersey City, and the city council, so 3a, I’m gonna vote for no.”
Ward E Councilwoman Candice Osborne was annoyed with Yun’s protests at that point, adding “as someone who actually supports the project, I vote I.”
The measure passed by a vote of 7-2, with only Boggiano and Yun voting no.
Fulop, a strong advocate for the multi-faceted initiative that will take place mostly in Ward F, briefly talked about the project during his Ward D State of the City address last week.
“This $280 million project will be developed by the [Liberty] Science Center, in conjunction with the city, and will feature a biotech lab, a coding lab, a technology business incubator and a K through 12 STEM-focused Jersey City,” Fulop explained.
“It truly is a transformative project and one that will establish Jersey City as the home of the region’s premiere innovation destination – as well as educate the next generation of students as leaders in the fields of science and technology.”
The mayor also called it “an important long-term investment” that the administration is “making on the behalf of the city.”