An Plan for A More Livable Downtown
For decades, Jersey City politicians approved tens of thousands of housing units without a plan for the infrastructure needed to keep downtown livable. This rapid growth, without sustainable planning, led to serious strains on our community. As the population grows, so too should infrastructure like green space, public schools and mass transit, the necessities that make Downtown livable. Anyone who has waited for an overcrowded PATH train or driven through potholed roads that resemble moonscapes, knows Jersey City hasn’t invested enough in our infrastructure. We need to do better, now.
At the same time, city service delivery has not kept pace with this growth, leading to trash strewn about our streets. Our city’s quality of life has declined as the political machine is more interested in delivering patronage than clean streets. This is what growth without planning looks like.
Over the past four years, I’ve partnered with our new city planners to fix the planning mistakes of prior administrations. We’ve made progress on a new school, a new homeless shelter, new parks, and an increase in the PATH’s capacity. But there’s so much more work to do to fix thirty years of mistakes. Here is my plan to do it:
Build New Green Space.
Jersey City needs more green space. The PowerHouse Arts District and the Waterfront are some of the most crowded neighborhoods in the entire country without large, dedicated open space within them. We can change that by:
Turning the 6th Street Embankment into a vibrant public space. I remain steadfastly committed to partnering with the Embankment Coalition to gain control of the 6th St Embankment to fulfill the Coalition’s vision for public access to a truly unique space in the heart of downtown.
Building a park in the water, similar to Hoboken’s popular Pier C.
Invest in Transportation Infrastructure.
Jersey City must build more mass transit options and invest in safe transit corridors to connect neighborhoods such as:
Complete the light rail station at 18th and Jersey Ave, creating mass transit access to thousands of homes and hundreds of jobs in what is currently a transit desert.
Renovate the Coles St underpass between 12th St and 14th Sts. Coles St is the only connection between Hamilton Park and the fast growing “Lackawanna” neighborhood, north of the Holland Tunnel. We will build new sidewalks, add lighting, remove trash, and install pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure.
Clean-up the Trash.
One of the most visible signs of how poorly we’ve managed Jersey City’s growth are the piles of trash and debris that pile up in gutters and on our sidewalks. This level of trash is unacceptable. I have a three part plan to make our streets clean:
Terminate our sanitation contract with Regional Industries, for providing poor service at an outrageous cost to taxpayers.
Place a trash can on every corner with daily scheduled pick-ups.
Provide every home with trash cans with lids to prevent trash from spilling over on windy nights and during collection.
Construct New Greenspace
If we are going to bring more and better greenspace to Downtown, there is no better place to start than the 6th Street Harsimus Embankment. Built in the late 19th century by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the embankment stands 27 feet tall from street-level, and covers almost 10 acres of city land. Since the last train rumbled across the Embankment’s tracks, community organizing groups, such as The Embankment Preservation Coalition have been advocating for public space and transit corridors to replace the overgrown brush and tracks. I share their vision. Once complete, the Coalition’s plan would add much needed greenspace to the Downtown area.
(Pictured: Embankment Coalition’s vision for an elevated park at the 6th Street Embankment)
Another part of Downtown that is in need of more green space is the Waterfront. Downtown’s population grew at a staggering 58% over the last decade, and much of that growth has taken place on the Waterfront. In that time we have added almost no new green space in that neighborhood. One need only look to our next door neighbor Hoboken to see what’s possible. Pier C on Hoboken’s waterfront shows the unique possibilities that waterfront green space can offer.
(Pictured: Hoboken’s Pier C Park)
Invest in Transportation Infrastructure
As the Downtown area has grown in population, and the waterfront evolved from its industrial past to a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood, our infrastructure needs have changed. Instead of wide open roads designed for heavy truck traffic, now we need mass transit, protected bike lanes, and safe corridors connecting new neighborhoods.
Growth without planning leads to “transit deserts” (ie. a place that has no easy access to public transit). The neighborhood north of the Holland Tunnel is one such desert. Thousands of new homes were built but residents must either cross the Holland Tunnel access lanes or walk 20+ minutes to Hoboken to access any form of mass transit. To fix this problem, I will ensure that the new light rail station planned for 18th and Jersey Ave will be completed in my second term.
Furthermore, there is no safe passage between this new neighborhood and Hamilton Park, just to the South. To change this unsafe corridor, I am committed to upgrading the Coles Street underpass between 12th and 14th Streets. We’ve already added a set of fantastic murals to bring people to that space. Next I want to add lighting, fix the sidewalks, and create a protected bike lane on Coles St.
Clean up the Trash
Simply put, our current trash contract with Regional Industries needs to be terminated. Litter and missed trash pick-up are some of the most common constituent complaints my office receives. Adding insult to injury, our municipal trash fees have gone up this year by 50%, despite the provision of a substandard level of service. I am committed to ensuring this contract is re-tendered in a transparent way, so that other regional providers can offer us competent service at a competitive price.
Similar to our neighbors in Union City who need to install trash cans at every corner and a clean team that ensures there is daily pick-up. Once we have a new trash services provider, we need to conduct a litter audit to determine how much trash is making it to the streets and what type of trash. Basd on that assessment we should implement the following in order to reduce litter on our streets:
Install commercial trash cans with lids at high foot traffic (parks, near the PATH station) that have two sectors; trash and recycling.
Ensuring there are more Trash Can’s (one at every corner)
Keep America Beautiful reported that when people were within close distance of a trash can it reduced the litter rate from 20% to 12%
Run an Educational Campaign about the importance of not littering by placing signage on the trash cans that grabs people's attention and motivates them to recycle and find a trash can.