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February PARA Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – At the February PARA meeting, PARA staff and several commissioners were present, including Mayor Wilda Diaz, Chairperson. The meeting began will all aforementioned parties expressing their sincere and “bittersweet” thanks to Helga Van Eckert, who held several positions in the City’s government, and who recently tendered her resignation. Ms. Van Eckert has accepted a new position in Florida. She was presented with a lovely bouquet of flowers in appreciation for her years of service.

The next item on the meeting’s agenda was the Bill List, which totaled $63,000 from 10/5/11 to 2/7/12. Ms. Van Eckert, in her role as Executive Director, gave the following report: First, Bunzl Distribution has moved into the Perth Amboy Business Park on the Matrix site. Second, a green engineering firm will be demolishing and remediating some property on 2nd St., with the intention of building new offices and moving in. The property is owned by Hampshire Properties. They are seeking design approval for a project that will be powered by solar energy.

In his report, City Attorney Mr. Maraziti mentioned that a review of the contract with Viridian energy will take place in closed session. City Engineer Tom Herits also stated that his report on the Viridian situation will take place in closed session.

The public portion of the meeting began with Ken Balut, City Council President, asking why PARA was not suing the developer JBW for contract violation. This developer transferred ownership of a piece of city property to developer European Homes, without informing the City. A substantial amount of legal fees have been incurred as a result of being caught between the two developers. City Attorney Maraziti stated that he would look into the matter.

Billy Delgado, a current Mayoral candidate next had a question concerning the Landings construction project. Mr. Delgado asked Ms. Van Eckert what role PARA had in the problems homeowners have faced with water leaks and faulty construction in their homes. Ms. Van Eckert responded that the matter was an warranty issue for homeowners to take up with the developer.

The Board President of one of the project’s buildings, Eric Horne, then spoke, pleading with the City to force the developer to take some action to remediate the ongoing problems homeowners have faced. Mr. Maraziti stated the PARA has no legal role in this matter. Landings Board Member Neil Hunter stated the PARA has a moral obligation to support the Landings residents in the myriad difficulties they are facing, as well as make the best decision on the project’s future for all of Perth Amboy.

Regarding the completion of the project, which has stalled, Mayor Diaz stated, “Conversations are taking place on designs; designs which do not financially hurt the City.” Recent comments made by Jared Kushner, son of the developer in charge of the Landings project Charles Kushner, would seem to contradict the City’s position on the project. Jared Kushner, in remarks to the Star Ledger, stated the plans for completing the Landings project, “have been submitted, will create jobs, tax revenues and revitalize the waterfront.” He also stated that the plans are “shovel ready, with financing in place.”

City Attorney Maraziti stated that there had been no meeting of the minds on the Landings project and that many questions remained. He also stated that Mr. Kushner had submitted not one piece of additional information on the completion of the project since providing conceptual drawings last August.

by Tracy Jordan

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