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Pay to Play; Boys & Girls Club; Street Cleaning and the YMCA Take Center Stage

4/25/16 Perth Amboy Caucus

PERTH AMBOY – Planning Board Attorney Joseph A. Marrazzo was a last minute addition to the 4/25/16 Agenda. He was there to talk about the Pay to Play Ordinance. He stated that it’s an impediment, and improvements can be made to strengthen it. He was especially concerned how this would impact redevelopment projects. Furthermore he stated, “As it stands now, it prohibits anyone who made a political contribution of $300 an up for doing a redevelopment project. Your ordinance dates from the 1990’s. We looked at Pay to Play Laws from seven different municipalities. Some that he mentioned included: Newark, Woodbridge and Monroe Township. He further stated: This is not a legal issue, but a policy issue. This may further disqualify those who own property in the City.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez

Council President Lisa Nanton asked, “What year this ordinance was put on the books?”

Marrazzo answered, “It was 2008, but the economy has changed and this is why this issue is being addressed now.”

Annie Hindenlang came up to put further input into the discussion. “This ordinance prohibits any contributions. More people want to develop in town and this ordinance is not favorable to those developers who are already in town.”

Marrazzo also stated, “Your ordinance has a redevelopment section. You have the flexibility. It’s different for the Mayor versus what it says for the Council Members.”

During the public comments, Resident Ken Balut said, “The Pay to Play Ordinance should be changed the election.”

Resolutions R-211 and R-213 included the rental of City Property (the Brighton Avenue Community Center) to the Boys and Girls Club.

Department of Recreation Director Kenny Oritz came up to discussed this matter. He said: “The Brighton Avenue Community Center is being used by the club.”

At that point, Lisa Nanton had a question, “I hear that the public bathrooms were a problem in the community center and the Boys and Girls Club were not allowed to use them.”

Oritz said that would look into this and present some proposals. “I understand there’s a lot of activity in that area. We are looking at a one year lease and the Boys and Girls Club are looking at another place to use instead of Brighton Avenue.”

Steve Jobin YMCA President & CEO

Steve Jobin
YMCA President & CEO

After Kenny Ortiz spoke, Tashilee Vasquez MPA. Chief Professional Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy came up to speak. She stated the importance of passing the resolutions. “The National affiliation needs to show that we are a true partnership and affiliate with the City so that we can be chartered nationally. The Boys and Girls Club were chartered in this City in 2007. We have serviced over 7000 children in that timeframe. There are 51 children that we serve from the First to Eighth Grades. Some of our programs include job training, recreational, academic, arts, healthy living, etc. We are more than one-stop shop.  All of our employees are from Perth Amboy. We lost some of our funding. That’s why we stopped using schools and we’re looking to go to the Board of Education with some proposals. We still have latch-key kids. We have been using Brighton Avenue and the Charter School Facilities. They provide the children that go there with breakfast and lunch. During the summer, we serve 120 children.”

Next topic for discussion: Alternate Side of the Street Parking. This was subject requested to be put on the Agenda by Councilman Fernando Irizarry. Irizarry asked the Business Administrator to look into alternate side of the street parking so that all residents can have their streets cleaned.

Law Director Arlene Quinones responded to this, “There’s not too much in the present ordinance.”

Deputy Police Chief Larry Cattano came up to add to this discussion. He stated, “There are statures in place for emergencies for street cleaning.”

Irizarry questioned if additional resources would be needed.

Cattano responded back, “We rotate cleaning in different areas of town. We will need additional manpower.”

Councilman Bill Petrick added, “Every street will need signage for alternate side of the street parking.”

Cattano remarked back, “We may just need to have signs posted.”

Councilman Irizarry was adamant about this subject when he stated, “We need every street cleaned once a week and if necessary cars would have to be towed.” This was in response to a remark that Petrick had made earlier about having cars towed when the streets were being cleaned.

Law Director Arlene Quinones said, “The ordinance may need to be updated.”

Bill Petrick spoke after Quinones’ comment, “I’m looking at what the additional cost will be.”

Department of Public Works Director Frank Hoffman made a couple of observations, “We have a sweeper, but we don’t go to the curb. Every street is cleaned at least once a month and the Police have to be present when this is done. We have two large sweepers that will be coming with additional manpower. Police need to be there if cars have to be towed.”

Irizarry spoke again and said, “We need to get more streets done. It’s not fair. All of us deserve to have cleaner streets. I think the towing is going to be a problem.”

Council President Lisa Nanton said, “The problem will be with people not having a place to park their cars when the streets are being cleaned.”

R-204-4/16 Authorizing the proper City Officials to execute a second amended service agreement between the City of Perth Amboy and the Raritan Bay Area Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) for use and operation of the community center and transfer by the YMCA to the City of Perth Amboy of 183 Jefferson Street property.

Council President Lisa Nanton had a question relating to the YMCA Building on New Brunswick Avenue. She wanted to know who is responsible for the cleaning.

Danny Cleaver from the Department of Public Works came up to answer this question, “Once a year, the exterior and interior windows are cleaned for a total of $8000 a year. This is the contract.”

Law Director Quinones also said, “The YMCA can do minor alterations without the City’s consent. For any major alterations that they have to do, the Y will send a certified letter to the City which we would have to respond to in 30 days. The Y can also do required alterations and deduct the cost of those alterations from the monthly fee that they owe the City.”

Council President Lisa Natnon said she would rather have the YMCA bill us separately for any alternations instead of them deducting that cost from the monthly payments to the City. I want a separation of those two to be made.”

YMCA CEO Steven Jobin came forward to explain what a minor alteration would be under (for instance, lockers).

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke about the monthly cost of operating the YMCA. “We were told it’s $32,000/month.”

Law Director Quinones said, “The utility bills alone cost between $22,000/mo to $28,000/mo alone.”

Fernando Gonzalez then stated, “I was a landlord and I wouldn’t rent my properties at a lost.”

Law Director Quinones then came back and stated, “The Y’s contract was negotiated in 2007 with the prior administration. It’ wasn’t the best contract.”

CEO Steve Jobin responded to some of the statements made, “Every Perth Amboy family gets a $120 discount. We are engaging them in a healthier lifestyle. The Fire Department does some of the training there. City Employees get a discounted rate. 85% are family memberships that subsidize at no cost. I’m glad that the Boys and Girls Club is using the Brighton Avenue Community Center. $8700 is paid on a monthly basis to the City. This is a partnership that was a contract with the City.”

As soon as Jobin finished that statement, Gonzalez said, “I haven’t seen a true audit.”

Jobin stated, “I had sent information to Fehrenbach (Former B.A.) The Runyan Water Shed Property was used for outdoor sports activities. The City sold that property and we need another site for these activities. We can see if we can change the wording in the contract.”

After Jobin spoke, Law Director Arlene Quinones asked the Council, “Let me know what wording would make you more comfortable.”

Councilman Bill Petrick had a couple of concerns. He stated, “There are many organizations utilizing the beaches for activities. I don’t want the Y restricting other organizations using the beach.”

Law Director Quinones cautioned the Council, “We are entering into our second amended agreement.”

Council President Nanton said, “We should have a certain section of the street for the Y kids.”

Councilman Petrick stated, “I don’t think anyone should have any exclusive right to any part of the beach.”

Y CEO Steven Jobin wanted to make one thing clear when stating: “This will not be limited to students, but to members of the Y and the community in general. We (the YMCA) have a committee that will review your suggestions at our next meeting.”

Council President Lisa Nanton reminded Jobin that she just wants to have a separation of the monthly bills that the Y pays to the City, separated from the bills that the Y presents for alterations.

Concluding his remarks Jobin said, “I commend everyone involved such as Kenny Ortiz and others who keep our members and visitors happy.”

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