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Not Buying It: Concerns About Trust, Losing Part of City’s History

 Also Population Density  6/14/16 PARA Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – Residents of the City showed their support for the homeowners of the Landings Complex a the 6/14/16 PARA Meeting.

Kushner Representatives came back to present a revised plan for the proposed Sea Gate Development and how they will reduce the number of units.

Planning Board Member Christine Dispenziere

Planning Board Member
Christine Dispenziere

In spite of this, those present in the audience were not buying this. Council President Lisa Nanton said, “The City’s infrastructure can’t support this (development).  It looks like a tenement. I don’t trust your credibility. You would not present anything like this to Staten Island, Sayreville or South Amboy. This is not a Victorian Look. Our property values are already low.”

Landings Resident and planning Board Member Christine Dispenziere came up to speak. “Kushner presented us with a beautiful development (the Landings) and failed. I’m embarrassed about our property. The only value is the water (Waterfront area). I don’t know how you (PARA) had allowed this. You can’t trust him. The Landings is falling apart. How can you give them the courage to even show them? They can’t even built their properties here. They took our (Landings Home Owners) money and ran. The Landings has poor construction and it’s not what we paid for. When we have high winds and rainstorms we get floods. I paid a lot of money for my unit. Kushner has money but spent it in New York. Fix our properties first. The Waterfront is the last of our jewels. Do you (PARA) want Sea Gate built and have the same problems as the Landings? South Amboy and other places are building with home ownership.”

Resident Alan Silber came to show his support to the Landings owners. Silber stated “This Meeting should have been held at the Landings location, and the original Landings Presentation should have been shown. Kushner blames the economy. This is all make believe. It’s an unstable world. Nobody in Perth Amboy will approve this plan. Between 2000 and 2013 the home sales are down in Perth Amboy by  18%.”

PA-HPC Member Anna Daily

PA-HPC Member
Anna Daily

Historic Preservation Chair and Resident Reinaldo Aviles had concerns about one of the historic sites. He disagreed about slow home sales in Perth Amboy. Houses are being sold left and right in Perth Amboy. Our concern (the PA-HPC) with the plan is that Thomas Mundy Peterson (First Black Person to ever vote under the 15th Amendment who lived in Perth Amboy) house was located there. The Historic Preservation Commission is requesting that there be a dig on that site to check for any historical artifacts. The parcel we’re talking about isn’t very large. We request that piece not be touched to commemorate it. We have lost a lot of history and don’t want to lose that. We’re happy that Kushner will look at that historic value.”

Resident and Councilman Fernando Gonzalez had some concerns. He stated, “Someone said they think this (Seagate Community) is a done deal. The (City’s) Master Plan no longer exists. Instead of asking people what they want, developers do whatever they want. Everything has been changed from ownership to rental. We are the dumping ground and they are cuddling him (Kushner). This administration must deal part of the property that belongs to us. They never closed on the $4 million that they were supposed to buy from us. We lost over 10 years of taxes owed on that property. Redevelopment should be for the benefit of the citizens. Don’t sell yourself to Kushner.”

Concerned Members of the Audience

Concerned Members of the Audience

Resident and HPC Member Anna Daily came up to speak. “My request is a citizen and  a member of the community that is concerned about the Thomas Mundy Peterson Property. Peterson voted in this building (City Hall). It’s embarrassing that Perth Amboy doesn’t have a statue commemorating Thomas Mundy Peterson. I’m appealing on behalf of the Community that Mr. Kushner should donate the Peterson Property.”

Resident Mel Knight who is also the Vice-President of the Perth Amboy NAACP spoke about the historical value of Perth Amboy. Besides the Peterson site, she mentioned Eagleswood. (The historic progressive school which taught both sexes and all races. See documentary by John K. Dyke or Stories From Perth Amboy by Katherine Massopust) “You should want to make this happen. The plan is nice, but where is the history? To sell it for a buck? I’m a descendant of slaves. The NAACP wants to see something historical happen on the Thomas Mundy Peterson Site.”

Next to speak was Planning Board Chair Maria Garcia. She wondered, “How many people were expected to live in the plan that was first presented? Have you thought about the overcrowding? We need to slow it down and think about how we need to progress. Reduce the size. No rentals. Maybe single family home or townhouses. The town is not that big and we are on top of each other. You represent us and not the builders. We will suffer and pay.”

A Landings Homeowner came up to speak next and stated, “This plan scares the hell out of me. I love the scenery, but the buildings are falling apart at the Landings. Not many places have a vantage point (the view). We need more of a police presence. I constantly have to pull glass out of my dog’s paws.”

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Representatives from Kushner firm.

Resident Maria Vera wondered, “Where are we going to park if this is built? Teachers have to park far away from where the schools are. We can’t find parking at the Waterfront and we can’t breathe. 30,000 people surround each other. Put a playground or museum there. People that are moving into town are not improving our quality of life. We work hard. Why are they destroying our town? We care. They don’t. We have to live with it every single day.”

A Landings Resident who is a Board Member in the Bayview Building urged the PARA Members to look at the previous video. “I bought my unit in 2007. There are so many discrepancies. They are smiling because they ripped us off.”

The next person who came up to speak was Steve Nascimento who is a homeowner in Harbortown and a Planning Board Member. “We have our Homeowner’s Association as well. I have been here  for 10 years and our property values have gone down. Most of the Harbortown units are rentals. I urge you to reject the new complex. Be cautious.”

Another Landing Resident came forward and just bluntly said, “We’ve been coming here for 10 years. The last piece of nice property will be destroyed. Do the right thing – no rentals. Property must be bought.”

Resident Brian Bonilla was concerned as a parent, “They (Kushner) had their chance. They blew it. One of my children has to be bussed to a school in Fords because of overcrowding.”

One of the representatives from Kushner Enterprises came up to speak regarding the Landings Residents’ complaints, “Kushner Companies does care and they want to fix the homeowners properties, but they will not let us onto the  properties.”

Another Resident suggested, “In the meantime the property can be used as a Farmer’s Market or Flea Market until you decide what you want to do. Let the people of Perth Amboy use the space in the meantime.”

Daisy Gonzalez who is an owner in the Admiral Building said, “We have been in litigation for 10 years and Kushner’s engineers and inspectors have seen the property. They know the problems.”

Mayor Diaz who is also the Chair of PARA stated, “We will have a sit-down with Kushner. Not every Board Member has the history of the Landings. We are working on projects to bring rateable’s to the City. We need to have people in the transit area to support local small businesses. We are having community meetings and our City Directors are there to be available to meet with those attending. She told the Landings Residents, “We can meet with you on your site. We will go back to Kushner with all your concerns. Kushner will help out with the Mundy site which is historic here and to the Country.”

PARA Member Geri Bolonowski questioned how they were going to reduce the number of units.

The Kushner Representative said, “Some of the one bedroom units will be converted to two bedroom units.”

PARA Member Elaine Jasko had concerns about the density. “There was a default of the previous contract. As far as the infrastructure, we are not capable of this additional density. There are other projects that were approved. City Services concerns me. Harry Pozycki of the Citizen’s Campaign and those in Perth Amboy that belong to the group should be sent the Sea Gate plan.”

PARA Member Joel Rosa said, “We should have the questions and answers posted on the website.”

During the second public portion Reinaldo Aviles came up to speak again. “We should demand that a portion of the construction jobs from the Developers be given to the Residents.”

When Resident Mel Knight came up to speak again, she challenged the Board. “I want you to be accountable about preserving the historic sites. I need to be told publicly and not by word of mouth. The Peterson Site needs to be preserved for the entire country to see.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke about other rentals on Hobart Street and the Five Corners. He wanted to know what attorneys from the DeCotiis firm were representing PARA at this Meeting. He also requested, “When the community event takes place at the Landings, please answer the questions in front of the crowd.”

Mayor Diaz stated, “When we have Community Meetings, we (myself and Directors present) want to give people individual attention to a specific problem.”

Resident Alan Silber posed a question to PARA Member Joel Pabon, “Mr. Pabon, why would people think this is a new project? Just walk down Rector Street and look at the road conditions. It looks like World War II. See the garbage and broken glass. The Kushner Property is a dump. Have you all looked back there? That’s why people are coming here, because they think it’s a done deal.”

Christine Dispenziere encouraged the new PARA Members to look at the original plans and videos for the Landings.”

Near the end of the Meeting, Mayor Diaz said, “Anyone can follow up with our Executive Director Annie Hindenlang for any additional question that you may have. The Kushner Representatives came back to answer your concern from the last meeting.”

Anna Daily told the PARA Members, “Let us know the outcome of these negotiations. The elections are coming up. This property (Thomas Mundy Peterson) Parcel should be gifted to us (the City.)

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MON. Jan 22
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4:30 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

WED. Jan 24
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THURS. Jan 25
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