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Energy Savings, Thomas Mundy Peterson, PILOT Programs Discussed

1/23/17 Caucus

PERTH AMBOY – Two Representatives from Honeywell (Joseph J. Coscia and Salvatore Corcione) spoke to the Council on how the City would benefit in the long run from (ESIP- Energy Savings Improvement Program).

Councilman Fernando Irizarry had a question regarding the Public Safety Complex, “There are no switches to turn off the lights there.”

Coscia stated, “There has to be circuit-breakers or time clocks to shut off the lights. You’re looking at 500 tubes in the City. It will not pay to install sensors in any non-occupied building. The Energy Savings Improvement Program is a 15 year term. The Resolution calls for the amount of money to be spent for this program of not more than $2,500,000.”

Coscia continued, “We’ve done about 20 of these projects in the State and most of the Cities had a 35% reduction in their energy bill. A lot of these projects are still in the implementation stage. We haven’t had any complaints about any of the projects in place now.”

Councilman Irizarry asked about any change orders.

The Honeywell Representative responded, “We put in design allowances and are responsible for overcharges. The City can purchase a guarantee that runs $25,000 annually.”

Members of the Council requested that Representatives from Honeywell come back to answer any further questions during the 1/25/17 Regular Council Meeting.

Thomas Mundy Peterson Project was discussed next. Councilman Irizarry requested that it be put on the agenda. Irizarry stated, “The Historic Preservation Commission has shown me the information that has already been given to the Mayor.”

Business Administrator  Adam Cruz stated, “The item commemorating Thomas Mundy Peterson for this room (Council Chambers) is money the HPC had left over from their budget.”

Councilman Bill Petrick said, “The item that’s for inside City Hall can be expedited.”

At this point HPC Vice-Chair Renee Skelton came up to speak, “It’s a City-wide project, not just what the HPC can do on its own. Our Resolution supports some things that we want done. The statue that is to be placed on the outside site has to be done by the City. We have $3,000 from the Middlesex County Commissioners to do an excavation on the Kushner site. It’s up to the City as to where to place the statue. I’m speaking for myself and not for the Commission.”

Councilman Irizarry was frustrated and said, “We’re going around in circles.”

Skelton responded, “We have subcommittees for certain HPC projects.”

Irizarry again showed his frustrated, “Until a final decision is made, nothing can be done. It’s got to be done by the Mayor or the Council.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke up and suggested that we invite all interested parties to come before the Council to get this done. “We’ve been talking about the Thomas Mundy Peterson Project for four years.”

Irizarry said, “This is City property which is not owned by Kushner.”

B.A. Cruz responded, “I’ve met with individuals last week about the Thomas Mundy Peterson Project and the Mayor wants to name the new County Park after Peterson.”

Council President Petrick said, “I would like to see a depiction of the plaque to be hung in City Hall.”

The next topic for discussion was about the PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) Program for the Bridgeport Project.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez said, “I’m not saying we shouldn’t do this, but we’re taking money from the Board of Education and the County  if we accept this PILOT (E-Port) Program.”

Council President Petrick commented, “Viridian purchased this property (Brownfield) to clean it up for resale. At the time, Viridian said they would not turn it into a PILOT. Now another company comes in and wants to turn it into a PILOT.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry remembered differently, “That company (Bridgeport) came here before and said they would be asking for a PILOT.”

Councilman Gonzalez said, “I would like to see an analysis from other towns (where Bridgeport has built). We are in a much better location than other towns.”

Petrick suggested, “It may be best if we have one of our own people do the analysis.”

Irizarry reasoned, “It comes down to what the rent will be. That will determine if a company wants to stay or go elsewhere.”

Petrick spoke again and said, “Proximity is a big factor.”

Irizarry had another point of view. “In other towns, the companies that did PILOTs actually helped the school systems.”

Councilman Gonzalez concern was, “Our municipal tax is higher than other towns. People are not moving here because of high taxes, bad roads and the school system. We haven’t had a reevaluation in a while.”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz responded, “Reevaluations are done after a certain number of years and it’s not our time yet.”

During the Public Portion, Residents came up to comment about some of the items on the topics for discussion.

Resident Maria Garcia said, “When the Bridge Project first came up before the Planning Board, it was great, but I agree with Fernando Gonzalez. Everything is based on location. They take into consideration tolls and gas. We are in a perfect location, especially with our waterways.”

Garcia also questioned, “Is it a conflict of interest for a person to be on the Planning and Zoning Boards?” She also questioned the proposal made by Honeywell, “There has to be a disposable project in place when dealing with LED lights. It’s a hazmat issue.”

Resident Jeremy Baratta questioned the PILOT project., “It’s at the foot of High Street and close to all of the major airports. In Carteret the truck drivers are limited to what roads they can travel on.”

He also had comments about the Thomas Mundy Peterson Project, “The issues of the budget and funding should be addressed. Make the property imminent domain.”

Resident Stanley Sierakowski came up to speak next. He spoke about the PILOT Program, “The assessment would be $147 million in it’s 25th year. You can restructure a PILOT Program. Hoboken did it.”

Resident Ken Balut came up  next. He held up a newspaper that had a press release from the Administration addressing E-Port, “There’s not one word in the release about this being a PILOT Program.”

He then mentioned the baseball fields on Convery Boulevard. “You should ask about the guarantee for the lighting. People complain about money spent on the Council having a lawyer. What about the YMCA? The Mayor got a subpena to testify at the Kushner trial. That Peterson Project should have been done eight years ago. Kushner mentioned something about that property before.”

Balut continued, “There’s nothing in the paper about crime in the City.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry asked Balut, “Do you read about crime in other papers? And do people in other towns discuss crime in their cities at their Council Meetings?”

Balut came back, “You try to hide everything. It has nothing to do about the image of the City. There was a shooting on Penn  Street and Burglaries in the City.”

Irizarry shot back, “You should know better. Did your campaign (in 2008) take money from Kushner and Trump?”

Resident Alan Silber came up to speak next. He asked Councilman Irizarry, “You said we should not report crime because it would tarnish the City? People are buying property and don’t know the value of it. Billionaires are asking Perth Amboy to give them a break. Stop giving the City away.”

Resident and Business Owner Susan Batista came up to speak and mentioned the crime in the City, “I listen to crime being reported in Woodbridge all the time and get alerts from them. Everything here is silent. All we get are road closures and not crime reports. When you announce closed sessions, you have to be more specific about the items to be discussed. I also heard that the Tax Assessor left.”

Council President Bill Petrick responded, “Yes, she left for a job in Edison.”

Mayor Wilda Diaz came up to speak about a Resolution where she made an appointment of Jelmin Caba and Lissette Martinez to the Redevelopment Agency. “The Resolutions were not attached. No one told me that my appointments were going to be pulled off.”’

She then talked about PILOTs. “Many Municipalities have them. Sometimes location is just not enough. Have all the professionals come back (for more discussions). This specific PILOT Program was discussed months ago. They have made a huge investment – over $100 million. These sites are not going to generate students. We’re working aggressively with Gerdau Ameristeel. The residents are going to benefit. Hundreds of jobs are being created. Have them come back (people asking for PILOTs). Blighted buildings have come down. Fernando Gonzalez asked to meet with me. I’m here to serve the public and work with the Council.”

Councilman Jelmin Caba had comments to make. He congratulated the twelve new Police Officers that were recently sworn in. “They are much needed, especially with burglaries being committed.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez asked Interim Law Director Judy Verrone when she was appointed.

She answered, “January 4, 2017.”

Gonzalez continued, “After your 90 days are over, can the administration appoint another Interim Attorney from your firm for another 90 days?”

Verrone answered, “Under your ordinance, the Mayor can do so.”

Gonzalez answered back, “We (the Council) need our own full time attorney. In the meantime, we need to know your schedule.”

Verrone responded, “You can get me on my cell phone or through e-mail anytime.”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz told the Council, “This Law Firm (DeCotiis) has saved the City more money than other law firms the City has employed.”

Council President Bill Petrick had comments to make, “We have lost a lot of our Police Officers to other towns after we had trained them.”

Acting Police Chief Roman MeKeon came up and said, “That is because we trained them really well, but we are not going to lose them to other towns much longer. (Hinting incentives to keep them in Perth Amboy)”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz said, “Three more Police Officers will be sworn in next week (week of 1/30/17).”

Councilman Joel Pabon was not present at the Meeting.

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Perth Amboy Calendar

WED. March 22

• City Council, Regular, 7 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

THURS. March 30

• State of the City Address, 6 p.m.
Public Safety Municipal Complex Auditorium, Raritan Bay YMCA Entrance, 357 New Brunswick Ave.

THURS. March 31

• Historic Preservation Commission, 7 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

All Meetings are at City Hall, High Street unless otherwise noted.
Stay informed! Attend public meetings. All are welcome!

South Amboy Calendar

WED. Mar. 22

• Planning Board, 7 p.m.
City Hall, North Broadway

WED. April 5

• City Council, Business, 6 p.m.
City Hall, North Broadway

Stay informed! Attend public meetings. All are welcome!