PERTH AMBOY – Jorge Sanchez (Asst. Criminal Div. Mgr. Pre- trial Svc.) discussed new laws regarding how low offense defenders will be treated. Sanchez stated, “In 2014, 82% of New Jersey approved this new law.”
He went on to explain the steps taken when summonses are issued for low level offenses. “The defendant is given a court date and a bench warrant is issued if they don’t show up for that court date. If their is a complaint warrant, that person goes directly to Middlesex County Jail and they can be held up to 48 hours and then released on certain conditions. Some of the conditions may include: electronic monitors, contact by phone or a visit by us in person. We have to make sure that they appear in court and do not commit any further offenses when they are out. We make sure they rebuild their lives through counseling and other resources. Another aspect of this law is a Pre-trial Attendance Motion. The Prosecutor will determine if everything is in place. Depending on the infractions, the defendants may spend more time in jail. We monitor until the case is heard, then dismiss if permissible. Another program includes a Detention Motion granted. Their case must be heard within 90 days. They can be held in jail until that time. Our office averages about 10 of these cases a day.We make recommendations to the judge on each individual case. It might take us from 45 minutes to 2 hours to present these cases. We are the first State to have an automated system. In case the computers go down, we have all the information available to do by hand. It will just take longer. These new rules take effect for anyone who was arrested or charged from January 1, 2017. Some of the factors we take into consideration includes the age at the time of the offense. There are no attorneys on our staff. We have court service officers who can handle drug screening/referrals and to see who is eligible for a Public Defender. If you would like to see actual proceedings taking place, you may go into the website of njcourts.gov/virtual on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. Motor Vehicle Violations and Disorderly Conduct Offenses are not eligible for this program and they will not be going to jail.”
The next topic of discussion was an update on the Remediation Site of St. Demetrios Hall on Sadowski Parkway.
Candice Baker from Langan Engineering came up to speak. She stated, “The site contains petroleum contamination. Elizabethtown Gas has to clean the site. My company has worked on at least 50 similar sites. All the contractors working are licensed and vetted. The contaminations are under St. Demetrios Church Hall Property. We’ll have to destroy the building. We’re also removing underground oil tanks. We talked to Code Enforcement, the Engineers and the Police Department about the plans. We will hold public meetings and have a hotline set up. There will be signage indicating that this site has an environmental cleanup going on. A Security Guard will be onsite and the water supply will be protected. Because of the digging and the compacting materials, tents will be erected covering the site. Part of Sadowski Parkway will have to be excavated. These tents will also control the dust, noise and any odors. Odor suppressing foam will be used and the air quality will be monitored. We’re working under the MCIU and DEP guidelines. All the City sites we dig up will be returned to their original forms. Public meetings will be advertised in newspapers and other media sites.”
At this point Stephen Cooke of Elizabethtown Gas came up to speak, “We have our mailings with updates. We also have gone door to door in the past. We can do certified mail and all notices will be in English and Spanish.”
After Cooke made his statement, Councilman Fernando Gonzalez had some harsh words: “Your credibility with me is zero. I will be on top of this situation. I want to make sure you guys don’t come here to make presentations and don’t follow through. I’m concerned about the environmental history.”
Cooke responded, “The DEP requires us to remove contaminants and put in clean fill.”
Councilman Gonzalez mentioned all the streets that were dug up by Elizabethtown Gas and now are in horrible shape.
A spokeswoman from Elizabethtown Gas came up to speak to address Gonzalez’s concerns about the street conditions, “There is a 90 day resettlement period before we can go back to do final work.”
Business Administrator Adam Cruz then made some remarks, “We (the City) have shut down Elizabethtown Gas operations as of February 2, 2017 because of the road conditions existing now. We can’t wait a couple of months to have patches done on our roads. We need to have these roads looked at in a couple of days.”
The Elizabethtown Gas Representative answered, “We will look at the situation.”
Next up were Representatives from the E-Port Logistics Center. They were put on the hot seat by Councilmen Jelmin Caba and Fernando Gonzalez. They were concerned about the square foot cost of the buildings.
The City Appraiser came up to answer these questions. He told them the advantages of having a PILOT Program. The PILOT Program is $3.30 per square foot will be the tax burden. The rental will be $8.00 per square foot. The City will receive $2.40 per square foot. Without the PILOT, the tax burden will be $3.30 per square foot, but the City will only receive $1.90 per square foot.”
Councilman Jelmin Caba questioned the amount of the permanent jobs. “They stated there will be 650.”
The Representatives from E-Port stated, “The first big building that goes up will have 100 jobs. When other buildings go up, there will be at least 500-600 additional full time jobs going up.”
The last topic for discussion was the Thomas Mundy Peterson Project.
Pastor Amos Dickerson from the St. James AME Zion Church came up to speak. The first thing he did was mention the Bill of Rights banner hanging up the Council Chamber and read the words: “We will be commemorating on March 31 a ceremony of the historic vote in the Council Chambers.” He mentioned 3 proposals, one which included commemorating Thomas Mundy Peterson in City Hall and on the outside. “Where are we on these projects?”
Mel Knight who is an officer of the NAACP came up to speak and mentioned about a possible plaque going up in City Hall, a monument on the outside and then a dig. “You (the Council) can control what goes on in the building. I went around to different places to see how much a plaque would cost. “Shevchenko Monuments was one of them, but I could not present myself a representative of any organization The Thomas Mundy Peterson Property is on Kushner Property. The statue should be in town. We want the property adjacent to Kushner’s to put the monument on it. Who has the definitive authority to make a decision?”
Council President Bill Petrick spoke up and said, “One person can’t make that decision. The NAACP, the HPC and any groups that are interested can form a committee that can determine what should be done.”
Knight responded, “We have been sent around the mulberry bush. This should have been done years ago.”
Councilman Fernando Gonzalez stated, “I have been in this town close to 50 years and I’ve heard about Thomas Mundy Peterson then. We have a Duarte Park because an organization had the power and money to get it done. Get a petition together. It ain’t gonna happen with this Mayor or Council to get it done.”
Councilman Fernando Irizarry spoke next and wondered, “Who gets the final word about who can authorize High and Commerce Street property for a Thomas Mundy Peterson statue?”
At this point, Resident and HPC Chair Reinaldo Aviles came up to speak, “We have given the City what we have. There are 3 things that we are working on: 1.) The dig – The County secured the funds and are working with Gordon Bond. Kushner is preventing us from doing the dig. The site should be a commemorative and it would be easy to put a monument on that site. 2.) The Council Chambers should be named after Peterson with the plaque. There is $7,000 set aside for this. This is an American issue. We should be very proud to celebrate this. In any other town this would have been done already. A bust would cost at least $30,000. I encourage everyone to be at the next HPC Meeting. 3.) I would like to have this done before March 31st. If you start another committee, it’s just going to slow things down. We would like to make a presentation on all of our projects and I would like to see a statue. In my opinion, it would be quicker to put a statue in front of City Hall. The lots where the Mundy Peterson House should be kept intact.”
Resident John Dyke who has also produced several documentaries about the history of Perth Amboy came up to speak, “Six years ago, I got involved with the Thomas Mundy Peterson Site. Myself and the Former Chair of the HPC, Bill Pavlovsly surveyed the property with Kushner’s permission. I support having the plaque and the statue.” He then asked those in attendance if they knew who the second African-American to vote was.
When there was no response, he gave the answer: “Marcus Curless voted a few minutes after Peterson. He lived in Perth Amboy with his family who were involved with the Underground Railroad at Eagleswood. While other communities were trying to stop Black Americans from voting, the good people of Perth Amboy encouraged it.”
Dyke also said, “In 3 years, it will be 150 years that Thomas Mundy Peterson voted in this place (The Council Chambers).
Councilman Joel Pabon was not present at the 2/6/17 Caucus.