Geoff Elkind Candidate for Ward E City Council
Jersey City’s autonomous agencies do not appear to function independent of undue influence from City Hall. I believe that no city official or employee should sit on any board of an autonomous agency because of the serious potential for conflicts of interest. If the board composition and structure can’t be changed to ensure real independence and fair representation from each ward, the agencies should be abolished.
should Liberty State Park be developed within the next ten years?
should not be intensively developed at all. Consistent with the earlier
expressed wishes of former Governor Whitman,
LSP should remain as open greenspace. I would only support for low or
limited activity uses within Liberty State Park, which preserve and protect the
remaining open greenspace, and I further support a ban on the further
commercialization of Liberty State Park. Limited activity uses would include
also restoring Camp Liberty and fixing or building a new swimming pool for the
benefit of JC children and residents – not for out of town tourists.
We under utilize the internet within city government today. There are several areas where internet technology could be introduced without great cost:
though the creation of a centralized customer service
system. Such a system would track constituent requests for city service and the
quality of the city’s response – enhancing accountability and performance.
You shouldn’t have to wait until City Hall is open during business hours to
make a complaint or a request for service.
access to city information empowers people
– All the city’s ordinances, regulations and meeting agendas should be
available on-line, for free – and not for a fee.
which would provide easier access for routine permit and license applications,
etc. and handling payments, etc, to name a few ideas.
need to Manage Growth & Development Responsibly.
We have not been doing this!
need real planning with a capital “P”
immediately -- not four years from now! Ward E’s future quality of life will
be determined, in large part, by the development site plans reviewed during the
next four years by the City Planning Department and Planning Board. The current
“we’ll take whatever comes along" approach must stop.
Future planning and development needs to be more pedestrian friendly with
more street level retail and more open space.
The composition of the Planning Board, Board of Adjustments, and especially, the
Historic Commission should be more reflective of the interests Jersey City’s
residential communities, rather than real estate commercial interests. These
Boards need to exercise greater oversight over the quality of the applications
submitted and focus on ensuring compliance with applicable ordinances. This is
not happening today.
Public Access to Information.
The public has a role to play in policy making and in the development process. I
will increase public access to vital city information so you can act from an
informed position and fully participate in the decision making process. Using
Internet email and websites, I will seek to make available relevant board
agendas, ordinances and other information available for free – and not for a
fee. Today, the City treats public
input and participation as a problem to be avoided. I see it as part of the
solution and will do everything I can to encourage it.
need a citywide Master “Traffic” Plan. A
comprehensive Traffic Circulation & Calming Plan will decrease congestion
and aid future site plan development. Presently, the traffic impact of
individual site plans is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as if they exist in
isolation. Compliance with a
citywide Master Traffic Plan would remove this problem.
Staff the Planning & Historic Preservation Departments.
Staffing in the Planning and Historic Preservation Departments should be
increased so they can perform their duties properly. The City’s reduction of
staffing during the past eight years has only helped expedite the processing of
real estate development applications at the expense of our communities and
quality of life.
transit must be the first and only option over more highways.
There should be no Bergen Arches highway. In fact, the City’s insistence on
maintaining a right of way for a Bergen Arches highway on 10th Street
has stymied a proposed contribution of 3 acres for additional greenspace!
balance and weigh the need for additional parking downtown.
The creation of additional parking for commuters must be de-emphasized as
it competes with mass transit alternatives. On the other hand, we need to
examine carefully whether there is a need for local, off-street, residential and
commercial parking facilities.
need to Develop Parks, Greenspace and Recreational Facilities as Necessities –
All Redevelopment Plans to the Master Plan – Create Greenspace Development
Specific provisions for greenspace development and incentives must be
incorporated, as best as possible, into all of Jersey City’s 58 redevelopment
plans, as the Master Plan requires. These plans govern development of 50% of the
available land in Jersey City and 75% of these areas are located in Ward E!
Nearly all of the waterfront areas of Ward E are within redevelopment plans.
If greenspace requirement provisions are not soon incorporated into these
plans, it will be too late to see adequate greenspace beyond what we have today.
greenspace and related facilities must be created for everyone.
Too many people are competing to use to little space and we are beginning to see
the impact of this crunch manifest itself in the debate between dog owners and
non-dog owners. Creating dog friendly areas or dog runs in appropriate areas in
and around our parks should also be a priority.
maintenance and creation must become a management and budget priority.
Better management of available staff and resources can make a big difference in
the quality and cleanliness of our parks, but only with pressure from City
Council. Additionally, we must more aggressively seek out and explore grant and
other alternative funding sources -- e.g., we've left millions of dollars of
available state funding on the table for the simple lack of making applications.
We need to make a concentrated effort to revive a centralized grants and
alternative funding process within City Hall for this and other purposes.
Need Effective Enforcement of Quality of Life Ordinances
Need a Commitment to Enforcement.
Jersey City just adopted a new comprehensive zoning ordinance. If the zoning
ordinance now has new “teeth,” it will have no “bite” without a
commitment to enforcement. The same can be said for all our quality of life
issues and ordinances and it’s not impossible. Staffing for full enforcement
can be self-funding and should be also a net source of additional revenue, if
it’s being done properly. It
simply requires the will of City Hall and the City Council to make it a
priority. Most of the problems and
issues we complain about stem directly from the lack of a commitment to
enforcement – we’ve already got most of the laws we need on the books!
individualized neighborhood quality of life plans.
Quality of life plans created with community and city input will help prioritize
problems and identify solutions on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.
With agency sign-off, it will also include specific measurable objectives
against which results and effectiveness can be measured.
It’s time to hold the city accountable.
affordable housing is a requirement to maintain a diverse downtown community.
It’s time for the city to review our affordable housing needs and to
adopt a plan that will provide for the creation and stabilization of quality
affordable, moderate and market rate housing.
rates and Bulk Lien Sales
a multi-year Jersey City Business Plan.
Jersey City’s financial situation will not improve until the City’s approach
to budget development shifts from a “crisis management” to a “business
planning” mode. If every business needs a plan, the corporate business of
Jersey City needs one, too. I would
advocate the creation of a multi-disciplinary development panel to create a
forward-looking business plan on a 3, 5 and 10-year basis. The plan should cover
all aspects vital to the success of a 21st Century Jersey City and
include participants from the arts, business, education, government and
financial institutions, among others.
Pursue Available Grant Funds.
We have needlessly left millions of dollars of available state and federal
funding on the table for the simple lack of making grant applications. We need
to make a concentrated effort to revive a centralized grants and alternative
funding office within City Hall for this and other purposes.
Lien Sales have never lived up to their promised potential and I would seek to
Ratables Lower Taxes.
We need to take more aggressive steps to lower our taxes by increasing our tax
the tax assessments of undeveloped waterfront properties.
Artificially low tax assessments encourage the warehousing of property and
encourage speculation. Bringing these tax assessments closer in line with market
values will either prompt the development or sale of the property. In either
case, we will realize higher ratables and bring in additional tax monies.
off ‘under water’ tax lien properties
– i.e., properties where the accumulated taxes and penalties exceed the fair
market value of the property and the cost of foreclosure. Auctioning
non-productive lien properties to the highest bidder would immediately place
these properties back into productive use and back also onto the tax roles.
Brownfield sites back on line through the use of State and Federal Government
policy reform is needed to ensure taxpayer fairness.
We have overused abatements in areas of the city where they are no longer
needed as development incentives and we have not wisely used the proceeds they
generate to develop much needed city infrastructure – e.g., parks, recreation
center, firehouses, schools, etc. Instead, the funds are being squandered to
plug operational budget deficits. More importantly, we are not adequately
auditing the underlying financial figures from developers to ensure that the
city and the taxpayers are receiving the best deal we are entitled to by law.
needs to be a clearly written tax abatement policy governing the rules of the
regarding abatements needs to be conducted more openly than it has been in the
are needed tools and we should make them work effectively again as incentives to
bring development to areas of the city where it is absent today – not the just
the underlying financials of previously granted abatements to ensure taxpayer
It’s the only way of knowing that we’re receiving what we’re legally
abatements only where there is a clearly defined benefit.
Abatements should be used only where there is a clearly defined linkage and
benefit to the taxpayers of Jersey City – e.g., job creation, senior citizen
or affordable housing, historic preservation, etc.
proceeds must be used also for the construction of capital improvements.
Funds derived from the abatement process should be earmarked, in part, for the
development of capital improvements – e.g. parks, community recreation
centers, firehouses, schools, etc.
City requires quality schools for everyone (Public, Parochial, Private, &
Schools deserve a chance to succeed as viable alternatives, as well.
will work to create a new educational partnership program with parents, schools
and businesses. We
need to ensure that our schools teach the skills needed to access the jobs being
created along the waterfront.
will seek to open our schools for after-hours recreation for children and
are not fully utilizing the recreational resources already available to us and
us why you're the best candidate to lead Jersey City into the 21st
am running for City Council because there is a direct connection between the
quality of the people you elect and the quality of life you get. We simply
can’t afford the “same old” – “same old” approach to city
government. We need to bring “new
skills” to City Hall -- not just new faces or old ones repackaged.
am an attorney and public policy consultant with a demonstrated commitment to
public service. As a US Government Enforcement Attorney, I have successfully
prosecuted white-collar crime and financial fraud. As a US Foreign Aid Advisor
in Russia and Ukraine, I delivered concrete results in some of the world’s
worst managed, most corrupt countries.
know how government works and I know how our laws can be enforced efficiently
and effectively. I understand budgets and know what it takes to create and
manage them properly. More
importantly, I know there’s a better way to get things done and I’ve
demonstrated this at home here in Jersey City, as well as abroad.
have successfully fought to curb excessive development and to protect our
Historic neighborhoods. I am passionate about creating new opportunities for
parks, greenspace and recreational areas in downtown Jersey City and have
consistently worked for better zoning, better planning, and an improved quality
of life in our residential neighborhoods.
your Councilman, you can count on me to always listen for what’s missing from
our communities and to work to provide solutions in partnership with
your Councilman, I promise you will be able to count on me:
be Accessible and Responsive -- With Regular Office Hours and Internet
be Proactive and To Inform You About What’s Happening In City Hall
Reach Out On Neighborhood Issues Before It’s Too Late For Your Input
Hold The City Accountable For The Quality of the Service It Delivers
Work For The Enforcement of All Our Quality of Life Ordinances
Listen and Respect The Value of Community Input and Participation
"Let Jersey City Prosper Online"
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