Fulop’s State of the City Address: Everything Is Awesome
On Tuesday night, Mayor Fulop delivered his second “State of the City” address.
Before a packed crowd in City Hall’s Council Chambers on Tuesday night, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop delivered his second “State of the City” address. The 27-minute speech looked back on accomplishments from Mayor Fulop’s first full year in office and set forth plans and goals for the coming year.
The Mayor began by acknowledging the city’s Coptic Christian community — the largest in the United States — saying that Jersey City stands with them in light of last week’s senseless murder in Libya, by ISIS, of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. (Father David Bebawy of Jersey City’s St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church offered the sanctification prior to the Mayor’s address.)
Mayor Fulop also thanked the family of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago, some of who were in attendance, and he called for a moment of reflection.
The remainder of the address was resoundingly upbeat. Fulop touted the passage a year ago of the Earned Sick Time Bill, the first such law in New Jersey and only the sixth in the U.S. at that time. He pointed out that the city cut taxes in 2014 while still creating new parks and growing the police and fire departments. And Fulop promised it wasn’t a one-time trick. “To be clear, 2015 will see no tax increase for residents,” the mayor said.
Fulop stressed the importance of job creation, citing 9,000 new positions in the city since he took office, along with 150 small businesses opening in the past 18 months. (Fifty of them are restaurants.) He also praised the arrival of larger corporations such as Forbes, Nautica and J.P. Morgan.
Fulop recognized the Jersey City Employment & Training Program’s support of 40,000 residents, and promised additional job creation. “In 2015, I am proud and excited that we will introduce an ordinance that will require Jersey City contractors and developers to hire more Jersey City residents,” the mayor said.
Fulop further explained that the city’s $2.25 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies would be used for innovation programs to revitalize struggling commercial districts, such as those along West Side Avenue, Martin Luther King Drive and Central Avenue.
The boom in residential construction was repeatedly mentioned, and the mayor made it very clear that he supports continued growth. “By the end of next year, I can comfortably say that Jersey City will be the largest city in the state of New Jersey,” Fulop said. He added that the city will soon be home to 17 of the 20 tallest buildings in the state, that three hotels are currently under construction and more are on the way, and that the city now has the state’s largest tax base.
While not specifically addressing concerns of upscale construction pricing out residents, Fulop did promise to “build smarter.” Using data collected with Columbia University and New York University, the city will craft its first-ever Affordable Housing Plan, and related initiatives were promised.
A major project for the revitalization of Journal Square will soon be announced, said the mayor. Some of those very tall buildings are headed to the Square. Fulop sidestepped the controversy regarding AEG Live’s planned management takeover of the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre from the nonprofit Friends of the Loew’s (FOL). The mayor only said that soon, a “world-class organization” would increase the theater’s annual attendance from 10,000 to 150,000 and that the FOL “will benefit.”
Later in the speech, Fulop mentioned a few projects that will impact the city’s West Side. Bergen-Lafayette will be home to a $35 million park (one of several new parks for the city), while the planned City Hall annex in Bergen-Lafayette “will move forward this year.” Meanwhile, the police department’s move to Marion Gardens will make Jersey City the “first and only city in the state that will have its actual police headquarters in public housing.”
After listing some more achievements that he “could’ve” mentioned (yet still somehow mentioning them), the Mayor closed his address. “The state of the city today is very strong,” said Mayor Fulop. “I love the city like you love the city.”
Read the full text of Mayor Fulop’s State of the City Address here.
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Photos by Jack Silbert
The following promotional video preceded the mayor’s address.