CASID Awaits Response From Fulop Administration For 2015 Festival
Jersey City, NJ – Originally scheduled for the third Saturday each May, the Everything Jersey City Festival will not return in 2014.
The Central Avenue Special Improvement District hosted and organized the popular one day event for five consecutive years (2008 – 2012). With an estimated 39,000 visitors in attendance at the last EJCF, Jersey City had the honor of being home to one of the largest main street festivals in the State of New Jersey.
“Now that we are in May, an overwhelming number of people are still asking when the festival will return to Central Avenue,” says Sanford Fishman, President of the CASID. “Our neighborhood and business community would love to return this amazing event. We have reached out to Mayor Fulop several times via certified mail in recent months about getting the City’s commercial districts back in the right direction but we have not heard back. Hopefully his busy schedule traveling the State will soon allow him some time to sit with his constituents here in Jersey City.”
The City of Jersey City cut funds it provided to SID programs by more than half between 2012 and 2013 citing the loss of State UEZ funds. As a result, the CASID lost the necessary manpower needed to continue Central Avenue’s year round dedicated sidewalk cleaning operation. The loss of manpower also led to the cancellation of the 2013 EJCF.
“Despite the loss of state funding Jersey City, like all other municipalities, still has a responsibility to keep its neighborhood centers clean and safe among other things,” says Fishman. “The CASID wishes to partner with the Fulop administration to provide the clean main street and well organized festival Jersey City deserves. Residents should not have to travel towards downtown or the waterfront for cultural events/ festivals every weekend. We need to start working now to possibly bring the EJCF back next May 2015.”
Making matters worse for the future of the EJCF, Mayor Fulop has completely cut all funds to SID programs in his first official municipal budget. Under Mayor Fulop, the City of Jersey City may not make any investment in its main streets/ commercial districts and utterly abandons its longstanding partnership with the business community to improve economic development, create jobs, insert creative placemaking, and provide clean and safe streets.
The EJCF was a marketing tool which truly rebrands Jersey City by bringing life to the Heights neighborhood and good publicity to Hudson County. It was creative placemaking at its best and the byproduct of a private/ public partnership between the neighborhood business community and local government. The annual family friendly event stretched ten blocks within the Central Avenue shopping district. It featured an average of 30 performances across four stages, over 300 premier artists, crafters, festival food vendors and various One Day Sales at numerous Central Avenue businesses.
To keep Central Avenue clean year round and provide enough manpower to return the EJCF, the CASID requests that the City of Jersey City at a minimum invest approximately $500K divided evenly among the five SID programs citywide. Each SID matches this investment with private funds close to $100K thereby doubling the City’s investment in its commercial districts to provide basic municipal services (sanitation, safety, streetscape decorations, cultural events, etc). This is a minimal investment given that $500K is approximately 1% of the nearly $46 million surplus the City had entering 2014 (The surplus is noted on Sheet 39 of the Jersey City Municipal Budget Book Calendar Year 2014. The City intends to use 16,400,000 in the current budget year and expects to have a surplus balance of 29,787,848 by the end of 2014).
“As Councilman of the Heights, I support the efforts of the CASID and tried to get the Mayor to understand the importance of the Everything Jersey City Festival to our neighborhood,” said Councilman Michael Yun. “Unfortunately, we have not received a positive response or meaningful support from Mayor Fulop on this issue.”
SID programs are funded by a SID assessment paid for by the commercial property owners within each district. This assessment is in addition to property taxes and voluntary based on the collective decision of stakeholders within the district. By State Statute, SID programs are designed to supplement, not substitute, municipal services.