Council mulls shooting range and lawyers in ‘Gerrymandered’ neighborhood case

During yesterday’s caucus, the city council considered building a new firing range and hiring an outside attorney to defend against a lawsuit over a controversial neighborhood map, seen by some as a textbook case of “gerrymandering”.

City lawmakers are expected to spend nearly $2 million to convert a storage facility on Linden Avenue, just outside the city’s public works compound, into an indoor shooting range for military purposes. of training. According to Greg Kierce, director of the city‘s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, the two-story, 32,000-square-foot adaptable structure could also be used for other departmental purposes, such as the teaching how to defuse a volatile situation with an active shooter. .

The JCPD had to leave its outer beach on the west side of the city on September 21, 2019, because the owner of the property, PSE&Ghad planned to reallocate the property, Kierce said.

This presented serious problems for the semi-annual reports of our police officers [firearms] qualifications for more than 900 police officers, as directed by the New Jersey Attorney General,” he noted.

North Bergen operates the only other firearms training site in Hudson County, but due to size limitations it is not available to the JCPD, according to Kierce. The only other option within striking distance is a beach in North Arlington, but that facility charges a $100 daily fee and is only available on a limited basis, he said.

The city is proposing to pay Range Services, of New Hope, Minn., $1,988,817 to build the facility over 12 to 14 months. It is one of only two such companies in the United States that specializes in modular firearm lines (which are lines that are shipped and assembled in sections), according to Kierce.

The city had considered locating the facility near “Bayfront,” the mixed-use site being redeveloped on Route 440, but rejected the idea due to safety and noise factors, the city manager said. city ​​public safety, James Shea. “It just wasn’t peaceful.”

Having its own indoor range that the city can control over is the best strategy, Shea said, given the lack of such facilities for police throughout the Garden State. According to the city’s commercial administrator, John Metro, local ownership will give Jersey City another advantage: the ability to lease the facility to other agencies and, in doing so, pay off the city’s debt on the article. Indeed, Shea said, “We have already received requests for information from federal and state agencies.”

Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano, a retired city police officer, reminded his colleagues that the city had used an indoor firing range at Caven Point, but closed it in the 1970s after ” some instructors have had cancer”. He asked what precautions would be taken to ensure that the new facility would be safe to use.

In response to Solomon, Shea replied, “It’s designed to be cleaned in an environmentally friendly way” to avoid buildup of toxic lead dust; Kierce added that special types of air filters would be installed.

“All I have to say is it was about time,” Boggiano said referring to plans for building the new lineup. “And we should open our own police training center and teach our officers in Jersey City like we used to.”

Shea said he agreed in principle with Boggiano. “I would rather have ours where we could focus on urban policing,” he said, “but the state only wants county police academies, so it’s a non-starter right now. . Hudson County has a police academy [in Secaucus but no range, so we would be supporting the count that they can use while (trainees) are passing through.”

“I don’t care about the county academy,” Boggiano retorted. “I want our cops trained by our own Jersey City police officers.”

No further discussion ensued about that possibility, but Ward E Councilman James Solomon wondered how much it would cost to maintain the facility annually. Kierce told Solomon, “At this stage of the game, it will be minimal,” but he didn’t elaborate.

In other business listed on its Wednesday night meeting agenda, the council is expected to award a professional services agreement to Murphy Orlando, LLC, of Trenton, at $125 an hour (not to exceed $100,000) to represent the Jersey City Ward Commission in a lawsuit challenging the city’s newly drawn ward boundaries.

According to the plaintiffs, which include thirteen Jersey City groups and Ward F Councilman Frank Gilmore, the Commission failed to draw “compact” wards in violation of New Jersey’s law and constitution.

The lawsuit alleges that the new Ward F bears a striking resemblance to a senate district in Massachusetts that spawned the verb “to gerrymander.”

The new map removed a large portion of the Lafayette neighborhood, all of Liberty State Park, and several high profile developments from Ward F and placed them in Ward A, which is represented by Councilwoman Denise Ridley, also a member of Mayor Fulop’s slate.

The lawmakers are also expected to contract with Granicus LLC for $30,000 for one year to monitor residents’ compliance with Jersey City’s regulations concerning rentals of less than 30 days advertised on sites such as Airbnb.

“We issue a violation notice if they don’t stop [advertising the service]said Dinah Hendon, director of the city’s Housing Preservation Division. Hendon admitted that the offending company could only take down the ad for a short time and then take it back, which made enforcement more difficult.

Over the past year, Granicus has identified 400 short-term rental locations in Jersey City, 17 of which have been denied certificates of occupancy, Hendon also noted.

To take advantage of favorable interest rates, the board should authorize the rollover of bonds totaling more than $125 million issued to renovate Loew’s Theater and renovate other nearby structures to house, among other things, the new Pompidou Museum.

The city council is expected to appoint Barkha R. Patel as director of the new infrastructure department. Patel served as Deputy Business Administrator for the city.

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