Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Green Suffers Pique, Praises Senior Pep

Before Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs made her monthly visit to the Senior Center Tuesday, Assemblyman Jerry Green took the microphone for a half-hour of pep talk and political asides.

Even though the mayor won both the 2005 primary and general elections and Green recaptured the chairmanship of the Democratic City Committee, he is still denouncing the vanquished New Dems and Republicans who attempted a “fusion” campaign against the Regular Democrats.

“People want to make things go backwards,” he said Tuesday.

As an example, he pointed to a “town meeting” Thursday on Abbott District issues, calling it “only a set-up to hurt me.”

Green referred to a community forum at 7 p.m. Thursday at Washington Community School, 427 Darrow Ave. It will feature David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, which is litigating on behalf of all 31 Abbott districts. Organizers said Sciarra will give an update on the latest news from the Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform, a six-member panel now holding hearings in Trenton.

Schools Superintendent Paula Howard and Board of Education President Agurs Linward Cathcart Jr. will also speak.

Given that the City Council and the Planning Board are also meeting the same night, the Abbott event will be competing for an audience. Also on Thursday, the school district’s public information officer, Louis Rivera, will be screening his independent film, “Sin Ti,” as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The community forum hardly counts as a cabal, but it seems Green would prefer the New Dems to be forever mute.

On the other hand, Green praised the seniors for turning out in force at the Sept. 21 Planning Board meeting. About 50 seniors crowded City Hall Library and promised to show up at any other city meeting where their long-awaited new senior center was on the agenda. Green said the turnout showed seniors “how the process works.”

The only agenda item related to the center was a zoning change to permit senior centers in the Central Business District and mixed-use zones, which passed. But Robinson-Briggs said there had been some discussion about whether the board could pass “the proposal” because of parking issues. She said senior Emily Washington gave a speech and was “able to convince them to approve it.”

No site plan has been filed with the Planning Division, so there could not have been any decision on parking issues. Resident Frank D’Aversa asked for a clarification that only the zoning change had been approved.

Asked after the meeting whether seniors thought the project had been approved, Senior Center President Charles Nelson said members know only the zoning issue passed.

The parking issue relates to the 63 two-bedroom condos proposed to be built above the new center and how many parking spaces are required. Developer Glen Fishman and his team of experts showed up for the Sept. 21 meeting and answered questions about site issues despite only the zoning change being on the agenda.

Fishman and other condo developers are saying a transit-oriented project does not really need two spaces per two-bedroom unit as currently required, because residents are likely to use nearby public transportation.

So far, one 64-unit condo project application has been denied by the Board of Adjustment. Another high-density, multi-family project for the East Third/Richmond tract is still under wraps. Landmark Development’s North Avenue plans have not yet been filed either, so the parking issue is still out there.

--Bernice Paglia


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