Mayor Gusciora Condemns Proposed Ordinance to Move HED Redevelopment Oversight to City Council
Ordinance 21-023 to be introduced at Sept. 14, 2021 City Council Meeting
Trenton, N.J. – Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today issued a statement condemning proposed City Council Ordinance 21-023, which rewrites entire sections of municipal code governing the Department of Housing and Economic Development, including having the Director report only to City Council on all redevelopment matters:
“There is no way that the founders of our municipal form of government would envision a part-time city council as the sole redevelopment authority in a city like Trenton. Given that Council already has the power to evaluate, approve or disapprove pending redevelopment projects, this ordinance seems to be nothing more than a shameless power grab that will serve only to delay more than a hundred million dollars of badly needed redevelopment that is in the pipeline right now.
Both the executive and legislative branches are elected to work together for our residents. Even with the conflict that often defines this era of local Trenton politics, my office, working with City Council, has made tremendous progress pushing redevelopment forward. In just the last year, we celebrated the Van Sciver, Jennings Village, and Vessel redevelopment projects, which collectively will turn multiple vacant lots into hundreds of affordable and market rate housing units. We even came together on a UEZ loan for Princeton Hydro, sold city property to help TerraCycle expand, and put forward a cannabis ordinance that will bring numerous redevelopment opportunities to the Capital City, including the downtown district. This is just a sample of what we can achieve when we work together.
How, then, would the city be better served by cutting my Administration out of this effort? Is a Council working on a part-time basis somehow better equipped to oversee redevelopment all on its own?
If anything, Council has already given us plenty of reasons to be concerned about them wielding total oversight over redevelopment. Several Council members wouldn’t even consider our plan to purchase and redevelop the still-vacant Westside Plaza as an alternative to the awful 2009 leasing agreement that costs the city $42,000 a month with no benefit to area residents. I’m still stunned that they entertained a proposal to buy the beloved Roebling Wire Works building for a mere $200,000 during a secret executive session that was closed off to the public. Lastly, Roebling Block 2, which would now be a bustling commercial district employing Trenton residents, remains a desolate fire hazard after Council torched the common-sense Princetel redevelopment plan two years ago.
Looking back at these projects, it’s clear that continued cooperation between my office and City Council is the only way forward. As such, I encourage City Council and our residents to reject this divisive and utterly counterproductive ordinance.”