As reported by the Hudson County View, Bayonne resident Baer Hanusz-Rajkowsi is concerned about the increasing trend of demolishing historical properties in the city. So much so that he personally gathered 700 signatures to petition the city to halt the demolition of the Emmett Smith house at 124 5th Street at John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
The 19th century home built by Emmett Smith, a surveyor for Bayonne in the 1800’s. Its current owner is developer Mitchell Burakovsky. It’s unclear what the developer intends to do with the property, which further fuels the argument against tearing it down. A development plan should be in place that justifies the demolition before it is demolished.
But this isn’t just about this single property. Bayonne has no official means of preserving its historic housing stock. There is no official process of deciding what should and should not be preserved. The Bayonne Historic Preservation Committee has no legal standing in such proceedings.
At the last city council meeting on November 10th, Mr Hanusz-Rajkowsi referenced Jersey City as a leading example of how to properly preserve these historic structures. Jersey City has designated four historic districts that require property owners gain approval for “any development, construction, alteration, rehabilitation or repair of any sign, building” within each district.
Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, it’s clear Bayonne could benefit from some clarity around historic preservation.
The Bayonne Historic Preservation Committee is meeting tomorrow, December 1st, to discuss the future of the property. Any residents of Bayonne that are concerned about the historic future of the city are encouraged to attend.