Jersey City Planning Board Will “Reconsider” Rejected Exchange Place Plaza Plan

Exchange Place Jersey City Renovation 2
Image courtesy of Melillo + Bauer + Carman Landscape Architecture via the Section 31 review application.

The battle over revitalizing a waterfront plaza around Jersey City’s Exchange Place PATH station will be heating up next week as the group behind the plan is getting a new hearing to push back against the denial of their proposal.

During their April 26 meeting, Jersey City’s planning board rejected a plan to renovate two waterfront blocks near Columbus Drive and Montgomery Street. Jersey Digs was the first news outlet to publish images of the revamp, which calls for a new playground, several lawns, new pavers, and seating areas along the Hudson River.

Many objections raised by the public during the meeting stemmed from the treatment of the Katyn Memorial, which has been a point of contention during the plaza’s renovation effort. The Exchange Place Alliance District Management Corporation aims to clarify that issue and others during the board’s upcoming May 10 meeting and sent a letter to the city’s planning division claiming “false assertations” were made about their plan.

Exchange Place Jersey City Renovation 6
Image courtesy of Melillo + Bauer + Carman Landscape Architecture via the Section 31 review application.

Specifically, the Exchange Place Alliance claims that the planning board’s resolution “was not appropriate in the context of a Section 31 review.” The letter says the board “made no findings as to consistency with the City of Jersey City Master Plan, nor did [they] relate the design concerns noted to the goals and objectives of the Master Plan,” an oversight the alliance feels must be addressed.

“The colloquy surrounding the vote made it clear that the Board took issue with the design of the proposed improvements, specifically the treatment of the Katyn Monument,” the letter reads. “[But] public commentators repeatedly falsely stated that the height of the benches surrounding the Katyn Monument were 7 feet high when in fact the height is 5’6”.”

Exchange Place Jersey City Renovation 8
Image courtesy of Melillo + Bauer + Carman Landscape Architecture via the Section 31 review application.

The letter additionally claims several speakers during the board’s meeting falsely claimed that no public sessions were held to discuss the plaza plans. The alliance intends to introduce “additional evidence that clearly demonstrates its thoughtful engagement with several neighboring property owners,” proof that allegedly includes five public meetings they held regarding the plaza design.

The letter says the alliance met repeatedly with the Committee for the Conservation of the Katyn Monument & Historic Objects (CKM&HC) and even drew out the dimensions of the plan in chalk on the existing plaza during one gathering. The alliance submitted a newspaper article to the city authored by Alice Wozniak, Chairman of the Board at CKM&HC, confirming their involvement in the meetings.

In addition, the letter claims that the alliance met separately with NJ Transit, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Historic Paulus Hook Association, the Powerhouse Neighborhood Association, and the Colgate Commercial Properties Organization to discuss the plans.

Whatever the outcome of the planning board’s reconsideration hearing, the Exchange Place Plaza plan will still need approval from the city council at a later date. The future of the plaza and the current proposal should become clearer next week, as the alliance is scheduled to appear before the board during their May 10 meeting.

The virtual meeting, being held on Zoom, begins at 5:30 p.m. and can be accessed at this link or by using the Webinar ID 896 8803 5258.


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