Ordinance 21-023 to be introduced at Sept. 14, 2021 City Council Meeting
September 14, 2021
Press release from Mayor W. Reed Gusciora’s Office:
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–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.”
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Sometime before 4:00 p.m. a tractor trailer took out the north bound guardrail divider between the inner and outer roadway of the New Jersey Turnpike north of Exit 7A. The accident backed up traffic for over three miles at times until Haines Towing from Bordentown, NJ could remove the vehicle off the guardrail. The NJ Turnpike shut down a lane after the truck was removed to make emergency repairs.
Weekdays 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; weekends 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at Hollowbrook Center
September 14, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–
TRENTON – Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Mercer County has opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at Hollowbrook Community Center, 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Ewing Township, to assist any Mercer County residents or businesses whose property was damaged in the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The DRC is open starting today, Sept. 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday. Residents do not need to schedule an appointment to visit the center, nor must they be Mercer County residents.
The DRC will be staffed by FEMA representatives who can provide information on FEMA disaster aid and answer questions. Again, the DRC is open to residents and businesses from every municipality in Mercer County, and residents from any other county that received the FEMA “Disaster” declaration.
On Sept. 10, Mercer County residents were declared eligible to register for Individual Assistance with FEMA. Residents who previously registered for assistance via the Internet or by phone do not need to visit the DRC, but can ask questions or seek further information in person at the DRC. The eligibility for FEMA Individual Assistance means residents or business owners whose properties were directly damaged by the flooding or storm events on September 1-3 can apply to recoup their losses.
What is a Disaster Recovery Center?
A DRC is a readily accessible facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA or other disaster assistance programs, or for questions related to a specific case.
Some of the services that a DRC may provide:
Guidance regarding disaster recovery
Clarification of any written correspondence received
Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
Status of applications being processed by FEMA.
SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site.
Affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or registering by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
The toll-free numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time Monday through Sunday, and applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information such as their name, the name of the business, address, phone number, insurance coverage, and other information to help substantiate losses.
Individual Assistance, if awarded, can cover reimbursement for a variety of storm-related expenses.
These include, but are not limited to: rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are uninhabitable; grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance; low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance; loans for small businesses that suffered disaster-related cash flow problems; and loans for farmers and other agriculture operators to cover property loss.
Additionally, mall businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in Mercer County are eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration. For more information, visit https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/.
Residents in need of assistance with damage from Tropical Storm Ida may call a Home Cleanup Hotline at 844-965-1386 to be connected with volunteers from local relief organizations and community groups that may be able to assist with cutting fallen trees, removing drywall, flooring and appliances, tarping roofs and mitigating mold.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today announced that demolitions are underway at more than 20 properties on Fountain Ave, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Wilson St, North Clinton Ave, Frazier St, and Stuyvesant Ave as part of a strategic demolition plan that seeks to take down more than 130 blighted properties based on public safety concerns, development potential, resident complaints and other factors.
“Now that the worst of COVID-19 is hopefully behind us, we are moving full speed ahead on our strategic demolition plan targeting some of the most blighted sites throughout Trenton,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Our HED personnel worked with real estate professionals, public safety officers, community action groups, and city planners in identifying the locations we believe will have the biggest impact on public safety, tax revenue and making neighborhoods more welcoming to current and prospective residents.”
Demolitions started last Friday on Fountain Ave and will continue at the following locations:
18 Fountain Ave
20 Fountain Ave
22 Fountain Ave
24 Fountain Ave
26 Fountain Ave
28 Fountain Ave
704 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
706 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
362 North Clinton Ave
364 North Clinton Ave
37 Wilson St
41 Wilson St
43 Wilson St
45 Wilson St
47 Wilson St
525 Stuyvesant Ave
527 Stuyvesant Ave
529 Stuyvesant Ave
155-157 Frazier St
The Department of Housing and Economic Development (HED) uses two parallel tracks for demolitions: imminent hazards and long-term strategic demolitions of city-owned properties. Imminent hazards are evaluated and taken down on a case-to-case basis according to their immediate threat to nearby residents and property. Strategic demolitions are targeted based on several factors:
Proximity to attractive development areas History of complaints from sub code officials, residents and first responders Cost effectiveness due to ability to be bundled with adjacent or nearby properties of similar condition Location within ‘hot zones’ of historically high abandonment The property demolitions announced today are part of 136 properties currently targeted under the strategic demolition plan. Most of the properties in this list still await final bid and City Council approval. A second phase of property demolitions will go out to bid in October 2021.
Residents can track HED’s progress at https://trentondemolition.com, which outlines recently completed demolitions, current projects, and sites under review. The new website – which is in its beta form – allows users to see the exact location along with before and after photos for each project. Property demolitions from previous programs are still being uploaded to the webpage.
“The goal is to use our finite resources to make the biggest impact for our residents,” said HED Director C. Andre Daniels. “Targeting these properties helps insulate our homes from price drops, reduce fire hazards, eliminate havens for criminal activity, and increase interest for both first time home-owners and large developers eager for a diverse city with easy access to public transportation.”
Broadened Street Crimes Strategy to Augment Existing Efforts Targeting Guns and Drugs
September 14, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Police Director Steve E. Wilson today announced the formation of a Daytime Task Force to provide additional resources to address quality of life issues throughout the City of Trenton, including aggressive panhandling, prostitution, speeding, illegal dumping and open-air drug dealing.
The task force will operate out of the Patrol Bureau over the next eight weeks and will be reinforced by partner agencies, including the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
“This is about taking our neighborhoods and business districts back, block by block,” said Director Wilson. “Every day residents and businesses reach out to us about these issues, including when I toured the downtown district on Friday. Well, we hear you loud and clear. Our thanks to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department who agreed to aid our team and help us address these issues before they invite more drugs, guns, and other severe crimes into Trenton.”
The task force will augment current Trenton Police Department (TPD) efforts to combat the city’s drug trade and address quality of life complaints throughout Trenton. On Aug. 20, 2021, the TPD conducted a prostitution sweep operation in the area of Hamilton Avenue and South Clinton Avenue, which resulted in six arrests. In addition, between Sept. 6, 2021 through Sept. 7, 2021, TPD officers arrested six individuals from outside of Trenton who allegedly engaged in aggressive panhandling targeting motorists at intersections in the city.
Meanwhile the TPD continues to step up enforcement against street level dealers and gun crimes. From Aug. 25, 2021 through Aug. 30, 2021, TPD detectives arrested six individuals on gun and drug related crimes, which resulted in the seizure of four firearms, 200 doses of heroin, and more than $14,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
Since July 1, 2021, the TPD has made 690 arrests and seized 40 guns, 2,539 grams of cocaine, 4,694 decks of heroin, 1,500 grams of raw heroin, and $402,766 in suspected illegal proceeds.
The TPD has also recently formed a burglary task force, which will continue its efforts to reduce property crimes. On Aug. 21, 2021, TPD detectives arrested Juan Obando-Murillo, 39, of Trenton, who is suspected of carrying out three recent burglaries in Trenton.
These charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
FORT DIX, NJ (BURLINGTON)–A Hudson County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 43 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to use drones to smuggle contraband, including cell phones and tobacco, into the federal correctional facility at Fort Dix, and for possessing with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Jason Arteaga-Loayza, aka “Juice,” 30, of Jersey City, New Jersey, a former inmate at Fort Dix, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and one count of possession of heroin and fentanyl with the intent to distribute. Arteaga-Loayza, who was on federal supervised release at the time of the offenses, also pleaded guilty to violating his supervised release. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today by videoconference.
Three other men, Adrian Goolcharran, aka “Adrian Ahoda,” aka “Adrian Ajoda,” aka “Adrian Ajodha,” Nicolo Denichilo, and Johansel Moronta also have been charged with using drones to smuggle contraband into Fort Dix prison.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Arteaga-Loayza, an inmate at Fort Dix from June 2017 to September 2018, participated in multiple drone deliveries of contraband into Fort Dix after his release from prison. Between October 2018 and June 2019, Arteaga-Loayza arranged for Goolcharran, with Denichilo’s assistance, to fly drones over Fort Dix and drop packages of contraband into the prison, where it was sold to inmates for a profit. The packages that Arteaga-Loayza smuggled in included cell phones, cell phone accessories, tobacco, weight-loss supplements, eyeglasses, and various other items. Arteaga-Loayza, with Moronta’s assistance inside of the prison, took inmate requests for specific items of contraband and oversaw the collection of payments. Arteaga-Loayza also collected contraband for upcoming drone drops and stored it at his residence in Jersey City.
Arteaga-Loayza and his conspirators took various steps to prevent BOP officials from detecting and intercepting the contraband. They planned drone drops during the late evening hours or at night, when the drones were less likely to be seen. They flew the drones from concealed positions in the woods surrounding the prison. The lights on the drones were covered with tape to make it more difficult for prison officials to spot them.
Arteaga-Loayza and his conspirators used cell phones, including contraband phones concealed within the prison, to coordinate the drone drops. A contraband cell phone used by Moronta, who was an inmate at Fort Dix, contained text messages with Arteaga-Loayza about the collection of profits from the sale of the contraband inside of the prison. In one exchange, for instance, Moronta messaged Arteaga-Loayza about an inmate, “Ok so I am tell him 10 phones and 100 baco (tobacco) he has to pay 10 bands and 500 on each phone?” Arteaga-Loayza responded, “And well even give him an ounce of weed tell him.” One of Arteaga-Loayza’s cell phones contained messages between him and Goolcharran coordinating drone drops. For example, in April 2019, Arteaga-Loayza sent Goolcharran marked-up aerial photos of Fort Dix to show Goolcharran where to drop the contraband. In another exchange, Arteaga-Loayza sent Goolcharran a message asking, “U think that u cud do something 2m.” Goolcharran replied, “2m too windy 20mph.”
During a search of Arteaga-Loayza’s residence in June 2019, agents found packages of empty cell phone boxes, including a package with empty cell phone boxes that had been shipped to Arteaga-Loayza the day before a drone drop on Oct. 30, 2018, cell phone chargers, empty boxes of SIM cards, and several cell phones. They also found bags of Bugler tobacco, consistent with the Bugler tobacco recovered in earlier drone drops. Arteaga-Loayza also had a suitcase in his bedroom that contained his driver’s license, 20 packets of Suboxone Sublingual Film, a prescription opiate, and a plastic bag containing over 21 grams of a substance containing heroin and fentanyl. Following the search of his home, Arteaga-Loayza moved from his home and did not inform his probation officer of his whereabouts.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton also sentenced Arteaga-Loayza to three years of supervised release.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited agents of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Cyber Investigations Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno; the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 307, under the direction of Commander Nicholas Kaplan; and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Christopher Scharf, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
She also thanked Federal Bureau of Prisons personnel at Fort Dix, under the direction of Warden Lamine N’Diaye; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Mahoney; officers with the Pemberton Borough Police Department, under the direction of Chief Edward Hunter; officers of the Pemberton Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief David King; and officers of the Chesterfield Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Kyle Wilson, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey J. Manis and Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the criminal complaints issued against the remaining defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A bus crash occurred on Forrest Avenue carrying at least 15 students on board around 8:00 a.m.
The Lakewood Scoop (see link for more photos and updates) reports that there were 15 girls on board the bus at the time of the crash. Luckily it appears to be minor injuries and did not require immediate hospitalization. Dozens of emergency personnel were on scene evaluating the students.