Santacon Hoboken Updates, Zafra’s New Name, + More You Missed

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Now that the holidays are in full swing, you might have been too busy this week to keep up with all the local Hoboken and Jersey City headlines. From Santacon Hoboken to a new Jersey City food spot to Zafra’s new name, there’s a lot. Sit back, relax, grab a mug, and keep scrolling as Hoboken Girl lays down what exactly you’ve missed during the past week in the news department.

SantaCon in Hoboken Sees 500 Calls for Service, 8 Arrests

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The annual Santacon bar crawl in Hoboken’s downtown resulted in 8 arrests and 521 calls for service this past Saturday, up 92 calls from 2018. According to Chief Ken Ferrante, there were 49 city ordinance summonses issued — 33 being open container summonses, and 34 being motor vehicle violations. The event gets a ton of national and local media coverage due to its debated nature, including John Oliver’s stint on YouTube about SantaCon mentioning Hoboken. If you want to read more stats, click here for the NJ.com article or head to Chief Ferrante’s Twitter account.

Hoboken Adopts Budget for Special Improvement District

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The City of Hoboken has adopted an operating budget of $1.3 million for Hoboken’s new Special Improvement District — AKA the Hoboken Business Alliance or HBA. The budget is collected through an assessment of commercial properties, then reinvested back into the community, according to a press release from the City. The City Council adopted this measure in an 8-1 vote.

“I’m thrilled that for the first time, Hoboken will now have dedicated resources to assist our small businesses through the adoption of the Hoboken Business Alliance’s budget,” said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla in an official statement. “Special Improvement Districts are a proven way to help revitalize local economies, and I have no doubt that our community will benefit from this dedicated funding source. I appreciate all of the hard work of the board members in creating the HBA over the past year, and especially want to thank Executive Director Stuart Koperweis, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, and Business Administrator Stephen Marks for initiating this process, as well the City Council for their support.”

The ordinance adopting the Special Improvement District was passed by Hoboken City Council and signed into law by Mayor Bhalla in July 2019.

“This is a historic moment for Hoboken that will bring the necessary focus and resources for the first time in over a decade to grow our local economy,” said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher in an official statement. “Our local businesses are the backbone of Hoboken’s economy and at the heart of what attracts people to live in and visit our urban village. This result could not have happened without the input, efforts and commitment of many. I would like to personally thank all involved including my fellow HBA Board Members and the other property and business owners who volunteered their time for two years to make this happen, Stuart Koperweis of Economic Development Strategies, Mayor Bhalla and my council colleagues.”

Councilwoman Fisher, along with the Mayor’s designee, Business Administrator Stephen Marks, occupy two of the seats on the board of the Hoboken Business Alliance.

Rebuild by Design – Hudson River Project Meeting This Week

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection {DEP} is inviting the communities of Jersey City, Hoboken, and Weehawken to a public meeting as part of the Rebuild by Design – Hudson River Project this upcoming Thursday, December 12th. This meeting will provide an update on the project status and timeline, an update on the direction of the design of urban amenities and landscape architecture for the project, provide input on design materials, and more.

For a bit of background, the Rebuild by Design – Hudson River Project is an urban floodwater management strategy meant to reduce the flood risk from storm surge and rainfall flood events in flood-prone areas. This targets the entire City of Hoboken and adjacent areas of Weehawken and Jersey City. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development {HUD} awarded $230 million to the State of New Jersey for the project.

For those interested, the public meeting will be held on Thursday, December 12th from 7:00PM to 9:00PM at 124 Grand Street, the Multi-Service Center – Community Room in Hoboken.

Check out the flyer for the public meeting here {in English} and here {in Spanish}.

Spikes Installed on Benches Outside Journal Square PATH — Locals React

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In the aftermath of metal spikes being installed on benches outside the Journal Square PATH station, many Jersey Citians are expressing their opinions publicly. These benches outside the Journal Square PATH Station — which are covered by an overhang — are some of the only areas of public refuge where the homeless can find shelter, especially during the winter months.

“People have nowhere to go and when it’s raining, sometimes you want to come up here and sit down,” JC resident Horace Davis told Pix11.

Others criticized the city for implementing a new location to shelter bikes from the elements, but not protecting its residents.

“Yes, the folks who take the bikes to work need a secure location, but the fact is that there are humans out there,” Sudhan Thomas, head of the Jersey City Board of Education, also told Pix11. “I mean, the Port Authority is acting like the Grinch that stole Christmas.”

This move came to a surprise for many, as just last month Mayor Steven Fulop announced that Jersey City installed temporary shower stalls for the homeless in Journal Square.

“Building trust is the first step,” Mayor Fulop said at the time. “Our goal is eventually to help with addiction or mental health issues here, but again, the first step is trust.”

Fulop also said that as many as 10 people utilized the temporary showers the first day there were installed in Journal Square.

According to a Port Authority spokesperson, the metal spikes were installed as to provide safety for all.

“PATH installed these sections as a means of ensuring a high level of safety and protection for both our customers and the homeless,” an anonymous PATH spokesperson told Pix11. “People are still able to sit on these concrete blocks, but there have been several incidents in recent years in which people sleeping or resting on them have fallen, causing death or serious injuries.”

The spokesperson added, “We continue to work closely with Catholic Charities in New Jersey and Urban Pathways in New York City, as well as other organizations, to find shelter and other services for homeless individuals who often congregate at or near our PATH facilities.”

Liberty Science Center Gets $10 Million Donation to Develop SciTech Scity Innovation Campus

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SciTech Scity, Liberty Science Center’s planned 30-acre campus to launch and grow dozens of world-changing science and technology companies and reimagine K-12 science education, received a major boost last night when Paul Hoffman, LSC President and CEO, announced a gift of $10 million from distinguished philanthropist, statesman, and real estate developer Frank J. Guarini.

“I have had the honor of knowing Frank for many years,” said Mayor Fulop. “By making this historic gift to Liberty Science Center for SciTech Scity, Frank’s generosity will help so many people as it solidifies Jersey City’s future as a hub for science and technology innovators, educators and entrepreneurs.”

Guarini, who is a former U.S. Representative and New Jersey State Senator, has officially gifted the largest amount the Center has seen. The donation has been matched 50 cents on the dollar by a $5 million pledge from LSC Co-Chair David Barry and other Jersey City developers. With $15 million backing the project, it looks like SciTech Scity could open as soon as late 2022.

The Liberty Science Center will be named the Frank J. Guarini Innovation Campus.

 Zafra Has Closed, But a New Restaurant is Already Open — With Same Menu + New Ownership

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Earlier this week, Zafra — located at 301 Willow Avenue in Hoboken and known for its Cuban Latino cuisine, had closed its doors for good. But for those who loved their amazing food, fear not, as a new restaurant is already open in its place, at lightning speed. New signage is up and the old Zafra space is open as of yesterday with a new name — it’s called Chango Kitchen and is serving the exact same menu as Zafra — but with new ownership under Ceferino Fernandez. They closed over the weekend to switch ownership, give the place a fresh coat of paint, and will be serving Zafra’s menu for the foreseeable future. We’ll keep you updated on this developing story, but for now – go say hi and order some food!

The Committed Pig Rumored to Be Opening in Exchange Place

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{Photo credit: @thecommittedpig}

This little piggy cried wee wee wee, all the way to its new location in Jersey City. Maybe. Let’s back up a little — The Committed Pig, which has other New Jersey locations in Summit, Manasquan, and Morristown, is rumored to be opening a new location in Exchange Place. According to Jersey Digs, a public notice issued earlier last week showed a firm called JC Committed Pig, LLC had filed an application with Jersey City’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for 1 Exchange Place.

The new Jersey City outpost would likely continue serving the blend of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that it’s come to be known for. That’s everything from pancakes to fried pickle chips to falafel and so much more.  In 2016, The Committed Pig was even the subject of a review from The New York Times. Check out their menu here.

Veterinary Emergency Group Celebrates Grand Opening

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{Photo courtesy of Carla Alves}

Veterinary Emergency Group {VEG} has officially opened its doors in Hoboken as of November 20th. Located at 1327 Willow Avenue, the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony took place on December 3rd. With locations in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Massachusetts, VEG is a fast-growing emergency-only veterinary hospital group that seeks to be the premier location for pet owners to bring their fur-babies in the event of an emergency.

“Our goals are to become the obvious place to bring your pet in an emergency, and for all our VEGgies to brag about their jobs,” Carla Alves, a representative for VEG, told Hoboken Girl in an email. “We are open nights, weekends, and holidays to support all local general practice veterinarians when their office is closed.”

VEG is open Mondays 6:00PM -8:00AM, Tuesdays 9:00PM-8:00AM, Wednesdays 6:00PM-8:00AM, Thursdays 6:00PM-8:00AM, Fridays 6:00PM-8:00AM, and on weekends and holidays. They can be reached at 201-630-0636.

Hoboken Awarded $730,000 for Transportation Funding and Vision Zero Upgrades

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{Photo courtesy of Vijay Chaudhuri}

The Mile Square’s pedestrian-friendly project Vision Zero continues with new steam as the New Jersey Department of Transportation {NJDOT} has awarded the City of Hoboken $734,038 for transportation funding through the state’s 2020 Municipal Aid Program. The funding will be used for various transportation infrastructure upgrades, like road repaving, and other safety upgrades that align with the Vision Zero campaign.

“We are continuing to make major strides in upgrading our transportation infrastructure, and this funding will provide a significant boost to our efforts,” said Mayor Bhalla in an official statement. “In addition to contributing to our aggressive road repaving program, the grant will provide us with important resources to help implement our Vision Zero pedestrian safety plan on our roadways. Thank you to Governor Murphy and the State Department of Transportation for making this funding available to Hoboken.”

In coordination with Hudson County, PSE&G, and the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, Hoboken repaved or planned for the repaving of over 100 blocks of roads in the City.

Since January of 2018, Hoboken has been awarded over $2,671,983 in funding from the State’s Municipal Aid Program.

Jersey City Elections Make History for How Expensive They Were

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The most recent Jersey City elections are making history. But not in the way you may think. According to NJ.com, historic amounts of money were spent on the Jersey City elections last month. It is now considered the most expensive school board race… ever.

There were five open seats on the nine-member board this past November and during campaigns for those open seats, more than $590,000 was spent on the Jersey City Board of Education race. In addition to that $590,000, another $5.5 million was invested in upholding the ordinance to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental services throughout Jersey City.

For context, the Elizabeth Board of Education race in 2014 had a similarly high cost: $498,951 was spent on the race.

City of Newark Sues NYC Over Claims of New York Forcing Homeless to New Jersey

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Is New York City forcing its homeless population to migrate over to New Jersey? That’s what the City of Newark is alleging in a new lawsuit. The federal lawsuit was filed last Monday against New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio and focuses on a program that relocates homeless people to NJ — New York’s “Special One-Time Assistance” program or SOTA.

SOTA pays for a year’s rent upfront for people who enter the program. New Jersey’s suit claims that SOTA “coerces” homeless people into moving to Newark and forces them to live in “illegal and/or uninhabitable housing.”

“Defendants, however, failed to inspect, or failed to adequately inspect, the apartments where defendants are coercing SOTA recipients to move into,” the civil action filed in Newark federal court alleges.”Defendants failed to provide a system to adequately hold participating landlords and real estate brokers accountable for illegal and/or uninhabitable housing.”

Newark is seeking a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction against New York City from “further implementation of the SOTA program in Newark,” civil action states.

Vida-Flo Opening in Hoboken on December 9th

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{Photo credit: @vidaflohoboken}

Get ready for more IV hydration, Hoboken! Vida-Flo is an IV hydration and vitamin therapy business opening at 131 Washington Street come tomorrow, Monday, December 9th. Vida-Flo seeks to reVIDAlize patrons by offering a wellness program assessment, then booking appointments where patrons can be treated for their results by a trained medical professional. Vida-Flo will use IV hydration and vitamin therapy to treat various issues like hangover, flu, low energy, and so much more.

New Bill Would Require Students to Learn Cursive in School

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A new bill — known as A-6010 — could require elementary school curriculums to focus on instructional activities and materials focused on teaching students how to read and write in cursive by the end of third grade.

Cursive was dropped as a school requirement back in 2010 when Common Core standards became the norm in schools. Common Core made cursive-teaching optional and most schools opted to discontinue teaching it.

A-6010 was introduced to legislation by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who maintains that knowing how to sign one’s own name in cursive should be a part of the school curriculum.

“In some cases, children are entering middle school without knowing how to sign their own name in cursive,” McKnight told Insider NJ. “We are doing our children a disservice by not teaching them a vital skill they will need for the rest of their lives.”

McKnight added, “Our world has indeed become increasingly dependent on technology, but how will our students ever know how to read a scripted font on a word document, or even sign the back of a check, if they never learn to read and write in cursive? This bill will ensure every young student in New Jersey will have this valuable skill to carry with them into adulthood.”

Efforts to reintegrate cursive into the elementary school curriculum have been happening nationwide. Schools in Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas have recently made moves to bring script-writing back.

A-6010 would apply to the first full year following the date it’s established. As of right now, A-6010 is headed to the Assembly Education Committee, where it awaits review.

Got a news tip? Let us know — email us at hello@hobokengirl.com! We appreciate it.


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Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. Her words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, World Economic Forum, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. Her articles have been syndicated on World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK, and MSN Canada. In her free time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.