The Bayonne Town Planning Council approves the new departmental vocational high school on the site of the high school’s tennis courts

The Bayonne Planning Board unanimously (7-0) approved the construction of a new Hudson County Schools of Technology on the site of the high school tennis courts at 669 Avenue A during last night’s meeting.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County

Architect Ralph Walker explained that he wanted to construct a two-story, 36,000 square foot building where the high school’s tennis courts are currently located.

The parking lot will be reconfigured to add 38 parking spaces and a loading dock and there will be entrances on all sides. Designed to accommodate a cosmetology program, there would also be training programs in mechanics, electricity, plumbing and building trades, Walker noted.

“This stand-alone program works directly with Bayonne High School,” he added, also indicating that there will be 20 to 25 teachers and staff working there and around 200 students.

Walker further stated that it was designed to fit into high school and college in Bayonne and was designed to look the same.

“It’s definitely shorter than the buildings around it. We try to be very careful that this building fits in…both in its use and its architecture.

HCST lawyer Jack Dineen asked if this would complement and be consistent with the school’s current campus.

Walker said the Bayonne BOE and HCST were working together on the project, Dineen noting that the state had already approved the preliminary proposal.

Regarding the timeline, Walker noted that if approved, it would take about 14 months to construct the building. However, construction would not begin for about five to six months.

“Do you have any idea when this school will open?” asked Dineen.

Walker replied that the school would be ready to open in the fall of 2024.

“We would certainly just want to make sure that even if you had to go beyond the minimum code quantities, that’s what you did,” said planning council chairman Pro Tempre Clifford Adams.

“Absolutely,” Walker said.

“Parking is a hugely important issue here in Bayonne,” said Bayonne council president Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, a mayoral candidate who also sits on the planning board.

She asked how many parking spaces would be added as a result of the plan.

“I think it would be a gain of…five or six places overall,” Walker said.

“It takes 32 places which are currently used for the current staff of Bayonne. So where are these people going? she replied.

Nadrowski noted that teachers using street parking made it difficult for nearby landlords, who complained about the situation.

“I believe Bayonne BOE is working on a parking plan for both construction and post-construction. Because there will be travel,” Walker said.

“That’s a lot of places to lose,” Nadrowski replied.

“There are existing vo-tech facilities that this building will incorporate. It’s probably less dramatic than that. But we would expect the Bayonne School District to come up with a plan that addresses all of their parking issues,” Dineen said.

Bayonne Schools Superintendent John Niesz also weighed in on the situation.

“We will be removing 40 people from the school district who drive as we move our central office in St. Andrew’s to another property. I think everything will be fine,” he explained.

“So there won’t be any STEM programs, right?” Nadrowski asked.

Walker said programs in the building include cosmetology, building trades unions, classrooms for law enforcement, computer science and accounting for continuing education courses.

“Is lunch going to be provided there?” Or do they go to Bayonne high school? Nadrowski continued.

Walker said many vo-tech students took half days and then worked in the field, so few had lunch there.

“It’s really contained in terms of education,” he added.

Nadrowski noted that plans for the next Sci-Tech Scity in Jersey City include an HCST vocational school, Liberty Science Center High School.

“Jersey City has a caveat in its plan: They are guaranteed a higher percentage of Jersey City residents will enter school. Is there any protection for Bayonne students?” Nadrowski asked, referring to plans to have 60% of LSC high school students come from Jersey City.

Dineen and Walker said they were unsure if there was such a plan in the works for the vocational school in Bayonne.

“It’s absolutely something we want. Is there a plan to have a deal like this?” Nadrowski insisted.

“I have a meeting with them on Friday and we will discuss it. I don’t believe we currently have students from Bayonne in current classes,” Niesz added, noting that this would likely continue.

“Okay, thank you,” Nadrowski said.

“It’s no secret that in Bayonne, it’s a really hot topic, parking. In those particular parking spaces, are they reserved for teachers or would they also include students? asked Commissioner Ramon Veloz.

“The parking space will be reserved for teachers and administrators,” Walker said.

Veloz asked where the maintenance personnel would park, to which Walker said they would be included in the parking spaces provided for 20 to 25 personnel.

“Some programs will have different schedules. So there cannot be simultaneous use of the parking lot at the same time,” he added.

“The public money spent must be reviewed to ensure its consistency with the master plan. If this is not done, the plan could still go ahead, but they could have some difficulty,” Planning Council lawyer Richard Campesino said.

“The Ministry of Education demands that they be revised.”

“It looks like a net loss of seven to nine places. Can the witnesses talk about the loss of parking spaces? asked resident Adrian Smith during the public part.

“According to the survey from which we worked, we had a net gain of six parking spaces. We can provide that to the board if needed,” Walker said.

“The zoning requirements call for… 28 spaces depending on your zoning. We offer a total of 38 places.

The subdivision of the land so that the project could start was also approved unanimously (7-0).

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