Residents and merchants in McGinley Square have expressed diverse opinions on the upcoming redevelopment project, noting both hope for improved commerce and concerns about eminent domain and traffic.
“I think in the future this is the way to go, and I’m happy that, as a merchant, that this going to be a positive venture,” Al Pilone, owner of the popular McGinley Square sandwich shop Our Hero, said. “And I think that in the future other areas may consider it as a model to develop when they can….”
Nick Falotico, owner of Prince of Pizza, which has stood in McGinley Square since 1967, expressed a similar sentiment, calling the project “a beautiful idea.”
However, the opinions of non-business owners did seem more outwardly negative.
“I think it’s a bad idea. We’ve been living here for a very long time, and we don’t want anything being built new around the area here,” one resident said. “Because people got places to live, and they got families to raise. So we don’t need no big, new projects that’s been going forth.”
“They try take all the property over, which will be not a good thing for the city of Jersey City,” Joseph Cupo, who has lived in the area since 1954, said.
However, according to the Saint Peter’s administrators working on the project and the 2011 plan for refurbishing McGinley Square, eminent domain does not apply.
But even if development will occur only on the Armory Lot and not directly force residents out of their homes, a shifting economic climate could certainly emerge.
And the neighborhood does host a population of low-income individuals who could perhaps not keep up with rising living costs.
“It was our eighth Saturday that we had the pantry open, the food and clothes pantry, and our numbers continue to grow. So that really shows that people in the neighborhood do need some assistance, do need some help,” Erich Sekel, Associate Director of Campus Ministry for Community Service at Saint Peter’s University, said.
Sekel has worked intimately with the local community and played a central role in establishing the Campus Kitchen at St. Aedan’s Church to provide food to those in need.
However, according to residents of McGinley Square, traffic and parking is also a concern. Schools such as Hudson Catholic already draw large crowds to their evening sporting events.
“No one is for Saint Peter’s because Saint Peter’s will have their own [parking] there. But what about the residential of the area, which going to be affect all around?” Cupo said.
One woman remarked that if even one local child is injured by increased traffic in the area, then the project is a failure.