PERTH AMBOY — A city councilman who had been viewed by most observers as one of the top contenders in the race for mayor says he is backing Billy Delgado to replace Wilda Diaz.
Councilman Fernando Gonzalez appeared with Delgado at the Raritan Bay Coffee Company inside the Perth Amboy train station to announce his support while the candidate unveiled his economic plan to rejuvenate the city’s retail business district.
“Kenny Balut and I are not running for re-election with the present Mayor that we helped to elect in 2008 with the hope of creating a positive change in the future of Perth Amboy,” said Gonzalez. “Four tax hikes in four years, while unemployment has doubled, violent crime skyrockets and conditions of our neighborhoods decline is all proof that we have traded corruption for a lack of leadership, but I know Perth Amboy can do better.”
Delgado used the forum to outline his plan for downtown revitalization centered on the rail station following a philosophy of transit oriented development, the exciting new trend in creating vibrant, lively, sustainable communities which are easy to get to and walk within. Armed with artist renderings, cost estimates and maps, Delgado said his proposal creates a foundation for an economic renaissance that will create jobs, lower taxes and enhance business opportunities for merchants.
“Billy Delgado’s plan for Perth Amboy calls for NJ Transit to make a $50 million investment rehabilitating the station to become an anchor for about $1 billion in private sector development of a transit village,” said Gonzalez.
“Over the past four years, the number of rail passengers boarding in Perth Amboy has fallen 25% and the current administration has yet to ask for designation as a transit village,” said Delgado, who previously ran for mayor against then-incumbent Joe Vas in 2004.
“While NJ Transit is working to identify a funding source for the $50 million required to implement these plans to make the rail station more accessible and useful, I will encourage U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone plus other state and local legislators to make this financing a priority and I will be working to lure private investors to pick up tandem opportunities for construction and development in our downtown,” said Delgado.
“The 84-year-old Perth Amboy train station will get a $50 million renovation funded by NJ Transit and federal grants that will preserve the historic 1920s architectural design, add features to make the depot accessible to everyone and anchor a projected $1 billion economic rejuvenation throughout our entire downtown shopping district.”
Albert L. Papp, Jr. of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), said the transit village concept has proved successful elsewhere but the city’s effort has been lacking, disconcerting and even secretive. Papp said NJ Transit told him they are only giving station updates to the Mayor’s office and his requests for information from Diaz went ignored for six months or more.
“All information about the Perth Amboy Station Improvements, including design, are being shared with the city, through the mayor’s office, per Mayor Wilda Diaz request,” wrote Thomas Clark, the regional manager of Government & Community Relations for New Jersey Transit Corporation, in a March 18 email message to Papp.
A poster on display at the news conference featured an email message from state Transit Village Coordinator LeRoy H. Gould, who wrote: “Perth Amboy has not filed an application for ‘Transit Village’ designation with the New Jersey Department of Transportation…”