Some of you may remember that last August, shortly after Friends of the Loew’s had beaten back Jersey City’s attempt to break our Lease, Jersey City under Mayor Steven Fulop asked Hudson County to take away a grant FOL had won for the Loew’s .
No reason was really given by the City at the County Freeholder meeting where this request was considered, and more than a few members of the public spoke out against it, but the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders nevertheless agreed to do what the City wanted, and voted to take away $300,000 earmarked for the Loew’s.
In a previous message to County Executive Tom DeGise, Mayor Fulop had suggested that the work the grant was supposed to pay for at the Loew’s was not significant.
What was truly inexplicable about all this was that the grant had been designated to pay for repairs that would help make the Loew’s comply with the City’s own safety and health codes – something that every property owner is supposed to do, regardless of who the tenant is. Jersey City is the owner of the Loew’s, and in fact, the City had committed in our Lease to find funding for this important work, but had failed to do so. Instead, at the City’s urging, FOL asked the County to provide grant funding for some of it. Also at Jersey City’s request, and to demonstrate our willingness to work together, FOL had agreed to make the City a co-grantee in the grant and allow the City to administer the work of the grant.
After the 2015 action by the Freeholders to take away this important funding from the Loew’s, FOL reluctantly sued the County. The grant had been won by FOL and, even after we agreed to include the City in the grant, FOL remained a co-grantee. This means that the City had no right to unilaterally ask the County to take the money away, and the County was wrong to act accordingly. Last Friday, a judge agreed with us and ordered the grant restored to the Loew’s.
At the least, this decision means that moneys improperly taken will be returned to make important improvements to the Loew’s.
This whole strange episode with the grant funding also demonstrates pretty clearly that although the City frequently tries to imply that – somehow – FOL has impeded progress at the Loew’s, the opposite is actually the case. Over the years, when the City has failed to meet its commitments or, worse, thrown roadblocks in the way, it’s been FOL that has stepped up to do what we can to make sure the Loew’s was not left in the lurch.
Now that this unfortunate episode is behind us, Friends of the Loew’s again extends our hand and a plea to the City: Please stop pointlessly fighting us, and instead, let’s find a way to work together.