McCarter Switching Station

Building an Empowered Community

A SPECIAL PRESENTATION FOR:
National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program
March 9, 2016

The Mission of Our Movement
The Urban League of Essex County is a non-profit community-based
organization whose mission is to assist African Americans and other
disadvantaged urban residents in the achievement of social and
economic self-sufficiency.

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The Urban League of Essex County (ULEC)
ULEC’s strategy is geared specifically
towards serving the Essex County
community.
Our goals are:
 Economic self-sufficiency for adults
 Social and educational equality for
youth
 Safe communities and
neighborhoods
 Civic involvement and responsibility

 Founded in 1917
 Service Area: Essex County, New
Jersey
 50 full-time, 25 part-time
employees
 CEO: Vivian Cox Fraser
 10 Board members
 Total operating budget of
$4,000,000

 Racial inclusion

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Programs and Services
ULEC accomplishes its mission through its programs and advocacy efforts.

Early Childhood
& After School
Programs

Employment and
Career
Counseling & Job
Placement
Community
Development

Social and Econmic
Self-Sufficiency
Teen Mentoring,
Tutoring & College
Prep

Social Enterprise
and Job Creation
Financial Literacy &
Foreclosure
Assistance

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Impactful Programs…

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Focus on Transforming a Community

Fairmount is one of the most distressed
neighborhoods in Newark and isNEIGHBORHOOD
a TARGET
microcosm of the challenges in the City
and other urban areas.

11,000 Residents
4,200 Children
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The Fairmount Strategic Plan
The Plan identified five major goals:
1. Promoting Jobs and Economic
Opportunity;
2. Strengthening the Community,
Neighborhood and Families;
3. Reducing Crime and Improving Public
Safety;
4. Improving Educational Opportunities; and
5. Enhancing Quality of Life through Land
Use and Recreation
Over 1,000 residents participated
in the development of the
Fairmount Strategic Plan
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Tough Challenges in Fairmount
48% of children in
Fairmount live in poverty
Nearly 70% of all children
live in a single parent
household
23.9% housing vacancy
rate is nearly twice as high
as the national average of
13.1%
Highest estimated
percentage of subprime
loans and total mortgages in
foreclosure with almost 50
for every 1,000 owneroccupied units going into
foreclosure
Urban League of Essex County
Unemployment is
27.9%
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Children of Fairmount
Compared to other children in the city and state, the average
child in Fairmount is more likely to
– live in poverty;
– experience or witness violence and crime;
– live in a one-parent home;
– live in substandard housing and walk past abandoned
homes on the way to school;
– not have a clean, safe, environment in which to play
And less likely to
– read or write at grade level;
– have health insurance;
– pass state assessment tests in language arts,
mathematics, and science;
– have access to 21st century technology at home;
– be prepared for college and career.
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Land Use Impacts the Quality of Life in Fairmount

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How this Project Impacts Fairmount
Economic Impact
 We want to ensure all options and alternatives are considered because this project forever takes a
valuable parcel out of potential use to create jobs and economic benefit to this neighborhood.
 Estimated economic cost exceeds $80 Million in a five year period

Creates no Jobs

Community Health and Environmental Impact
 Concerns about safety, health, and environmental impacts have not been answered
Cumulative and Disparate Impact
 Neighborhood already has significant challenges to revitalization – poverty, foreclosures,
abandonment, disorder, and this will make our work to improve Fairmount impossible. The impact
on an already depressed community is far different than placement in a more stable neighborhood.
Urban Design Impact
 This parcel is the gateway into the neighborhood on a major commercial corridor of a residential
community. The project is large and

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Amplifying Community Voices through Tangible “Wins”

Fairmount’s younger residents protest the
development of the switching station

Longest Zoning Board trial in the history
of the City of Newark, 6 hearings.
Over 15 expert witnesses
85 residents testified

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NIMBY – It’s Not Personal

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Community Benefit Agreement
 Repositioned and slightly smaller footprint
 Economic Feasibility study
 New Design to Address Safety Concerns
 $5 Mil for a New Community Center
 3.5 Acres of land to develop
 New Pedestrian Lighting in Fairmount
 New Greenspace and Park
 Changes in Traffic Patterns to Promote Pedestrian Safety

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Closing Thoughts

Having Your Own Plan and Residents Driving the Plan gives your voice more credibility

Not just a community saying “Not In my Back Yard”

Accountability and Integrity – Helped them to Believe they could Change their
Neighborhood

Local Politics and Elections

Keeping your Coalition together

Municipalities with deficits and spending challenges

Deep Pockets and Long Reach

Knowing How to Fight and When to Stop Fighting

Advocacy vs. Influence

Don’t wait for someone else to do it. No one is coming on a white horse.

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