Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lakewood - Muster Zone UPDATE

APP: The use of Urban Enterprise Zone money to pay for construction of a proposed muster zone has drawn the scrutiny of state officials, who are in talks with the Attorney General's Office to see what they can do about it. The state has questioned whether Lakewood's use of $37,500 in second-generation loan funds — to clear land and create a muster zone in Lakewood Industrial Park — goes against the tenets of the UEZ program, which is to create jobs and spark economic development in urban centers across New Jersey.....The project raises serious concerns about the use of the second generation funds as well as the focus of the UEZ program," Karen Wolfe, a state commerce spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. But, state officials concede, they have no power to stop Lakewood. "The policy has always been that the township could draw upon the money . . . for the purposes considered a project under the law," said Russell K. Corby, executive director of Lakewood's zone. "As of right now, it's being spent appropriately." The idea is to build a shelter and create a paved area for contractors to pick up the men who now form ranks each morning on Clifton Avenue. Mayor Meir Lichtenstein hopes the zone — he calls it an employment center — would siphon workers away from the downtown, where merchants complain that day laborers cause problems. Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg said the Lakewood Development Corp., which oversees Lakewood's UEZ, will not endorse a muster zone or oppose it. The board only approved money to be spent to clear land for a project the Township Committee wants. "We are not involved in the policies at all to do with the muster zone," said Weisberg, the development corporation's chairman.....
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