Since 2004, Jersey City hasn’t been able to find the funding it’s supposed to for making important repairs that will bring the Loew’s Jersey Theatre into compliance with the City’s own building code requirements. This is a necessary step before the Loew’s can expand operations to include larger scale programming.
In contrast, during that same time Friends of the Loew’s won $780,000 in grants from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund. We later let the City partner with us in those grants when it promised to add in significant fund to make even more repairs. But even though the City failed do this, we’ve kept our agreement to work with the City in carrying out the work of the County grants.
There are two pieces of good news, and one very worrisome development about the grants FOL has won for the Loew’s.
The good news: We’ve replaced all of the rotted old exit doors along the first floor side walls of the Loew’s, plus two stage load-in doors. If you’ve been to the Theatre, you probably noticed how those old doors were literally falling off their hinges. The new doors are a tremendous improvement in appearance, safety and functionality. FOL paid for the architectural design for the doors, and the County grant paid for their installation.
And more good news: There are plans and specs ready to go for five more important projects to improve safety and functionality that FOL’s County grant funding will pay for: Repair the Theatre’s fire standpipes; install new emergency lighting; repair and upgrade the air circulating fan to improve ventilation and heating; renovate the stage rigging system to ensure safe and reliable show operation; and restore the Theatre’s bronze entrance doors so that they open and close smoothly and safely.
The City, under our partnership agreement, has already picked a winning bid and authorized a contract for the restoration of the entrance doors. But Mayor Steven Fulop is refusing to allow any of these projects to move forward, even though the grants are set to expire this summer if work isn’t under way!
The Mayor has tried to explain that he thinks he can get “economy of scale” by waiting to do those safety projects sometime in the future, when the City might it’s foolish to hold back for any reason on work that will improve safety AND make it easier to operate the Loew’s. It’s even worse when doing so may mean that we lose the grants!