The Schools Development Authority has always been a failure to me. Born and raised in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey, I have seen the worst of the SDA. Our community was promised a new school on Hawthorne Avenue, plus a new high school and a renovated elementary school. What we have been given in return is a farm. This farm, while a nice visual addition to the community, is not what we need. WE NEED NEW SCHOOLS!!!
The farm, currently run by the Greater Newark Conservancy, will never be able to create a permanent structure on this land because government bonds that were used to purchase the land will not allow a permanent structure unless it is a school. My mother attended school in the current Hawthorne Avenue School. She is 72 years old and the building does not look much different from when she attended. The school has had TEMPORARY CLASSROOMS for almost 20 years. I never claim to be the smartest person but almost 20 years is not TEMPORARY. These classrooms take up the playground and have left our children without any decent playground space for that entire time. The SDA has failed the children in my neighborhood for years.
This is not the end of the story.
Another tragedy that occurred was the removal of the homes on Demarest Street. This street that borders the school was lined with one-family homes occupied by the owners,one of the streets growing up that you didn’t drive down recklessly because children were often playing. Families were often sitting on the porch in the summertime talking with each other. This street was the example of the Mighty South Ward that I had come to know. Just like that, with legislation from the Statehouse, it was gone and nothing in return except a farm. For many years now, Demarest Street has been plagued with crime and violence. Once a thriving tax-paying street of homeowners, it is now abandoned, dark, and an example of another failed promise to my community.
These same promises came through the building of highway 78 and 280 which tore straight through the heart of the Black community in Newark.. While it has had huge benefits for the state, it has also caused huge problems for the city that start with crime, environmental health issues, and displacement of homeowners who never returned to Newark.
Schools Development Authority is a state agency and, Governor Murphy, you didn’t create this problem but you could fix it. You come to NEWARK all the time to promote a new initiative or partnership but what we need from you is to come to NEWARK with a plan to build new schools and STOP THE CORRUPT SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY FROM HURTING MORE NEWARK CHILDREN LIKE THEY ARE DOING IN THE SOUTH WARD OF NEWARK.
Former Councilman of South Ward, Newark, New Jersey (2006-2010)