The Journal Square Community Association’s "Open the Arches" fundraiser Thursday evening at the Landmark Loews Theater was a tremendous success. The event raised over $30,000 and attracted about 200 attendees, including Mayor Steven Fulop and Council members Richard Boggiano and Mira Prinz-Arey.
The event was designed both to raise funds for the association’s “Open the Arches” initiative and to raise public awareness of the JSQCA’s campaign to convert the Bergen Arches into public green space, with a bike path, walkway, benches and areas for recreation where residents and visitors could enjoy the 17-acre site’s natural beauty. The Bergen Arches is a mile-long rail cut parallel to Route 139. It has not been used for rail service since 1957.
The Journal Square Community Association, which was founded in 2016 and now has more than 100 dues-paying members, launched its “Open the Arches” initiative in 2018 because of the dire shortage of public green space in the Journal Square area. Association leaders believe the Bergen Arches present a golden opportunity to convert a long-neglected asset into a public treasure that would help meet residents’ desire for open space that could connect with the Embankment in downtown Jersey City and the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile biking and walking route stretching from Maine to Florida.
The JSQCA’s campaign was initiated by two of its members, Vincent Marchetto, a local architect, and Chris Lamm, a transportation planner. The association’s leadership and membership quickly and enthusiastically embraced the idea. Marchetto, Lamm and other JSQCA leaders have met with Mayor Fulop, State Senator Brian Stack, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, County Executive Tom DeGise and some of their top aides to present their vision.
Bill Armbruster, chairman of the JSQCA’s Bergen Arches Committee, said the group will use the funds raised at the event for research, advocacy and consultancy services. Armbruster thanked the evening’s sponsors, particularly the four title sponsors – C.H. Martin, Connell Foley, KRE and Namdar Group – as well as the Friends of the Loews; Whealth Café, Korai, Modcup, and JSQ Lounge, which donated the food and beverages served at the event; and the members of his committee and the JSQCA board. “It was a team effort,” he said.
He also thanked Eldad Tarmu and the Flying South Latin Jazz ensemble, as well as poet Ben Figueroa, who provided the entertainment at the event.
Kevin Bing, the JSQCA president, served as emcee at the fundraiser.
Armbruster also noted that the JSQCA has met with leaders of other community groups such as the Embankment Coalition, Jersey City Parks Coalition, Sierra Club and Urban Crossroads to discuss the development of a common strategy regarding the Bergen Arches and that it is eager to continue meeting with them and other organizations to pursue a united front.