NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A lot of attention is paid to New Brunswick's sometimes-heated City Council meetings, where protesters and other critics often descend producing tension and conflict.
But some of the city's biggest decisions are quietly made with little public discussion at meetings of the five unelected men who make up the New Brunswick Parking Authority's (NBPA) Board of Commissioners
The five-member board meets once a month in the conference room of their offices, located on the 6th Floor of the "Gateway" building at 106 Somerset Street.
The NBPA is by far the largest parking authority in the state, works closely with its biggest customer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and operates nine public parking garages and a couple of surface lots including the Jersey Avenue Park & Ride, as well as several floors of office space and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
The authority oversees a $27 million budget, and is nearly a quarter billion in debt, as we reported.
They also control one of the primest pieces of Hub City real estate, the vacant Ferren Mall parking garage, which occupies two blocks across from the train station in downtown New Brunswick.
Led by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital executive Kevin McTernan, the board is entirely made up of older white men, including New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo, and Louis Garlatti, the husband of City Councilwoman Elizabeth "Betsy" Garlatti.
Executive Director Mitch Karon gives an update at each meeting, as does Finance Director Bright Rajaratnam. The board typically relies on the advice of attorney Leonard Bier, who represents several other parking authorities in the state.
Members of the public are permitted three minutes to ask questions or make comments, but usually no one show up besides reporters for New Brunswick Today.
Coffee and snacks are usually made available, and the view from the conference room is beautiful.
A big question this year will be whether the authority can find a new tenant to take over their vacant supermarket space in the Wellness Plaza parking deck.
The Parking Authority is scheduled to meet at 5pm on the following dates:
- January 28
- February 25
- March 25
- April 22
- May 27
- June 24
- July 22
- August 26
- September 30
- October 28
- November 18
- December 16
Meetings are free and open to the public.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.