Long Branch, NJ - Jacob Zychick, chairman of the newly created Reform Party of New Jersey, recently visited the largely vacant storefronts of downtown Long Branch. The oceanfront resort’s business district, located along Broadway, is populated primarily by empty structures, a reminder of a failed “Broadway Center” redevelopment project.
Long Branch garnered national controversy in the early 2000s when the city, seeking to redevelop the boardwalk, utilized Eminent Domain to evict homeowners along the city’s oceanfront. Similar tactics were to be implemented on Broadway, however, the plan is largely viewed as dead, leaving the city’s once bustling business district an empty shell. In August of 2009, a New Jersey court ruled against the city in its redevelopment case.
“Long Branch is a city suffering economic stagnation,” said Zychick. “The public sector has let the people down, and now it is time to call them out on it!”
The Reform Party of New Jersey was first conceived in 2009 by a group of student activists seeking to form a viable alternative to the two major parties. The party is the successor to the original NJ Reform Party, which was founded in the wake of independent Ross Perot’s presidential bid in 1992.
While the original NJ Reform Party was dissolved in 2000, the new organization has made great strides over the past year, even sending members to Dallas to meet with national party leadership (and Ross Perot) in October 2010. The party, which seeks to serve “Main Street and not Wall Street,” has become vocally critical of Eminent Domain abuse, and local government’s failure to acknowledge their own flawed policies.
“Long Branch will become just a city-wide strip mall,” said Zychick. “The continued implementation of Eminent Domain abuse has caused a rapid deterioration in the city’s once prized character. This attempted corporate gentrification has, ironically, resulted in the loss of almost all businesses; I counted only one open business on the eastern portion of Broadway.”
Zychick plans on leading a group of Reform Party activists to Asbury Park, another oceanfront city plagued by Eminent Domain abuse, to discuss the issue with local business owners.
“The residents cannot allow the city’s government to blame the national economic downturn for this loss of businesses,” said Zychick. “They must remember that it was the lack of true leadership that brought cities like Long Branch and Asbury Park to their own economic demise.”
In the wake of Zychick’s visit to Long Branch, the Reform Party of NJ has announced a meeting of anti-Eminent Domain activiststo take place in downtown Asbury Park, on January 22nd, 2011. The group hopes to meet with local business and homeowners, many of whom live under the constant threat of having their properties seized. The reformers will congregate in John F. Kennedy Park, located on Grand Avenue, starting at 2:30pm. Further details and scheduled guests will be announced. “If you are as angry as I am,” said Zychick, “then join the Reform Party of New Jersey’s activists on our visit to downtown Asbury Park on January 22nd, 2011!”