Town suddenly changes mind Commissioners rescind approval of third fire director after political ally suggests it

An ongoing feud between two rival county Democratic organizations had local implications on Wednesday when the North Bergen Township Board of Commissioners passed a resolution stating that they no longer believe there’s a need for a third director of the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, the fire department that serves five towns in Hudson County.

In the past, the position was rumored to have been earmarked for Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who is running for state Senate in the June 5 Democratic primary. This past Tuesday, a political rival of Stack publicly charged that Stack will take the $75,000 position if he wins on June 5. In response, Stack told the newspapers that he never wanted the job.

The outcome was that Stack’s rival, West New York Mayor Sal Vega, who also wants to be state Senator, said that the regional fire department doesn’t need a third $75,000 director in any case.

And even though the North Bergen commissioners voted last year that the position was needed, they changed their minds last week. North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco is allied with Vega against Stack, and is running for re-election to the state Senate in his own district.

The commissioners approved a resolution Wednesday overturning their prior resolution that was adopted just last December calling for a third director for the NHRFR.

“The regional fire and rescue has been working extremely well under its current directors,” Mayor Nicholas Sacco said last week. “The need is not necessary for a third director. Mayor Vega brought it to my attention and asked me if we would support him in this matter. We felt it was important to rescind our initial plan to support having a third director. The Regional works as it is right now. There is no need to tamper with it. We’re satisfied with the work of [current directors] Mike DeOrio and Jeff Welz. There is no need for anyone else.”

Why Stack and Sacco parted

Sacco acknowledged that there was a vicious political battle going on countywide.

“This is as contentious as I can remember,” he said. “We’ve had fights within [the Democratic Party] before, but nothing like this. This is beyond anything else.”

Sacco said that he has become disassociated with Stack and his minions in recent months, after Stack allegedly attacked Sacco with accusations.

“He said that there were a host of summonses given out at his political rally at Schuetzen Park [in North Bergen], which is a blatant lie,” Sacco said. “There were no tickets given out. He accused me of masterminding some meeting in Bayonne behind his back. I wasn’t even there. He said that I was the one drawing up support for the dual-role bill [to stop politicians from holding two positions] to get back at him. I was against the bill from the beginning. I felt like I’ve become under attack by this man, and it’s all part of a much larger grab at power in the county. I’m comfortable with the way things are. I don’t need to get into things like this.”

Sacco added, “I’m very actively involved in this campaign and supporting the HCDO candidates, namely the [Tom] DeGise ticket and the [Sal] Vega ticket.”

For more on the position including Stack’s response, please see related story, p. 4.

In other Town Council news, the council discussed a series of traffic changes and other matters.

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either or Other council business: Traffic changes, development projects

In other news from the North Bergen Commissioners’ meeting, the township introduced an ordinance that would change the vehicular flow of traffic on Grand Avenue, between 84th and 88th streets, to go only one way northbound instead of the current two-way traffic flow.

The ordinance will be heard at a meeting on May 9 at 5 p.m., where it will be voted upon by the Board of Commissioners after the public has a chance to speak on the matter.

North Bergen Police Captain Gary Richmond, the director of the department’s traffic division, said that there had been numerous complaints about the congestion on the tight thoroughfare.

“It’s a narrow road that really shouldn’t be a two-way,” Richmond said. “In recent years, we changed the roads around it to go one way, like Newkirk, Liberty, and Columbia. It’s hard to get two vehicles, like two trucks, going up that road at the same time. Trucks have to back up and it causes headaches. There have been constant battles with vehicles, with the neighbors. I would think the neighborhood would applaud it, because it will make things easier.”

If the township approves the ordinance, it will go to the state Department of Transportation for final review and subsequent approval.

“Hopefully, by the end of the summer, we can have this changed to a one-way,” Richmond said.

The Board of Commissioners also approved two special meetings to deal with the ongoing development projects in the town, namely the Appleview and Riverview projects slated to be built along River Road.

A special Board of Adjustment meeting was approved to listen to testimony for the Appleview project on 70th and River Road, while a special Planning Board meeting was approved for the Riverview Development project on 82nd and River Road.

The board also approved a $379,104 contract with English Paving Co. of Edgewater to improve a host of township streets.

The board also passed a resolution calling for tax liens on the properties at 9006 Durham Avenue and 1200 67th Street, because improvements were not made in the matter that was once agreed upon and both locations have become eyesores and public health hazards.

Also, Janet Castro, an employee with the North Bergen Board of Health, has been appointed as an alternate to the Hudson Regional Health Commission.

The township also approved the payment of bills totaling $3,424,211 for the last month to an assortment of vendors.

The contracts with several different law firms were renewed to continue the legal services that the firms had provided to the township.


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