The Guttenberg Town Council approved a resolution appointing 32nd District Assemblyman Vincent Prieto as their acting construction code and zoning official on Aug. 25.
Their last code official, Franco Zanardelli, was forced to step down from his position after pleading guilty to one count of extortion in federal court. He admitted admitting to taking more than $30,000 worth of bribes while serving as West New York’s construction official for 12 years.
Councilman Gerald Drasheff said that Prieto was chosen because he is the construction official for Secaucus.
Drasheff said that they had considered Prieto for the position years ago before choosing Zanardelli, but at that time he did not want the added responsibility.
Prieto may not be interested in keeping the job long-term.
Prieto will be paid a salary of $21,000 for his role as a construction official and $4,000 for his zoning duties until Oct. 31.
“It’s a good, at least temporary, fit,” said Drasheff. “He certainly has got the experience.”
Drasheff added, “Whether it will work out permanently will be both up to the town and up to Vinnie. We do have some people who are currently working in the Building Department who are qualified.”
Paving project approved
The council approved a paving project on 71st Street that will be funded by a $200,000 Municipal Aid Fiscal Year 2008 grant.
The contract was awarded to Joseph Sanzari of Hackensack to repave the street from the North Bergen border to JFK Boulevard East for $180,345.
At the last meeting on Aug. 11, the council wasn’t absolutely certain if the funds were available, so they reserved their decision for the next meeting.
Future open space, community center
Ed Farmer, a grant writer with Millennium Strategies, discussed during the commissioners’ caucus some of the grant possibilities that may be open to them in the future.
Drasheff said that finding funding for a future waterfront park is important, since they are supposed to break ground by Labor Day. Drasheff said that he would like a contract awarded for the project by November.
Guttenberg currently has a $192,000 grant from Green Acres and the town is expecting a $400,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund.
Drasheff said that building the park, not including the walkway around it, will cost $800,000. Farmer said that they would try to find the $200,000 difference.
“We’re authorized to go out and borrow for whatever the shortfall is,” said Drasheff. Farmer also said he would aid the township in finding funding for a community center that the town hopes to build behind the Anna L. Klein Elementary School.
Drasheff said they hope that the building will have a rooftop park and that it will alleviate some of the overcrowding at the school.
Councilwoman Adela Martinez said that the building should have a computer center, and Drasheff said that the building should have a library, whether it is digital or made up of books.
The building could be used during the school day to hold classes.
Illegal apartments and parking
Guttenberg resident Larry Giancola addressed the council over inadequate parking, and about an abundance of illegal apartments.
“Where are the taxpayers going to park?” Giancola asked the council. “I believe we let a lot of things slide in this town that contribute to it. If you walk through this town, you can find basement apartment after basement apartment, [and all are] illegal.”
He was also claimed that many of the students that attend Anna L. Klein School are not residents of Guttenberg.
He also said that in Guttenberg, people renovate their houses without receiving permission from the Zoning Board.