The North Bergen Board of Commissioners voted at their March 25 meeting to hire engineers for an environmental impact study on the proposed Avak Properties development along the Palisade cliffs.
A controversy over the project pits the town, which wants the commercial development, against the county Planning Board, which doesn’t, saying it violates state Department of Environment standards and the county’s master plan.
The plan would put three stores on River Road, requiring removal of 700,000 cubic yards of rock and soil from the cliffs.
Town Administrator Christopher Pianese said Oweis Engineering Inc. of East Hanover was considered the most prepared and impartial firm they considered. Engineers and staff will be paid per hour.
“I want to get right down to the truth here,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco at the meeting. “I believe I know what the truth is, but I’m not going to do anything until I see it in writing, that this project will be safe to go or not safe to go on.”
He said one of the three proposed stores, a Walgreens pharmacy, would benefit people leaving nearby Palisades Medical Center.
Receives grants; applies for more
North Bergen also passed two resolutions accepting two grants.
A $285,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will help fund completion of a streetscape project along JFK Boulevard East. The town previously had accepted a grant from the Department of Transportation for $500,000 that will also help fund the project. Pianese said replacing the rest of the sidewalks, benches, lights and other features will cost $1.2 million.
If another application for a $1 million DOT grant is approved, said Pianese, “We would like to get this work done within the next year.”
A second $39,191 New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety grant will be spent to launch the North Bergen Station House Adjustment Program. This alternative to the court system will allow juvenile minor offenders to make amends through community service.
Qualified juveniles will attend one week at the Junior Police Academy during the summer, be introduced to the inner workings of at least two law enforcement agencies, and perform hours of community service.
North Bergen also applied for a New Jersey PARIS grant for $65,205 to develop a computer-based, electronic filling, record management system.
Hall of Fame inductees
Sacco presented two resolutions to Eddie Connors and John Barone, recent inductees to the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame.
Connors played three years for the Boston Red Sox. A North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue captain, he was unable to make the meeting. Barone, a long-time North Bergen resident, teacher, and coach and North Bergen High School, accepted his plague in person.
“All I can say about North Bergen is that it’s given me every opportunity.” – John Barone
“I don’t know where to start,” said Barone. “This is very unbelievable. My first granddaughter was born this week, and this is a great, great honor. All I can say about North Bergen is that it’s given me every opportunity.”
New ambulance and vehicles
North Bergen also will purchase an ambulance from the Ambulance Network, Inc. of Elizabeth for $196,949.
“We generally need to take the oldest [ambulance] off the line on an annual basis and buy one new one each year, and the numbers just keeps going up,” said Pianese.
Because of North Bergen’s hills, he said, ambulances tend to take more wear and tear in the township.
Two four-door, four-wheel drive vehicles will be purchased from Wycoff Ford, Inc. Pianese said these vehicles will be eventually used by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The commissioners also accepted a bid for a combination sewer vacuum and high pressure jet rodder for $372,494 from Beyer Bros. Corp of Fairview, N.J.
Dominique Petrillo was re-appointed for five more years as a Housing Authority Commissioner. Her term of office was due to expire on March 30.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.