Fixing up the county

Freeholders introduce a $14.5 million bond ordinance

The Hudson County Board of Freeholders is planning to finance improvements to parks and other facilities, and is expected to hold a public hearing on a $14.5 million bond on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Pavonia Avenue chambers. This comes in a year in which many of the 12 Hudson municipalities have seen a rise in the county portion of their property taxes.
The board introduced the bond issue at its Sept. 25 meeting. It would cover a variety of capital improvements throughout the county, including upgrades in parks, energy improvements, and preparation work for a new courthouse to replace the problematic administration building at 495 Newark Ave. in Jersey City.
The proposed bonds, if passed, would set aside $2.2 million toward a traffic study for the new courthouse site, purchase of property for a new extension of Central Avenue, and demolition of the existing buildings. Central Avenue, which runs up the spine of Jersey Heights, would extend through to Newark Avenue.


“This money is just for acquisition of land and construction of the extension of Central Avenue.” – Freeholder Bill O’Dea

Currently, the street stops a block away in a tangle of streets, creating a kind of traffic nightmare as cars try to navigate narrow side streets to get to Newark Avenue.
“This money is just for acquisition of land and construction of the extension of Central Avenue,” said Freeholder Bill O’Dea.
But it is seen as the first step toward eventually replacing the Administration Building, which has been plagued with programs for more than two decades.
In late August 2008, Hudson County Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli warned the freeholders that if they did not take action, the court would have to go into arbitration to force the county to address the problems. Gallipoli said the county has a statutory responsibility to provide suitable and secure facilities, and that the current building is lacking in both.
A study said that the building had problems with security control, private access, sound, temperature, and atmosphere, as well as an inadequate electrical system and problems involving asbestos – problems that still exist today.
Even minor repairs to the building have become problematic.
“The heating and ventilation system, then as now, rendered some rooms totally unusable,” he said.
County government started to address some of these concerns in 1991 and compiled a plan in 1993 which concluded the building was passed its prime and should be replaced. But the plan was never implemented.
Contemporary estimates for replacing the building range from $300 million to $345 million.

Other capital improvements

The bond would pay $800,000 to provide security cameras in Stephen R. Gregg Park in Bayonne, where vandalism has been a significant problem. This would have the side effect of providing free internet access for people using the park.
“This will be the second park we have done this in,” O’Dea said. “We have done this in Lincoln Park in Jersey City, as well.”
The bond would set aside $50,000 for garden restoration in Hoboken’s Columbus Park. The Sunken Garden was restored in 1990, county officials said, and the plants have since grown unmanageable and a complete facelift is needed.
In North Hudson Park in North Bergen, the playgrounds need total demolition and restoration at an estimated cost of $2 million. The facility was reconstructed last in 1989 and is considered 10 years overdue for an overhaul. Also, $250,000 would be set aside for roadway repairs off Park Avenue to 79th Street to drain a lake near the tennis courts.
On the other hand, a section of New Veterans Park has turned into what county officials called a dustbowl, spreading dust along Bergenline Avenue. The county is setting aside $500,000 to correct this.
Four to six tennis courts are in need of complete restoration at the cost of $300,000.
The bond includes $150,000 for the third phase of Laurel Hill Park upgrades, which include new tennis courts, basketball courts, a dog run, parking paving, and sports lighting. The county also added $50,000 for boulder removal resulting from a crumbling section of the remaining hill there, as well as for repairs to fences and the walkway.
The bond would also replace all the sidewalks around Belmont Avenue near Lincoln Park, setting aside $350,000 toward the $1.35 million project, as well as $450,000 to demolish and reconstruct some of the tennis courts, and another $150,000 toward lighting upgrades.
Landfill closure on Lincoln Park West will cost an estimated $1.6 million.
More than $1.5 million is being set aside for improvements to the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, and about $400,000 for improvements to the Meadowview Complex in Secaucus.
Al Sullivan may be reached at

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