Please allow me to respond to a letter that appeared in the Sept. 26 edition of the Union City Reporter, submitted by Jorge Cruz and entitled “What took so long, Mayor Stack?” Also, I’ll use this opportunity to respond to a news brief from the prior week’s edition, by Staff Reporter Lana Rose Diaz, in which an anonymous source questions the timing of my office’s action to file with the court to have a rent receiver appointed for 2206 Central Ave., which is owned by Sage Development, whose principal is Feisal Abdul Rauf.
It must be noted that whenever a tenant in said building has made a complaint, I always worked to immediately offer a resolution, just as I have continued to do at other buildings throughout Union City during my tenure as Mayor.
After violations at 2206 Central Ave. were conveyed to me by residents, such as lack of lighting in the common areas, it was further discovered that the fire alarm system was inoperable. The common area lighting was disconnected by PSE&G, who was owed several thousand dollars from the owner. Realizing the seriousness of this situation, I was able to have electricity restored in approximately two hours by calling PSE&G and promising that Union City would apply to the court to have a rent receiver appointed to pay essential utility bills and for the repair of the fire alarm system. In the meantime, the City had a police officer assigned to conduct a 24-hour fire watch for the safety of the residents.
Anyone who questions the timing of my actions clearly doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. It should be noted that the City is unable to gain control of a property unless a landlord refuses to pay utility bills or provide essential maintenance to vital equipment such as the fire alarm system. Municipal government can only intercede once services are terminated or neglected. Consequently, this is why it was imperative to seek receivership at respective time.
I commend our municipal officials for acting swiftly to prevent harm to residents. Such immediate reaction is not always offered in other cities. Sadly, in other cities, we have witnessed a less proactive approach and have had to endure lifeless families being removed from the premises after a fire.
Please know that my administration will continue to offer all available resources to protect the residents of our city, including additional applications for rent receiverships, regardless of who owns the property or who the media might decide to cover at any given time. No one can deny my work ethic or commitment to the people. The reality of this issue is that my cell phone rings in the middle of the night if a response or resources are needed at an emergency, such as a burning building, just as I am present at every serious fire. It is my hope that those who decide to write about these matters understand the personal attention that I devote to ensuring safety and health for our residents.
Brian P. Stack