Making the pitch

County schools superintendent discusses vo-tech plans with council

In a repeat of a presentation he recently offered to the Hudson County Freeholders, Hudson County Schools Superintendent Frank Gargiulo last week visited the Secaucus Town Council to talk about plans to build a new vocational school in town.
Although the Tuesday afternoon caucus meeting was open to the public, the presentation was not advertised, and no residents showed up. Thus, the council has asked the superintendent to return to do his presentation again at a later date that will be advertised and will hopefully draw more residents. That meeting, which will likely be held in the evening rather than in the afternoon, has not yet been scheduled.
The presentation included artist renderings of what the campus might look like, including landscaping and a general layout of the school’s facilities.


The county has yet to conduct traffic or environmental impact studies for the project.

The new school will be a campus of the Hudson County Schools of Technology, a group of competitive county public high schools. The new campus, as currently planned, would cost $199 million to build, partly with state funds. The existing Jersey City and North Bergen campuses would be sold to help pay for the new building. A smaller Jersey City campus might open somewhere in the Journal Square neighborhood.

Vision for the school

Plans to build the campus in Laurel Hill Park, a county-owned park at the south end of Secaucus, have been in the works for more than three years, according to Gargiulo.
He has for years argued that High Tech’s student body of 480 coeds needs a newer building and better campus than the North Bergen site.
“The school is currently located in a building that was built to be a factory,” said Gargiulo. “There used to be an old lithograph company there. The building is almost 100 years old. And even though we’ve done extensive modifications to it, there are still some significant problems with the building we’re in.”
Also, Tonnelle Avenue is increasingly becoming a dense commercial area, he argued, and the school does not fit in with the type of development taking place around it.
“This area was no place for a school when this building was first picked for High Tech, and it’s still no place for a school,” he added.

Getting approved

Earlier this month, the Hudson County Freeholders unanimously endorsed the vocational school project after Gargiulo presented preliminary plans.
The superintendent hopes to earn similar support from the Secaucus Town Council.
Initial reaction from the council last week was positive, though reserved.
“He came forth and put together a beautiful proposal. The drawings were absolutely gorgeous,” said Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “And he said many things we needed to hear about how much the town would benefit from the school being here. He said we’d be able to have more children in, that we’d be able to use their facilities when the school wasn’t using them. But they still have to address the other issues: the open space issues and the traffic issues.”
A primary concern of the Town Council is the possible impact the school facility will have on traffic and congestion in the area, and some other residents have lamented the prospect of losing a portion of Laurel Hill to development.
Gonnelli said last week that the county still has yet to conduct traffic or environmental impact studies for the project, two major concerns of the governing body.
Gargiulo has already approached the New Jersey Department of Education and the state Schools Development Authority for project approval and funding.
Soon, however, the county will also need to get local approvals from the Secaucus Planning Board – approvals Gonnelli said the town won’t give until after local residents have seen plans for the school firsthand.
Town Administrator David Drumeler estimated the county will apply for local approvals from the local Planning Board sometime this spring.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at

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