Collecting cats and old debt

Also at meeting: New playground for Mill Creek Park

The town of Secaucus is offering a $500 reward to anyone who can provide information on where 24 cats came from that were abandoned down the road from the animal shelter last week, announced Mayor Michael Gonnelli at the Town Council meeting held on Oct. 25. Animal Control discovered the cats stuffed inside a 2 x 3 dog carrier on Tuesday morning around 6 a.m.
“All you saw was a ball of fur and little heads trying to peek out,” said Gonnelli. The cats, apparently house trained, are beautiful, socialized and appear to be in excellent health. The town hopes to find all of the cats a home and get them adopted out.
“This may have been someone else who was hoarding,” said Gonnelli, referring to a similar case. The town recently brought charges against Martin, Joe and Mary Lewinski for animal cruelty after discovering 37 cats in their home, 18 of which had to be euthanized due to their poor state of health. The three pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month in Secaucus Municipal Court.

New park at Mill Creek with money from old debt

The town was successful in collecting $160,000 from developer Baker Residential for an agreement made in 2002 under the previous administration to relocate a marina associated with the Riverside Court development. The developer originally had an obligation to pay the town $198,000 for the project, which they deferred to the town.

“The town shouldn’t lose one penny.” — Mayor Michael Gonnelli
“They did some work in relation to the marina that had to be built. Then the whole thing was dropped,” said Gonnelli during an interview. “The previous administration had never collected on it. So we went after them and we were successful….It is just another example of someone’s lack of effort, someone’s lack of follow up.”
The developer met several obligations such as creating parking, a river walkway, installing benches, and street lighting, but failed to follow through on the marina.
“The town shouldn’t lose one penny,” said Gonnelli.
The town will use the money to build a brand new eco-friendly playground at Mill Creek Point Park.

Road improvements, parking changes

The council adopted several ordinances for parking meter changes and introduced an ordinance for road improvements to Enterprise Avenue. The project, made possible with $300,000 from the Department of Transportation, involves repaving the road, adding new curbs, and adding a sidewalk in certain areas.
After meeting with residents, the town has determined Cedar Lane is too narrow for two-way traffic and will convert that road to a one-way street running east.
The town will eliminate meters next to the Early Learning Center on First Avenue for a certain period of time to create a drop off area for parents. Individuals dropping off children for pre-kindergarten have been parking in the CVS lot, which is not allowed according to officials. Gonnelli hopes this will resolve the issue.
The town will then add parking meters along the Little League field on First Avenue for a time limit of five hours to prevent individuals from leaving their cars in that area all day while they commute to New York, and to encourage individuals who work in the center of town to park at those meters instead of in the town center and free up more parking spaces for visitors.
The town also introduced an ordinance to extend parking to one hour for meters in the town center along Paterson Plank Road to allow residents more time to run errands and shop. The date of the public hearing for the introduced ordinances is Nov. 22.
Councilman Robert Costantino reported that the town will place new signs, pedestrian crossing stanchions and LED flashing lights on Centre Avenue to improve safety and stop speeding. The street recently underwent repaving.
Councilman Clancy reported that teachers at Huber Street Elementary School will park in the lot instead of Paterson Plank Road to avoid traffic congestion and improve safety when school lets out.

Recognition for Hurricane Irene Volunteers

The town announced Governor Chris Christie recognized three volunteers from Secaucus last week for their efforts during Hurricane Irene: Chris Conti fostered dozens of animals from the shelter, and helped place over 20 cats, which led to several adoptions; Lt. Bill Heaney organized a team and helped another town that was devastated by the flood, and Peter Morando, OEM communications officer, staffed the radios and worked 36 to 48 hours nonstop.

Trick-or-Treat guidelines

Councilwoman Susan Pirro announced guidelines from the mayor, council, and Board of Health for a safe Halloween, such as watching out for the accidental ingestion of glow stick liquid by children. The substance is not toxic but is an irritant. Kids should also wear bright clothes at night or carry a flashlight, watch for peanuts and peanut oil for those with allergies, and be careful of small plastic toys or hard candy that could cause choking.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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