Port Authority increases NJ Transit lease deal from $1 per year to $875,000

After renegotiating a deal with NJ Transit, the Port Authority will increase the rent the transit company pays on a PA park and ride lot in North Bergen, from a controversial $1 per year to a market rate of $875,000, according to a report in
The annual lease payment had been $907,000 until February 2012, when it was dropped to $1 per year under PA Chairman David Samson.
At the time, concerns were raised that the deal represented a conflict of interest, since Samson’s law firm, then known as Wolff & Samson, had been retained since late 2010 by NJ Transit to help them maximize profits in their park and ride lots. The deal saved NJ Transit over $900,000 per year.
That deal seems to be history.
Samson subsequently resigned from his position at the Port Authority in the wake of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, amid investigations into his potential conflicts as chairman.
Current Chairman John Degnan announced on Thursday that the Port Authority had renegotiated the NJ Transit lease to $875,000, effective this month through 2018, pending board approval. The new amount is not retroactive for the past three years when NJ Transit only paid $1 annually.
The park and ride lot is located at the intersection of Routes 495 and 3 and has 750 parking spaces. Commuters pay $9.50 to park in the lot and ride a bus to the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan.

Esther Suarez nominated to be Hudson County Prosecutor

Superior Court Judge Esther Suarez has been nominated as the new Hudson County prosecutor by Gov. Christopher Christie.
Suarez, a native of Bayonne, served as counsel for the city of Hoboken before moving on to become a superior court judge in Passaic County. She will serve a five-year term as prosecutor.
Hudson County has been without a prosecutor since early June, 2012, when two-term prosecutor Ed DeFazio was appointed as a judge.
“I am proud to support Esther Suarez’s nomination to become the next Hudson County Prosecutor because she is not only eminently qualified, but also because her confirmation will be a historic moment as she will become both the first woman and the first person of Hispanic heritage to serve in the position,” said North Bergen Mayor and State Sen. Nicholas Sacco. “Esther is a Hudson County native and a Superior Court Judge with an impeccable record and unimpeachable integrity. She will bring a strong background of legal experience to the office and will ably represent the diversity that makes Hudson County great.”

High Tech student named Hudson County Softball Player of the Year

Victoria Avella was named the Hudson County Softball Player of the Year by the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League. Avella, a junior at High Tech High School and a North Bergen resident, plays for North Bergen High School.
“Victoria exemplifies the values of hard work, dedication and determination that are inculcated in our students,” said Hudson County Schools of Technology Superintendent Frank Gargiulo. “We congratulate her on a well deserved award and a great season.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of Victoria,” said Hudson County Schools of Technology Board of Education President Craig Guy. “She had a wonderful season and led her team in a year to remember. I’m sure there are many more accolades coming her way.”
Avella (17-6) finished the 2015 season with impressive numbers, registering 135.1 innings pitched, 135 strikeouts, and 42 walks, while only allowing 45 runs. Her steady and dependable pitching helped her lead NBHS to an 11-game win streak.
“She was outstanding on the softball field as well as in the classroom. She embodies what our student body is all about,” said High Tech Principal Dr. Joe Giammarella. “There wasn’t a more deserving student for the award. She was truly magnificent.”

Guttenberg Arts provides free summer art workshops

Guttenberg Arts at 6903 Jackson St. in Guttenberg is providing three free one-day art workshops in July and August.
The Cyanotypes workshop with instructor Juanna Valdes is an introductory workshop recommended for those interested in printmaking and photography. Process images on paper with jpeg images and found objects that you can bring the day of the workshop. The workshop is on Saturday, July 11 and is limited to 10 people.
The Suminagashi (Floating Ink) workshop with Heidi Lau takes place on Saturday, July 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. and is limited to eight people. Suminagashi or “floating ink” is the process of marbling plain paper with water and ink to transform it into something vibrant and colorful. It originated in Japan as early as the 12th century. Students will create colorful sheets of marbled paper that can be used for all sorts of paper crafts, including note cards and simple bookbinding and more.
Pavel Acosta will teach Collage: One Color Artworks on Saturday, August 1 from 2 to 5 p.m. Students will brainstorm with Acosta about how to translate images of an existing artwork into a one-color collage. They will focus on how to treat volumes, shadows and lights. Acosta will demonstrate how to arrange the pre-cut shapes into a piece of cardboard, employing this technique. The workshop, in Spanish and English, is limited to 10 people.
To sign up visit

Pool open for season on June 26

The North Bergen pool opened for the season at noon on Friday, June 26. Information on hours, registration, and guest passes can be found on the town website at

Case against former NB school clerk can proceed, says N.J. Supreme Court

The state Supreme Court ruled this week that a former North Bergen school employee can face charges of theft and official misconduct after allegedly taking confidential student documents in order to support a discrimination lawsuit.
Ivonne Saavedra was hired by the school board as a clerk in the payroll department in 1998 and assigned to Lincoln School ten years later to work on a team evaluating the needs of children with learning disabilities. In 2009 she filed a lawsuit against the board alleging that she was forced to work in a hostile environment after she complained about discriminatory practices.
She was subsequently charged with taking 367 confidential documents from the board, including 69 originals. The documents reportedly included highly confidential student records containing financial and medical information.
Saavedra was indicted in April 2012 and charged with second-degree official misconduct and third-degree theft by unlawful taking of documents. Her lawyer, Mario Blanch, argued that her gathering of documents for the purposes of her lawsuit does not constitute a crime. The National Employment Lawyers Association backed her up, arguing that charging her would negatively impact whistle-blowers in the future.
The prosecution argued that employees do not have the right to take confidential documents for their own purposes. The judge’s ruling this week allows the indictment against Saavedra to stand.

Guttenberg senior cruise on July 17

The Hudson County Executive and Board of Chosen Freeholders invite Guttenberg seniors to be their guests on a cruise on the Hudson River on Friday, July 17. Pick up will be at 10:30 a.m. at the Guttenberg Town Hall. Attendees will return back to Guttenberg by 3:15 p.m. Lunch and beverages will be included. There are a limited amount of tickets and registrants must sign up prior to the day of the event.

See Jurassic Park outdoors on July 16

The North Bergen Public Library presents Cinema under the Stars on Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. A free screening of “Jurassic Park” will be held in the parking lot at 8411 Bergenline Ave. Bring a chair, blanket, and snacks. For more information call (201) 869-4715 or visit

Sign up for summer programs at the library

Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Library Director Sai Rao, and the board of trustees are pleased to announce the library’s annual summer programs for both the Main Library and the Kennedy Branch. Registration begins on Monday, June 29 at 9 a.m. and programs will begin Monday, July 6.
Registration is open to North Bergen and Guttenberg residents. Register in person at either the Main Library or the Kennedy Branch. Proof of age and residency are required. Registration is limited. For more information call (201) 869-4715 or visit to view the program listings.

Free yoga in Braddock Park every Tuesday and Friday

Free yoga takes place in Braddock Park every Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. and every Friday from 8 to 9 a.m. Rain or shine. Come to James J. Braddock North Hudson Park Environmental Center 10 minutes before start time.
Bring a yoga mat, water, towel, and a friend (optional). You must be 18 years or older. Register at

Attend a discussion on the natural history of the Meadowlands on June 29

Natural Resources Specialist Brett Bragin will discuss how the Meadowlands was formed 20,000 years ago during the last ice age, and how nature and humanity have since impacted the region. He will also lecture on the remarkable comeback of fish and other wildlife in the Meadowlands.
The free event takes place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center, Two DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. Call (201) 460-1700 or register at

Independence Day Concert on July 1

Wear your red, white and blue and celebrate America’s independence with a fun night of free music on Wednesday, July 1 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Back by popular demand, the North Jersey Concert Band will perform a selection of rousing patriotic songs.
Registration is required at The event will take place at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. Information: (201) 460-1700.

Sixth Annual Butterfly Day is July 26

The highly-anticipated Butterfly Festival is back. Join a fun-filled day of butterfly walks and identification techniques, plus many free activities for the kids on Sunday, July 26. Children 12 and under can join a butterfly costume contest. Butterfly Day is co-sponsored by the Bergen County Audubon Society and the North American Butterfly Association.
This free event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center,
2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst.

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