Parking, advertising, and how to grow

Town provides programs to help support local businesses

Just last month Secaucus was ranked the fourth best place to start a business in New Jersey by the number-crunching site NerdWallet, making it the only Hudson County municipality in the top 100. While the site based their ranking on straight statistical data such as income, housing costs, unemployment rate, and the average annual revenue per business, the underlying fact is that Secaucus is a good place to start a business because the township itself is proactively supportive of the business community and local owners.
It was for this reason the town held its second small business meeting on Tuesday night, Sept. 1. About two dozen local business owners attended and received information on initiatives and opportunities within the town, engaging in a lively and valuable discussion with Mayor Michael Gonnelli and other town administrators.
Issues discussed included changes to parking regulations to improve customer access to businesses, a façade improvement initiative to beautify and unify the look of the business districts, and advertising opportunities at sports events.

Changes to business and residential parking

Parking regulations recently changed in Secaucus, both for businesses and residential areas. At the first small business meeting held by the town on May 28, many small business owners expressed concerns about lack of parking for customers near their establishments, as well as parking for owner and employee vehicles.
“As a direct result of that meeting we created some areas in town for the employees to park,” said Councilman Robert Costantino.
In the past, business owners could apply for business permits, consisting of a windshield placard that would allow them to park in residential areas. Alternatively, some owners chose to park at metered spots all day and feed the meters, risking a ticket if they got busy and were late returning to the meter, as well as taking a prospective spot from customers.

“We’re trying to really beautify and unify the area to hopefully attract more businesses and make everyone here more successful.” –Town Administrator David Drumeler
“We also had a lot of concern regarding the lack of residential parking during the day, partly due to business parking there, partly also due to commuters,” said Assistant Town Attorney Keri Ann Eglentowicz at the meeting. “Unfortunately some of these issues just come with the territory of living in this type of environment, where we have a growing population and we have thriving businesses and we have a lot of residents in that area. But under the mayor’s lead the town did want to see what we could do to try to improve the situation.”
Under the new system, business owners and employees can purchase hangtags that allow them to park in designated areas in town. Two municipal lots have been made available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at Centre Avenue and the North End. In addition, parking is permitted with a hangtag between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on First Avenue, Wilson Avenue, and Flanagan Way.
While owners may have to walk a few blocks to work, this frees up metered spots near the businesses for customers, while alleviating some of residential parking congestion.
“We all know that 30-40 years ago, everybody had one car,” said Lt. Carlos Goyenechea of the police department’s traffic division. “Now, most people have two. If your child is 17 or older, you have three cars. And that’s the problem.”
The existing placards will no longer be valid as of Oct. 1. Hangtags will cost $25 each and be valid for six months. They are available now at the town clerk’s office. Any hangtags purchased now will be valid through June of 2016 to offer a few extra months and help establish the program.
The township is also close to purchasing a plot of land near Charlie’s Corner for additional business parking, according to Mayor Gonnelli.
To further address residential parking issues, nonresident parking has been reduced from four hours to two in certain areas to stimulate turnover. Additionally, the council is considering subdividing the township into zones. Currently some residents drive across town from their home to park.
“That happens a lot by bus stops,” said Gonnelli. “Even though they’re town residents they go from one end of town to another end of town to park because it’s convenient.”
If implemented, zones would allow residents to park within their ward and on designated thoroughfares where everyone could park.
Eglentowicz stressed that the revised parking regulations are based on community feedback and are subject to change based on results and need. Input from business owners and residents is always welcome.

Beautifying the business districts

As a follow-up to the façade program introduced at the first business meeting and at council meetings, Town Administrator David Drumeler discussed financing options that the township is looking to offer in the near future.
“We’re trying to really beautify and unify the area to hopefully attract more businesses and make everyone here more successful,” he said.
Town representatives would work together with any interested business to come up with a mutually acceptable rendering of a new façade. “We can talk about colors, we can talk about textures, about whether or not we want to use different materials for the fronts of buildings,” said Drumeler.
Once the logistics are established, the loan would be interest-free for its full term, estimated at 20 years. Payments could be added to the quarterly tax bill for convenience. Prices were estimated from about $7,500 to $30,000 for a new building façade.
Reception from business owners was highly positive, with several noting that improved façades would increase real estate value. The town is currently working with attorneys on implementing the financing plan. Several ordinances will need to be passed in the coming months to clear the way.
“It’s an important project to the town and council and it’s also, we think, an important project to the business owners,” said Gonnelli, referring to the current facades as a “hodgepodge.”
Gonnelli also mentioned a streetscape beautification project to add new islands on Paterson Plank Road near the center of town, across from Charlie’s Corner and TD Bank. “They won’t be planted islands; they’ll be cobblestone islands so vehicles can’t pass over them,” he said. In addition the strip in front of Immaculate Conception Church will be redone with a planting area between the curb and sidewalk.

Advertising and applicants

John Voli, director of the Department of Recreation, spoke at the meeting about new advertising opportunities for businesses. Beginning this October, the township will offer 3-foot by 10-foot sign boards along the inside of the ice rink.
“The boards will be up all year round,” said Voli. “We have indoor/outdoor carpeting and we do stuff in that facility so the boards will be seen all year round, not just seasonal for the hockey season.”
Signs can also be purchased at Shetick Field or Clarendon Field. They will hang for a full year, through next October. Proceeds from the ice rink will support the Secaucus Youth Alliance, from Shetick Field will support the K&S Social Athletic Club, and from Clarendon Field will go to the Secaucus Emergency Fund.
Drumeler pointed out that Secaucus has an applicant bank containing the resumes of prospective employees. “If anybody needs to fill any spot within your business and you need some qualified applicants, we have a bank of folks that we can provide resumes,” he said. “And if you have job openings, let us know. We’d be happy to post them on our website as well.”

Art Schwartz may be reached at

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