Police lieutenant’s lawsuits with Weehawken settled for $747,000
WEEHAWKEN – Two lawsuits by a township police lieutenant alleging political retaliation by Mayor Richard Turner and the Building Department have been settled, as well as a disciplinary action against him, have been settled by the Township of Weehawken for $747,000.
A federal lawsuit filed in 2008 by Police Lt. Richard DeCosmis said his relationship with Mayor Richard Turner “took a turn for the worse” when he began to complain that a $1.18 million grant from the State Department of Transportation allocated for a “park and ride” was not being utilized. The suit alleged the land allocated for the “park and ride” was being used as the parking lot for the Bella Vista Estates, developed by Turner supporters. (The park and ride was eventually developed.)
DeCosmis alleged that after he said he would contact state authorities regarding the park and ride, the town began issuing building violations on properties owned by him and his family members.
Another lawsuit, alleging that Turner utilized “frequent and unlawful interference with the day-to-day operation[s] of the Weehawken Police Department” was filed by DeCosmis and his friend then-Police Captain Thomas Earl in November 2007.
After the filing, DeCosmis says that the Weehawken Building Department continually harassed him.
In the settlement agreement, DeCosmis agreed to retire on Nov. 1, 2017 and the township will dismiss disciplinary charges against DeCosmis. The police lieutenant will receive a 15 percent salary increase and the total insurance company payment will be $747,000. Township insurance, not taxpayer dollars, will cover the lump sum.
All future inspection or permit matters related to DeCosmis’ home will be handled by the West New York Building Department and the township and its officials named in the suit do not admit to any wrongdoing as a result of the settlement.
DeCosmis will also get a letter of reprimand in regard to the disciplinary action against him.
Township Attorney Richard Venino said that he believes DeCosmis would not have won the case, but to litigate it was becoming too expensive for the township, and the town’s insurance company “made a business decision and wanted to pay a settlement rather than pay attorneys’ fees. We had a great case but it cost too much, and a trial would have been too expensive, with the possibility of appeals and more legal fees.”
Venino said DeCosmis’ claims of Turner’s alleged political favoritism and revenge had no merit.
“And I was deeply involved in the transactions that led to park and ride and it was a great thing,” Venino said. “Everyone pitched in. It was for half public use, half developer use and [the developer] paid for [his part of] it.”
Venino said, “We were happy to end the whole thing. We never dreamed he would get that kind of money. We don’t think he’s getting that kind of money. We think most of it’s going to his lawyer.
Zayas could not be reached by press time on Thursday.
Weehawken Library offers reading of ‘The Night Before Christmas’
The Weehawken Public Library presents longtime local resident John Charlesworth in a special reading of the timeless holiday poem “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m.
Charlesworth’s reading will highlight the second annual holiday event hosted by the library, which will also feature plenty of holiday music and refreshments to compliment the spirit of the season.
“Last year we had many families and friends gather for this event,” said Library Board of Trustees president Leona Nersesian. ”We hope residents of all ages will once again visit us at the library to enjoy this classic piece of literature that is both timeless and universal and in perfect keeping with the spirit of the season!”
According to legend, Moore wrote his immortal poem for his family on Christmas Eve 1822, not intending that it be published. But a family friend later learned of the poem from his children and submitted it to a local newspaper, where it made its first appearance in print in December 1823. Soon it was reprinted in other papers, almanacs and magazines, and today, over 180 years later, it is among the most-published, most- read and most- collected book in all of Christmas literature.
Charlesworth is a member of the Weehawken Planning Board and lector at St. Lawrence R.C. Church and has a long history of public speaking beginning at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx where he was a member of the Drama Club and Debate Society, winning national recognition for his oratory and dramatic skills. In his professional career as a vice president with Merrill Lynch he hosted several national telecasts, representing the corporation to clients. This event is free and open to the public. Call the library at (201) 863-7823 for further information.
Township Christmas Party will be Dec. 19
Weehawken Recreation’s Annual Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, Dec. 19 for Weehawken residents ages 1-10 in the high school auditorium, 53 Liberty Place. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the Prismatic Magic laser show Winter Holiday Celebration, a bright, colorful high-tech laser show and sing-along begins promptly at 6:15. Follow the adventures of the world’s only laser penguin, Squeaky, as he tries to figure out how best to return home to Antarctica for the holidays, a big challenge for a small, flightless bird. Santa and his friends will also make a guest appearance.
This event, for Weehawken residents only, is sponsored by Mayor Richard F. Turner and the Township Council.
Santa Claus is coming to town
Hey Kids! On Monday, Dec. 21, starting at 6 p.m., Santa Claus will take a quick break from his Christmas preparations and make one last check on the boys and girls in Weehawken. Listen for the sirens and music and be sure to come outside and say hello. Santa’s helpers will give out candy canes.
Santa will start his tour at The Brownstones, Carlyle Ct./ Regency Pl. at 6 p.m., and make his way through the town as follows: Riva Pointe at Lincoln Harbor between 6:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.;
downtown between 6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.; Heights between 7:15 p.m. – 8 p.m., and uptown between 8 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.
West New York Cuban Lions will play Santa at school for the blind
The West New York Cuban Lions Club will visit the school of Saint Joseph for the Blind in Jersey City to bring them gifts, toys and clothing. For more than two months the club has been organizing this function, and will include a Christmas tree chosen and purchased by the members. The visit will take place Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. Gifts will be distributed by Manny Reyes (Santas Claus) Erlinda Rodriguez, Vivian González and Sandra Paz and there will be a special appearance by the Three Kings. The Lions members will be accompanied by students from high schools attended by members of the club. All are welcome to attend.
Saint Joseph School for the Blind, 761 Summit Ave., Jersey City in Jersey City now has more space for disabled children and the partially blind, is free to the community. There are only 70 students at the school.
Liberty Realty donates holiday apple pies
This past Thanksgiving, with the help of Liberty Realty’s agents and staff, the Liberty Board of Realtors was able to donate over 125 apple pies to Major Vanessa and Major Ernest at the Salvation Army on Bergen Avenue in Jersey City.“A special thank you to Joe Covello, president of Liberty Realty, for supporting the cause and allowing the LBR pie committee team to turn 525 Washington St. into ‘Pie Central.’ As always, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the Liberty family,” says Margaret Jager Watson, Liberty Board Member and 525 Washington St. office manager. The pies made a great addition to Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner.
American Dream mall to feature three restaurants from Bellagio and Carpaccio owners
Representatives of the American Dream mall in East Rutherford announced on Dec. 3 the addition of three fine dining and signature restaurants in the property. Tom Billante, president of Carpaccio at the Bal Harbour Shops, along with partner Alex Kalas, will bring the restaurants to the mall and entertainment complex.
“We look forward to featuring multiple concepts from the Carpaccio family of restaurants in The Dining Terrace at American Dream,” said Don Ghermezian, president of Triple Five, the developers of American Dream. “The Dining Terrace will showcase fifteen full-service restaurants in an exciting dining destination complete with a park like setting and patio seating.”
The Dining Terrace is planned as a collection of fifteen full-service restaurants showcased in one location. To create a unique dining space, American Dream has engaged Manhattan-based iCrave, an award-winning industry leader in innovative design environments that engage visitors in trendy dining experiences.
“The international mix of incredible restaurants at American Dream will provide our guests with an exceptional place for exquisite dining. We are satisfying a real need in this market for a true dining destination by creating a place that will appeal to local residents, those visiting from Manhattan, as well as the millions of tourists visiting from across the nation and around the globe,” said Ghermezian.
The Triple Five Group of Companies own the two largest shopping and entertainment centers in North America: Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall. Their plan for the 3 million-square-foot American Dream includes over 450 retail, food and specialty shops, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, and The Collections, a 460,000-square-foot luxury and fashion area.
American Dream is also slated to house North America’s largest fully-enclosed indoor DreamWorks Water Park, Amusement Park and a 16-story Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snow Park. Also planned for the property are a 1,500 seat live performing arts theater, a 285-foot tall observation wheel, luxury movie theatres by Cinemex, a 70,000-square-foot Sea Life Aquarium & Lego Discovery Center, a NHL-size Ice Rink, and two 18-hole miniature golf attractions.
Thanksgiving drunk/impaired driving crackdown nets arrests and citations
As part of a county wide crackdown on drunk and impaired driving during Thanksgiving weekend, Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari reported six arrests and dozens of citations.
“I would like to commend my officers for their outstanding work in making roads in Hudson County safer for everyone during Thanksgiving weekend,” said Schillari. “The Hudson County Sheriff’s Office has a commitment to safety with the residents of Hudson County. My officers and I will continue to work relentlessly to guarantee everyone enjoys a safe Holiday Season.”
The county wide enforcement was carried out by extra roving patrols, which were made possible thanks to the Federal Drunk Driving Enforcement Grant.
During the crackdown, 64 traffic summonses were issued and seven vehicles were impounded for being unregistered.