By Ron Leir
NORTH ARLINGTON –
North Arlington selected a group of new professional staffers at the borough’s reorganization meeting Jan. 6.
After the victors in the November election were sworn in – Joseph Bianchi as mayor and Daniel Pronti and Kerry Cruz as Borough Council members – the governing body approved a slew of appointments of new professionals, reflecting the new 4-2 Republican majority. And the council picked Republican Richard Hughes as council president.
Among the changes: Hackensack attorney Randy Pearce, who had served as borough attorney a few years ago, was returned to that post on the recommendation of Bianchi and his fellow Republicans. Pearce, who takes over for Doug Bern, had represented the borough in an expensive lawsuit against the Passaic Valley Water Commission which the borough ended up settling last month.
The borough hired the Saddle Brook law firm of Eastwood, Scandariato & Steinberg to provide the services of municipal prosecutor at $15,000. And it hired Wiss & Bouregy of Westwood as labor counsel and Rogut McCarthy LLC of Cranford as bond counsel.
Lerch Vinci & Higgins of Fairlawn is the new borough auditor.
Brought back as borough engineer was Neglia Engineering Associates of Lyndhurst, replacing Remington Vernick of Secaucus. Neglia had many years of prior borough service. And the Alaimo Group of Mt. Holly was hired as consulting engineer.
In his public remarks – his first as the borough’s new chief executive – Bianchi pledged to make every effort to find redevelopers for the borough’s meadows area, to control municipal spending and to maintain municipal services.
Bianchi also sent kudos to all borough employees and volunteers “for the excellent work they have undertaken over this past year, under very difficult circumstances.”
In the future, to try and tackle “financial problems that we have been left with,” such as rising water rates – resulting from the borough’s sale of its water system – Bianchi said the borough “must be smarter and not play politics” and “cannot continue to push [its] financial problems down the road, from budget to budget.”
The borough, Bianchi said, must find a way “to find new ratables … by using our redevelopment powers while at the same time, keeping the character of the community.” That, he said, means “that we are not planning to build any high-rise, high density or low-income housing” because “that would change what North Arlington is about.”
Borough Council committee assignments were parceled out this way: Hughes will chair Finance; Pronti heads up Public Safety; Cruz leads Recreation; Democrat Al Granell gets Administrative & Executive; Democrat Tom Zammatore leads Health, Transportation & Welfare. The chair for Public Works, Buildings & Grounds is currently vacant.
Still to be determined is who will be picked by the council to fill the unexpired term of Bianchi’s council seat.
Elsewhere, Harrison’s governing body also convened its reorganization meeting last week, swearing in James Fife as mayor and Town Council members Jesus Huaranga, Anselmo Millan, Laurence Bennett and James Doran.
Villalta was picked as the new council president.
Several of the town leaders talked about seeing come to roost much of the hard work by the late Mayor Raymond McDonough in promoting the Harrison Waterfront Redevelopment Area and luring redevelopers to the sprawling site.
As examples, Fife mentioned the Pegasus Group/ Ironstate starting phase 3 of its mixed-use project for more than 1,000 new apartments (studios and one-bedroom units) next to the PATH station; Advance Group preparing for a new A.C. Marriott hotel at Guyon Drive and Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. and Carlstadt developer Ed Russo moving ahead with construction of a 5-story, 400-unit apartment building with 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail near the Red Bull Arena.
In considering its list of professional staff, the town was continuing to review four bid proposals submitted for town attorney: the incumbent Robert Murray of Shrewsbury, who proposed an hourly fee of $165; Cleary/Giacobbe/Alfieri/ Jacobs LLC of Oakland, who bid $150 an hour; DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole of Teaneck, $175 an hour; and Eric M. Bernstein & Associates of Warren, $125 an hour.
The town is also reviewing four proposals for the services of tax appeal attorney received from the incumbent Castano Quigley of West Caldwell, who offered to work at the bid criteria specified by Harrison; William J. Rush of Wayne, $125 an hour; Eric Bernstein, $125 an hour; a