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John R. Hodnett Sr.

John R. Hodnett Sr. died Nov. 28 in Fort Laurderdale, Fla., He was 87.

Born in Jersey City, he lived many years in Kearny and the past five years in Pompano Beach.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Mr. Hodnett was a coowner of Bibb’s Auto Parts in Kearny.

Husband of the late Christine (nee Pantozzi) he is survived by his children John «Jack», Patrick, Michael and James Hodnett and Linda Reilly. Also surviving are his grandchildren Candace, Jody, Jessica, Kyla, James, Alyssa, James and Colleen.

Michael J. Tallent 

Michael J. Tallent, 84, died Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville.

Born in Kearny, he was a lifelong Harrison resident. He was employed as a time keeper in the payroll department of Worthington/Ingersoll Rand in Harrison for five years before retiring in 1993. Previously, he worked as a bartender at Dunphy’s Bar in Harrison for many years.

Michael was a member of the Elks Club of Harrison and the Holy Cross Church Honor Society.

He was the beloved son of the late Mary (nee Murray ) and James Tallent, the dear brother of James “Sonny” Tallent and the late Alice Aquino; and the cherished uncle of Anthony and John Aquino, Maureen Rogers, James Jr. , Stephen and Sharon Tallent.

Arrangements were by the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Road, North Arlington. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Street attack & more: HPD blotter

A man reported that he was assaulted by two men on Dec. 1, shortly after 6 p.m., at Harrison Ave. and Third St., police said.

The victim gave this account of the incident to police: He said he was walking south on Third St. when he was approached by two men who asked him about the shoes he was carrying. After informing them they were newly purchased, one of the men demanded, “Give me them shoes.”

But he refused and pushed the man in the chest.

At that point, the second man pulled out a small silver automatic handgun and said: “Now run your pockets.”

The victim, holding his shoe box and cellular phone, then assumed a fighting stance and replied: “Let’s fight like men.”

In response, the gunman hit the victim in the mouth with the firearm causing bleeding and swelling and the second man punched the victim in the back of the head.

Both assailants then ran north on Third St. towards Harrison Ave. where the victim lost sight of them.

Nothing was taken from the victim.

The man with the weapon was described as Hispanic, between 20 and 25, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, with dark brown hair and wearing a black baseball hat and dark colored jeans.

The other man was listed as Hispanic, between 20 and 25, 5-foot- 10, , 200 pounds, with dark brown hair, wearing a beige jacket and blue jeans.

Harrison PD also logged these incidents during the past week:

Dec. 2

At 8:45 a.m., police were dispatched to the 500 block of Hamilton St. on a report of a stolen vehicle. The owner’s son told police they just discovered their vehicle was missing and, upon checking their home’s surveillance tape, they found that two males had broken into the driver’s side door of their silver 2002 Chrysler minivan while it was parked in their driveway and, once inside, started the vehicle and drove westbound on Hamilton St. out of the camera frame. One of the thieves appeared to be while with short hair, police said.


Police responded to the 500 block of Cross St. on a report of a lost package. Police said the resident told them that on Nov. 24, he’d ordered a $120 Garmin GPS and was told that it would be shipped to him via UPS and was expected to arrive by Nov. 28. When the resident called UPS to ask about the package, he was told that it was delivered on Nov. 28 and left on his front porch, police said.

Dec. 3

A resident in the 100 block of Cross St. reported that a new iPhone valued at $749.99 delivered to her was believed to be stolen from the front steps of her residence. Police said she’d placed the order on Nov. 8 with AT&T but never received the phone and, after checking with AT&T, was advised that delivery was made on Nov. 13.

– Ron Leir 

Then & Now




Top Photo: KPD

Bottom Photo by Karen Zautyk

With our ‘Then’ pictures, it is often difficult to determine what year they were taken. That’s not the case this week. We have not only a year (1936), but also an exact date (Aug. 11) and even a time of day (2:25 p.m.). We even know the identity of the photographer: Kearny Police Sgt. George Carlisle. That’s because this photo is part of a KPD murder file. 

The victim, Theodore Zetterlund, owned that butcher shop/grocery on the northeast corner of Davis Ave. and Tappan St. and was killed there Dec. 7, 1935, during a botched robbery. He and his wife, Kathryn, had lived in the apartment above the store. 

Today, the site is occupied by the Schuyler Savings Bank, but the building to the right, on the south side of Tappan, remains. 

For more on the Zetterlund story, and the recent, fascinating turn of events, see p. 1

– Karen Zautyk 

High stakes lottery


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Close to 150 folks have entered a special lottery which – if they’re winners – will, literally, change their lives.

They’re in the running for 15 one-room apartments at the Harrison Senior Residence, what’s been billed as the town’s “first affordable senior citizen apartment building.”

A certificate of occupancy for the three-story building at 774 Harrison Ave. was issued by the town’s Construction Code unit last Tuesday, said John Westervelt, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark and president of the Domus, its housing construction arm and sponsor of the Harrison structure.

The modular apartment project was built by Del-Sano Contracting of Union and was financed by $3.7 million in government funding: $1.8 million in Community Development Block Grant/Sandy Disaster Recovery Program, $1.4 million from the Hudson County Home Investment Partnership Program and $509,000 from the Harrison Affordable Trust Fund.

To enter the lottery, prospective tenants had to be age 62 or older and meet federal household income limits set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

People who have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help after being displaced by Superstorm Sandy are to be given priority.

Last week, each application form was placed in a large cardboard box and Westervelt, Mayor James Fife, Councilman/Harrison Housing Authority Chairman Larry Bennett and Dan Ritchey Jr., vice president of R.P. Marzulli Co., the Bloomfield real estate firm picked by Domus to manage the Harrison property, took turns drawing the forms and reading the applicants’ names aloud as dozens of applicants and others watched and listened from their seats in the second-floor assembly chambers at Harrison Town Hall.

Photos by Ron Leir As interested parties wait for the lottery to start at Town Hall, a worker puts finishing touches of paint on railings at front entrance to Harrison Senior Residence.

Photos by Ron Leir
As interested parties wait for the lottery to start at Town Hall, a worker puts
finishing touches of paint on railings at front entrance to Harrison Senior


“Welcome to, hopefully, what will be the first of many lotteries like this in the future,” Fife told the expectant crowd. The mayor has said previously that officials are reviewing several prospective sites that could possibly be developed as additional affordable apartments for seniors living on fixed incomes.

And Westervelt – noting that the Harrison building is the 12th project that Domus has developed in New Jersey (including a larger one in Kearny) – said that he looked forward to building more if HUD continued to provide funding.

Each applicant was given a number corresponding to the order in which the form was picked. The first 15 applicants to be successfully screened as eligible for tenancies will be accorded the right to the 15 apartments, Westervelt said.

“Don’t get discouraged if your number is 25 [or higher],” Westervelt told the crowd, explaining that it’s possible that people higher up on the list of the draw could be eliminated from consideration if they don’t meet the eligibility criteria.

Westervelt said his staff would shortly begin calling in the first 15 applicants for vetting interviews and continue the process until the final selections for the 15 apartments are made.

He said the goal is “to start moving people in as soon as possible, maybe by mid-December.”

Westervelt gave The Observer a tour of the building last week. Aside from some “punchlist’’ items, such as painting of outdoor railings at the front entrance, installation of glass panes in the front doors and plastic covers to fill gaps between the ground floor and a crawl-space basement, a utility hookup and placement of its numerical address on the front, the building looked pretty much ready for its first-ever occupants.

Cops not charged in shooting

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


An Essex County grand jury has voted not to bring c riminal charges against any of the Belleville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a local man in his residence some 16 months ago, The Observer has learned.

“Just like the case in the Mid-West [Ferguson, Mo.] the grand jurors don’t believe there is sufficient evidence for a criminal indictment,” said New York attorney Marc Bengualid, representing Judy Breton, the widow of the victim, Dante Cespedes in a civil suit.

Cespedes, 40, was fatally shot July 9, 2013, in the living room of the couple’s Lake St. apartment by members of the Belleville Police Department who, police say, had responded to a domestic violence report.

Following the incident and an investigation, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said that Cespedes allegedly approached police officers with at least two knives and that the officers fired in self-defense.

In a tort claim notice filed in September 2013 against the township, the Belleville Police Department and Officers Matthew Dox, Charles Mollineaux, Angelo Quinn and a “John Doe,” Bengualid said that Cespedes “was shot at approximately 30 times by Belleville Police officers (14 times by … Quinn, 14 times by … Mollineaux and two times by … Dox) of which 24 entered his torso, arm and face.”

Bengualid subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Federal Court in Newark demanding $10 million in damages on behalf of his client.

Now that the criminal investigation has been laid to rest by the grand jurors’ return of a “no bill” verdict, after hearing – as is customary in such proceedings – essentially, the state’s side of the case through the presentation of its witnesses in secret testimony, Bengualid said he’ll be gearing up to proceed with the civil case.

“We’ll be trying to get whatever evidence we can from the county prosecutor,” he said. “And, meanwhile, there are a couple of other issues I’ll be pursuing that look promising.” He declined to elaborate.

Bengualid said that Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Naazneen Khan, who was assigned to present the matter to the grand jury, notified him about the outcome and told him she “wants to meet with [Cespedes’] family,” presumably to explain more about the process.

On Monday, Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, confirmed that, “The grand jury found no cause to bring charges,” and declined to elaborate.

Bengualid said that he and his client would meet with the prosecutor’s representative, possibly along with other family members. “We just have to get the right time, after the Thanksgiving holiday, probably sometime in December.”

The attorney said the family was “upset” with the jurors’ decision not to indict, “but it’s a tough job for them to do with the evidence presented to them [by the state],” and added that, “there is a consistent pattern in all areas of the country,” that grand juries are reluctant to indict police officers in shooting cases.

“That’s a sort of ‘no man’s land,’ ’’ he suggested.

Because of the secret proceedings, Bengualid said he could offer little insight into how the grand jurors came to their decision. He said the prosecutor’s office “called a slew of witnesses,” including his client who testified in June, but he added that he wasn’t privy to the names of the other witnesses.

He said he expected to learn more after meeting with the assistant prosecutor.

The grand jury wasn’t convened to hear the facts in the Cespedes case until nearly a year after the shooting.

Asked for reaction to the grand jury outcome, Belleville Police Chief Joseph P. Rotonda said: “The grand jury heard the evidence presented and felt the officers’ actions were justified.”

At some point in the near future, Bengualid anticipates scheduling a pre-trial conference before U.S. District Court Magistrate Mark Falk, sitting in Newark.

Big bill to rid borough of sex suit

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


East Newark has agreed to pay a former civilian police dispatcher $101,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit filed against a borough police superior who also served as the borough’s volunteer fire chief.

Additionally, through its public liability insurance coverage, the borough has also consented to pay the ex-employee’s lawyers more than $90,000 in fees and costs in connection with the processing of claims against her former employers.

Borough Attorney Neil Marotta said the cop continues to be employed by the borough. But he has agreed to a voluntary demotion, from sergeant to police officer, according to court papers. He hasn’t been criminally charged.

An amended complaint filed in August 2013 in Hudson County Superior Court by the Whippany law firm of Foreman & Gray alleged that its client was a victim of a “sexually hostile and abuse environment” during her employment as a dispatcher.

The complaint said that sometime after she was hired as a part-time police dispatcher in May 2008, Police Sgt. Robert Tomasko, her supervisor, “forced … [the woman] to perform oral sex” on 10 different occasions and threatened to fire her if she told anyone what happened.

On May 1, 2010, the complaint said, Tomasko terminated the woman, for an alleged “failure to cover a shift she was not scheduled to work” to “silence her” on the belief that the Police Department “was becoming aware of his conduct towards [her].” After her firing, she told the police chief what she alleges had happened to her, the complaint said.

The complaint added that the woman, who served as a borough volunteer firefighter for eight years, “faced discriminatory actions” and “gender discrimination” after disclosing that she was pregnant and “was forced to resign” as a volunteer in April 2012.

The complaint alleged that the woman was subjected to a “sexually hostile work environment,” that the Police Department “failed to remediate” the situation, that she feared losing her job for speaking out against her supervisor, that she was wrongfully terminated from her dispatcher job and firefighter position and, therefore, demanded compensatory and punitive damages and legal costs.

On June 6, 2014, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Francis Schultz dismissed all but one of the claims against the borough and Tomasko, leaving only the sexual hostile work environment claim open for trial.

But, during settlement negotiations, after having initially indicated they would accept nothing less than $1 million for their client and then later modifying that to not less than $500,000, the plaintiff ’s lawyers accepted an “offer of judgment” of $101,000 in July.

However, in October 2014, the plaintiff ’s lawyers, Foreman & Gray, petitioned the court for fees of $786,247, based on 1,990.5 billable hours at $395 an hour, plus about $393,123 in “enhanced” legal fees and about $36,500 in costs for a total of about $1.2 million.

In evaluating the merits of the law firm’s enhanced fee application, Superior Court Judge Kimberly Espinales- Maloney found that although the lawyers’ billing rate was acceptable, she found certain billings “unreasonable.” These included:

• 12.5 hours to draft a set of  interrogatories.

• 19.8 hours to review  and abstract the transcript of Tomasko’s 2- hour and 47-minute-long statement of Sept. 28, 2012.

•41.8 hours to prepare for  Tomasko’s deposition.

• 9.1 hours to attend To masko’s deposition, lasting two and a half hours.

• 29.1 hours to prepare for  depositions of former Police Chief Kenneth Sheehan and current Chief Anthony Moreiro.

• 5.2 hours for Sheehan’s  deposition, lasting two and a half hours.

• 140 hours to oppose the  borough’s motion to dismiss the case.

“These examples are not exhaustive, merely illustrative of the efforts of plaintiff ’s counsel to recover fees,” the court determined.

“Additionally,” the court noted, “[plaintiff ’s lawyers, Paul Foreman and David Gray] each individually billed hours for all activities they worked on together.… It is unreasonable for two attorneys to charge individually for routine activities, such as drafting interrogatories.”

In its Oct. 10 decision, the court concluded that 200 hours was a “reasonable amount of hours” spent on the case which, based on the billable rate, works out to $79,000 in attorney’s fees. In addition, the court allowed $14,480 in “reasonable litigation costs,” for a combined total of $93,480.

The Hackensack law firm Sweeney & Sheehan represented the borough in the case and Philadelphia attorney Robyn McGrath, of Harwood Lloyd, appeared for Tomasko.

Staying safe at all times


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


Despite the dateline, this is an article for readers in all our Observer towns, not just Nutley. So please pay heed. Recently Chief Thomas Strumolo and Det. Tom Perrota of the Nutley Police Department held an informational session in Town Hall offering crime prevention tips. The focus was on travelling and shopping during the holiday season, but, just as with the dateline, they are more widely applicable.

For example: Lock your cars. Whether you are in a mall parking lot or at home. Year-round.

I have lost track of the number of times I have forwarded that warning from cops in various communities, but people continue to ignore it, even though thieves are continually, by night and by day, prowling the streets and lots for unlocked vehicles. Sometimes, they take the cars. More often, they take what’s in the cars.

A few weeks back, for example, the Nutley PD nabbed a guy who was riding around with 11 GPS units in his auto. He didn’t have them because he was paranoid about getting lost. All of them had reportedly been stolen — from unlocked vehicles.

As for shopping, especially at malls, the advice for drivers includes:

• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with tinted windows.

• Park as close as you can to your destination.

• At night, park in a well-lit area.

• Do not leave packages or valuables in plain sight in the car. If you must leave something in the vehicle, lock it in the trunk.

• Do not leave CHILDREN in the car. (Don’t laugh. Some people do this.)

• When returning to your car, have your keys ready.

• When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

• Do not approach the car if there is anyone suspicious in the area. Call the cops or go back and report it to store security.

• Do not place packages or your purse on top of the car.

• After entering your car, lock the doors immediately and leave. Don’t sit there rummaging around or chatting on your cell phone.

Inside or outside the store: 

• Keep a firm hold on your purse. Don’t put it the shopping cart, even for a second. For those without a purse, keep your money in your front pocket.

• Do not carry large amounts of cash.

• Stay alert to your surroundings.

• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. “At this time of year,” Perrota warned, “con-artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.”

(Personal note: They can try to take your money not by force but with some sob story. More than once, I have been approached by someone who needed “just a few dollars” to pay a parking lot fee or for bus fare or whatever because they had “lost” their wallet.)

• Be wary of purse-snatchers/ pickpockets not only in stores, but in any crowded area, e.g. at bus stops, on buses or trains, in transit hubs.

At ATMs: 

• Use one in a safe, well-lit location.

• Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.

• Protect your PIN by shielding the keypad from anyone standing nearby.

• Do not discard your ATM receipt at the ATM location (even in a trash receptacle).


• Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case the child gets separated from you.

• Teach them not to get separated from you, but to stay close at all times while shopping.

• Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.

• Never allow them to go to the car alone.

• Teach the young ones their full name,  address and phone number.

• Teach them to immediately inform you  if a stranger bothers them.

Shopping online:

• Update your security software. Make sure you have anti-virus, anti-spyware and antispam software and a good firewall.

• Keep your personal information/passwords  secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card info unless you  initiated the contact. (Personal note: And even then I’d be wary.)

• Beware of “bargains” from unfamiliar companies. If it sounds too  good to be true…

• Use only secure websites for purchases.

• Shop with companies you know  and trust.

At home: 

• Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through windows or doors.

• Lock your doors (with a deadbolt) and windows when you leave, even if it’s for just a few minutes.

• Do not leave your  car unoccupied and with the motor running, even if it’s in your driveway. There are car thieves who roam the streets looking for just this scenario — and they’re in and gone in less than 60 seconds.

• Beware of strangers at your door. Especially at holiday time, criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering packages. “You’d better see that truck [FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.] out there,” Perrota warned. The same goes for “utility workers” who might ring your bell. Demand ID — and don’t let anyone in until you call the utility and confirm  it has sent someone to your home. If the answer is “no,” call the police.

And speaking of calling the police:

Perrota and Strumolo  both emphasized the need for the public to keep a watchful eye on  their neighborhoods.

Residential burglaries usually start to spike in November — and most  of them happen during the day.

“Be alert for suspicious activity,” Perrota said. “If someone looks out of place call us.”

And he added, “People always say they don’t want to bother us. But that’s what we’re here for.”

(Personal note: They mean that. I “bother” the police all the time. Last time, it was when I saw a neighbor on her porch trying to get rid  of a door-to-door solicitor. The guy wasn’t leaving. I called the police.

Turned out, he didn’t have a permit — and he was asking her things like, “Do you live alone?” If I’d ever had any doubts about being overly cautious, that incident cured me.)

$1M in drugs trafficked, 31 arrests

Following a three-month cooperative investigation involving 26 law enforcement agencies, authorities last week reported they had brought down a narcotics ring operating along the Route 21 corridor.

Among the 31 individuals arrested in a Nov. 23 predawn sweep through seven counties were residents of North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Bloomfield.

The announcement of the bust was made the following day by officials including Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and State Attorney General John Hoffman at a Newark press conference.

During just the three months of the probe, approximately $1 million in narcotics, primarily heroin but also marijuana and cocaine, had been trafficked, authorities said.

In the Nov. 23 raids, 518 bricks of heroin, with an estimated street value of $300,000, were confiscated. In Bloomfield alone, approximately eight pounds of marijuana — with a street value of more than $40,000 — and $50,000 in U.S. currency were seized.

Smaller amounts of cocaine and additional marijuana were confiscated at other locations, and more than $71,000 in currency was seized in total. Additionally, nine vehicles were impounded, including a 2015 Mercedes Benz.

The searches and arrests were conducted throughout Essex, Bergen, Union, Sussex, Middlesex, Morris and Passaic counties.

According to authorities, the distribution ring was being run by five suspects: Jermaine Nelson, 37, of Edgewater; Ibn Walker, 30, of Orange; Shakira Nelson, 31, Edgar Ortiz, 35, and Teyoina Solomon, 22, all of Newark.

The local residents arrested and facing lesser charges were: •

Yolanda Kilpatrick, 40, of Bloomfield, who was charged with conspiracy;

• Andres Soto, 34, of Bloomfield, charged with conspiracy, possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute in a school zone;

• Shawn Beauchene, 30, of Lyndhurst, narcotics possession;

• William Beauchene, 32, of North Arlington, narcotics possession;

• Josephine Heatherly, 33, of North Arlington, narcotics possession.

Authorities said that Heatherly was an employee of the Youth Consultation Service, a nonprofit that provides assistance to parents and children in crisis.

Several other suspects, including William Mullen Jr., 30, of Bloomfield, charged with possession of narcotics, were reported at large.

The investigation had been launched by Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Dets. Jerod Glover and Maritza Colon, who were working with the attorney general’s office.

It grew to encompass the FBI, ICE/Customs, N.J. State Police, Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex and Morris County Prosecutor’s Offices, and 18 local police departments, including those of Belleville, Bloomfield, Lyndhurst, North Arlington and Nutley.

“By working together, we believe we have brought down an operation that fueled the state’s growing heroin epidemic,’’ Murray said. “Arrests like these are aimed at disrupting the drug trade in our state and putting drug dealers on notice that when they distribute narcotics in our communities, they do so at their own peril.”

Hoffman said, “Through these efforts, we’re working hard to curb drug-related violence — and to stop the scourge of heroin and opiate pain-pill abuse that is claiming far too many lives across our state and ripping apart our communities.’’

– Karen Zautyk 

Heat on the way? Library hopes so



It’s taken longer than anticipated but Kearny Public Library’s main facility at 318 Kearny Ave. is seemingly assured of having heat for the winter ahead.

So reported Library Director Josh Humphrey last week after workers from Core Mechanical Inc. of Pennsauken were applying what Humphrey hoped to be the final adjustments to a new boiler in the library’s basement.

It’s a replacement for an original coal-fired furnace, later converted to gas, “70 years old or older,” which “has been on its last legs and leaking water for some time,” Humphrey said.

Because it hasn’t been working efficiently, “the heat in the building isn’t regulated very well,” Humphrey added.

So, with the cold weather season beginning to set in, Humphrey said the town decided it was time to act by getting a new unit installed. The town will be footing the bill from unreserved emergency funds, he said.

How much the job will cost wasn’t known as of last week. Initially, the main library shut down Monday, Nov. 10 to Wednesday, Nov. 12, figuring that the work could be completed within that time, and planned to reopen Thursday, Nov. 13.

But Humphrey said the work turned out to be a bit more complicated than anticipated and the library stayed closed Thursday and Friday that week. “It’s a big job,” he said. “They had to take out the old boiler in pieces and put the new one in pieces as well. Then they had to hook up the gas line, put in a new meter, re-do the electricity for the lights in the ceiling and then hook it up to the chimney.”

Despite an inside temperature of 42 degrees, with the boiler still a work in progress, the library re-opened Saturday, Nov. 15, and an estimated 150 library patrons showed up during the day, Humphrey said.

As a result of the closures, the library had to cancel all scheduled programs, including Story Time, Child’s Cooking Class and Book Discussion Group.

Then, the following week, the library shut down Wednesday, Nov. 26, as the installation continued and remained closed for the Thanksgiving holiday period, Nov. 27, 28 and 29.

A notice posted on the library website advised that, “We plan to reopen Monday, Dec. 1.”

Humphrey was hoping that by then, the air inside would be a bit warmer with a functioning boiler.

– Ron Leir

Keeping play areas in shape



Some municipal recreational infrastructure in need of attention has been addressed recently in Kearny.

Several compromised park benches at Bell Playground got fixed, as did some jagged edges of the synthetic turf at the Thistle F.C. Futsal soccer Facility.

“When the playground [on Stewart Ave., between Chestnut and Devon Sts.] was built about nine years ago, the benches installed there were secured by a brick base but over time, rainwater and erosion have caused the bricks to become loose,” said Public Works Director Jerry Kerr.

And, Kerr said, that process has been accelerated in recent weeks by miscreant youths “picking at the loose bricks.”

So, to prevent the possibility of anyone getting hurt by a bench toppling over, Kerr said the town called in a contractor to remove the bricks, lay down cement and anchor the seven wooden benches into the cement.

Kerr said he got prices from three firms and Season Round Property Management of Newark came in the lowest at $1,950 so they were hired to do the repairs last week. The playground was closed for a couple of days to allow the contractor to complete the work, he said.

Meanwhile, at the Futsal soccer field, Assistant Recreation Superintendent Ralph Cattafi said that continuous use of the synthetic turf surface, seven days a week, has taken a toll, with sections of the turf getting ripped up.

“There were one or two sections, in particular, in dire need of repair,” Cattafi said. “It’s taken a beating with all the wear and tear.”

The 25,250 square foot Futsal Facility in Riverbank Park at Passaic and Bergen Aves., with three practice soccer fields, was resurfaced with Field Turf in spring 2009 for nearly $200,000 with help from a U.S. Soccer Foundation grant.

Land-Tec, a landscaper from East Meadow, L.I., was called upon to handle the repairs, Cattafi said. “The job is still under a 10-year warranty so there’s no charge to the town,” he added.

It took about a half-day to do the work, Cattafi said.

 – Ron Leir