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Category: News

Tax break for S. Kearny industrial park

Tax_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Still operating in Sandyrecovery mode, South Kearny’s Industrial Park is looking to take a giant step forward, now that the town is poised to grant what’s likely to be the first of several tax abatements to develop the 120-acre property.

At a special session held Dec. 16, the mayor and Town Council voted to introduce an ordinance to enter into a financial agreement with KPIP Urban Renewal 1 LLC, a subsidiary of RTL Services, for 78 John Miller Way on the east side of Central Ave. off the Hackensack River. The ordinance was expected to be adopted Dec. 29.

Although RTL plans to construct seven or eight new buildings on its site, the proposed abatement would, at present, be limited to its 4-story, 207,764 square foot Heller Way headquarters which will be partitioned into eight “commercial condominium units” targeted for lease to small businesses.

One of those units, for which 72,326 square feet of space is allocated, “will be immediately renovated” for use by Hugo Neu Recycling Co. which will be relocating from Mt. Vernon, N.Y.

Although the owner currently has no other signed leases, KPIP CFO/Principal Steve Nislick told the town governing body earlier this month that he was confident that the owners will have no trouble finding tenants for the other condo units.

Reportedly, KPIP is very close to locking in two prospective tenants: a gourmet bakery and a storefront window glass manufacturer. Other possible occupants include technology companies, post-secondary schools, food companies and a roof-top restaurant.

As many as 300 new jobs could be generated from this flex-space accommodation in what has been designated as “Building 78,” KPIP has predicted.

Kearny currently collects nearly $67,000 a year in nonabated taxes for the property.

But, under an abatement formula keyed to $1.50 per square foot (escalating 2% each year) or 14% of gross revenue, whichever is greater, the town would receive close to $300,000 as its first annual PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) when the building is fully renovated.

The PILOT agreement would continue for 30 years, at which point, the property would revert to full taxation.

As the rest of the industrial park is developed, if KPIP wanted to extend that PILOT arrangement, the owner would have to reapply for a new abatement agreement, Mayor Alberto Santos said. “Each application would be considered on its merits.”

Why a PILOT to begin with? A narrative attached to the financial agreement explains that, “In the current real estate marketplace, the rents likely to be achieved by this project are not sufficient to pay for the costs of construction and the payment of full taxes.”

But granting an abatement will allow the owner “to make a return on his investment that is sufficient to both warrant the risk and to convince the lending markets to provide the construction and permanent financing required by the project.”

And because Kearny believes it can absorb the cost of municipal services associated with the project even under an abated tax arrangement, “the town believes that it is in its interest to provide the necessary incentive that will cause the project to be constructed. Since the formulas used in the financial agreement provide for growth in the amounts to be paid over time, the town expects the project will continue to make payments that are greater than the costs [for municipal services] to be incurred.”

A full build-out of the entire 120-acre property is projected to take five to seven years, according to one person familiar with the project.

In the meantime, since the industrial park site is not linked to a mass transit connection, Santos said that KPIP is working with NJ Transit to try and arrange a shuttle bus service that would connect to Transit’s Light Rail station at West Side and Claremont Aves., Jersey City.

Additionally, KPIP is hoping that NJ Transit will consider a possible extension of the Light Rail to a station stop near the Hackensack River terminus. NJ Transit has looked at the possibility of extending the Light Rail from the West Side terminus to a Rt. 440 location, also on Jersey City’s West Side, which could provide a jumping off point for a spur line a bit further west.

$$ to flow into Passaic

settlements

Acting N.J. Attorney General John J. Hoffman and state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin last week announced the approval of a $190 million settlement with Occidental Chemical Corp. to resolve the company’s liability for contamination of the Passaic River.

Approved by Superior Court Judge Sebastian P. Lombardi on Dec. 16, the settlement is the third and final one in the Passaic River litigation, a series of agreements in which the state obtained costs and damages from multiple parties responsible for polluting the river.

Altogether, the state has recovered $355.4 million from the litigation, over and above the cost of remediation.

“The Occidental settlement . . . along with the two Passaic River litigation settlements that preceded it represents a tremendous victory for the citizens of New Jersey,” Hoffman said.

“As a result of these three settlements,” he added, “not only will the Passaic River be cleaned up at no cost to New Jersey taxpayers, but the state also has recovered more than $150 million that it expended over many years of exhaustive legal and environmental effort to clean up the river.”

Among other terms, the Occidental settlement calls for $50 million of the payment to fund natural resource restoration projects in and around the Newark Bay Complex. A total of $67.4 million from all Passaic River settlements will be dedicated to such projects.

Occidental Chemical is a legal successor to the Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Co., which was found to have intentionally dumped hazardous pollutants, including dioxin, into the Passaic from its plant on Lister Ave. in Newark in the 1950s and ‘60s. The factory, in the Ironbound section of the city, was located on the river, directly across from the Harrison meadows area.

“Cleaning up the lower Passaic River is a top environmental priority for New Jersey, one that is vital to the health and safety of people who live and work along the river and who have long had to bear the burden of this pollution,’’ Martin said.

The commissioner said the state will continue to work with the federal Environmental Protection Agency “to get this cleanup project started as soon as possible.”

The EPA has proposed a $1.7 billion plan for cleanup of the lower eight miles of the river — the portion that flows past Nutley, Belleville, Lyndhurst, North Arlington, Kearny, East Newark and Harrison.

Under a federal law known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), it is possible the agency could call on New Jersey to bear a 10% share of the cleanup cost, Hoffman’s office noted.

However, as part of the Occidental settlement, the corporation reportedly agreed to cover the state’s share, if assessed.

“In short, the Occidental and other settlement payments are above and beyond the funds used to clean up the Passaic River,” Hoffman said. “That is, the responsible parties will clean up the river at their own expense, while the state will receive a total of $355 million, plus a guarantee to cover any costs to the state in the unlikely event those cleanup costs are assessed under CERCLA.”

The amount of Occidental’s guarantee is between $210 million and $400 million and is dependant upon on the outcome of the company’s indemnification claims against other original defendants in the Passaic River litigation.

Occidental also has assumed responsibility for any future state cleanup costs at the Newark Lister Ave. site and future costs within the Newark Bay Complex — provided these are related to the discharges from the Newark plant, Hoffman’s office reported.

– Karen Zautyk 

Belleville board borrows more

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 

BELLEVILLE – 

The already fiscally strapped Belleville Board of Education has committed to borrowing more than $3 million for technology upgrades.

By a 3-2 vote, with one abstention, on Dec. 15, the board agreed to enter into a lease purchase transaction that will “finance the acquisition of infrastructure technology, servers and a phone system,” according to the resolution it adopted.

Voting for the measure were Board Vice President Jeanne Lombardi, Peter Zangari Jr. and Raymond Kuebler; Lillian Torres abstained; and Board President John Rivera and William Freda opposed it.

“I just didn’t have enough information to vote ‘yes,’ ’’ Rivera told The Observer last week. He said state monitor Thomas Egan brought the lease-purchase proposal to the board without any advance notice, so the board had no opportunity to review it.

The resolution says that on the advice of bond counsel McManimon, Scotland & Baumann LLC, the board is accepting a bid by U.S. Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance as the “purchaser/ lessor” at an annual interest rate of 2.189% for a principal amount not to exceed $3,323,512 which is repayable over five years.

Proceeds from the sale of the lease “shall be applied to pay costs to acquire and to install the equipment and pay the costs of entering into the lease.”

Egan told The Observer that the financial arrangement is being done “under state contract” and will allow the district “to replace and improve its internet and technological infrastructure in order to make it ready for the [state-mandated] PARCC [Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers] testing scheduled for March.

“Without this equipment replacement, the district would not be ready for the PARCC,” Egan said. The new equipment’s acquisition and installation will be overseen by Pro Media Technology Services of Little Falls and “is being purchased on state contract.”

Egan said the old equipment “could not support the wireless technology” needed to facilitate the administering of the testing.

Egan said there is a “phone component” to the new technology that will “enable telephone data transmissions, servers and streaming to run more efficiently.”

Pro Media was initially brought into the district over the Labor Day weekend after the district’s internal phone system and computers crashed and, ultimately, the communications services being supplied through Clarity Technologies Group of Mine Hill were discontinued.

Previously retained to install an elaborate school security system for $1.9 million, Clarity in 2013 also received two other contracts: one for $10,000 per month for phone service and another for $20,000 per month to provide IT support. The board has retained certain payments from Clarity and both parties are in arbitration over how much Clarity is owed. At the monitor’s urging, the board has discontinued its IT contract with the vendor.

Meanwhile, the board continues to await the findings of an audit to determine exactly how much it overspent during the 2013-2014 school year. A preliminary assessment by Egan is that the district ended the school year on June 30 more than $4 million in the red. It was the discovery of the spending lapse that led to the monitor’s arrival in May.

In other business at the Dec. 15 meeting, the proposed appointments of Dave Joisil and Saul Escobar as teachers of health and physical education at Belleville Middle School were pulled at the direction of Acting Superintendent Ricardo Acosta after questions were raised about the selection process, Rivera said. “We’re going to do it over again.”

Also, of the 44 people who responded to the district advertisement seeking applicants for the superintendent’s job, the board’s search consultant has narrowed down that list to six, Rivera said. On Jan. 10, the board – which will reorganize on Jan 6 – is due to interview those six candidates and will likely make an appointment by late March, he said.

Recycling funds for local towns

recycling_web

TRENTON – 

State recycling grants totaling approximately $226,000 are being awarded to the eight communities in The Observer coverage area to implement and enhance local recycling efforts, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection announced last week.

In all, 588 N.J. municipalities will share $15 million in grants awarded through the state’s Recycling Enhancement Act.

The funds are being allocated based on the recycling successes local governments demonstrated in 2012. Disbursement was to begin last week.

The local grants are: Belleville, $15,615; Bloomfield, $31,538; East Newark, $3,890; Harrison, $23,367; Kearny, $54,617; Lyndhurst, $27,948; North Arlington, $27,669; Nutley, $40,369.

“The grants can help municipalities in many ways,” said Jane Herndon, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management. “They can purchase the best and biggest recycling containers with these funds, educate residents and businesses about the benefits of recycling and help local governments support recycling staff.”

The recycling grant program is funded by a $3-per-ton surcharge on trash disposed of at solid waste facilities across the state. The DEP reported that, in 2012, New Jersey generated more than 10.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) — i.e., garbage — from homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc. That same year, the agency documented the recycling of more than 4.4 million tons of recyclable municipal waste, such as glass, aluminum and other metals, and paper.

This resulted in a MSW recycling rate of 44%, an increase of 4% over 2011. By comparison, the national MSW recycling rate in 2012 was 34.5% percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Overall, nearly 20.2 million tons of solid waste (including construction debris and other types of non-MSW waste) were generated in New Jersey in 2012, of which 11 million tons were recycled. The overall waste and amount of materials recycled were impacted significantly by debris generated by Superstorm Sandy, the DEP noted.

“We still have the goal of achieving 50% municipal recycling in New Jersey and we would like to see our overall recycling rate grow beyond 60% and stay there,” Herndon said.

For a complete list of recycling grants by municipality, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/recycling/ stat_links/2012payout.pdf.

For more information on recycling in New Jersey, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/ dshw/recycling.

– Karen Zautyk 

School board settles vendor suit

KEARNY – 

The Kearny Board of Education settled litigation over replacement of its copy machine vendor at its meeting on Dec. 15.

In other developments:

The board received notification from the executive Hudson County superintendent that the five-year contract the board had awarded Patricia Blood as superintendent of schools has been sanctioned by the state Department of Education.

On Nov. 13, the board voted to appoint Blood to the post, after she’d been serving for some time as acting chief school administrator, granting her a 5-year contract at $167,500 a year through June 30, 2019.

Also, board members convened their first meeting in their new conference space in the annex to their new Midland Ave. headquarters.

The building’s elevator, part of the unfinished business at the new HQ, was due for a state inspection last Friday and its fire suppression system was also scheduled for inspection by the municipal Construction Code unit. If the building gets a passing grade, then a permanent certificate of occupancy will be issued. Results of those inspections weren’t readily available at press time.

The building’s basement, which has been reportedly reserved for two Gifted and Talented classrooms, remains a work in progress.

As for the legal issue, Ken Lindenfelser, the board’s general counsel, said that when the district switched its copy machine service contract, from Xerox to Atlantic, earlier this year, there was a dispute with the old vendor over billings.

Lindenfelser said that Xerox sued the district for about $230,000 but ended up settling for a payment of $109,000 and the return of all of its copy machines from the various school facilities.

Of that amount, Lindenfelser said, Atlantic has agreed to pay $103,500. He said that when Atlantic submitted its bid for the copy machine contract, the vendor pledged to be responsible for that obligation.

“The new machines from Atlantic are all in place,” he said.

– Ron Leir 

4.5M contract for pump work

KEARNY – 

The Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority last Wednesday awarded a contract for $4,597,890 to Coppola Services of Ringwood for the renovation of its Kearny Point and Harrison Ave. pump stations.

Of four bids submitted, ranging up to a high of $4,744,000, Coppola’s was the lowest, according to KMUA Executive Director Kevin O’Sullivan. One bid was tossed out as deficient, he added.

O’Sullivan said the work involves fixing pumps, bar screens and generators at both locations that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. “It’s an overhaul of all mechanical parts,” he said.

O’Sullivan said the contract specifications call for completion of the job within two years. The contractor may choose to work on both sites at the same time or in staggered phases, he added.

While the repairs are proceeding, both pump stations “will remain fully operational through a bypass system,” he said.

The Kearny Point station is located in the rear of the KMUA offices at 39 Central Ave. while the Harrison Ave. facility is at 1802 Harrison, just east of the N.J.Turnpike and near the U.S. postal facility.

Financing for the project is earmarked from two primary sources: the federal Environmental Infrastructure Trust fund and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), with the balance coming from the KMUA, according to O’Sullivan.

Meanwhile, O’Sullivan said that work on the KMUA’s new offices is virtually completed but he said that the general contractor, Daskal LLC of Wallington, is awaiting a final inspection by the roof sub-contractor before a 20-year warranty agreement can be issued.

The job was awarded to Daskal for $680,900 in April 2013 and the KMUA staff has been operating from a temporary trailer since Labor Day 2013. A few months ago, O’Sullivan said the job was “behind schedule” and had been progressing “slower than anticipated.”

– Ron Leir 

A healthy kitchen makeover

healthy_web

From the food you stock in the freezer to the silverware you put on the table, your kitchen is your partner in health. When you fill your kitchen with the right tools and foods, you reap the benefits.

If your kitchen isn’t your ally, changing it may be easier than you think.

The foods you should stock—fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, and whole grains— taste just as good and can be cooked just as quickly as less wholesome choices that lurk in your cupboard and refrigerator. Updating cookware— by trading the deep fryer for a slow cooker, for instance— can aid healthy cooking, too.

In fact, you can redo every nook and cranny of your kitchen. Here’s how:

Tableware 

When you’re faced with larger portions, you’re more apt to overeat. Your dinnerware may be one of the culprits. Plate sizes have increased over the years, and it makes it harder to judge how much you’ve eaten. Even the shape of drinking glasses makes a difference. A tall thin glass can make you feel like you’re getting more than a short wide one.

Cookware 

If you cook with fat so your food doesn’t stick, trade up to nonstick cookware. You can get the flavor of fat with far fewer calories by adding a little olive oil cooking spray to nonstick cookware. A bit of vegetable broth can also take the place of oil.

Match the capacity of your cookware to your family size. If you use a large pot for a twosome, you may be tempted to cook, and eat, more food.

Slow cookers are a boon to your health because you don’t have to brown food in fat before cooking, as some of us do for taste and appearance. If cooking in the evening leads to unwanted snacking, use your slow cooker during the day so you’ll have a wholesome meal waiting for you.

Cupboard 

Government dietary guidelines call for eating 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day. Along with dark green and orange vegetables, add beans to your menus.

With canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, and beans on hand, you’re set for instant dinners. Mix different types of beans with some vegetables and spices for a quick meal. Read labels on cans to avoid high sodium and sugar levels.

Snack shelf 

Small changes can bring big results. You may not be willing to get rid of cookies, but you can keep healthier varieties on hand. Choose instead gingersnaps, graham crackers, or vanilla wafers.

Avoid crackers, cookies, and chips made with saturated or hydrogenated fats. Many food manufacturers have changed formulas to remove unhealthy fats.

Refrigerator 

Stock your refrigerator with low-fat dairy foods and keep high-sodium processed meat to a minimum.

You may have to choose between more prep time or more expensive cleaned and pared fruits and vegetables. It’s up to you whether the money matters more than the convenience. You may be more likely to eat it if you don’t have to work hard to prepare it.

Freezer 

Frozen dinners may be one of your evening mainstays. You don’t have to give them up as long as you select varieties low in sodium and fat. Read the label to check portion size and nutrient content.

You can also assemble a fast meal if you have frozen vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, along with frozen fish fillets.

To learn more, stop in and see in-store Registered Dietitian Julie Harrington, RD, at the ShopRite of Lyndhurst 540 New York Ave. For information on health and wellness events contact her at 201-419- 9154 or Julie.harrington@wakefern.com.

around town

Belleville 

Belleville Elks, 254 Washington Ave., is having a blood drive on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 5 to 9 p.m. No appointment is needed. Donors must be at least 17-years-old, weigh at least 120 lbs. and be in general good health. There is no upper age limit for donors provided they meet the health requirements. People with a fever or sore throat should wait until they are feeling better before donating and there is a 24-hour deferral for tooth cleanings and fillings. For those who have recently traveled outside the United States, please call the blood center 973-676-4700, ext. 132 for eligibility criteria.

Bloomfield 

Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces the following programs. Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. To register or for more information, call the library at 973-566-6200:

  • The library presents its version of the traditional Italian legend of LaBefana with interactive storytelling, live musicians, singers and dancers, and more. Befana, like Santa Claus, delivers gifts to children on Epiphany Eve (Jan. 5). Children receive gifts from both Befana and Santa Claus. Reservations are required.
  • Book Club meets on Jan. 5 at 6:45 p.m. to discuss “Riders of the Purple Sage” by Zane Grey.
  • Financial Book Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
  • Knitting Club meets Fridays at 11 a.m.
  • Midday Movies are screened on Monday and Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. Here’s January’s schedule: Jan. 5 – “Sunset Boulevard”; Jan. 8 – “The Giver”; Jan. 12 – “Million Dollar Arm”; Jan. 15 – “Selma, Lord, Selma”; Jan. 22 – “Chef”; Jan. 26 – “Winter’s Tale“; and Jan. 29 – “Dolphin Tale.”
  • Storytimes resume Jan. 12. Days and times will remain the same: Baby and Me, for ages up to 18 months, is offered on Thursdays at 11 a.m.; Toddler Time, open to ages 19 to 36 months, is held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m.

East Newark 

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets the last Friday of every month, 7 to 9 p.m., at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246-7750, Fatima at 973- 485-4236 or email emidura2@yahoo.com.

Harrison 

Sacred Heart of Jesus American National Catholic Church continues the Christmas celebration with Mass on Sunday, Dec. 28, at 12:30 p.m., at Christ Episcopal Church, 100 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. Visitors and guests are very welcome. See www.SacredHeartANCC.org for more information.

Kearny 

The Children’s Room of the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., presents a family concert Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 4 p.m., by Susan Goodman (Sooz), a saxophonist/ songwriter/educator whose presentation on bias, bullying and bystanders uses music to cultivate compassionate communities. The compelling lyrics and eclectic blend of jazz, pop, Latin and Afro-beat with original songs shine a light on the biases behind bullying. Light refreshments will be served.

Lyndhurst

The N.J. Meadowlands Commission hosts a New Year’s Day Nature Walk with the Bergen County Audubon Society at Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus, Thursday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. to noon. This event is free and open to all ages. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@gmail. com or call 201-230-4983.

Lyndhurst Health Department announces the following:

  • Flu vaccine is available for township residents. Call 201- 804-2500 to make an appointment. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine.
  • Rabies Clinics are set for Thursdays, Jan. 8 and 15, at the Community Center on Riverside Ave. (behind the Little League fields), 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Township residents can also license their dogs and cats at these clinics. Licensing deadline is Jan. 31, 2015. Call the Health Department for more information.

Sacred Heart Home-School Association, 620 Valley Brook Ave., hosts its annual Tricky Tray on Friday, Jan. 16. Tickets are $10. No one under age18 will be admitted. Doors open at 6 p.m. Ticket includes one sheet for first level prizes, coffee/tea and dessert. For tickets and information, call the school office at 201-939- 4277 or Patty at 201-803-9580. Ticket deadline is Jan. 6. No tickets will be sold at the door.

Knights of Columbus Council 2396 sponsors a Tricky Tray Friday, Jan. 16, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. The $15 admission includes coffee plus one prize sheet of tickets. No alcohol is permitted. No tickets will be sold at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, call Steve Cortese at 201-657-0800 or Sal Russo at 201-446-7244.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, hosts a New Year Story Time, open to ages 4 to 7, on Dec. 29, at 7 p.m.

Clerks tied up, shots fired at Belleville Radio Shack armed robbery Sunday morning

2014-12-21 18_18_32-Greenshot

BELLEVILLE —

The following report was issued by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday (Dec. 21):

At 11:22 this morning, officers from the Belleville Police Department were summoned by a 911 caller to a possible armed robbery at the Radio Shack on the 400 block of Main St.

As officers approached the scene from the rear, the two robbers were leaving the establishment. The suspects’ vehicle rammed the officer/vehicle .

The officer fired several shots, striking the getaway car. It has not been confirmed if the suspects were shot.

The suspects had pistol-whipped one of the three employees and tied them up. The suspects then fled south on Main St. and remain at large.

The officer, a 10-year veteran who will not be identified for safety issues, was evaluated at an area hospital.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact the Prosecutor’s tip line, 877-TIPS-4-EC (877-847-7432) or the Belleville police at 973-450-3333.

Have you seen this alleged Nutley burglar?

composite

NUTLEY —

Police say they are investigating a diversion burglary that allegedly occurred on Fischer Ave. on Dec. 9.

An elderly resident told police that a man banged on her front door at 3 p.m., Dec. 9, claiming there was a chemical spill a block away. Police say the man produced an identification card and asked to enter the resident’s basement. After allowing whom she believed to be an actual contractor downstairs, he turned on water, creating a noise distraction, police say. He then radioed someone saying all appeared to be in order. At this point, police say, a second man entered the home and ransacked the bedroom.

Police investigating the incident learned two men ran from the residence carrying hand-held radios and entered a black SUV parked on Hickory, containing two more men.

The New Jersey State Police, with the help of the victim, created a composite description of the man who is alleged to have come to the door (see above).

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Nutley Police Department’s Investigations Unit at 973-284-4940.