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Outlet for grieving over loss of pet


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


If you’re not someone who loves animals, you can skip this story — because you probably won’t understand.

If you do love animals, and especially if you are a pet owner, read on. It will warm your heart.

Recently, we got a press release from Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, who noted that after he had met “with several residents who are having a very difficult time coping with the loss of a pet,” the Department of Public Affairs “has established a program to provide grief counseling and other resources for pet owners and family members who are facing such a difficult time.”

Rogers continued: “As an animal lover who has lost a pet, I fully understand how devastating such a loss is. It is a matter very difficult to cope with, to understand, and to speak about. Such a loss is especially hard on children, and elderly residents who have no family members.”

There is a sad irony here. The commissioner was talking about his past experience with losing a pet, but after we had made tentative plans for an interview with him and his wife, Natasha, who is helping with the new program, we had to reschedule. One of the couple’s beloved chihuahuas, 14-year-old Max, had just died.

“I was all in tears,” Natasha told us when we finally did meet. “It was complete devastation.”

Having had pets of our own all of our life, and, of course, having lost them over the years, we knew exactly what she meant. Luckily, like her, we have had people around us to comfort and lend support. But some people, especially seniors, have no one with whom to share their grief. “Who do they grieve to?” Rogers asked.

And, yes, it is true grief. “Obviously, the death of a human being is more devastating,” Rogers said. But, as pet people know, an animal companion becomes a member of the family. Its death is a death in the family. The home itself, which had been full of play and cuddles and barks or purrs, is empty. For someone alone, it becomes a void. As Rogers noted, “There is a depressing silence.”

For those who don’t understand this, who might say, “What’s the big deal?” Rogers has a response: “I dare them to look into the eyes of someone, especially a senior, whose pet has passed away and ask them the same question.”

The commissioner is urging Nutley residents who are having a difficult time in coping with the loss of a pet, or who know someone who is facing the same difficulty, to refer them to the Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut St., 973-284-4976. “We will do all we can to walk with them through this most difficult and lonely time,” he said.

Natasha Rogers has set up a Facebook page — Nutley Department of Public Affairs Pet Heath Resource Center — where you can find advice and share your thoughts with other pet lovers via a supportive message board.”We are letting them know there is someone to talk to,” Natasha said.

For those who do not have internet access, Rogers said the department can print out the page and also hopes to include material in upcoming department newsletters. For more information on the Facebook outreach, residents can call 973-284-4976 or email commissionerogers@ nutleynj.org.

Along with dealing with grief, sharing one’s experience can help with the particular sorrow that is compounded by guilt, when the owner has had to make the heart-wrenching decision to have an ailing, suffering pet put down.

“They feel guilty,” Rogers said. But, he added, they need to realize that “the ultimate act of love is to make that final decision.”

Some pet owners, although left bereft, are hesitant to get another pet. They don’t want to feel like they are “replacing” the one that died. Or, as more than one friend has told us, “I couldn’t go through that loss again.”

The Rogers experienced these emotions when Max died, but they have since gotten a new dog. Natasha said her husband assured her, “You didn’t replace Max. You continued his legacy of love with another dog.”

Now sharing the Rogers’ home with their other chihuahua, Marshall, is a German Shepherd puppy, Bear. Yes, a chihuahua and a German Shepherd. But the little-bitty one rules the place. They have become great buddies, but Marshall is the alpha dog. We know. We’ve seen the video.

The commissioner, who spends part of every Saturday going door-to- door to chat with his constituents, noted he had met several senior citizens who had lost a pet and were having an especially difficult time: They wanted to get a new pet but were reluctant because they feared the animal would outlive them.

For such individuals, Rogers suggests that, in their wills, they designate someone to be the animal’s caretaker. If no friend of family member is willing, or suitable, the pet owner can note that it should be given to a no-kill shelter or an animal sanctuary.

Hopefully, that advice will help, for people who love animals need animals in their lives. “Dogs and cats and other pets are very therapeutic,” Rogers said.

“They’re life-savers.”

And he noted, “Where else do you get that unconditional love? Spell the word ‘DOG’ backwards.”

Fire roster beefed up but still shortstaffed


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Seven additional firefighters are being hired by Kearny but, because of upcoming retirements, it will still leave the Fire Department short of the recommended number of personnel, Fire Chief Steven Dyl said.

The Kearny Town Council voted last Tuesday to authorize the new additions to the KFD payroll, effective Feb. 23, pending approval by the newly assigned state fiscal monitor Terry Reidy, a former city manager of Montclair and Asbury Park. He replaced monitor Steve Pannella on Jan. 29.

In November 2014, the council green-lighted hiring up to 12 firefighters with the hopeful expectation, at the time, that the town would be successful with its application for federal SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) funding which pays for two years’ salaries and benefits.

But the town never got the funding so it put off the hirings.

Meanwhile, as overtime costs soared, the town felt it had no choice but to go ahead with some hirings to partially replenish the gap in the fire personnel ranks.

It wasn’t easy. “We started out with 100 [applicants] and we ended up with seven,” Dyl said.

Looking down the road, it won’t get any easier since nine members of the department – mostly superior officers – have filed pension applications with two more possible, according to Dyl.

The department’s Table of Organization calls for up to 102 employees and currently there are 82 aboard. The seven new hires will push that total up to 89 but when the nine retirees are gone, the department will be down to 80 and if the two others contemplating retirement leave, that will bring the number down to 78, Dyl said.

At last week’s meeting, Councilwoman Eileen Eckel, liaison to the KFD, declared that, “We are looking to hire even more [firefighters}” as more department members leave but she didn’t say how many more or when it would happen.

Mayor Alberto Santos, noting that six of the new hires were Kearny residents (the other is from Newark), said that local residency “reflects what we wanted to do for the past two years,” after the town’s labor attorney Fredrick Danser negotiated with the NAACP an amended federal consent decree on public safety hirings.

That amendment contracted the candidate pool area, from Kearny and Essex County, to Kearny and Newark, on the presumption that the prior arrangement “was not giving a fair opportunity to Kearny residents,” he said.

And the latest results show that “it’s working,” the mayor added.

Noting the presence of two of the new hires, Steven Yerkes and James Corbett Jr., in the council chambers, Santos congratulated them and said: “They need you yesterday. … We have a large local area to protect and that puts a tremendous strain on our Fire Department.”

Since a good portion of the KFD’s veteran members have been departing in recent years, Santos told the recruits that they and their colleagues “will be the core of the group” representing the department’s future.

Two of the rookies – Corbett and Kyle Plaugic – have local police legacies: Corbett is the son of retired Kearny Dep. Police Chief James Corbett and Plaugic’s dad, John Plaugic, is currently serving as a detective with the KPD.

Steven Yerkes, a Kearny resident, previously worked as a mechanic for a private firm.

James Corbett Jr., a Kearny resident, has served as an investigator for the New Jersey Dept. of Health. He has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in criminal justice and sociology.

Kyle Plaugic, a Kearny resident who holds a degree in business administration from Caldwell University, has worked as a financial analyst for a private company. His late grandfather was a member of the Newark Fire Department.

Joseph Socci, who lives in Kearny, has worked as an assistant rental manager for Penske Truck Leasing in Jersey City. He has a B.A. degree in communications from the University of Albany.

Donald Alexander, a Newark resident, is a graduate of Bishop George Ahr High School, Edison, and has worked as a private security officer.

John Digrivina, of Kearny, has attended classes at Essex County College and Hawaii Pacific University. He has worked as a painter.

Jeffrey Paredes, a Kearny resident, has worked as a computer technician and fitness instructor. He has attended classes at Essex County College and the County College of Morris.

The recruits are scheduled to begin their fire training March 22 at the Essex County Police Academy building and, upon successful completion, should be ready for duty in Kearny “by the end of June or beginning of July,” Dyl said.

During their academy tenure, the rookies’ starting pay will be $33,000, plus benefits.

Koppers, NJ Transit perfect together: HCIA

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


NJ Transit may be giving Kearny the silent treatment on its plans to install a reserve generator in South Kearny but that’s not been the case with the agency’s dealings with the Hudson County Improvement Authority.

The HCIA, which owns the 138-acre former Koppers Coke site straddling the Hackensack River in South Kearny and continues to negotiate with The Morris Companies to redevelop the site, has learned that NJ Transit proposes to use “up to 26 acres” in the central portion of the Koppers site.

So says Norman Guerra, executive director of the HCIA, who is upbeat about the prospects for successfully concluding the talks with Morris which began about six months ago with a deal to sell the property – and, at the same time, accommodate NJ Transit’s needs.

Ultimately, said Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, the transit agency will have to come before either the town’s Zoning or Planning Board for the requisite land use approvals needed before it could proceed with its “micro-grid” that would be used as a backup power system for its trains. Such will be the scenario, Santos said, unless the state legislature approves a newly introduced amendment to the bill merging the N.J. Sports & Exposition Authority with the N.J. Meadowlands Commission – an amendment that would exempt the builders of power distribution plants from having to get local land use sign-offs.

Up until last year, Kearny, which owns the old 25-acre Standard Chlorine parcel, teamed with the HCIA and Tierra Solutions, which owns a 30-acre parcel in the area, in an effort to collectively market three separately-owned properties in what has been designated by the NJMC as the Koppers Coke Peninsula Redevelopment Area, ideally, as one package to enhance the land’s prospective value to a redeveloper and Santos fretted that NJ Transit’s positioning itself to acquire a piece of the pie could deter potential investors in the overall site. And, he noted, whatever land NJ Transit ends up acquiring will be tax- exempt so Kearny will derive no future revenues from that venture.

Since then, the HCIA opted to go its own way and signed a tentative agreement with the Rutherford-based Morris Companies – which boasts a “combined portfolio of industrial, retail and office properties” totaling more than 6 million square feet spread over New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida – to redevelop the Koppers site.

That left Kearny on its own and the town began talks with another potential redeveloper, a possible joint venture by Matrix Development Group of Monroe Township and Clean Earth of North Jersey, for its own deal. Those negotiations are continuing, Santos said.

Terms of the HCIA/Morris agreement are still being hashed out by the lawyers, Guerra said last week, “but we’re getting very close to executing a sales agreement which we hope to finish in four to six weeks.”

If that happens, Guerra said that Morris has projected close to 2 million square feet of warehousing space being built for which no tenants have yet been identified. He said the HCIA will provide an additional access road at the site’s western end and is considering another at the eastern end.

He said the HCIA is still in the process of raising the site to a 13-foot elevation out of the flood zone and related environmental work such as “engineering for a slurry wall and raising monitoring wells.”

Asked whether future construction by NJ Transit could interfere with Morris’s work, Guerra said, “No, there’s a lot of planning involved so one project isn’t going to hold up the other.”

Meanwhile, Kearny, Lyndhurst and North Arlington, whose meadows development projects have had to pass NJMC review since the commission’s creation by the legislature in 1969, are waiting to see how things will play out under the merger with the NJSEA.

Already, the bill’s replacement of the NJMC tax-sharing formula with a 3% hotel tax has irked North Arlington Mayor Joseph Bianchi, who griped, “We took a $150,000 hit,” dropping from about $1 million to about $812,500, which, he said, would “raise taxes two points” – meaning that it could cost the borough’s average homeowner about $100 more this year.

Bianchi also complained about the NJSEA’s abrupt closing of its IZOD C enter and the laying off of, reportedly, 1,700 people. “You can say that the mayor of North Arlington is not happy and the state never came to the town fathers of the communities in the region to tell us what they were going to do. This was just a sneak attack.”

Borough Councilman Al Granell joined in the mayor’s grievance, calling the state’s action “unacceptable” and added that he will urge the council to petition the state to reverse the reduction in inter-local aid. He also faulted the state for keeping the region “in the dark” about the IZOD closure.

Lyndhurst, which had been paying about $860,000 into the taxsharing fund, will no longer have to do that while Kearny will continue to receive about $3.8 million, plus about $1.3 million from the leasing of the Keegan landfill and about $100,000 for the use of land for the baler scales.

Under the merger bill, the newly created Meadowlands Regional Commission will be run by the NJSEA board of directors plus one mayor from the 14-town meadows district to be appointed by the governor.

Asked what will happen to the NJMC’s 99 employees and $6.5 million payroll, topped by executive director Marcia Karrow and her $148,000 salary, and its $30 million annual budget, NJMC spokesman Brian Aberback said: “Effective Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, the NJMC was made a part of the NJSEA. There will be no interruption in the services provided to the public and the regulated community. All staff contacts remain the same. We encourage you to continue to check our website for updates.”

Belleville ‘corruption’ probe; Kearny Dems filling vacancy


The Essex County Prosecutor’s Official Corruption Unit last Wednesday served warrants on the Township of Belleville’s for certain municipal records.

Last Thursday, Kevin Esposito, the township’s interim manager, disputed published reports characterizing the process as a “raid,” saying that the investigators called in advance to advise which documents were needed.

“Our attorney, Tom Murphy, talked to the prosecutor and everything was handled in a very cooperative manner,” Esposito said.

It took “less than an hour” to produce all the records that were sought, according to Esposito, who declined to enumerate them but advised The Observer to file an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request to get that information. The Observer filed such a request but, as of press time, the information had not yet been received.

Calls to Township Attorney Tom Murphy and Mayor Ray Kimble were not returned but one person reportedly familiar with the county probe said that at least some of the records requested involved overtime in the Public Works Department.


Local members of the Hudson County Democratic Committee were scheduled to vote Feb. 17 for one of three nominees to fill the First Ward seat on the Kearny Town Council vacated by the resignation of Alexa Arce on Jan. 5.

The winner will serve through the November general election, at which point an election will be held to determine who will fill the seat for the two years remaining in Arce’s unexpired term.

The three nominees are Marytrine DeCastro, Sonia Hill and Jenny Mach.

around town


Bloomfield Public Library’s Book Club, 90 Broad St., has scheduled a meeting of the Book Club for Monday, March 2, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., in the library’s study room to discuss “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. For more information or for help in locating a copy of the book, call the reference desk at 973-566-6200, ext. 219 or 220. Admission is free and all are welcome.

From now until March 14, the library is accepting donations of new or lightly used prom dresses which will be distributed to young women who might otherwise not be able to afford a prom gown. Dresses can be dropped off in the main library. All sizes and styles are welcome.

 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 Lions Club will hold a flapjack fundraiser breakfast Sunday, Feb. 22, 8 to 10 a.m., at Applebee’s, 175 Passaic Ave., Kearny. The Lions will serve pancakes for charity with the help of volunteers from Harrison High School. Tickets are available through a member or at the door. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for kids under 10. Guests will be treated to a delicious plate of pancakes, sausages, and eggs cooked by the staff at Applebee’s. Proceeds will go towards helping the Harrison Lions Club continue its charity work. For more information visit http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/ harrisonnj/index.php or email harrisonlionsclub@yahoo.com.

Holy Cross Church sponsors a trip to Las Vegas, April 29 to May 5. The group departs Newark Airport Wednesday, April 29, at 7:15 a.m., for a nonstop flight via United Airlines and returns Thursday, May 5, at 6:15 a.m. The group will be staying at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino. Total cost per person is $771 and includes air, hotel and taxes. A $250 deposit per person is required to guarantee reservation ASAP. Call Gina at European Travel, 973-484-4023, or Joan at 973-481-2434.


Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., announces free programs for children in February. Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. Here’s what’s available:

  • Art classes will be held Thursday, Feb. 26. Preschool Art for ages 2 1/2 to 5 runs from 11 a.m. to noon; School-age Art for ages 5 and older starts at 4:30 p.m. and ends between 5:30 and 6 p.m. The library provides art materials. Space is limited and will be first-come, first-served.
  • Celebrate the Chinese New Year Thursday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. This event includes a food demonstration with samples, an ancient music recital and a calligraphy demonstration.
  • Children can dress in their prince and princess finery for a special breakfast Saturday, Feb. 21, at 11 a.m. This event features a craft based on the theme of the Disney film, “Frozen,” and a visit from some of the characters who appear in the film, with plenty of photo opportunities. Donuts and juice will be served. This event is free but space is limited. Call the library at 201-998-2666 to reserve a spot.
  • Children ages 5 to 12 are invited to read to Fosse, a registered therapy dog, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Each session will last 10 minutes and will only be open to a limited number of children. Call the library to reserve a spot.

W.H.A.T., 65 Oakwood Ave. (in residence at the First Lutheran Church), will hold auditions for “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 22, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Callbacks are scheduled for Feb. 22, 8:15 to 10 p.m. No experience, membership or fee is required. Auditioners may visit www.whatco.org to download and fill out the audition form and bring it with them to the tryouts. Copies of the form will also be available at the auditions. Come with a 32 bar cut of a musical theater song that best suits your voice and personality type. Also be prepared to learn a short dance cut. Those with tap experience are asked to bring tap shoes. Acting sides will be provided. “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” will be presented April 17, 18, 24, 25. For additional information visit www.whatco.org. For a complete character description and more information, visit www.whtco.org.


A benefit dinner for Jennie Gossweiler-Renna, now in her fifth year with ovarian cancer, will be held March 28, 5 to 9 p.m., at the Amvets post hall, 323 New York Ave. The $45 admission includes dinner, dancing and support for a wonderful person. For tickets, more information, or to make a donation, call Melissa Alfano at 201-736-1584 or visit www.jenniebenefit.myevent.com.

Dress in the style of your favorite decade for “Dancing through the Decades” March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst firehouse, 299 Delafield Ave. Admission is $35. All proceeds go to the Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. For tickets, call Cristy at 201-742-2411.

All ages are invited to explore the rainforests at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2 to 3 p.m. Learn about the critical importance of protecting the world’s dwindling rainforests. Audiences will get up-close and personal with live exotic rainforest animals from around the globe. Animal visitors will include a small alligator known as a dwarf caiman, bats, snakes, spiders and more! Admission is $8; $6 for MEC members. Preregistration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to www.njmeadowlands.gov and click on “Events.” Walk-ins are welcome.

Adoniram Court No. 22, Order of the Amaranth, sponsors a winter auction Sunday, March 1, at the Masonic Temple, 321 Second Ave. Doors open at noon. A $5 donation is requested. For more information, call 201-955-1555.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a karaoke party Friday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. The VFW hall is available for rental for all occasions. For more information, call 201-939-3080.

Knights of Columbus Council 2396 will hold a Tricky Tray Friday, Feb. 20, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. The $10 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.

Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad holds its annual Tricky Tray fundraiser Feb. 19 at The Fiesta, 255 Rt. 17 S, Wood-Ridge. Doors open at 7 p.m. Drawing starts at 8 p.m. A variety of ticket packages are available at different prices. For more information, call 201-804-2469, email trickytray@emergencysquad.com or visit lyndhurstnj.org.

Mary Lou Mullins’ monthly bus trip to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City is set for Sunday, Feb. 22. Cost is $30 with a cash return of $30. Make reservations early by calling Mary Lou at 201-933-2186.

North Arlington

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, will screen “The Raw and The Cooked,” a documentary on Taiwanese cuisine, on Friday, Feb. 20, 11 a.m. to noon. For more information on library programs, call 201-955-5640 or visit northarlington.bccls.org.

North Arlington Elks, 129 Ridge Road, host a Fish Fry Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, 4 to 7 p.m. Admission is $12. Dinner includes fish (fried or broiled) or fried shrimp, plus French fries, a bowl of clam chowder, a baked clam and coleslaw. Also available are shrimp cocktails, and clams on the half shell for $5 for a half and $8 for a full dozen.

North Arlington Seniors Inc. (Tuesday Club) sponsors a trip to Sands Casino in Pennsylvania on March 5. The group leaves at 9 a.m. from Borough Hall. Nonmembers are welcome. For more information, call Rose Florio at 201-991-2423. Payment is appreciated before the trip. Speak slowly and clearly when leaving your telephone number.


Shelter Love Events (SLE) hosts a comedy night fundraiser March 14 at The Old Canal Inn, 2 E. Passaic Ave., to help raise funds to purchase items needed by Happily Efur After, a not-for-profit, no-kill, all-volunteer cat rescue and adoption group. The event features a prize raffle, 50/50 raffle, and the comedic stylings of emcee Jeff Howard, Ken Perlstein, Joe Messina, Paul Goldenberg, Mike Celona and Steve Schwarz. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Food orders and raffle ticket purchases will not be available once the show starts. Tickets are $25, which includes a $5 food voucher. Tickets purchased through Feb. 28 receive a $5 discount. Tickets can be purchased at http://slecomedynight.brownpapertickets.com/.

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, offers the following programs:

  • Children of all ages and their caregivers are welcome to enjoy a cozy evening at the library on Monday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. for P.J. Story Time. Make yourself comfortable, put on your pajamas and come to the Children’s Room.
  • Twinkle Star Dance Class, open to ages 15 months to 6, takes place Monday, Feb. 23 at 10:30 a.m. Registration required. • Babygarten, open to ages 23 months and under, is set for Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Registration is required. Participants must be Nutley residents.
  • Video Game Club for teens meets Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 3:15 p.m.
  • Monday Night Book Club meets to discuss “Men We Reaped: A Memoir” by Jesmyn Ward on March 2 at 7 p.m. Copies of the book and its discussion guide are available at the library. This event is free and open to the public.

Registration is not required for these events unless otherwise noted. To register, call the library at 973-667-0405.

Reilly feted as Civil Lawyer of the Year


The Hudson County Bar Association Civil Practice Committee has named Kathleen M. Reilly of Brady, Brady & Reilly as the Civil Lawyer of the Year for 2014.

The award, presented at the Bar Association Practice Awards Dinner, was bestowed on Reilly in recognition of her distinguished service in the practice of civil law. Attending were members of her firm, the judiciary and her family as well as fellow members of the trial bar.

A certified civil trial lawyer, Reilly heads the firm of Brady, Brady & Reilly in Kearny. A graduate of Rosemont College and Seton Hall University School of Law, she has been practicing litigation in the State and Federal Courts of New Jersey since 1983. She specializes in serious personal injury and death claims, including, but not limited to, automobile negligence, dangerous products, premises liability, liquor liability, dog bites and slip/trip and falls.

Reilly has had multiple jury verdicts in excess of $1 million and has settled millions of dollars in personal injury cases on behalf of her injured clients.

In announcing the award, the law firm noted: “Representing the injured, disabled and bereaved is a serious responsibility, and Reilly shoulders this mission with unwavering compassion. Known for her sympathetic and caring nature, many are surprised to witness her feistiness and ferocity in the courtroom. She is both fearless and vigorous in pursuit of a claim on behalf of a client. Her experience, dedication and meticulous preparation have translated into financial awards and justice for the firm’s satisfied clients.”

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Applebee’s in N.J.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar locations in New Jersey invite guests to let the good times roll with a variety of food and beverage specials to celebrate Mardi Gras.

From now until Feb. 22, Applebee’s will offer diners a taste of The Big Easy in their neighborhood by featuring its Bourbon St.- inspired dishes and specialty cocktails including:

• Bourbon St. Chicken &  Shrimp – Cajun-seasoned chicken breast grilled and served on a sizzling skillet with blackened seasoned shrimp, garlic and thyme.

• Bourbon St. Steak – A  juicy, tender 9 oz. steak jazzed up with Cajun spices. • Shoo Fly Punch – Jim  Beam with ginger and lime soda over crushed ice.

• Southern Jack-hattan  – Jack Daniels, peach schnapps and sweet vermouth.

Mardi Gras specials are available at 100 Applebee’s locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises.

In New Jersey, Applebee’s is located in Brick, Bridgewater, Butler, Clifton, East Hanover, Edison, Flemington, Garfield, Hackensack, Hackettstown, Hillsborough, Howell, Jersey City, Jersey Gardens, Kearny, Lacey, Manahawkin, Manalapan, Manchester, Middletown, Milltown, Mt. Olive, Newark, Newton, North Bergen, Northvale, Ocean, Paramus, Parsippany, Phillipsburg, Piscataway, Rockaway, Tinton Falls, Toms River, Totowa, Union, Wall and Woodbridge.

Report: 2 women arrested, charged with soliciting prostitution at Kearny clinic

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GOOGLE STREET VIEW PHOTO — Two women were arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution at a Kearny health-care clinic located inside 50 Midland Ave., seen above, according to reports.

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


In a professional building on Midland Ave., near the Post Office, there used to be a business called the Y&L Health Care Clinic. We say “used to be” because last week it got busted.

Kearny police said it  was a massage parlor operating as a front for prostitution.

At 2:30 p.m., Feb. 9, as the result of an ongoing investigation, KPD Vice detectives went to the premises and arrested 64-year-old Jia Cao and 49-year-old Chunlan Yu, residents of Flushing, Queens.

Both were charged with engaging in prostitution; additionally, Yu was charged with promoting it.

The officers also confiscated approximately $500, believed to be the proceeds from illicit proceedings.

Seeking donations for Brown St. fire victims

The Nutley Department of Public Affairs, working in partnership with the Nutley Music Boosters Association, is seeking donations from the public to assist the victims of a recent fire on Brown St.

Gift cards to clothing stores, food stores, etc., are very helpful.

Also needed are: soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, powder, brushes, combs, blow dryers, hand/body lotion, shaving cream, shavers, socks, (size 10) men’s and women’s gloves — women’s (XLG), men’s (XLG) — hats, scarves, slippers (XLG) women’s and men’s, pocketbooks and wallets.

Items be may be dropped off at the Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut St., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon.

For more information, call 973-284-4976.

Fitness center coming; new housing under review


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 


It may require an extended backstop at Harvey Field to prevent foul balls from whacking cars and/or people and perhaps a buffer of some kind for a residential dog run.

But, in any event, Carlstadt developer Ed Russo will be returning to the Kearny Planning Board March 4 for local approvals to expand his residential project along the north side of Bergen Ave. adjacent to the town’s Harvey Field recreation complex.

Last Wednesday, the board began hearing testimony on Russo’s proposal to demolish two commercial structures at 311-337 Schuyler Ave. and erect two 3-story buildings with 70 rental apartments as part of what the town has designated as an area in need of redevelopment.

It will reconvene next month to hear more about Russo’s expanded project but in the meantime, it voted to approve the developer’s application for a subdivision and amendment to the site plan for the first phase of his residential project – six buildings – on the south side of Bergen Ave. to accommodate a clubhouse and fenced-in dog run on the site of what had been projected as a retail pad.

In other business, the board also sanctioned a site plan and variance application submitted by Kearny Holding VF LLC/Fitness Intl. LLC to convert the old Pathmark supermarket at 175 Passaic Ave. to an LA Fitness facility.

Kearny attorney Gary Bennett, representing Fitness Intl., told the board that his client has negotiated a long-term lease with the property owner, Vornado Realty Trust of New York, to occupy the 58,000 square feet former supermarket building with no change to the structure’s footprint.

James O’Sullivan, director of development for Fitness Intl., said that the company has 650 locations in the U.S. and Canada and of those, he developed 60 in the past decade.

O’Sullivan said the building will be equipped with a kids’ club, locker rooms with bathrooms and showers, a spa, a 3-lane lap pool, basketball/ volleyball court and studios for cardio, yoga and cycling workouts.

Chances of putting in a juice bar are “50/50” at this stage in the development process, O’Sullivan said.

The facility will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, he said.



by Ron Leir Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

by Ron Leir
Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

Plans call for the exterior masonry to be refurbished and repainted with an “earth-tone” color and “additional glass and light,” removal of the former supermarket’s loading docks, installation of brick pavers and bike racks near the front entrance and landscaping with 400 new plants anticipated, he said.

It will probably take a few months to file for building permits and, once granted, “five to six months to construct,” according to O’Sullivan. “The goal is to get this club open this year.”

Once construction starts, the company will open a “pre-sales office” to solicit memberships, he said.

Down the road, O’Sullivan said, the Kearny facility figures to employ more than 75 fulland part-time workers, with job opportunities for local residents.

As for the Bergen Ave. development, Russo told the board he expected to “be 100% complete” with his first phase which he calls Vermella Crossing – 150 rental apartments spread over six buildings – by October 2015.

Assuming favorable action by the board on his proposed expansion, Russo said his hope was to begin construction on that project by “sometime in 2016.”

Monthly rentals are projected at the “mid- $1,600s” for his one-bedroom apartments and in the range of “$2,200 to $2,400” for the two-bedroom units, Russo said. He has no plans to switch to “for sale” units.

Several board members, noting the proximity of the 2.2-acre development site to Harvey Field, wondered whether residents and/or their property might be in harm’s way from foul balls hit by batters during baseball season and that concern triggered discussion about the town doing some adjustments to the baseball field backstop which adjoins the targeted development site. No final plan was agreed to last week.

Asked about concerns raised by the Kearny Fire Department about access to hydrants and the ability of fire trucks to maneuver around the proposed residential buildings, Doug Bartels, an engineer and vice president with Russo Development, said that interior stairwells in each building would be equipped with standpipes and that fire rigs – and garbage trucks – should have enough room “to circulate around both buildings.”

Two board members – Chairman Fred Esteves and Councilman Jonathan Giordano – worried that tenants exiting either of the two proposed driveways from the site would have a tough time negotiating the flow of westbound traffic along Bergen Ave., which tends to stack up at the light at Schuyler Ave.

“There’s no way people are going to be crossing those driveways,” Esteves said. “No one’s going to give them a chance.”

Russo vice president Christopher Minks, the attorney representing the developer at the board hearing, said that the company may be “open to discussion on the more westerly of the two driveways” on possibly restricting the direction of traffic flow to oneway out only. “We’ll be looking at all options,” he said.