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Ferrarro resigns, takes buyout

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  After months of wrangling with his employer, the Kearny Board of Education, Frank Ferraro has tendered his resignation as Kearny superintendent of schools, effective Nov. 1. Ferraro, who was facing the threat of being fired after the board had brought tenure charges […]

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New high school v.p. named

KEARNY – A 13-year school employee has been promoted to vice principal assigned to Kearny High School. Paul Measso, 37, was appointed to his new job Oct. 20 at an annual salary of $128,163 (pro-rated), pending receipt of his principal certificate of eligibility from Trenton. He completed a master’s degree […]

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Lottery for senior apts. next month

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  HARRISON – The town’s first affordable residence for senior citizens at 774 Harrison Ave. is getting ever closer to reality. As construction of the 15-unit building nears completion, the sponsor, Domus Corp., the housing arm of Catholic Charities of Newark, has begun the process […]

Borough voters getting school question

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  EAST NEWARK –  A court ruling has cleared the way – over objections by Harrison – for a Nov. 4 nonbinding referendum asking borough voters, “Should East Newark high school students be sent to Kearny High School instead of Harrison High School?” Harrison Board […]

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Halloween Pawrade in Kearny

                Photos by Karen Zautyk Top r.: KUEZ Among 50+ pups at KUEZ costume contest Saturday were a cat, a cheeseburger, a trio of lobsters, a bumble bee, a ladybug. Shepherd (r.) wore robe and shower […]

 
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Future sports voices get head start at Beck-Eagle Sportscasting Camp

Photo by S.R. Smith./ Kearny’s Ryan Miller (c.) participated in the recent Bruce Beck-Ian Eagle Sportscasting Camp at Montclair State’s Yogi Berra Museum. With Miller are Eagle (l.) and Beck (r.).

 

By Jim Hague

Ryan Miller is a 12-yearold Kearny resident and a big sports fan. The soon-to-be eighth grader at Lincoln School is a fan of the New York teams, namely the Mets, Jets and Knicks.

“I really get into it,” Miller said.

So when he saw an advertisement on television for the Bruce Beck-Ian Eagle Sportscasting Camp, Miller knew that it was something that he wanted to do.

“I was real excited,” Miller said. “I was more encouraged to do it.”

However, most of the students attending the weeklong camp at Montclair State University and the Yogi Berra Museum were much older than Miller. But the famed organizers and instructors at the camp made Miller feel at home.

“I didn’t feel intimidated,” Miller said. “They were great. They all made me relaxed. They were telling stories and jokes. I got really interested in it.”

Miller said that he might want to pursue sportscasting in the future.

“It opened the door to see what I could probably do as a career,” Miller said. “I learned a lot about the relationships you make with people. I’m definitely glad I went.”

Miller was one of two local residents to attend the camp, headed by Eagle, the play-by-play television voice of the Brooklyn Nets on the YES Network, as well as football and college basketball coverage on CBS, and Beck, the sports anchor on WNBC-TV Channel 4.

The camp featured guest appearances from famed sports broadcasters like Chris Carrino, the radio voice of the Nets, Tina Cervasio of the MSG Network, Kenny Albert of FOX Sports and MSG and Kim Jones of the NFL Network.

The campers also had a chance to interview former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree, got a chance to call the play-by-play for a Somerset Patriots game and as an added bonus, spent some time with New York Yankees Hall of Fame legend Berra, who made a surprise appearance.

Photo by S.R. Smith./ Bloomfield’s Zach Smolen (c.) was pleased to be in the presence of Ian Eagle (l.) and Bruce Beck (r.) at the famed sportscasters’ camp at Yogi Berra Museum

 

“Yogi had not been back to the museum for a few months,” Beck said. “We didn’t know if he would be able to make it. But he loves being with the kids and wanted to be with them. Yogi has that genuine warmth and it was special to see the interaction with the kids.”

It was the 11th year that Eagle and Beck have joined forces to hold the camp for aspiring sportscasters.

“It’s very exciting, because it gives kids a great opportunity to learn some of the nuances of being a sportscaster while also having a week of fun,” said Beck, who left soon after the camp to cover the Olympics for NBC Sports. “We’re able to give them a little exposure to the business at an early age. Maybe they can pick up something from the week. It’s not all about broadcasting. It’s about other things as well.”

“We’ve had kids of all ages over the years and it’s very gratifying,” Eagle said. “Many of our campers go on to study broadcasting in college. We’re planting the seeds at an early age. If we’re able to encourage them to pursue broadcasting in the future, then it becomes a memorable experience. All these kids are getting a head start, learning the nuts and bolts. I didn’t get an opportunity like this when I was a kid.”

Eagle is proud that some of the camp’s products have moved on to professional broadcasting, like Scott Braun of the MLB Network and Justin Antwile, the voice of the Somerset Patriots.

“It’s nice that we’re able to have a personal connection with the kids,” Eagle said. “Not everyone gets a chance to become a broadcaster, so we teach them a little bit about life lessons as well. Bruce and I are living out a dream, doing what we love, but we’ve proven that it’s attainable. There are so many more avenues to do this now with technology, the Internet. The business has changed. The tapes don’t lie. If you’re talented, you’ll get the opportunity. It’s not handed to you, but you can get the chance.”

Zach Smolen is a 15-yearold soon-to-be sophomore at Bloomfield High School.

“I have a teacher, Brandon Doemling, who had a flier about the camp and gave it to me,” Smolen said. “He knew that I was a big sports fan and that this would be right down my alley. I was really excited about it.”

Smolen is a fan of the Yankees, Giants, Nets and Philadelphia Flyers.

“I play baseball all year round,” Smolen said. “I’m on travel teams and Babe Ruth teams. So sports is a major part of my life. As for the camp, I was a little nervous, because I didn’t know anyone there. But once I got there, it was much easier.”

Smolen said that he was happy to get a chance to interview Giants Super Bowl hero Tyree.

“I got a one-on-one interview with him,” Smolen said. “I tried to be very professional instead of being a fan. I remember watching his catch in the Super Bowl and getting so excited. It was fantastic to get a chance to interview him, a once-in-alifetime experience.”

Miller learned a lot about what it takes to become a sportscaster before an event.

“I learned about all the preparation and hard work that goes into becoming a sportscaster,” Miller said. “I have a better appreciation now for what they do. It was a great experience.”

Miller said that he loved meeting the legendary Yogi Berra.

“It was really cool,” Miller said. “He’s a famous player. He had a few words for us, but he said that if being a sportscaster is what you want to do, then you can get there if you try hard enough. It was great.”

Smolen had met Berra once before at a New Jersey Jackals game.

“I waited on line to get his autograph,” Smolen said. “This time, I got to talk to him a little and it was really exciting.”

Smolen was inspired to perhaps pursue sportscasting as a career.

“It definitely helped a lot,” Smolen said. “It seems like an incredible job. I think I can do it. It encourages me.”

Smolen was also glad to have met Beck and Eagle.

“It’s going to be something, watching the Olympics and seeing Bruce Beck there,” Smolen said. “I can say that I know that guy. I already knew relationships were important, but preparation is also a key. I look forward to going again next year. It’s still amazing I got this opportunity.”

Lyndhurst Post 139 moves on to state Legion tourney

Photo by Jim Hague/ Lyndhurst graduate Jimmy Fitzpatrick has been a integral part of the Lyndhurst Post 139 team winning the District 1 tournament title and advancing to this week’s state tourney in West Windsor.

 

By Jim Hague

When Mike Voza took over the head coaching reins of the Lyndhurst Post 139 Senior American Legion baseball team last year, he wanted to be able to uphold the rich tradition of the Post 139 program.

After all, it was only four years ago that Lyndhurst Post 139 won the New Jersey State Tournament, bringing the Post its first overall state title since 1968. But every year, team general manager and coordinator Jerry Sparta has assembled a competitive roster and expects Post 139 to do well come District and State tournament time.

Voza well knew the demands of the head coaching role.

“I played for Post 139 in 1986,” Voza said. “We finished third in the District that year. In 1988 and 1989, I was an assistant coach. I’ve been a member of the Legion for practically my entire life. I have a tremendous amount of pride being asked to coach this team and to be associated with this team. I wanted to make sure that we had a successful season.”

Well, it appears as if Lyndhurst Post 139 is living up to expectations.

The team is headed to the overall state championships that were scheduled to begin Tuesday at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. Lyndhurst was paired to face Haddon Heights in the opening round of the state tourney.

Post 139 defeated Livingston and Union to advance to the District 1 championship round at Gardner Field in Denville. In the title game, Lyndhurst defeated Mount Morris of Morris County, 4-2, to win the District 1 crown.

“I’m very pleased,” Voza said. “If someone would have told me on Memorial Day that we would be playing for a District championship, I’d sign on the dotted line for that. What else can you ask for? We have a group of kids who play well together, who work hard and who are confident.”

Voza was asked for the reason why his team has done so well in postseason play.

“Pitching, pitching and more pitching,” Voza said. “In four tournament games, we gave up a total of five runs. We went out and targeted pitchers. We wanted to get pitchers on the roster. We went after pitchers at the expense of perhaps getting a heavy hitting outfielder. We wanted pitching.”

That strategy has worked to perfection, because Lyndhurst Post 139 has been brilliant thus far. Kevin Rehbein got things going with a three-hit shutout against Little Ferry in the Bergen County tournament, then Ryan Kelly and Bobby Miskura have followed suit in the District 1 tourney.

Kelly went six innings in the team’s win over Livingston, with Elvis Soriano finishing up to get the save. Miskura has been a workhorse, going the distance in an 8-2 win over Union, walking none and striking out nine.

“We knew all along that he was a talented pitcher,” Voza said. “He’s also a valuable defender when he’s playing shortstop. I didn’t have to worry about him. I knew what I had.”

Post 139 suffered a significant loss recently when former Harrison High School standout hurler Anthony Ferriero had to curtail his activity with the team because of his collegiate commitments to FDU-Florham, where Ferriero will attend and play baseball.

“He has not pitched a lot for us lately because he’s been on the FDU-Florham campus,” Voza said.

Another valuable pitcher for Lyndhurst has been Max Herrmann, who got the ball for the team’s District 1 title game Sunday against Mt. Morris and led the team to victory.

In the bottom of the first inning, Jimmy Fitzpatrick got hit with a pitch, then Miskura battled through a 15-pitch at-bat to hit a two-run homer, giving Lyndhurst the lead. Fitzpatrick, who became a huge factor for Post 139, serving as the team’s leadoff hitter, had a sacrifice fly for an RBI in the next inning, giving Herrmann all the runs he would need, going the distance.

“Fitzpatrick has been tremendous for us,” Voza said of the recent Lyndhurst High grad. “He’s been our spark plug since we made him the leadoff hitter.”

Rehbein has been a godsend as both a pitcher and infielder. The recent Lyndhurst High School grad, headed to Rutgers- Newark in the fall, has been a clutch performer, delivering two-run singles in both wins against Livingston and Union.

“As a pitcher, he throws free and easy,” Voza said of Rehbein. “He throws strikes. I always knew he had the talent to pitch. But he’s been hitting the ball very well, delivering in the clutch.”

Voza, who is assisted by Jay Huggins and Jeff Puzo, said that he’s enjoyed coaching this group.

“They make for a nice atmosphere,” Voza said. “The other coaches suggest changes and I make them on their suggestions. They recently suggested a change in the batting order and it worked out well.”

Voza can’t say more about the team.

“They are tremendous kids,” Voza said. “They show up every day. They are extremely coachable. When the game is over, they can’t wait to play another game. We’ve made a nice run and we expect to keep it going this week.”

A long-time basketball connection reunited at Kearny hoop camp

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Kearny PAL Boys’ Basketball Camp, held recently at Schuyler School, was a success. Front row from l, are Michael Rotondo, Harry Carter, Michael Moyano, Blaise Edwards and Andrew Shenoda. Back row from l. are camp director Bob MacDonnell, New Jersey State PAL Director Tim Dowd and Jersey City Recreation Director Joe Macchi.

 

By Jim Hague

When Bob MacDonnell was beginning his basketball coaching career some 30 years ago, he was coaching CYO basketball at Our Lady of Mercy in Jersey City.

One of his first pupils was a young point guard named Joe Macchi.

“He taught me two principles back then,” Macchi said.“He taught me discipline and defense. That was driven into my mind back then and stayed with me.”

Last week, MacDonnell and Macchi had a reunion of sorts, as MacDonnell served as the camp director for the Kearny PAL Basketball Camp at Schuyler School.

MacDonnell has been coaching basketball ever since, including his latest job as an assistant coach at Berkeley College in Newark. Macchi became a standout player at Marist, then Jersey City State College. He went on to become a head coach at St. Peter’s Prep and currently serves as the Director of Recreation in Jersey City.

More than 50 youngsters participated in the week-long camp run by MacDonnell.

“I think it’s very important that we have camps like this, to keep the interest of basketball in Kearny,” MacDonnell said. “Some of these kids never played organized basketball before. It was a first-time experience for some of them. So we wanted to make the experience as positive as possible.”

MacDonnell, who was a subvarsity coach at Kearny High School for many years, said that he was pleased with the turnout.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout, especially since we had kids from four different towns,” MacDonnell said. “I actually enjoyed it. We were able to blend the kids who were learning for the first time with the more experienced kids. There were some talented kids there. It wasn’t like we were working from scratch.

Added MacDonnell, “I realized that a lot of these kids, especially the ones from Kearny, could play. The talent level is unbelievable and that’s without any real training or coaching. The kids just love to play basketball and they want to play.”

Macchi, who guided St. Peter’s Prep to its first Hudson County championship in more than 30 years in his tenure there, was happy with the way the kids listened and took to what he had to say.

“The game is the same,” Macchi said. “It’s still basketball. I was glad to have that audience and I was able to show my love for the game. The passion is still there for me and it’s there with these kids.”

Macchi was hopeful that the campers took just a small morsel of what he preached home with them after the camp was over.

“If they took only one thing, then it was worthwhile,” Macchi said. “I can’t expect them to absorb everything. We tried to do things that would be beneficial to them down the road. We gave them drills that they can work on at home.” Macchi said that he conducted a question-and-answer session with the campers after he was done.

“I was really impressed with the questions they asked,” Macchi said. “They proved to me that they really wanted to learn.”

Zach Latka is a 15-year-old sophomore at Kearny High School.

“I learned a lot and I had a lot of fun,” Latka said. “I worked on my dribbling, my passing, my shooting. It’s going to help me a lot to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Latka has been spending the summer playing AAU basketball for the Kearny PBGC.

“Coming to the camp will encourage me to play more,” Latka said. “I want to play basketball in college, so this was a good step for me. I’m going to work hard to get to my goals.”

Gralen Vereen is a 12-yearold who attends Schuyler School. Vereen is one of the up-and-coming talents that caught MacDonnell’s eye.

“The thing I learned more than anything else is having the right attitude,” Vereen said. “I know that I have to work hard to get better, but I need to have the right attitude when I play.”

Vereen said that he’s a big Oklahoma City Thunder fan and follows the play of All-Star Kevin Durant very closely.

“Someday, I hope I can shoot like him,” Vereen said. “I need to grow a little more, too.”

Michael O’Donnell is a 13-year-old rising star from East Newark.

“I had a lot of fun,” O’Donnell said. “The coaches were fun and the counselors were fun. It’s really going to help me a lot. I think I learned about good sportsmanship, that no matter how bad things get, I have to remain focused. I also can’t let things get in my head when I make a mistake; that I have to keep playing.”

O’Donnell was also encouraged to keep playing.

“I think coming to the camp taught me that I have to work hard to become a better player,” O’Donnell said. “Basketball is more than just shooting. You have to do a lot of different things.”

Like O’Donnell’s favorite team, the Chicago Bulls, and his favorite player, Derrick Rose.

“I’m not there with him yet,” O’Donnell said. “But maybe someday.”

Going to a summer camp can put a dream in the head of practically every kid.

“I’m extremely happy with the way it turned out,” MacDonnell said. “Without a doubt, this is where it all starts.”

MacDonnell was thankful for the support he received from the New Jersey State PAL, headed by director Tim Dowd, who also made an appearance at the camp. The New Jersey State PAL and Berkeley College were the cosponsors of the camp. MacDonnell is a retired Kearny police officer.

“It brought back memories to the days when I first started playing basketball,” said MacDonnell, who played high school basketball at Marist in Bayonne. “This was a positive first step for a lot of them.”

More thoughts on rethinking risk

 

By Randy Neumann

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column, “The necessity of strategy,” about a concept postulated by Invesco, a large money manager. The concept, rethinking risk, is based on five myths, truths and actions. That column dealt with the first set of myths, truths and actions.

This column is about the second set:

Myth: Missing the market’s best days is the worst thing I could do to my portfolio.

Truth: The market’s worst days are just as important as its best days (and maybe even more).

Action: Remain invested, but seek to avoid catastrophic losses.

For years, conventional investment wisdom encouraged investors to stay invested over time and avoid market timing strategies so that they wouldn’t miss out on the market’s top performance days. Investors were warned that missing the “10 best days” would drag down the value of their portfolios; however, that idea is only part of the story. It glosses over the risk of staying invested during the markets worst days.

As it turns out, over the past 83 years, the markets worst days have far greater effect on portfolio return than the market’s best days. Clearly, it’s time to rethink the conventional wisdom of pursuing returns without considering the risks involved.

In “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Although Dickens did not have the stock market in mind when he wrote this famous line, investors can use this message as a good reminder: There are two sides to every story.

The market’s “best of times”: The S&P 500 Index’s 10 best performance days over 83 years (1927-2010) yielded an average daily return of 11.68%. The market’s “worst of times”: The 10 worst performance days across those same 83 years, provided an average daily return of negative- 10.84%. The problem of focusing on only half of the story is that it emphasizes the effects of the best days while ignoring the effects of the worst days. So what lesson can investors take away from these numbers?

Let’s take a look at the whole story.

During those 83 years, a $1 investment would have grown to $71.21 under a buy-and-hold strategy that captured the performance of each and every day, including the 10 best and 10 worst days. Obviously, missing positive performance won’t help improve returns. If you missed the 10 best days of the market performance in those 83 years, $1 would have grown to only $23.89, about one-third of the growth of the entire period. Looking at the whole story, however, shows that missing the 10 worst performance days improves returns dramatically, a $1 investment would’ve grown to $228.71, more than tripling the overall $71.21 growth from 1927 to 2010, and underscoring the importance of downside risk management.

What if we avoided the extremes altogether? Missing the 10 best and 10 worst days would have resulted in the return of $75.01 on a $1investment. That’s $3.80 more than the returns of a buy-and-hold strategy with less volatility.

Lastly, if you avoided the market altogether and stayed in cash, you’d have $19.31 after 83 years.

The numbers show that relying on pinpoint trades isn’t the most effective strategy, but, depending on your time horizon, a buy-and-hold strategy may not work either. So what’s an investor to do? Like all good stories, there’s a moral for this one: Your first investment priorities should be to minimize risk, not maximize returns. We now know the market’s worst days have had a bigger effect on market returns than the market’s best days. Let’s examine why, and what that means for investors who don’t plan on staying in the market for eight decades.

As a portfolio loses value, the needed returns to breakeven – that is, to make up the losses – grow substantially. Here are some examples:

• A 10% loss requires an 11percent gain to break even.

• A 25% loss requires a 34 percent gain to break even.

• A 50% loss requires 100 percent gain to break even.

It is important to remember that individual risk isn’t measured as much by volatility as it is by the potential to miss investment goals. In other words, if your goal is retirement, your risk tolerance may be better defined by your ability to retire according to your plan than it is by your ability to tolerate a 20% swing in market performance. That means your financial plan should be designed first and foremost to meet your retirement goals, not to capture the market’s best of times.

Past performance is no assurance of a future result. The market for all securities is subject to loss.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. Randy Neumann, CFP® is a registered representative with and securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/ SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Avenue, Suite 104, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, 201-291-9000.

Obituaries

Sophie F. Babinski

Sophie F. “Shirley” (Stypulkowska) Babinski, age 92, of Point Pleasant Beach, died on Monday, July 23 at her home.

She was born and raised in Harrison, and lived in Kearny, before moving to Point Pleasant Beach in 1970.

Mrs. Babinski was a homemaker. She was a parishioner of St. Peter’s R.C. Church in Point Pleasant Beach. She was a member of several local senior clubs in the area where she enjoyed dancing and laughing. She also enjoyed shopping, entertaining and spending time with her loving family.

She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 43 years, Peter Leon Babinski, in 1983. She is survived by two sons, Peter L. Jr. MD, PHD of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in a committed relationship with Ricardo and Carl P. and his wife, Mary, of East Amwell; two daughters, Joan M. Comp of Kearny and Debbie E. Costanzo and her husband, Sam of Toms River; a sister, Jean Blazejewski of Hillsborough; nine grandchildren, Joanne, Michael M., Carl Jr., Stacey, Caroline, Peter, Christina, Sam and Michael A.; nine great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Arrangements were by the Colonial Funeral Home, 2170 Highway 88, Brick. A funeral Mass was held at St. Peter’s Church in Point Pleasant Beach, followed by burial at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Toms River.

Jersey City man sought in assault of three people arrested in Belleville

By Jeff Bahr

Belleville Police collared a Jersey City man suspected of attacking two women and an infant last Friday after the man attempted to hide inside of a refrigerator in a vacant Belleville apartment, according to a report by CBS New York.

Frederico Bruno, 19, was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly stabbing his ex-girlfriend and her female friend in a Rutgers Ave., Jersey City apartment. Police say he then shoved his former girlfriend and her 3-month-old son into a window air conditioner with such force that the two ended up plummeting three stories to the backyard below. All three victims are in critical condition, according to Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey.

Other details tying in with the suspect’s capture are still unclear. Shortly after Bruno was arrested, Jersey City Police released the following statement:

“After an extensive manhunt throughout the day and responding to numerous tips, Frederico Bruno was apprehended at approximately 8:00 p.m. Friday evening in Belleville, N.J. by members of the Jersey City Police Department, Belleville Police Department and Newark Emergency Services Unit. All agencies involved worked tirelessly to apprehend Mr. Bruno.”

‘Sinkhole’ poses hazards for motorists

PHOTO BY ANTHONY J. MACHCINSKI/ ARROW SHOWS THE ONE-FOOT SINKHOLE THAT HAS HAMILTON ST. CLOSED TO TRAFFIC.

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –

An ongoing mystery that has continued to stymie West Hudson public works and engineering personnel is deepening … literally.

And so the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission is hoping to get to the bottom of it – “it” being an ever-growing sinkhole along Schuyler Ave. at Hamilton St., across the street from the Harrison High School stadium near the Kearny border.

Since it’s only a couple of blocks away from the Harrison Ave. intersection – the southernmost tip of a major north/south artery crossing through West Hudson and South Bergen – the roadway depression poses a serious hazard to motorists navigating through the sector.

Not to mention the potential threat to what Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos refers to as a “stew of water and sewer lines” running under that section of Schuyler Ave. Public works crews from Harrison and Kearny, along with contractors retained by both communities, have excavated sections of that intersection or near it to try and puzzle out the problem with the steadily softening asphalt.

“It’s still unclear why that’s happening,” Santos said last week. “We suspect it has to do with a combined (sanitary and storm water) sewer line of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission but it also might be our water line. We repaired a 150-foot-long section of the line after a small sag was discovered.”

Issues with the compromised roadway have been “recurring for the last five years,” according to Santos.

Schuyler Ave. is “one of the oldest roads in the county,” Santos said, “and has clearly seen a lot of wear and tear” from all kinds of vehicles that use the roadway.

And that extensive traffic and pounding has certainly taken its toll.

“There’s a good drop there (at Schuyler and Hamilton),” Santos said. “Probably about a foot and it’s still sinking.”

One motorist who recently drove through the intersection noted that even as you approach it, “You don’t see it. It’s like a big dip. I felt it was engineered that way.”

PVSC Chief Engineer John Rotolo agreed that a “sinkhole has developed” and he credited Harrison public works personnel with having “isolated the area of concern.” It’s become so serious that the PVSC has arranged for police to set up barricades to divert traffic, he said.

Fixing it – and repairing a PVSC sewer line in the process – could total close to $500,000, Rotolo said.

“Our line – the Kearny/Harrison/ Newark branch interceptor – is a 42-inch concrete combined sewer pipe that was built in the 1920s that needs work and the contractor we hire will be doing drilling, test borings, ground-penetrating radar, pressure grouting, paving and lining of the sewer,” he said.

Rotolo said the PVSC has taken bids and is ready to award the contract but he noted that moving forward with the job could be contingent on getting funding from the state Environmental Infrastructure Trust Fund.

Meanwhile, in other transit- related developments, Kearny’s streetscape project on Kearny Ave. has run into a slight bump in the road on a few fronts: the contractor is placing a revised order for trash receptacles; the township is trying to decide on a color for new parking meter heads since the proposed forest green has been discontinued; the decorative kiosks are still awaited; and the NJ Transit bus shelter won’t be installed for another two months.

At the July 10 meeting, the Kearny Town Council authorized contracting with Hatch Mott MacDonald, a Millburn engineering fi rm, for $122,790 for the final design of phase one of the Riverbank Park Bike Trail. Santos said the town has qualifi ed for a federal earmark of $2 million, including engineering costs, for a combination walkway/bike trail project.

Phase one will extend along the Passaic River waterfront, from the Belleville Turnpike to the N. Midland Ave. culvert.

It’s expected to take eight to 10 months to complete the design, Santos said. “It’s complicated due to the trees in the park,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re going to try not to have any removed.”

In Harrison, the Hudson County Improvement Authority, in cooperation with the Town of Harrison and the state Department of Transportation, invited the community to attend a public information session on strategies for access improvements to the Rt. 280 ramp approaches on July 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the second-fl oor council chambers at Town Hall, 318 Harrison Ave.

According to the HCIA and DOT, the existing Rt. 280 ramp access configuration in Harrison is outdated, inconsistent with current federal policy, and an impediment to present and future economic redevelopment initiatives.

The study is exploring how to best consolidate the existing partial ramp system that connects several of the local streets to Rt. 280 into a single interchange that will improve safety and mobility for drivers and pedestrians on both Rt. 280 and the local streets and improve access to and through the Harrison waterfront redevelopment area.

 

S.I. teen killed in car crash

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

A Sunday afternoon drive turned deadly on Route 280 eastbound when a Chevy Cobalt collided with a Toyota Camry. The accident occurred in the section of 280 a mile west of Exit 17A on the Kearny/Harrison border.

As a result of the accident, a 19-year-old Staten Island woman was killed and four others were taken to University Hospital in Newark.

Details relating to the cause the accident as of The Observer’s press time were limited. The accident is still under investigation by State Police.

The accident stopped traffi c for several hours, shutting Route 280 eastbound down to just one lane. Route 280 westbound was kept open.

Canines may run free if town gets funding

 

Photos by Ron Leir/ Petitioners, from l., Councilwoman Laura Pettigrew (with Maisey). Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle and Karen Del (with Gigi) have collected some 75 signatures so far.

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –

For the past eight years or so, canine enthusiasts talked up the idea of a “dog park” but it never seemed to take hold.

Now a small cadre is mounting a campaign to doggedly pursue the notion that the four-legged creatures should have their day.

To that end, advocates for the cause – Councilwomen Carol Jean Doyle and Laura Pettigrew and resident Karen Del – are unleashing a weapon of persuasion in a petition proposing “dog park construction for Riverbank Park.

”The petition says:

“We the undersigned wish to express our support of the Town of Kearny’s funding application for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program. We strongly feel that the Town of Kearny’s dog park construction project will provide our children, adults and canine caregivers with a facility that is necessary, critical and essential to our community.

“Your funding support will help achieve our community’s recreational goals while improving viable open space for its residents….”

Doyle said that a petition signed by many Kearny residents will show the state that there is resolve behind the town’s application. As of last week, Doyle said that some 75 signatures – including one from Mayor Alberto Santos – had been collected.

“The mayor gave me the green light,” Doyle told The Observer.

Although the Town Council has yet to give its endorsement of the project, or to authorize the suggested application, Doyle said she doesn’t foresee any opposition among her colleagues.

Doyle concedes that creating a dog park is no easy feat, particularly when the cost can approximate as much as $300,000.

“It can’t be a matter of a square with fencing around it and it’s not just a matter of throwing down some mulch,” Doyle said. “You need running water, a drainage system that includes a porous base to collect water – like a mud bath for dogs – for the runoff to go to. You also need fencing, benches and a design for insurance to cover.”

That’s why, Doyle said, the petition is being directed to a state agency for financing the project “so it won’t cost the taxpayers anything.”

But since the application process is competitive and since there’s only so much money in the Green Acres pot, there’s no guarantee that Kearny will get the money needed to develop the proposed dog park, Doyle acknowledged.

Still, the group is choosing to be optimistic, insisting that public awareness of the need for the facility must be heightened to push its goal forward.

Pressed for more details around the project’s price tag, Santos characterized $300,000 as “at the high end’’ – based on the premise of having two sites: one for larger dogs and a second for smaller sizes. “But if get only enough funding for one facility, the cost would probably be closer to half that amount,” he said.

“There’s definitely a need for it,” the mayor said. “There are limited facilities in the area and sometimes owners walk their dogs in parks and playgrounds, which is not permitted in Kearny. In playgrounds, where you have younger children, it’s primarily for safety reasons; in parks, both for safety and for potential health hazards (from dog droppings).”

If the facility is designed for “proper drainage and appropriate watering and hosing down the area,” the hope is that it could be maintained “in-house” by town workers at minimal cost to taxpayers, Santos said.

Initially, the dog park idea was pitched by then-Councilman Jose Torres; unfortunately, proponents found themselves barking up the wrong tree, due to “financial considerations and other priorities, such as the revitalization of Passaic Ave. according to Doyle.

“It’s time,” said Del, a local realtor and owner of a 2-yearold mini-Pincher acquired through an animal rescue agency. “Residents who are tenants with no access to a back yard,” said Del, “have nowhere to exercise or socialize their dogs” – something that only a dog park can satisfy.

“I contacted the Board of Health and they informed me that they license between 1,100 and 1,200 dogs annually in Kearny,” Del said.

Right now the closest available dog park is located in the Lyndhurst section of Riverside Park off Passaic Ave. and while the group hedged on identifying the exact location it’s pitching for the Kearny dog park, Doyle said: “We’re looking at three spots – all town-owned and all along the river. For many Kearny residents, it would still be a drive to get (to the site) but it would less of a drive (than going to Lyndhurst).”

Distancing the facility from neighboring residents is key, Doyle said, “because we’re cognizant of the noise issue.”

Still, Del said, a dog park “isn’t just for dogs – it’s a people park, too. It offers a chance to meet your neighbors, to talk about social issues. And for seniors whose pets have passed on or who can’t afford one, it’s a chance to get their ‘fix’ by coming down and watching the dogs.” “That’s right,” said Pettigrew, the owner of a 2-yearold Maltese. “People make connections there.” And, Doyle added, “it’s a safe place for dogs.”

Deputy Town Clerk Lyla DeCastro, who chairs the town’s Recreation Committee, has signed the petition. “It’s a great idea,” she said. “It offers the opportunity for a safe off-leash place for dogs, it gets dogs off the street and it puts them in a centralized area where dogs can run around. It gives dogs the opportunity to socialize with other dogs, plus it gets people out in the community.”

Doyle, who has had two dogs – one for eight years and another for 18 – is ready to move forward. If everything works out this time, “we’d like to be operating by spring 2013,” she said.

Santos said he’d like to see the proposal brought before the governing body for consideration “by either August or September,” when council members would be asked to formally endorse it and authorize making application for Green Acres funding.

Petitions are available for residents to sign at these locations: The Town Clerk’s office on the first floor of the Municipal Building, the Board of Health, the Public Library’s main branch, Arlington Dog & Cat Hospital and Bone Appetit Barkery & Spa.

‘What I did for my summer vacation’ borough mayor takes jaunt in Holy land

Photos by Ron Leir/ North Arlington Mayor Peter Massa displays brochure depicting ancient Galilee vessel.

 

By Ron Leir

NORTH ARLINGTON –

The borough’s globetrotting chief executive is back from another vacation trip – this time from the Holy Land. But lest anyone think Mayor Peter Massa and his wife Val had been flown in to serve as Middle East peace mediators or to set up a sister city arrangement, rest assured that his Honor and the First Lady of North Arlington were there on their own dime – or shekel – for pleasure.

“We usually go somewhere in Europe – we’ve been traveling since 1989 – but this was our first time to Israel,” Massa said.

It was a whirlwind tour, from June 14 to 28, as the escorted group of 39 Americans traversed the length of the country. “We were constantly on the go,” Massa said. “It was a diverse group: retirees, people still working, some who had relatives there,” Massa said. “We met one woman who taught in a school in Brooklyn that was across the street from where my aunt and uncle had lived.”

The tour began in Jerusalem where the group walked around the Old City and Arab Market, the Jewish Quarter and the New City and, after a three-day stay, then drove on to Masada, a first century fortification in Israel’s southern district where historians believe a mass suicide of Jews took place as a Roman legion besieged and then attacked.

Then, the tour visited the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley, Beit She’an, the Sea of Galilee and the Yigal Allon Centre museum containing the remains of an ancient wooden boat recovered from the Sea of Galilee, believed to date from the first century and similar in design to the type of vessel used by Jesus’ Disciples.

Next on the itinerary was a stop in Nazareth, then on to Haifa, Bethlehem and the 1,500-year-old Church of the Nativity – which religious scholars believe to be the site of Jesus’ birthplace.

“The church is now under the control of the Palestinian Authority,” Massa said.

And there were also visits to the southern resort town of Eilat, and the coastal town of Caesarea, midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, the site of an ancient Roman theater built by King Herod.

His Honor reviews souvenir pamphlet depicting historic Galilee vessel.

 

“It seems all these stadiums were built by the same guys with the same set of blueprints,” Massa quipped.

Asked for general impressions of the land and its people, Massa said: “What I find really inspiring is that you have three major religions converging in the same area. … The shekel (Israeli coin) has printing in Hebrew on one side and Arabic on the other. The traffic signs are in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English.”

No matter where he went in the country, said Massa, a former North Arlington cop, he and his wife felt safe. About mid-way through the tour, Israel retaliated for a rocket attack in southern Israel, firing into the Gaza territory, resulting in a fatality, but Massa said his group wasn’t near either incident.

“You see young Hebrew soldiers hanging out in the cities, on a pass or furlough, and they’re completely armed,” the mayor noted. “That provides a very strong sense of security. They’re obviously ready to spring into action.”

At the airport in Tel Aviv, there were uniformed personnel carrying automatic weapons.

At the entrances to the hotels the group stayed at, Massa said he noticed men clearly assigned to security details. “They weren’t wearing uniforms but on their sides, you could see they had 9 mm guns holstered,” he said.

Culturally speaking, the trip was like stepping back in time, Massa said. “The history of the country is phenomenal. And my wife and I are ancient history buffs.”

Lasting impressions came, especially, from visiting the Stations of the Cross, also known as the Via Dolorosa, culminating at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Old City of Jerusalem which, according to theologians, is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

Also “inspiring” to see, Massa said, were such locales as the Western Wall, believed to date from 20 BCE from the era of King Herod, a section of a courtyard retaining wall for the Second Temple of Jerusalem; the Castle of King Herod; and the Ramon Crater (in Hebrew, “Makhtesh Ramon”) – believed to be the largest crater in the world – located in the Negev Desert at the midpoint between Eilat and Tel Aviv.

“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” Massa said, “and even though there’s only been religious and political tension there, you still see Jews and Arabs doing business together in the marketplace, irrespective of internal friction.”

Massa said he was also impressed “with how cosmopolitan the country has become,” perhaps influenced by western culture.

Massa said the tour group was warmly received everywhere it went.

“I think (Israelis) very much appreciate its American ally,” the mayor said. “I remember seeing an Israeli guy wearing a T-shirt which had images of tanks and the words, ‘Don’t worry, America – Israel is behind you.’ ’’

Massa said he and his wife hope to do a return trip to Israel “in a few years.”

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