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One dead in Lyndhurst shooting

The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office. The driver, identified […]


‘Sober House’ rattles residents

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at […]


2nd hotel signals growth

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel. It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New […]


A harvest of plenty in special garden

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON–  Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin: Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. […]


Vino, verily, arriving soon

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – Starting next month, the Kearny Farmers Market will be offering a new, sweet treat as part of the fresh, Jersey-grown produce for its patrons. We’re talking vino, folks. The town governing body voted last Tuesday night to permit the Four […]


Look Who’s Talking

Have you ever experienced a voice from within that tells you to do things in a certain way or that warns you about stuff you shouldn’t get involved in? Do you at times get a hunch or a flash of insight that enables you to see a situation in a totally different light than before? That feeling you get is your intuition. It is an alternative source of knowledge combined with a heightened level of awareness, which may also be referred to as a “gut feeling” or instinct.
Everyone has intuition. In some it’s more developed than others. It is your connection to the subconscious mind. Many successful men and women mention in their biographies that the decisions that changed their life and made them who they are were the decisions they took based on their gut feeling at that time. Intuition is a powerful tool and when you begin to use it regularly and systematically, there is virtually nothing that you cannot accomplish.
Listen to your dreams and hear what your heart wishes. It is important to have a clean soul to allow your conscious self to talk to you. One way to encourage this is through meditation. Make an appointment with yourself and spend a few minutes alone. Love yourself. Accept the person that you are. Resolve all conflicts that are brewing inside you. Then think of the situation you are in and ask for a solution. Sometimes the answer you get may sound irrational but don’t discard it just yet. Think about it and make an informed decision. Think of intuition as a guide that is familiar with the path ahead and can warn you of upcoming pitfalls. But once you are convinced of what is right, simply do it. Don’t think twice. Go with that gut instinct and you will be surprised how often it opens doors you hadn’t necessarily considered. Every time you choose to listen to your inner voice, it gets stronger. You can also attain this with Chakra healing. When your energy centers are in complete balance, you open yourself up to the universe.
When you believe in yourself, and all good things around you, the cosmic powers will feed your desires. Hence, I encourage you to listen to yourself for once. You are your own destiny maker. Go with that gut feeling and live a good life. You won’t regret it!


Visit Shweta Punjabi  at her website solutionsbyshweta.com • For more information or email her at magictaara@yahoo.com

Ladies: Don’t undervalue your worth!

By Randy Neumann

Today, a woman in the workplace is commonplace, but it wasn’t always that way.  During World War II, Rosie the Riveter became an American icon.  While the men were overseas engaged in battle, the women at home worked in the factories making the weapons of war.  Their work was acknowledged and celebrated in the drawing of Rosie the Riveter on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post by famed artist Norman Rockwell, and through the millions of posters distributed by the Ad Council depicting a woman in manufacturing garb flexing her bicep with the caption, “We Can Do It!”
In 1942, big-band leader James Kern “Kay” Kaiser’s big hit “Rosie the Riveter” began with these lyrics:
“All the day long,
Whether rain or shine
She’s part of the assembly line
She’s making history
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter”
Well, certainly Rosie the Riveter needed some life insurance to protect her paycheck.  And, in many cases, she had kids at home, so she had multiple needs for life insurance.
Not much has changed in 69 years.  Penn Mutual, a large life insurance company, released a study in early May (just in time for Mother’s Day) that suggests both moms and single women do more work at home. Unlike their male counterparts, however, they don’t think enough about the value of what they do.
In the third annual Worth for Women Survey, women and men were asked to place a dollar value on the work that they do away from their jobs.  Both groups put the dollar estimate at around $25,000 per year.  Respondents were then asked to list the hours they spent doing a variety of household chores, such as laundry and meal preparation in addition to childcare. When the insurance company calculated the value of the actual hours reported doing household jobs, they found that men overestimate the value of what they do by almost 13%.  In contrast, women across the country were found to underestimate the worth of all they do for their homes and families.
When the actual median value of services was computed, a woman’s contribution to the home was $34,256 versus $19,322 for men.  Men were 9% more likely to overestimate their contribution by $30,000 or more.  The person most likely to underestimate her worth is the mother of a minor child.  The computed worth for such a woman is $44,913, while her perceived worth is $29,000.  Over half (52%) of these women underestimate their worth by at least $10,000; 36% do so by at least $30,000.
“As a life insurance company, we often see evidence that women underestimate their value to their families — with serious or tragic consequences when that work has to be replaced by outsiders after the untimely death of a wife or mother,” said Tracy Marrocco, Director of Women’s Marketing for Penn Mutual.  “Far too many families fail to account for this value, leaving women uninsured or under-insured.  This survey revealed that women own significantly less coverage than men do, with the median individual coverage amount for women being $100,000 as compared to $150,000 for men.”
Women, of course, understand that life insurance provides a death benefit, but lack knowledge when it comes to the different life insurance products available and the unique benefits they provide.  For example, the Worth Survey found that women place high value on building cash reserves to borrow from for expenditures such as paying for college or starting a new business, but they often aren’t aware that permanent life insurance can provide this benefit.  Clearly, it’s difficult to make an informed decision when purchasing life insurance if you underestimate your worth and aren’t aware of all the options.
“What’s surprising is how significantly women undervalue the contributions they make to their homes and families—yet this thinking has negative repercussions for women and their loved ones and undermines their prospects for a secure financial future,” said Marrocco. “At Penn Mutual, we encourage women to first know their worth and then take the necessary steps to assure a bright future for themselves and their families through the complete value of life insurance.”
Well, what are you waiting for?  Figure out how much life insurance you need and take care of it with a single policy or a combination of the following: Term, Whole Life, Universal Life, or Variable life insurance.

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 securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.


Maria DiGiovanni
Maria DiGiovanni (nee Trubia) died on Dec. 14 in Clara Maass Medical Center. She was 72.
Born in Bompietro, Sicily, she lived in Newark before moving to Kearny 42 years ago.  Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny.  A funeral Mass was held in St. Stephen’s Church. Entombment was in Holy Cross Mausoleum.
Wife of the late Joseph, she is survived by her children and their spouses Diane and Gennaro Bifulco, Giusseppe and Lisa DiGiovanni and Gino and Laura DiGiovanni, her sister and her husband Josephine and Joseph Incognito. Also surviving are her grandchildren Francesco, Margherita, Nicole, Victoria, Gino, Joseph, and Gia Lynn.
In lieu of flowers kindly make a donation to the American Cancer Society. Condolences may be left for the family at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Bessie Dorney
Bessie Dorney died on Dec. 15 in The Chateau at Rochelle Park. She was 79. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, she lived in both Clifton and Kearny.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held in the funeral home, with interment at Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Montclair.
Bessie was a member of the Daughters of Scotia and used to work at Electron Technology, Kearny. She retired from Trionics in Wharton where she was a glass blower.
She is the wife of the late Richard Dorney and was formally married to Olaf McLeish. She is survived by her children and their spouses June, Butch, Marshall, Ian, and Robin McLeish. She was the sister of Albert Nicol and Annie McComish, and is also survived by her grandchildren Carrie and Elizabeth Buchanan and Chelsea and Cody McLeish . In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to Bryan Manor c/o the funeral home. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

John Soares

John Soares died Dec. 12 in Hackensack Medical Center. He was 82.  Born in Portugal, he lived in Newark before moving to Kearny 55 years ago.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny.  A funeral Mass was held in St. Stephen’s Church. Entombment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.
John was the owner and president of Kessler Associates Prosthetics in East Orange. As a member of the U.S. Army he proudly served at the Walter Reed Hospital during the Korean War. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association for his outstanding work in the development of prosthetics. He was a member of the Bergen County Water Fowlers and Ducks Unlimited. In addition to his passion for hunting he enjoyed his membership at Kings Court.
Husband of the late Teresa, he is survived by his children and their spouses Lu Ann and Joseph Silveri, Lisa and Richard Roman and Anthony Soares; also surviving are his grandchildren Lauren, Lindsay and Joey Silveri and Ricky, Alyssa and John Roman. In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to Little People of America, 250 El Camino Real, suite 201 Tustin, Calif. 92780. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

David G. Tietjen

David G. Tietjen died on Dec. 16 in the V.A, Hospital in East Orange. He was 66. Born in Newark, he was a lifelong Kearny resident.
Arrangements are by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Stephen’s Church.
Dave was a Vietnam vet having served in the Army from 1965 until 1971. After the service, he joined in on running his families business, Tietjens Deli, which was family run for 70 years and was a Kearny landmark.
Dave is survived by his wife Bernadette, his children and their spouses Heather and John Crist and Jason and Sheetal Davitt; his grandchildren Alexis, Madison, Jonathan, Saheli and Aanya. Also surviving are his nephews and niece John R. III, Mark D., Joanne, Richard and Kris-Ann.  He was predeceased by his brother and sister in law John R. and Joan Tietjen. Online condolences may be left at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Patricia Reagan Stahlin
Patricia Reagan Stahlin, 86, died on Dec. 13. Born in Kearny, she grew up in Harrison and attended Good Counsel High School in Newark, was a graduate of the College of Saint Elizabeth, Class of 1947 and later was recognized by the college with the Distinguished Alumna Award. She furthered her education and received her Master’s Degree at Kean University.
Mrs. Stahlin taught in Iselin, Manville and Harrison. She was active in the Laurel League of Plainfield, a past president of the Junior A’Kempis of Newark, an active member of the College of St. Elizabeth Alumnae Association and its Monmouth County Chapter and a longtime volunteer at Collier Services, Wickatunk.
Mrs. Stahlin was predeceased by her parents Thomas and Alyce Barry Reagan, her husband Frank in 1969 and her son Donald in 2006.
Surviving are her loving children: Frank and his wife Barbara; Clare Stahlin and Patrice (Dee) Allara and her husband Jack, all of South Plainfield; her daughter-in-law Kathy Stahlin of Orange, Calif.; a granddaughter Stephanie Dudley and her husband Derek, great-granddaughter Brooklyn of Corona, Calif. and her grandson Frank of South Plainfield; also surviving is her brother Thomas J. Reagan.
Mrs. Stahlin leaves behind her nieces, nephews, many cousins and special friends who were a very important part of her life.
Arrangements were by McCriskin-Gustafson Home for Funerals, South Plainfield, A funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Church in South Plainfield, followed by private cremation.
Memorial donations may be made to Collier Youth Services, P.O. Box 300 Wickatunk, N.J. 07765-0300 or College of St. Elizabeth Development Fund, 2 Convent Road, Convent Station, N.J .07961.

Carol Ann Melando
Carol Ann Melando (nee Riccio) died on Dec. 17 in Prospect Heights Care Center. She was 68. Born in Bayonne, she moved to Kearny 36 years ago.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Carol is the wife of the late Lenny and is survived by her children Michael Melando (Lauren) and Sheri Sasso (Vincent), her siblings Louis, Frank and Jimmy Riccio and Janet DoPazo, and her grandchildren Hannah, Vincent Jr., and Carlo. Also surviving are her stepchildren Francine Melando and Christine Jungblut (Robert) and their families.

Anne P. Plumley
Anne P. Plumley (nee Fay) died on Dec. 17 at home. She was 74. Born in Kearny, she moved to Lyndhurst 49 years ago.
Arrangements are by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 11 a.m. in  St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Mrs. Plumley is survived by her husband Ronald; children Karen (Ronald) Luepke, and Moira (Douglas) Clay; sister of Irene Eckert, Kathleen Donnelly, Frances McGovern and the late Patrick, Eamon  and  Michael Fay, and Marie Blair. Also surviving is her grandson William.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Cheryl A. Raefski
Cheryl A. (Third) Raefski, 43, died on Dec. 15 in the NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home. 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral liturgy was offered in St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, followed by private cremation. Condolences and memories may shared at www.thiele-reid.
Cheryl was born in Kearny and was a lifelong resident.

She was employed as a senior call center supervisor for Comcast in North Arlington and then Union. In 2001, after 11 years, she left to become the best full-time mom.
Cheryl thoroughly enjoyed coaching youth soccer and softball for the Kearny Recreation Department and being a cheerleading advisor with the Kearny Generals.
She is survived by her loving husband Darren; her three beloved children Madison,
Paige and Kyle; her mother Joan (Chadwick) Third; sister Barbara Dobrovics (Frank); brother Bobby Third. She was the daughter-in-law of Edward and Judi Raefski, sister-in-law of Jeff Raefski (Mary) and Jay Raefski (Kartina).
Cheryl was the aunt of Megan Dobrovics, Victoria, Jonathan, Nick and Alex Raefski and Madi and Luke Fahmy.
She leaves behind great friends like Margaret, Debbie, Rena and Bonnie to name a
few; many cousins, aunts and uncles and beloved cats.
She was predeceased by her father Robert C. Third Jr. on March 12, 2011.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Kearny Recreation Dept., 402 Kearny Ave., Kearny, N.J. 07032 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 42 Memphis, Tenn. 38148 or at www.stjude.org.

Computer training for job seekers

Essex County College, in conjunction with the New Jersey State Library, will offer free classes to job seekers at the Belleville Public Library to improve their computer and job search skills.  The classes will focus on basic computer skills needed by today’s job applicants, making them more confident and self-sufficient.  All courses, delivered at a basic user level, are 2-4 hours long and built around workforce development skills.

Classes are scheduled as follows:

Word Processing  – Jan. 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Windows  – Jan. 13 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Internet  – Jan. 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Email  – Jan. 20 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Patrons may take as many classes as they wish.  There will be a half hour break between classes.

To register for classes or for more information, call the Circulation Desk at 973-450-3434.

The training comes as part of a $5.1 million National Telecommunications and Information Administration American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to support the New Jersey State Library’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP).   The program’s goal is to make New Jersey’s libraries strategic job-creating facilities by adding computer workstations, upgrading Internet connectivity and providing job search assistance and workforce development programs.

A consortium of New Jersey’s community colleges will deliver training using its existing curriculum.  Additional online content and training developed by New Jersey Network will also be available.  More than 5 million New Jersey residents will be served through this initiative.







There’s Still Time to Register for Courses at Hudson County Community College This Spring

Hudson County Community College announces that there is still time to register for spring 2012 term courses.  Spring registration is currently underway at 25 Journal Square in Jersey City.

Classes for the spring semester will begin on Friday, Jan. 20, at the Journal Square campus and North Hudson Higher Education Center. Classes are also being offered in off-campus locations including Bayonne (start date Tuesday, Jan. 31), Hoboken (starting Monday, Jan. 30), and Kearny (beginning Tuesday, Jan. 31). These locations have been established to serve the needs of county residents, and the courses offered bear the same credits as those offered in HCCC classrooms.

Course catalogs are available at the College’s Office of Enrollment Services, 70 Sip Ave., Jersey City, and at the North Hudson Higher Education Center, 4800 Kennedy Blvd., Union City. The catalog is available online in English and Spanish at the college’s web site, http://www.hccc.edu/schedule.

Complete information regarding courses, classes, admission, and registration may be obtained on the College’s web site at www.hccc.edu/mystart, or by phoning (201) 714-7200. Prospective students may apply to the College online at http://mystart.hccc.edu.

Sing-Along at Bloomfield Library

Bloomfield Library Children’s Department librarians, Emily Knorr and Patricia Cooke will hold a sing along in the Little Theater at the library on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 11:00 a.m.  All ages are welcome. No registration is needed.

W.H.A.T. gets its wings


Photo by Colin Shields/ The cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in the version presented by W.H.A.T., the newly formed theatrical troupe of Kearny.

By Karen Zautyk

As a matter of journalistic integrity, I must state that I am not a fan of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a Christmas movie beloved by the masses. In fact, I detest the thing, primarily because of its inherent, insidious sexism.
One example: As we learn from the wingless angel Clarence, had George Bailey never been born, his lovely wife, Mary, would have ended up as a (gasp) “old maid,” and even worse, a career woman. My reaction is that she would have been better off, not saddled with self-pitying, wimpy George and those annoying kids, especially whiny little Zuzu.
Okay, stop hissing at me. I know I’m in the vast minority here. But the above had to be said, to emphasize how, despite my prejudice, I had an absolutely wonderful time Saturday night at the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” as staged by the new West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company.
If the energy, enthusiasm and talent evident at that show are any indications, Kearny, Harrison and East Newark have got themselves a community treasure.
Saturday’s show at the Arlington Players Club on Washington Place was the inaugural production of the company (called W.H.A.T., for short), and it was completely sold out – no small feat for a fledgling theater group.
But that pales in comparison with the speed at which W.H.A.T. managed to get its acts (three of them) together. It was only last month when the company’s organizers, a cross-section of community and culturally-minded individuals, announced their plans to bring community theater back to West Hudson, which has been without such a company since the demise of the Half Penny Playhouse back in the 1980’s. As director Mark Morchel told your correspondent just before the show, “We went from sitting around a dining room table a month ago to a full-scale production!”
And quite a production it was. W.H.A.T. presented “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a 1946 “live radio play,” with 13 actors and actresses, all on stage together, at all times, portraying 40+ characters. Since there were no scenery or costume changes, it required the audience to use its imagination (With help from the sound-effects guy, Gerald Ficeto). And multiple roles required considerable talent from the players. Mission accomplished in both cases.

Photos by Colin Shields

Photos by Colin Shields/ Cast members offer their interpretation of the fi ctional adventures of George Bailey of Bedford Falls, N.Y., at the Arlington Players Club.


Your reviewer sat at the back of the room – the better to view the audience as well as the stage – and noticed that those in attendance were completely caught up in the show, perhaps because it was a completely different perspective on a very familiar story.
The cast (kudos to all) included: Gail Corrigan, Leonardo daSilva, Art Delo, Carol Jean Doyle, Joseph Ferriero, Tim Firth, Joan Hemphill, Ivan Jurlina, Melissa Miranda, Shannon Murphy, Danielle Pennisi, Lyndsay Vitale and Mark Wiggins.

Lizz Zazzi adapted the radio script; Jason Neri provided original music, and Michele Sarnoski handled production duties.
Following the performance, sound designer (and music educator) Ficeto talked to the audience about W.H.A.T.’s goals, noting, “Community Theater builds community pride.”
Involvement in a project such as W.H.A.T. “can truly be a life-changing experience,” he said, “and we invite you to join us on this journey.”

If you would like to get involved in W.H.A.T. or learn more about the group, visit whatco.org or look them up on Facebook. There are numerous ways to participate and contribute. (You can also purchase a DVD of Saturday’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”)
W.H.A.T. is still seeking a permanent home, but it is already planning its second production, a two-character play called “Love Letters,” to be staged in February.
W.H.A.T. has a formidable mission statement. Among its goals: “To be a cultural resource that will enrich and invigorate the West Hudson community as a whole, while embracing, educating and entertaining people of all ages, cultures and abilities.”
If Saturday’s event was any indication, W.H.A.T. is already on its way to fulfilling that wish.
(Note: On the website oldnutley.org, writer Anthony Buccino speculates on the role that remembrances of Nutley might have played in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” noting that Frances Goodrich, who co-authored the screenplay, grew up there. Of the scene in which Clarence the angel stops Jimmy Stewart from committing suicide, Buccino writes, “I see not a bridge in Bedford Falls, but the bridge over the Passaic River to Lyndhurst.” Hmm. Considering the mess created by the new traffic lights on said bridge, motorists might indeed be tempted to do a George Bailey.)

Town seeing red on taxes

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ The Red Bulls say they don’t have to pay real estate taxes on their $200 million Harrison stadium.


By Ron Leir

Harrison —
Want to buy a soccer stadium that can hold up to 25,000 spectators and is just across the street from a bi-state commuter rail station?
The New York Red Bulls professional soccer team could be playing their home games in a stadium belonging to someone else if the team’s owners don’t pay their real estate taxes.
Red Bull Arena ranks No. 1 on the list of what the Town of Harrison has classified as delinquent taxpayers, so the town is looking to sell a tax lien for the property along Frank Rodgers Blvd. South to some third party.
That opportunity will come Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. at Harrison Town Hall when the town is slated to hold an “accelerated tax sale” – applicable to the current tax year – a sale that Town Attorney Paul Zarbetski says the state Dept. of Community Affairs encouraged Harrison to do to “accelerate” the flow of revenues to the town.
Harrison says that Red Bull Park, Inc. owes the town a total of $3,589,059 in taxes for 2010 and 2011, plus interest, but the stadium owners contend that the property should be tax-exempt as a public exhibition/entertainment facility. The dispute awaits a ruling by New Jersey State Tax Court Judge Christine M. Nugent, who heard oral arguments by both sides months ago.
Other top tax delinquents, according to municipal tax records, include H&F Realty Co., listed as owing $40,306 for a portion of a warehouse property at 1000 Frank Rodgers Blvd. South; Alexander Parchuk, listed as owing $32,038 for a commercial building at 101-107 Frank Rodgers Blvd. North; V.I.P. Realty Associates, listed as owing $23,334 for the VO Toys property at 400 S. 5th St.; and John & Martha Murray, listed as owing $19,334 for the property at 210-214 Davis Ave., occupied by Condon Memorial Home.
Of the roughly $31.3 million Harrison collects annually in taxes and water bills, delinquent accounts currently total about $4.1 million but that figure could fall between now and the time of the tax sale, Zarbetski said.
In hopes of expediting a decision on the stadium case, the town’s special counsel, Kearny attorney Norman Doyle, went to tax court in Newark Dec. 2 to ask the judge to dismiss Red Bull’s tax appeals on the grounds that the owners failed to pay the taxes due when the owners filed their appeals for 2010 and 2011 pending the court’s review.
The court denied the motion to dismiss but Zarbetski said that Harrison could still go ahead with its plans to put the stadium on the tax sale list and hope for the best.
One of the attorneys involved in the litigation said he doesn’t expect a ruling by the court until after Jan. 1.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Union City), who visited Harrison last Friday for a ribbon-cutting at the town’s newest development, Harrison Station, said that while he hadn’t read the lawyers’ briefs, he still felt the Red Bull position hard to swallow, given its dependence, to an extent, on municipal services. Granting the team a tax abatement might be more palatable, he suggested. But, Menendez added, “There’s a difference between getting a tax break and being tax-exempt. You can’t have everybody coming into town and not paying towards the common good.”
Harrison incurred more than $39 million in debt when the Hudson County Improvement Authority issued bonds to acquire the land on which the stadium was built – that land being designated a redevelopment area by the town. Harrison’s plan was to pay off the debt with revenues from PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) agreements with developers slated to build in that redevelopment zone but those payments have lagged behind since most of the projected developments have been slow coming on line, although that’s expected to change shortly.
Harrison – whose bond rating has slipped to Ba3 (substantial credit risk), as rated by Moody’s investment service, and whose employee work force has been trimmed severely via layoffs and retirements – is, nonetheless, getting some breaks from the state, which is closely monitoring the town’s fiscal affairs.
For example, while the state initially gave the town $1.5 million in “transitional aid” for 2011, it supplemented that aid with an additional $2 million to help pay recent retirees accumulated unused sick and vacation time plus an additional $1 million as a reserve fund to help pay down debt, according to town Chief Financial Officer Gabriela Simoes.
Additionally, on Aug. 18 the state Local Finance Board approved Harrison’s application to qualify several existing bond ordinances under the state’s Qualified Bond Act, thereby expediting any future local bond sales by increasing market access and reducing borrowing costs, Simoes said.
“These are a few of the steps the town is taking to secure future market access despite this year’s credit downgrade,” Simoes said.
Because of the fiscal relief bestowed by the state’s largesse, Harrison was able to hold off plans to sell several town-owned vacant parcels presently used for free parking by many Third Ward residents near the Harrison Gardens public housing complex.
Harrison also was the indirect beneficiary of the state Economic Development Authority’s recent award of a $7.4 million incentive grant to help facilitate development of a 136-room hotel in the town’s redevelopment zone.

Got to go green to save some green

Photo by Ron Leir/ Mayor Alberto Santos checks out old boiler in basement of Town Hall, That unit would likely be replaced under an energy savings plan being devised by Honeywell.



By Ron Leir

So it’s a brisk fall day. Not too chilly. But now the old boiler kicks in, the heat begins to rise and suddenly it’s so uncomfortably toasty, employees have to throw open windows to get relief.
That’s the kind of predicament faced by workers in its municipal buildings that Kearny officials are hoping to circumvent in the near future.
They took the first step to achieving that goal Dec. 6 by designating Honeywell Building Solutions of Morristown to devise an “energy savings project” for the town.
Mayor Alberto Santos said the plan is for Honeywell “to help us reduce energy consumption in our buildings – where a lot of energy is now wasted – and thereby reduce our utility bills.”
Santos said the town is following the example set by the Board of Education, which has an energy plan in process. “They’re ahead of us on this,” the mayor said.
Last year, a municipal committee solicited, from various energy firms, what Santos characterized as “preliminary proposals” on general strategies for solving Kearny’s energy dilemma and rated them.
Honeywell’s submission “got the highest point total” from the committee, Santos said.
Honeywell representative Paul Pilsbury outlined the company’s conceptual pitch and gave out explanatory handouts at last week’s mayor/Town Council meeting.
The chief advantage of its business plan is that Kearny could expect “no capital outlay” to implement the plan’s recommendations; the project would be funded “with energy and operational savings,” the handout says.
Asked to elaborate, Santos said that any purchases of new equipment or physical plant improvements would be financed either through a state energy investment vehicle or by “market-generated tax credits.”
Any debt incurred would be paid off over time through energy savings, the mayor said.
The company handout says that “Honeywell guarantees savings,” meaning, according to Santos, that the company incurs the risk of having to make up any gap in the debt payments if the predicted energy savings fails to materialize.
Based on an “energy audit” that the company performed in June 2010 of Kearny’s 12 municipal buildings, including a “detailed review” of Town Hall and the Laurel Ave. property that is occupied by the Police Department and the Water Department, Honeywell’s town-wide plan calls for:
* New boilers in the Public Library’s main and branch buildings, Town Hall, Fire Station 1, the Health Department and the Senior Center.
* Rooftop units and chiller at the Police/Water building and at Town Hall.
* Lighting and motion sensors in all 12 buildings.
* Building management controls in all 12 buildings.
Total project cost is estimated at $1.7 million and total energy savings is projected at $111,000.
Santos said he expects Honeywell to submit a “final plan” in two to three months for review by the mayor and council who, he added, would decide which elements of the plan to actually implement.
Honeywell is recommending a 15-year municipal lease or refunding bond arrangement as the contractual vehicle.

Is Passaic Ave. complex unsafe?

Photos by Ron Leir/ The former Clark Thread Co. Building on Passaic Ave. in East Newark



By Ron Leir

They’re supposed to be allies in fostering the conversion of a long-dormant factory to a new apartment complex but they haven’t been able to agree on contractual terms to accomplish that goal.
Worse yet, they can’t even agree on what shape the existing eyesore should be kept in – even before any of the proposed improvements begin.
For the last several months they’ve been legal adversaries, battling in court over the condition of the bricked- and boarded-up structures that comprise the former Clark Thread Co.
Since June 8, the Borough of East Newark has asserted that Alma Realty Corp. of Astoria, N.Y., the current owner of the old industrial facility off Passaic Ave., has failed to remedy these alleged fire code violations:
• Safeguard vacant premises
• (Provide) security on premises.
• Disconnect unnecessary utilities.
• Remove interior combustibles.
• Remove all exterior debris.
• Fire apparatus access in and around buildings.
A borough “notice of code violation and order to pay penalty,” dated June 8, 2011 states “all violations must be abated by June 24, 2011.”
As of this past Oct. 10, the East Newark Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau has assessed penalties totaling $176,000 – and counting – against Alma for having allegedly failed to correct the deficiencies.
On Nov. 29, lawyers for both sides faced off in the borough’s municipal court before Judge Kenneth J. Lindenfelser but after only a few minutes of back and forth, the stalemate continued.
Victor Nuzzi, the Dover attorney representing Alma Realty, claimed this was the first time he was seeing the notice of violation and added he’d “have to do some research” but believed that “some of these (violations) have been abated.”
The judge instructed Nuzzi and Edgewater attorney Thomas Wall, special counsel for the borough, to return on Jan. 3, 2012. By that time, the judge said, he hoped that the lawyers would have hammered out an agreement on what has been remedied and what hasn’t.
Outside the courtroom, Nuzzi told The Observer that, “We’re trying to work it out.” But he also said that he might opt to subpoena East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith as a witness. And, if he can’t reach an agreement, he added, he might decide to ask for a change of venue, meaning transferring the case to another court jurisdiction.
For his part, Wall said that based on a visit to the Passaic Ave. site in October, “We do concede that some of (the violations) are abated. It’s just a question of when they were abated and if they were abated sufficiently.”
Ultimately, Wall said, it will be up to the court to “determine what was abated and when.”
“We will explore all avenues in trying to get an agreement,” Wall said.
When asked if there was any imminent danger resulting from any of the alleged violations, Wall said: “I can’t answer. That’s the subject of this litigation.”
In a phone interview last week, Borough Fire Code Official George Kondek, who wasn’t asked to testify at the court session, agreed that the owners had taken some positive steps.
“There had been a lot of debris inside by the front entrance,” Kondek said, and there was so much that “you’d never be able to get to a fire inside – but they cleaned that up.”
Also gone from some of the buildings in the complex, he said, are various “flammables,” such as wood pallets and boxes with building materials, but he said combustibles still remain in other buildings.
And, Kondek said, the owners need to disconnect “unnecessary electrical wiring” running through the complex. If they want to light the guard shack, for example, “they need to get Public Service to run separate, temporary wiring with separate meters,” he said. “You don’t need transformers all over.”
As for the required 24-hour a day security, Kondek characterized that as an “on and off thing.” A few weeks ago, he said, police reported a break-in at the complex.
“Now that it’s getting cold,” he said, “all you need is a fire going inside one of the buildings.” The owners were permitted to de-activate the sprinkler system after the water pipes burst a few winters ago and flooded the interior of the unheated buildings.
Mayor Smith said that under an initial redevelopment agreement for the complex, dating from about 2007, Alma Realty had proposed 630 luxury residential condominiums with “wrap-around” parking but, later, after the economy tanked, revised its plans to propose more than 800 rental apartments.
Smith said an independent demographer calculated that the project could generate 50 to 70 school-age children that East Newark might have to absorb – no easy feat for the financially strapped borough.
On its web site, Alma Realty highlights its previous development of Taaffe Place Complex in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill – a conversion of four former warehouses used as a knitting factory and by furniture and cabinet makers into loft apartments.
Alma Realty’s web site says the firm owns and operates more than 6,000 residential apartments and more than 1 million square-feet of office and retail space in the tri-state area.