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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 […]


New high school VP 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 […]


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 […]


Heroin/gun rap for felon

      By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  When Kearny Vice Squad detectives busted a Newark man for drug possession/distribution Oct. 17 on Maple St., they reported recovering 135 folds of heroin. While the suspect was languishing in the Hudson County Jail on $40,000 bail, the KPD […]


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 […]



Mary Dombrowski

Mary Dombrowski (nee Szymanski), 91, of Harrison and Toms River, entered into eternal rest on Dec. 7 at home, surrounded by her loving family.

Born in Kearny, she lived most of her life in Harrison, before retiring to Toms River. Mary was a member of Our Lady of Czestochowa Seniors and Rosary Society and the Holy Cross Seniors.

She is survived by her beloved husband of 65 years, Frank Dombrowski. She was the loving mother of Teresa of Toms River and Walter of Long Beach Island, and his wife Ellen. She was the devoted grandmother of Mark & P.J. and great-grandmother of Jackson and Declan and aunt to numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were under the direction of Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. For information or to send condolences to the family, please visit mulliganfuneralhome. org.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in memory of Mary @ www.stjude.org.

Peter J. Forte

Peter J. Forte died Dec. 10 in Wayne. He was 82.

Born in Newark, he lived many years in Kearny before moving to Lincoln Park 20 years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Peter was a retired chemical operator from Hoffman LaRoche and a Korean War veteran, having served in the Army. He was a member of the V.F.W.

Husband of Eileen “Lynn” (nee Schermond), he is survived by his daughters and their husbands Cynthia and Lennie Greene and Joni and Keith Lewin; he was the brother of Josephine Tracy (late William), Lee Falcone (Frank), Rudy Forte (Joyce) and Anna Forte. Also surviving are his grandchildren Jessica and Nina and many wonderful nieces and nephews and their families.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project.

John A. Hopko

John A. Hopko, 77, of the Brookfield Glen section of White Township, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 7, at his home.

Born in Wilkes Barre, Pa., on March 2, 1936, he was the son of the late Anthony and Eudora Lewis Hopko. John was raised and lived in Harrison before moving to White Township in 2004.

John was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Harrison, before retiring. He was a parishioner of St. Patrick Church, Belvidere. He had served on the building and grounds committee at Brookfield Glen. The most important thing in John’s life was his family.

In addition to his parents, John was predeceased by his wife of 45 years, Mary Ann Santamassino Hopko; a son-in-law, Mark Turker; and a brother, Anthony Hopko.

Surviving are two sons, John Hopko Jr. of Harrison, and Matthew Hopko and his wife Tara of Oxford; a daughter, Valerie Turker of Belvidere; four grandchildren, Anthony and Maria Turker, Madelyn and Alexandra Hopko; three brothers, Jerome and his wife JoAnn, James, and Donald; a sister, Barbara Polk and her husband John.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Dec. 11 at St. Patrick Church, Belvidere, under the direction of MacFadden Funeral Home, Belvidere.

Online condolences may be sent to www.MacFaddenFuneralHome.com.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are requested to be made to the family, c/o MacFadden Funeral Home, 325 Hardwick Street, Belvidere, N.J. 07823.

Edward Karolasz

Edward Karolasz died Dec. 14 in St. Michael’s Hospital. He was 83.

Born in Gdynia, Poland, he lived in Switzerland before moving to Kearny 55 years ago.

Visiting is on Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 5 to 9 p.m., at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison, and burial will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery. Edward will be laid to rest next to his son SSG Edward Karolasz, who killed on Nov. 19, 2005 in Iraq.

Ed was a retired machinist from Chase Pharmaceutical in Newark. He was a member of the Polish National Home and was the superintendent for 10 years at the Lithuanian Catholic Community Center.

He is survived by his wife Krystyna, his children and their spouses Donna and David Kornas, Kristine and Paul Lancha and John Jastrzembski. Brother of the late Zofia Maziarka, he is also survived by his grandchildren Brianna, Sofia, Logan and Kenzie.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project.

Norman J. Salvesen

Norman J. Salvesen died at home on Dec. 11. He was 65. Born in Jersey City, he lived in Lyndhurst before moving to Somerset three years ago. Private funeral arrangements are by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Norman was a self-employed carpenter. He was an active member of the Lyndhurst Masonic Club and the N.J. Police Square Club.

Husband of the late Nathlie, he was the stepfather of Walter, Joseph, Marie and Monica. He was also the brother of Edward Salvesen, Joan Marques and the late John Salvesen.

Alice Stang

Alice Stang died on Dec. 11 in Richmond, Va. She was 84.

Graveside prayers were held in Arlington Cemetery. Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny.

Alice was an accountant for Paul Mellon and Company in New York City before retiring. She had been a member of the First Presbyterian Church in North Arlington.

She was the daughter of Henry and Dorothy (nee Rightmire) Stang. She is survived by her brother William Killorn and his family.

Angela Tano

Angela Tano died on Dec. 14 in Kearny.

Visiting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 18, starting at 9 a.m. in the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Her service will be at 11 a.m. at St. Nicholas, Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 80 Laurel Ave., Roseland. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Angela was a cashier at Tops Diner in East Newark for many years. She is the wife of the late Frank J. Tano. She is survived by her daughter Kalistagne “Mary” Welsh and her grandson Frank J.

In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to your own favorite charity.

Then & Now


Photo courtesy North Arlington Public Library

Photo courtesy North Arlington Public Library


Photo by Karen Zautyk

Photo by Karen Zautyk




Top photo is the Atlantic Buckram Corp. (pictured sometime in the 1940s) which stood at 100 Riverview Ave. in North Arlington. We were unable to fi nd any information online about the company — although we did learn what buckram is: “a stiff-fi nished fabric of cotton or linen used for interlinings in garments, for stiffening in millinery, and in bookbinding.” When the building was constructed, we do not know, but it is a prime example of Industrial Revolution architecture and resembles part of an 1867 laundry that was on nearby Stevens Place, but that is only conjecture.

In the 1940s photo, it looks pretty shabby, and perhaps abandoned. This may have been a picture taken purely for posterity (us), for it was in the ‘40s that the borough was blossoming into residential suburbia and the old industries were closing or moving elsewhere. Today, Riverview Ave. is purely residential, but we could not locate any property numbered 100, so we must make do with a general view of the street on the 100 block.

– Karen Zautyk

‘Mining’ North Arlington’s past

Photo courtesy New Jersey State Geologist After the company failed in 1903, the Schuyler complex became derelict. This is how it looked by the 1940s.

Photo courtesy New Jersey State Geologist
After the company failed in 1903, the Schuyler complex became derelict. This is how it looked by the 1940s.


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


Let’s begin with real estate: Back in 1668, a man named William Sandford purchased a tract of land between the Hackensack and Passaic (then called the Pasawack) Rivers — 30,000 acres of land, rich in timber and meadows and fish and furry game. Half of this property was then sold to Nathaniel Kingsland, and in 1708, the southern part of the tract was bought by Arent Schuyler, who traveled down to this area from his hometown of Albany.

Here, Schuyler established a plantation, worked by slaves, one of whom made a most interesting discovery circa 1712-1714. On the land near what is now North Arlington’s Porete Ave., an elderly man found an oddlooking greenish-blue chunk of stone, which he brought to Schuyler.

It turned out to be copper ore.

The slave was given his freedom, and Schuyler turned his attention to copper mining, which was to become the industry that would define this pocket of New Jersey for nearly 200 years.

For this history lesson, we thank industrial archeologist Joseph Macasek, who recently presented a program on the Schuyler Copper Mine at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s Environment Center in Lyndhurst.

Macasek has a personal connection to his topic. He grew up in North Arlington, and though the mine shafts had been sealed by then, the Schuyler Copper Mine was still “a mysterious place — kind of a legendary place,” he said.

We wanted to take a photo of Macasek near one of the old cave entrances, even though we expected it to be blocked, but he did some reconnaissance and reported that no evidence of any of them remains. None at all. Which is just as well. A mine abandoned for more than a century is no place for “explorers.” Not if they want to stay alive, anyway.

Initially, Macasek explained, the work at the mine “was a very simple operation.” The copper eroded down the escarpment (the ridgeline off what eventually became Schuyler Ave.), “and they just dug it out,” Macasek said.

He said little was known about the dayto- day activities, but progress was being made, because by 1750, Col. John Schuyler (who took over the mine after his father’s death in 1730) started bringing in Welsh and Cornish miners who were skilled in deepshaft mining. Obviously the North Arlington site was no longer primarily a surface operation.

“The ore was crushed, washed, packed in barrels and shipped to England for processing.” Shipped to England because New Jersey was still Great Britain’s colony and Britain allowed no ore smelting here.

Another Schuyler son, Peter, recruited British sailors in 1759 to build a “corduroy road” — constructed of logs laid transversely along a predetermined route — across the meadows from the mine to the shipping lanes. This was the original Belleville Turnpike and we presume it was made from cedars, since, as Macasek noted, “The meadows had been more forest than a swamp, a cedar forest.”

As the Schuyler mine shafts grew deeper and deeper, the operators needed a way to pump out the groundwater that had begun filling them. This led to the importation in 1753 of a marvelous device invented in Cornwall — a steam engine. It took nearly two years for the machine to become fully operational, but when it did that reportedly marked the beginning of the age of steam power in the New World. (Right here, in North Arlington.)

Macasek noted that the mine’s most profitable years were 1730 to 1761, and the Schuylers, while well-todo, were not “rich” by the era’s standards. During the American Revolution, the mine stood idle and did not resume operations until 1793.

In the 19th century, the mine changed hands many times. In 1899, it became the Arlington Copper Co., owned by William McKenzie Rutherford, who pinned his hopes on an elaborate electrolyte processing plant. “But the process didn’t work,” Macasek said. “It was an utter failure.”

It was sold at auction in 1903, “without having produced a pound of copper.” And then it was dismantled. And an era had ended.

Photo by Karen Zautyk Industrial archeologist Joseph Macasek

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Industrial archeologist Joseph Macasek


But the story didn’t. Look at the map. The pits and tunnels of the Schuyler Copper Mine spider westward, into areas that were later developed as residential neighborhoods. And in those neighborhoods, too, are the shafts. The deepest, called the Victoria Shaft, had eventually reached a depth of about 300 feet. Back in November 1989, as reported in the N.Y. Times, “a good portion of [a] backyard [of a home on Forest St.] had vanished into a black pit, along with a towering pine tree …..” ‘

’There it was,” the homeowner was quoted as saying. “this great big hole where I used to have the pool. I just stared at it, and when I inched up to the rim, I couldn’t see the bottom.’’

He couldn’t see the bottom because he was looking into the Victoria Shaft. Luckily, only about 60 feet of it; the rest was likely filled with groundwater.

According to Merritt Ierley’s 1994 book, “A Place in History: North Arlington, N.J.,” along with local officials, teams from the state and county Offices of Emergency Management responded to the site, as did engineering consultants, employees of the N.J. Geological Survey and experts from the federal Bureau of Mines.

A study of the former Schuyler acreage showed that some of the old mine shafts had collapsed over the decades “and these,” Ierley writes, “as well as other shafts with the potential for collapse, would have to be sealed to prevent further cave-ins.

“Remedial work (capping the the old shafts below the surface with a plug of steel and concrete) was begun as soon as the necessary engineering steps–geophysical testing, test drilling and the like–could be completed.”

Last week, we chatted with Michael Neglia of Neglia Engineering, Lyndhurst, the former borough engineer, who noted, “What the borough did back then was an extensive amount of work.”

It also “made every effort to identify the shafts in residential areas.” And rather than depending on old maps, modern technology, such as ground-penetrating radar, was called into play to locate them so they could then be capped with concrete.

If you want to know more about the Schuyler Copper Mine —and North Arlington history in general — we highly recommened Ierley’s treasure of a book. It is available at the North Arlington Public Library.

It’s also got a really nifty 1933 amateur map depicting mine features labelled “Tunnel of Death,” “Bottomless Lake,” “Poison Fountain” “Devil’s Garage,” etc.

Be grateful for concrete caps.

At last, new apts. for seniors

Photos by Ron Leir LEFT: Domus President John Westervelt (at microphone), flanked by Town Council members, to l., and Mayor Ray McDonough, (r.) welcomes guests to groundbreaking. RIGHT: Officials with ceremonial shovels at project site.

Photos by Ron Leir
LEFT: Domus President John Westervelt (at microphone), flanked by Town Council members, to l., and Mayor Ray McDonough, (r.) welcomes guests to groundbreaking. RIGHT: Officials with ceremonial shovels at project site.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Some five years after the project was conceived, Harrison’s first affordable senior citizen building had its ceremonial groundbreaking last Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 774 Harrison Ave., just west of the Harrison Gardens public housing complex.

The 15-unit Harrison Senior Residence, with one unit reserved for an on-site superintendent, is being developed by the Domus Corp., a nonprofit arm of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, at a cost projected at $3.8 million.

A press release issued Dec. 3 by the N.J. Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency said the agency has “committed $1.8 million in CDGB [Community Development Block Grant] Disaster Recovery” awarded through the “Fund for Restoration of Multifamily Rental Housing.”

The FRM, according to the agency, “provides funding to restore affordable rental housing in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy [to] aid in the … construction of multifamily rental housing for low-and moderate-income residents [and] will be available … in conjunction with other multifamily programs offered by the state….”

The FRM, the release said, offers non-profit housing developers – like Domus – opportunities to secure zero and low-interest loans to pay for construction of affordable housing, primarily in those counties impacted by Sandy.

Domus is combining the FRM funding with nearly $1.5 million from the Hudson County HOME Investment Partnership Program and more than $500,000 from the Town of Harrison’s Affordable Trust Fund to finance the Harrison project, the release said.

At the groundbreaking, Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough said that the need for low cost housing is easily the biggest priority of those who visit his office at Town Hall. “They want to know, ‘Can I get into the [Harrison] Gardens or Kingsland Court apartments?’’’ Both apartment complexes, run by the Harrison Housing Authority, continue to be fully occupied, with lengthy waiting lists, and the HHA has declined to accept new applications.

Still, McDonough said, “I’m hoping that with all the developers in town, we’ll get more of these buildings.”

Others on hand for the ceremony were HMFA Executive Director Anthony Marchetta, who said his agency was happy to be serving as the “affordable housing bank for New Jersey,” with 2013 “being one of our banner years,” as a result of the federal government funneling Sandy relief cash into the state; and Hudson County Executive Tom Degise, who said the county was proud to partner with Domus and Harrison in helping bring the project to fruition.

“The whole face of Harrison is changing,” Degise said. “We pledge to be partners in future projects.”

The Rev. James Tortora, chaplain for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, blessed the project site grounds and offered a prayer for the mission’s success.

Catholic Charities CEO/ Domus President John Westervelt said the Harrison building would be the 10th such project to be developed by Domus in Hudson, Essex, Bergen and Union counties. A total of 419 apartments have been built since 1995, and an additional 95 units are in the pipeline, he said.

The Harrison building will be four floors; the first level will have three apartments plus common space, there will be four units on each of the upper stories, and the building will be equipped with an elevator, he said.

Westervelt said Domus will use Del-Sano Contracting Corp. of Union as its general contractor. “They’ve built seven previous projects for us,” he said.

This month, Del-Sano also completed an $18.7 million, 52-unit, six-story low-income family residence, Horizon Heights, on 49th Street in Union City for Regan Development Corp.

In Harrison, Del-Sano will be installing modular units atop concrete footings, Westervelt said. A modular strategy was chosen, Westervelt said, “because of the tight [40 feet wide by 100 feet deep] space” of the project site. “The units will be brought in by truck from the manufacturer in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Image courtesy Domus Corp. Here’s an architect’s perspective of what the front of Harrison Senior Residence will look like.

Image courtesy Domus Corp.
Here’s an architect’s perspective of what the front of Harrison Senior Residence will look like.


According to the HMFA release, three of the 15 apartments are earmarked for “very low income residents with net rents at $560 a month” while “the remaining 12 units are for moderate-income residents with net rents at $560 a month.”

In any event, Westervelt said, tenants will pay no more than 30% of their adjusted gross income for rent.

Each apartment will contain 650 square feet of air-conditioned living space, which will include a kitchen with range and refrigerator, combination living/dining room, bedroom and ADA-complaint bathroom.

Tenants will have access to two laundry rooms and a 1,600 square foot community room plus garbage/recycling centers on each floor. There will also be a medical screening room, plus job training and job placement services, the HMFA said.

Once a building permit is secured, Westervelt said the project should take eight months to complete and tenants should be moving in by fall 2014.

“About 60 days prior to the certificate of occupancy being issued, we will send letters to community newspapers advertising for occupants,” Westervelt said. Final selections will be made via a lottery system, he added. “We think that’s the fairest way to do it.”

Domus will pay the town about $6,800 a year under a PILOT (payment in lieu of tax) agreement approved by the town governing body last year.

Applicants must be age 62 or older and must meet federal AMI (Area Median Income) household income guidelines for the Northeast Region.

Zinnerford Smith, interim executive director of the Harrison Housing Authority (HHA), said he was “pleased to see that the town and its partners have come to terms in moving this project forward.”

That the project actually got to this point is a small triumph in and of itself since at times, internal politics threatened to capsize it in midstream due to feuding between McDonough and former HHA director Michael Rodgers, who advocated for the project as volunteer head of a nonprofit New Town arm of the HHA, but after he ended up being fired from his HHA job, the New Town initiative – which was to have sponsored the project – was cast adrift and Domus then entered the picture.

She gets 10 years for ordering ‘hit’

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


She had already bought the dress. A classic black number perfect for a funeral.

When she walked past the casket–and spit on it– consider the photo op.

Such behavior might, of course, beg the question as to whether suspicions would be raised, but that’s all moot now anyway.

The fashion-conscious “mourner” is going to have to make do with orange jumpsuits for the next decade.

Last week, 44-year-old Lyndhurst resident Nicole Faccenda was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to hire a hit man to murder her ex-lover’s new girlfriend.

A bullet in the head would do it, she had told the hired assassin. As for the former boyfriend, a shot to the foot would be acceptable. She wanted him to be “miserable.”

According to authorities, Faccenda did not want the girlfriend’s children killed, “but if something happens to one of them, ‘Oh, well, I’m sorry’.”

The price for the murder was $10,000 — $5,000 up front and the rest when the deed was done. But it didn’t get done. The “hit man” was actually an undercover agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Authorities said the sorry saga started after Faccenda’s longterm boyfriend, the father of her child, jilted her in favor of the new paramour, with whom he had also fathered a child.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, on Oct. 19, 2011, the woman scorned contacted an individual in Florida for advice on finding someone to kill her rival.

The man Faccenda called played along and contacted her the next day to say he had found a gunman. That conversation, however, was being recorded, because her Florida acquaintance had already notified law enforcement of Faccenda’s request.

Faccenda, who reportedly lived on Olive St. in Lyndhurst, met with the reputed “hit man” – the undercover ATF agent — at a supermarket parking lot in Mahwah to discuss the price.

A number of subsequent conversations were recorded, and on Oct. 24, 2011, Faccenda met with her Florida friend at a Secaucus gas station. She also provided the name, a photo, work schedule and license plate number of the intended victim.

Two days later, on Oct. 26, the friend called and told her the woman had been shot in the head and the crime had been made to look like it occurred during a robbery. All of which was fabrication.

Faccenda was arrested by ATF agents a short time later.

Faccenda pleaded guilty on Aug. 8, 2012.

She was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg in Newark Federal Court.

In addition to the 10-year prison term, Hochberg added a three-year term of supervised release and ordered her to pay restitution of $19,292.

According to published reports, Faccenda wept throughout the sentencing proceedings.

Want to fight a fire? Hit the remote

Photos by Ron Leir Firefi ghter Joseph Labarbera and the NAFD’s computer simulation package.

Photos by Ron Leir
Firefi ghter Joseph Labarbera and the NAFD’s computer simulation package.



The alarm sounds: a house fire. The volunteers spring into action, arrive at the house, see smooke coming from the roof, strategize and take action. Complications ensue. They work it out. Fire extinguished. No injuries. Job done. Lessons learned.

Another fire successfully fought by members of the North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department and they never had to leave the firehouse. And, in fact, they did all while sitting down.

Did they just hallucinate what just happened? No, they were fully engaged in fighting a fire in real time, with the only difference being that the “fire” was superimposed on a computer screen, along with the fire personnel and rigs.

It’s all provided by Flame- Sim, an Illinois-based company that offers firefighters what the company characterizes as virtual “unscripted, high pressure, full-scale training scenarios,” that, according to Volunteer Fire Chief Mark Zidiak, forces them to make on-the-spot decisions that will have consequences.

Zidiak said the department secured the system with the aid of a $104,000 federal SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) grant allowing for the purchase of hardware and software.

“All three of our firehouses are linked to the system,” the chief said.

So fire officers can organize informal training exercises with the rank and file or any of the volunteers can opt to come in, grab a remote and use the system on their own time as a way of re-orienting themselves to a variety of potential firefighting situations.

For the department’s younger members, in particular, the technique doesn’t take a lot of time getting used to, Zidiak noted, since the process mimics playing an electronic video game – except, of course, that these simulations can all be played out in starkly real life terms.

“We plan to use it eventually as part of our officer training program to supplement our existing requirements,” Zidiak said.

The software program has 100 different fire scenarios built into the system, along with a “grading page” that rates how a participant reacts to each situation in which he or she is asked to make a decision about what step should be taken next at a fire scene – whether, for example, to grab a ladder of a certain length, or search for victims, etc.

But the system is designed so that any given user, such as the North Arlington Fire Dept., can input additional scenarios that may more closely reflect borough-like environments, Zidiak said.

Volunteer Firefighter Joseph Labarbera, who is coming up on his four-year anniversary with the department, has found the system “very user friendly. I can use it as a tool to be able to develop strategic decision-making skills.” Initially, Labarbera said, as the virtual system puts the “player” enroute to a fire, “it’s prompting me to think what I’m going to do when I arrive at the scene and what level of preparedness I can expect. It’s important to remember that no one scenario fits all.”

ABOVE LEFT: Software projects fi refi ghter about to enter house with smoke visible. RIGHT: Color-ind icated hot spots in smoky confi nes.

ABOVE LEFT: Software projects firefighter about to enter house with smoke visible. RIGHT: Color-indicated hot spots in smoky confines.


The system can also simulate a dense, smoky fire and how it would look through the eye of a firefighter using thermal imagery at the fire scene and test the operator’s ability to maneuver his/her way through that environment.

Meanwhile, Zidiak said, the borough department has tapped another federal funding source – $285,000 in ATF (Assistance to Firefighters) grant program funding – matched by $15,000 in local funds – to secure new air packs, along with individual breathing masks. The equipment figures to last at least 15 years, he said.

About a year ago, the chief said, the department upgraded its communications capability by acquiring and installing “repeaters,” which transmit a radio signal from one location to another, and thereby eliminated certain “dead spots” – coverage gaps – that prevented volunteers at a Schuyler Ave. fire scene, for example, with talking to a company up on Ridge Road.

Recently, the department was fortunate to pick up a surplus piece of military motor pool – a five-ton, 27-foot-long Army truck with a 20,000-pound payload – which, Zidiak said, could be used in emergencies – conditions like Superstorm Sandy – to rescue people stranded in flooded areas. The truck could probably roll through water 36-inches deep, he said. W.J. Devine & Son Trucking in Kearny hauled the vehicle on a flatbed, from the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to the borough, the chief said.

And, for internal use, Zidiak added, “we’re getting computers to do reports and other records we used to do on paper.”

No Nutley veteran forgotten

Photo courtesy Photos courtesy Courtney Johnson U.S. Marine veteran Pasquale Turello displays medal, which he accepted at his home from Commissioner Steven Rogers and guests. From l., Turello (seated) with Rogers, Berkeley Mayor Carmen F. Amato, Berkeley Council President James J. Burns, and U.S. Marine Cpl. Carlos M. Hernandez.

Photo courtesy Photos courtesy Courtney Johnson
U.S. Marine veteran Pasquale Turello displays medal, which he accepted at his home from Commissioner Steven Rogers and guests. From l., Turello (seated) with Rogers, Berkeley Mayor Carmen F. Amato, Berkeley Council President James J. Burns, and U.S. Marine Cpl. Carlos M. Hernandez.



A formerly longtime Nutley resident got a surprise visit recently from township representatives who came bearing a special gift … unrelated to the upcoming holiday season, however.

Pasquale Turello, 96, a World War II Marine veteran, was presented with Nutley’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his service to his country.

Township Public Affairs Commissioner Steven Rogers traveled to Berkeley Township in Ocean County to see the veteran, who had moved there in order for his family to care for him.

“He was unable to attend our Veterans’ Day ceremony when we presented 21 Nutley World War II veterans with medals,” Rogers explained. “Therefore, I decided to bring the medal to him.”

Turello, a private, served in the South Pacific during his tour with the U.S. Marines. He received several combat decorations from the military.

Rogers said he contacted Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato who, together with Berkeley Council President James Burns, agreed to join him for a small military ceremony in Turello’s home with family and friends also there.

“To say the least, it was an emotional day for all of us. On behalf of this 96-year-old Marine and his wife, thank you Nutley for remembering his sacrifice for our nation,” Rogers said.

Keeping you safe while you’re holiday shopping



By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


Shoppers have enough to worry about during the annual pre-holiday frenzy (What the heck can I get for Uncle Ernie? He hates everything. Is my credit card maxed out? Whaddya mean there are no Chia Pets left? Why isn’t this check-out line moving? Where the hell did I park the car?).

The thought of being a crime victim isn’t usually at the top of the list, though it ought to be considering the opportunities crowded stores, distracted bargain-hunters and vast parking lots afford the criminal element.

In this town, though, shoppers should feel a bit more secure thanks to a Kearny Police Department special initiative.

“On Black Friday,” Police Chief John Dowie told The Observer, “we launched our holiday mall patrol wherein additional officers are assigned, in uniform, plainclothes and on foot, to our mall areas.”

These include Walmart, all the Passaic Ave. centers (Kmart, ShopRite, Marshalls, etc.) as well as the shopping areas along Kearny Ave.

Overseeing the holiday-season project is Kearny Deputy Chief George King.

“In my opinion, it has already paid off,” Dowie said. During the first big shopping week, “we didn’t have any thefts of or from vehicles in the lots, we didn’t have any purse-snatchings, and the volume of shoplifting was less than expected.”

“The concept behind it,” he added, “is to convey a feeling of safety to the shoppers. The uniformed presence also deters crimes, but in the event we do have a crime, we can also provide a quicker response.”

The KPD mall patrols perform other functions, too, such as locating children who have wandered away in the stores and reuniting them with their frantic parents. And assisting motorists who have locked themselves out of their cars.

And while there are still roving vehicle patrols, officers also “go into the various retail establishments and interact with merchants and shoppers and make sure things are going smoothly and safely,” the chief said.

Officers also will monitor the SPEN (State Police Emergency Network) radio frequency, so if a BOLO is issued in connection with a crime in another jurisdiction, they will immediately have the description of the suspect, car, direction of flight, etc., making it easier to spot should it head for Kearny.

Additionally, Kearny patrol cars are equipped with ALPRs (Automatic License Plate Readers), the better to intercept a stolen or unregistered vehicle. “This helps us be proactive, intercepting it before the operator can even get into our mall areas,” Dowie said. And the officers will be forewarned before approaching such a vehicle.

The KPD, although it has earmarked money for this high-visibility holiday initiative, is also getting some “proactive” help from Walmart, Dowie noted. The store, on its own dime, has hired off-duty police officers “over and above its regular internal security.”

The KPD holiday mall project will continue until Jan. 1.

Now, go get those Chia Pets before they are all gone!

Chain retailer eyed for Passaic Ave. mall

Photo by Ron Leir Developer Alan Casnoff points to location on site map for proposed new BJ’s Club.

Photo by Ron Leir
Developer Alan Casnoff points to location on site map for proposed new BJ’s Club.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


If all goes well, Kearny can expect to see a new big box retailer along its slowly evolving Passaic Ave. shopping district.

BJ’s Wholesale Club, an East Coast warehouse retailer, will be the anchor tenant for a shopping mall planned by DVL Kearny Holdings LLC for the east side of Passaic Ave., at Bergen Ave.

At a lengthy public hearing held last Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Kearny Planning Board voted 8-1, with certain conditions, to approve an amended site plan filed by DVL that will allow the developer to change the dimensions of two of the six retail buildings for which the company got board approvals five years ago.

One of those buildings, originally designed to accommodate 104,000 square feet of retail spread over two floors, is now being cast as a single level, 87,778 square foot space to be occupied by BJ’s, according to testimony by DVL representatives.

Also, a second building that was approved for a 4,000 square foot single retail tenant is now reconfigured for 17,000 square feet to handle up to five smaller retailers. No tenants, other than BJ’s, are committed.

By and large, the board had no major problems with those changes but it had some concerns about how the proposed layout of one of the new retail buildings would shrink an existing 50-foot easement (between the north end of ShopRite and the old Congoleum factory building) shared by the town and the neighboring Tully ShopRite down to 20 feet, and, at its narrowest point, to just 18 feet.

The developer also figures that six surface parking spaces will be lost, along with a retaining wall, to help facilitate the maneuvering of the 18-wheeler trucks, according to testimony by a DVL engineer.

Still, the board wondered whether that would leave sufficient access for town fire rigs – and for delivery trucks to back in and pull out.

DVL’s traffic expert, Gary Dean, offered the board some perspective, saying that, “Fifty feet is a four-lane road – that’s a lot of blacktop.” And he claimed that there would be enough room – even with just 20 feet – to “accommodate BJ’s delivery trucks, which are the biggest on the road.”

When several board members, including Mayor Alberto Santos and Town Administrator Michael Martello, advised that DVL first check with ShopRite to make sure the store can live with the easement change. And the mayor said he would ask the Fire Department as well.

That implication of delayed action on the developer’s application, pending a resolution of these questions, prompted DVL President Alan Casnoff to inform the board that, although the project site has been dormant for the past five years, thanks to the national recession, time is now of the essence because DVL expected to sign a lease deal with BJ’s by this week.

But at this point in the process, Casnoff said, the board’s failure to act could kill the project. “No preliminary approvals, no signed lease,” he cautioned. DVL is also seeking several land use variances for single retail maximum square footage, minimum setback for internal driveway and parking, along with a few design standard waivers, including parking lot light pole height, sidewalk width and street tree size.

Photo courtesy DVL Holdings LLC An architect’s perspective of the proposed BJ’s Wholesale Club in Kearny.

Photo courtesy DVL Holdings LLC
An architect’s perspective of the proposed BJ’s Wholesale Club in Kearny.


In the end, the board agreed – with Ann Farrell dissenting on traffic-related worries – to grant “conditional approval” to the application – to be memorialized at the Jan. 8 meeting – pending successful resolution of the easement issue, sharing of façade drawings and revised parking plans.

BJ’s Pat Smith, assistant vice president/manager of site acquisition, who attended Wednesday’s board meeting, said he anticipated the signing of a 20-year lease with DVL with options for renewal.

“We’ve been looking for sites in Kearny for the past six to eight years,” he said. “We can better serve our members and expand our membership base. Kearny is a great solid neighborhood and it’s in a more urban location than our typical BJ’s location.”

Smith said the Kearny store — which will have a tire center but no liquor – will feature “the typical BS’s assortment, including fresh deli and expanded organic and fresh produce.” It will employ about 50 full-time workers and about 50 part-time, he said. “We’ll be putting an emphasis on hiring local.”

The K-mart and Modell’s on the site will remain but tenants currently in the old Congoleum factory building will be given six months notice to vacate before the building is demolished, Casnoff said.

Because of the site’s sloped topography, Casnoff said, “we are going to spend more than $1 million to raise the front [off Passaic Ave.] or lower the back of the site.” At this point, he said, the more likely outcome will be “to lower the back but, you get two feet down, you’re digging into rocks. We will probably spend $5 million alone for site work.”

Casnoff declined to project the overall development cost for the project.

Demolition could begin by May 2014. “We’re hoping to turn over a building to [BJ’s] by August 2015,” Casnoff said.

Thoughts & Views: The world mourns the passing of Mandela



The world experienced a great loss Dec. 5 with the death, at age 95, of Nelson Mandela, the man credited with ending apartheid in his native South Africa.

Despite being imprisoned by his white oppressors for 27 years, when he was freed in Feb. 1990, at 71, Mandela worked to establish a new government based on “reconciliation,” rather than retaliation.

Initially, he was met with resistance from his fellow South Africans, both whites and blacks, but in the end he got what he wanted: a coalition government that would respect all colors.

Mandela’s struggles – in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds – should remind us of at least two other statesmen whose clamoring for justice resounded on the global stage: Ghandi, who fought to end British rule in India through a policy of non-violence; and Lincoln, the “Great Emancipator,” who waged a civil war to preserve the Union in which all citizens were free.

As in Mandela’s case, the goal was achieved but a flawed creation followed. Years of infighting took its toll on South Africans; as a byproduct of independence from Britain, Ghandi had to accept a divided India; Lincoln’s assassination sparked a revenge-minded Radical Republicanism bent on punishing the South for its rebellion.

All three were truly pivotal figures in their lifetime but all were quite mortal, and, therefore, no matter how many statues may be consecrated in their honor, none should be elevated to deity.

To that end, let’s recall the words of University of Cape Town political professor Anthony Butler who wrote in South Africa’s Business Day newspaper (as quoted in the Dec. 7 New York Times), “To idealize a great political leader – to try and take that person out of politics and the humanity out of that person – is in the end a futile or even contradictory endeavor.”

Still, we can say that Mandela, Ghandi and Lincoln each left a great legacy for which we have much to thank them.

Shifting gears: Has a version of the Prince of Denmark crept into North Korea?

News accounts report that before he came to power, Kim Jong-un, that country’s leader, was propped up by his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and his aunt, Kim Kyong-hee.

But, of late, if these accounts are accurate, following the death of the Kim Jong-il, the current 30-year-old leader’s father, Kim Jong-un (read: Hamlet) has arranged for Uncle Jang to be removed from his government posts and for two of his uncle’s deputies (read: shades of Rosencrantz and Gildenstern) to be killed. Alas, these same accounts say that Uncle Jang (read: Claudius) is estranged from his sickly spouse (read: Gertrude).

Now, Kim Jong-un has been talking about unleashing some of North Korea’s nuclear capability on the country’s traditional eastern and western rivals. (Read: “To take arms against a sea of troubles. And by opposing, end them ….”).

Draw your own conclusions.

Finally, some thoughts on Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, asking the Detroit Art Museum to consider auctioning off some of its collection, including the famous Diego Rivera murals celebrating the workers of the world, to help the bankrupt Motor City pay its creditors.

What a great irony that would be, if art work that exalts the contributions by the American laborer – the same type of work that came very close to being displayed in the iconic capitalist building, Rockefeller Center – were to be sold to prop up the very city that made America Roar in the Twenties.

Rivera and his staff undertook the Detroit museum job in the wake of Ford Motor Co. goons having killed four auto workers and harming 22 during a 1932 demonstration at Ford’s Dearborn plant. The city’s plutocrats warned Edsel Ford – who had given Rivera the commission – he was being undermined by the artist.

But Rivera was allowed to proceed and, despite the Depression, the museum – which was on the ropes – survived and prospered, thanks in large part, to the Rivera murals’ popularity.

Maybe history will repeat itself.

– Ron Leir