Nightmare for folks on Elm St.

Photos by Ron Leir/ Neighbors say drivers double-park around the blue awning, (l). impeding traffic flow. They say ambulances rarely use the bay (r.) reserved for them.


By Ron Leir


Living near a property whose primary function is to support a nursing home, you’d be inclined to think you had a good neighbor policy ensured.

Not so, apparently, for some residents of Elm Street whose homes border or stand across from the old West Hudson Hospital facility at Bergen Ave. and Elm St., now owned by Health Care Renewal, a private company based in South Amboy. Medical labs are also in the building.

At their March 13 meeting, Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council got an earful from neighbors airing their frustrations about double-parked traffic, blocked driveways and noise at latenight hours they say they’ve endured in recent years.

One of those residents, Alejandro Tammaro, has been documenting the problems by maintaining a pictorial chronicle of the offenses as they’ve occurred and he promptly displayed the evidence to The Observer when a reporter visited his home last week.

Tammaro pointed to a blue awning that stretches over an Elm St. entranceway to the nursing home on the east side of the block where he says much of the unwanted activity takes place.

This canopied site lies almost directly across from his home, which he recently accessorized with a wroughtiron railing and gate leading to his asphalt driveway.

Tammaro gripes that delivery vehicles and ambulances, alike, habitually double-park in the middle of the street, sometimes in front of his driveway at all hours and sometimes park for as long as 45 minutes.

“Sometimes there are two ambulances at a time, with a police car, behind them, blocking four or five cars,” Tammaro says.

But there’s no reason for them to do that, he says, since the health care facility has a clearly marked ambulance bay and loading dock, with yellow striping, closer to the Bergen Ave. intersection. He says he sees one vehicle, in particular, consistently parked in that yellow zone but that car is never ticketed, he claims.

Things are particularly bad during employees’ changes of shift, at around 7 a.m. and, again, at 11 p.m., he says.

“At 11 p.m. you have people coming out from the blue awning location like it’s a bar making lots of noise,” says Tammaro. “I have two kids, (ages) nine and 16, and my neighbors have small kids, all of them trying to sleep.”

Plus, he says, there’s the noise from the radios in the ambulances and police cars that residents have to contend with.

But even more irksome, Tammaro says, is having to deal, periodically, with seeing dead bodies being carried out from the blue awning access point and loaded onto ambulances.

“It’s not right for my children to be exposed to that,” he says.

First Ward Councilman Albino Cardoso, whose ward encompasses the west side of Elm Street, said he’s visited his constituent and agrees that there is “an ongoing situation” involving “illegal parking” in the ambulance zone.

Cardoso said that Town Administrator Michael Martello “sent an email to the (police) chief asking for more enforcement of our parking regulations.” Since then, Cardoso said, “I believe some tickets have been issued but the problem is not really solved.”

The problem that really impacts neighbors is “ambulances and delivery vans double parking, especially in front of driveways. Of course, we cannot have a policeman sitting there 24 hours a day – we just can’t afford that.”

Yes, he said, “with more enforcement (by patrol units), the message is going to pass through. But it didn’t pass through yet.”

A solution, however, may be in sight, according to Mayor Santos and Cardoso. The property owner has applied to the town Construction Dept. for permits to do interior work designed to create a same day surgery center, separate from the nursing care facility and other space in the building – and, significantly, that center would be accessed only through the blue awning location, they said.

To get to and from the nursing home, people would have to use a separate access point, probably via Bergen Ave., they said. If the Construction Dept. sanctions the work and if the work can be done to the specifications of the construction code, that “should go a long way to solving the residents’ problems,” Santos said.

Cardoso and Tammaro echoed that expectation.

With the same day surgery center in place, Cardoso said, “there’s not going to be ambulances bringing old, sick people back and forth through the blue awning site. They will have to use a different door so, hopefully, that’s not going to affect the neighbors.” As for Tammaro’s complaint about seeing cadavers being transported through the blue awning access point, Cardoso said he hasn’t seen that happen. “I have to take the resident’s word for that,” he said. “But if it’s true, that is completely not authorized by our ordinances. … They should bring the ambulance to the bay on the Forest St. side of the building to receive the bodies. The dead bodies shouldn’t be shown to anybody (in public).”

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