14 new parking spots in lottery for Kearny’s lower end

Residents of Kearny’s southwest section near the East Newark border will be vying for the right to claim 14 off-street parking spaces for overnight use. Applicants for those spots off Passaic Avenue near Belgrove Drive will be chosen by a lottery conducted by the Town Clerk’s Office.

This arrangement is made possible under an agreement between the owner of a newly developed residential complex at 60 Passaic Ave., the former bat factory property, and the town.

Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council greenlighted the plan Sept. 7 by approving an ordinance that adds a new location for off-street permit parking for overnight use by residents.

Those spaces will be available to those chosen through a lottery on a daily basis, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.  Residents allotted those spaces will pay an annual $100 fee for the right to park their vehicles there.

People who live at the development at 60 Passaic Ave. or at the residential development across the street at 113 Passaic Ave. are not eligible to apply for the 14 spaces. Owners of commercial vehicles are also exempt from seeking overnight parking permits for those spots.

Santos told The Observer that when the developer of 60 Passaic Ave. submitted his project for site plan review and a tax abatement, members of the Kearny Planning Board and Town Council asked him to consider allowing the use of part of his property for overnight parking by residents other than those who occupy apartments on the property.

Santos credited Councilman Albino Cardoso, in particular, with being “very forceful on that point,” along with his First Ward colleague, Councilwoman Marytrine DeCastro. Overnight parking in that area of the First Ward is hard to come by, the mayor noted.

Initially, Santos said, it was the developer who offered space to accommodate 14 vehicles but, he added, “there was some backsliding from that number when [the developer] asked for a range of seven to 14 spaces. We wanted him to stick with the original 14.”

There’s no question as to the need for overnight parking in that section of town, the mayor stressed. “There is a municipal parking lot a block away from [the 60 Passaic Ave. property] behind the old police substation on Belgrove which we’ve used for lottery overnight parking and it’s consistently oversubscribed.”

Even with these spaces being available, nighttime parking will remain a nagging issue for town residents, not just in the First Ward but all over, Santos acknowledged.

Some time ago, Santos said, town officials began exploring a potential resident permit parking system to be piloted in a few areas of town as one approach to ease the burden on residents hunting for spaces – exasperated by many residents who have garages or driveways still insisting on parking on the street, or by out-of-towners who park in Kearny overnight or by folks who go away on vacation and leave their car on the street at a friend’s house to be shuffled around on street-sweeping days.

“We were also looking at how many vehicles should be permitted per household,” the mayor said. “But the pandemic killed all that planning.”

Asked if a municipal parking authority could be in the town’s future, Santos nixed that notion. “A parking authority is another layer of government, which needs a different set of attorneys, which has to be annually audited and which can issue debt,” he said. 

Ride-sharing, the use of “zip cars” and resident permit parking – in the aftermath of the pandemic – “maybe could be part of a long-term solution,” the mayor said.

In other developments at Tuesday night’s lengthy meeting, the mayor and council:

ï Ratified a new two-year contract with the town’s crossing guards, represented in bargaining for the first time by Kearny Civil Service Council 11. The agreement provides the guards – who currently earn between $17.46 and $10 per hour, wage adjustments of 1.75%, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020, and 1.75%, effective and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021. The guards will also see their uniform allowance rise, from the current $375 to $425 this year and they will add Thanksgiving as a paid holiday this year.

ï Renewed a 5-year agreement with SUEZ Water to operate, maintain and manage the town’s water system.

SUEZ will get $135,750 per month and $2,629,000 for the first year.

Starting Jan. 1, 2022, that amount will be adjusted based on the Employment Cost Index, Consumer Price Index and growth of service keyed to the percent of new customers added to the current 8,300 in the system.

Santos said SUEZ was the only vendor to bid for the service.

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Ron Leir | For The Observer

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.

He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.

He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York