To the Editor:
Interim-Mayor Peter Santana and the Town Council held a parking meeting on Aug. 7th to gauge the public’s appetite for a new public municipal parking utility that will be charged with selling parking permits and issuing summonses for parking violations. It was great to see the amount of residents there and the level of participation on this issue. Congratulations to all of the resident speakers! You all did a great job.
I asked several times during the meeting about the presenter of this program, Robert Baselice, of North Bergen. I wanted to know his connections to our town, his role in this program and possible payout.
My questions were never answered, but we did some research.
Mr. Baselice is a sitting Hudson County Commissioner (formerly known as County Freeholder). He was Mayor Santos’s boss, when he held his position with the County as Clerk to the Freeholders, until Santos resigned to become a judge. Now, Councilman George Zapata has inherited the position making nearly $110,000. It’s interesting that Zapata introduced this parking ordinance that, if approved, will pay his new boss Baselise $1.09 million.
Do our town leaders understand the meaning of conflict of interest?
This proposed parking entity has been dubbed a Public Municipal Parking Utility. I was corrected several times for using the term “Parking Authority,” which Mr. Baselice slipped a few times and called it the same thing himself. Why the distinction?
So we the residents believe that this will be a public entity and our leadership hopes we overlook the $1.09 million administrative fee for setting it up. Essentially, a private company will be commissioned to set up a “public” municipal utility.
Why can’t we just incorporate this parking authority under the Kearny Police Department, as we do now with the parking violations officers? Why create a completely separate division and pay someone from out of town to do it? When will this public utility become self-sufficient and repay the taxpayers for the cost of the initial administrative fee?
The parking issue has essentially been ignored for nearly a decade. We have been talking about parking permits since about 2016, and in that time, nothing significant has been done in town to address the underlying parking issues. Before we launch any program to sell permits and create a parking authority to issue violations, we need to address the following:
INCREASE THE SUPPLY OF PARKING by annexing land to build more parking lots and other parking structures in more densely populated areas; we can even work with developers of new and existing buildings to help the town, especially if they are receiving tax breaks.
DECREASE THE DEMAND FOR PARKING
* Provide more public transportation options
* Stop easing parking restrictions and providing parking variances for new developments
* Address illegally rented apartments and rooms in non-owner occupied multi-family dwellings
* Ban developers, who receive tax breaks (such as the Vermellas), from charging their tenants a parking fee (which is as high as $250 in some cases); this just causes tenants to forego the Vermella parking permit by parking on the street and taking spaces from the rest of us.
Lastly, I believe that this program should altogether be scrapped, or we should at least postpone it until after the special election this November. The Council is currently deeply divided, and the residents have not had their say yet at the polls.
We should allow these discussions to continue after the residents have elected a Mayor. Our current Interim-Mayor was selected by a small group of town elites, party insiders and outside influencers. Out of respect for the residents, the Council members should kick this behemoth can down the road, until the people’s choice for mayor is inaugurated.
We pay the second highest taxes to the county and get very little in return and hardly any representation. On top of that, everyone outside of our town seems to be making decisions for us. We are not North Bergen or Jersey City, we are Kearny, and we want to stay Kearny. Those places are great to visit, but we choose to live here for a reason.
Let’s stand together and reject these attempts by the Hudson County establishment to turn us into something we don’t want to be. I will not be influenced by outside forces. I will always put Kearny first and prevent the fleecing of our taxpayers. If elected, I vow to scrap this private parking program and work on real solutions to help alleviate this long-neglected issue in town.
Sydney J. Ferreira
Lifelong Kearny resident
Candidate for Mayor of Kearny
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.