Author Topic: Mayor & Council: Open letter to the County  (Read 2038 times)

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Mayor & Council: Open letter to the County
« on: September 21, 2005, 12:47:24 pm »
Seen below is the statement read by Mayor Marlin Townes to the Bergen County Freeholder Board at the September meeting. The letter also appears in the County Seat:

Open Letter from the
Mayor & Council, City of Hackensack
To The
Bergen County Freeholders
and County Executive

Dear Elected County Officials:

As we, the elected officials of the City of Hackensack, begin our first term in office we invite you to share in our vision of a vibrant and energetic City.

We have before us an opportunity to renew a spirit of collaboration and partnership with you, our elected County representatives. In many ways, this collaboration has already begun. As you are aware, the City recently entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the County for Reverse 911 - a service that allows us to communicate with residents in emergency situations. In addition, our governments are in the process of assembling a geographic information system (GIS) that will provide City and County residents with access to vast amounts of property information through the internet. City officials are also participating in the creation of a Life Sciences Master Plan with the Bergen County Economic Development Corporation. We are encouraged by these achievements and see the potential for even greater accomplishment.

Much works remains to be done. As the elected leaders of the City of Hackensack, we are charged with several responsibilities. These include providing safe and clean neighborhoods, promoting the Citys economic growth, overseeing the development of property throughout the City and maintaining the Citys budget. We have come to realize that these tasks cannot be completed in a vacuum and often require intergovernmental cooperation. Furthermore, as the Seat to the largest county in the State, we face certain unique challenges.

Chief among these challenges is the Citys ever-dwindling roll of tax ratable properties. Approximately one-third of the Citys properties are non-taxable. County properties make up a large portion of these tax-exempt properties. Since these properties do not generate taxes, the burden falls squarely on the remaining property owners to balance the resulting deficit.

Compounding this dilemma is the fact that many County owned properties present serious obstacles to the Citys growth and development. In particular, these properties include the County Jail and Annex, County Probation Department and County homeless shelter1. Many of these properties are located in prime commercial areas. The shelter, for example, stands at the entrance to Main Streets gateway.

While many have argued that these facilities and others like them belong in Hackensack, we can say from our combined experience and our conversations with businesses and residents that these facilities have contributed significantly to the decline of our shopping districts on Main Street, Hudson Street and the surrounding area. They have reinforced a certain stigma that the downtown area is not safe. Of course, other forces have contributed to Main Streets instability including the rise of the malls, economic recessions and changes in shopper habits. But certain County programs are doubtless to blame, to some extent, for the areas economic depression.

Despite these hurdles, Main Street is on the rebound. We credit the prior City administration with creating the Citys first ever Special Improvement District which is well on the way to revitalize what is now referred to as Upper Main, between Euclid Avenue and Mercer Street. This is a tremendous beginning, but we are concerned that continued expansion of County services will jeopardize progress within the District. Similarly, how will expansion of County services effect the Citys downtown in 5, 10, 30 years?

We appreciate the Countys responsibility to provide services to County residents. We understand our role as the Seat of County governance. We are encouraged by the Countys preliminary actions in relocating certain County facilities2and we hope that the County regularly engages us in the decision making process.

Our respective administrations owe it to our mutual constituents to plan and shape the Citys development in a way that respects the needs of our residents and businesses. As the County Seat, more than 100,000 people visit Hackensack daily. The economic health and appearance of our City directly reflects on our ability to govern effectively. It is essential that we continue to work together to promote the quality of life of our residents and the prosperity of our businesses.

We look forward to continued dialogue with County leadership and impart to you our sincere desire to bring out the tremendous potential this great City has to offer.

Very truly yours,

Mayor & Council, City of Hackensack
Marlin G. Townes, Mayor
Karen K. Sasso, Deputy Mayor
Jorge E. Meneses, Councilman
Michael R. Melfi, Councilman
Charles P. McAuliffe, Councilman

   1The County recently approved funding for the construction of a 100 bed multi-service homeless facility on East Kansas Street.
    2Freeholder Tomas Padilla introduced a resolution approving the expenditure of funds to appraise property on East Broadway.  This property could ultimately house The County Probation Department, the County Department of Public Works (DPW) and County Police Headquarters.  The former S. Goldberg Slipper Factor on River Street is currently the prime candidate for the new DPW and Police Headquaters.

« Last Edit: September 21, 2005, 03:37:08 pm by Editor »