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En Español / Hispanic Institute Scholarship
« on: January 17, 2005, 11:35:55 PM »

Natalie Molina of Hackensack has received the Hispanic Institute Scholarship, which is given to a student of Hispanic heritage who excels academically.

[As reported by The Record]

This is an election year for the City Council.  Elections will take place on May 10, 2005.  I composed the following list in order to facilitate discussion about candidates' qualifications for this office.  This list should not be construed as an endorsement of any candidate.   

Top Ten Things to Look for in a Candidate for City Council

10.    Roots. Does this candidate have roots in this community?  How long has he/she lived here?  Owned property here? Did he/she go to school here?  Work here? Is he/she truly invested in this community?  Is this candidate known?

9.    Level of Concern. How sincere can a candidate be unless he/she has taken the time to learn the issues that affect City residents?  How many City Council meetings has this candidate attended in the last year? How many Zoning Board Meetings?  Planning Board Meetings?  School Board Meetings? Does he/she understand the issues that these Boards address? Does this candidate have any idea how City government operates?

8.   Community Support. Has this candidate ever served the City in any volunteer capacity?  Served on a Board?  Participated in the City’s Clean-Up Day? Supported events at the Cultural Arts Center?  Coached Little League? 

7.   Motivation. What is this candidate’s motivation for running?  To simply say "I want to make the City a better place to live" is not enough.  Does this candidate have a solid grasp of the issues facing the City in the coming years? Is this more than a personal ego trip for power and prestige? Does he/she have a vision?

6.   Education/Experience. What is this candidate’s educational background?  Is this candidate a college graduate?  If not, does this candidate have the appropriate life experience by way of managing a business?  Working in a related industry? Raising children?  Being a good spouse?  Are these skills transferable to public office?  Education isn’t everything, but it’s important.

5.   Integrity. Is this candidate an independent thinker?  Can he she be a consensus builder?  Remember:  He/she is only one of five Council members.  Is this candidate a team player, willing to compromise when necessary and stay true to his/her convictions on the important issues?

4.   Ethics. Is this candidate morally/ethically worthy to hold public office? Does he/she have a questionable past with one or more instances of moral indiscretion? While ethical quality should be a "given", candidates should volunteer this information, acknowledge past indiscretions, subject themselves to criticism, and let the voters decide. 

3.   Sacrifice. Is this candidate fully aware of the sacrifice he or she must make to serve in this important role?  This position requires 25-30 per week on average.  The pay is lousy. (Check me, but I think it’s under $10,000 a year).  25 hours, in addition to a regular job, is very taxing.  Only sincere, dedicated people need apply.

2.    Vision. Does this candidate see the tremendous potential in this City?  Does he/she shop on Main Street?  Know the key players in the business sector?  Understand the changing landscape in this growing City?  Realize the impact (good and bad) of the Medical Center? Proposed light rail transportation network? Special Improvement District?  Property tax reform?  Environmental issues of the Hackensack River, and dozens of other issues that will directly affect our quality of life.

1.   Trust Worthiness. Can you, the voter, trust this person to dedicate him/herself to fully represent your interests as a citizen and taxpayer. (New Jersey residents are one of the highest taxed citizens in the nation.)  Does this candidate posses all of the qualities necessary to formulate and institute policy that will truly make Hackensack a better City in which to live and work? 

Free Classifieds and Announcements / Riverkeeper Scholarship
« on: January 16, 2005, 12:49:16 AM »
Hackensack Riverkeeper
231 Main Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601

January 3, 2005


Contact:  Hugh M. Carola


2005 Ron Vellekamp Environmental Scholarship

Annual Hackensack Riverkeeper award to be awarded in June

Hackensack, NJ - Beginning today, applications are being accepted for the 2005 Ron Vellekamp Environmental Scholarship. Now in its fifth year, the program was created to support college-bound high school seniors with excellent grades and a strong commitment to the environment.

The guidance departments of every high school in the Hackensack River watershed, which lies in parts of three counties (Rockland in New York; and Bergen and Hudson in New Jersey), were contacted today and invited to nominate one of their students for the Scholarship.

Guidance counselors or faculty advisors can submit applications on behalf of any student they feel should be considered. A panel that includes Captain Bill Sheehan, the executive director of Hackensack Riverkeeper, Trustees and staff  will review each application. In deciding upon a winner, the panel will consider each applicant’s academic achievements, environmental extra-curricular activities and future plans. The $1000 Scholarship is unrestricted and can be used for the purchase of books or other educational materials during the student’s first year in college.

Mr. Daniel De Santis of New City, New York was the 2004 Ron Vellekamp Scholarship winner.  While enrolled at Clarkstown Senior High School South, De Santis worked with the organization Keep Rockland Beautiful and developed environmental education (EE) programs for youth. He also started an advisory board that brought together student leaders from five Rockland County high schools to do EE. De Santis recently completed his first semester at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts where he is majoring in Global Environmental Science.

“Dan was the first applicant who had such a wealth of experience in environmental outreach,” said Carola. “As always, we had a well-qualified group of students to choose from but Dan showed a remarkable commitment to active conservation.”

Application criteria are available at or by calling Hugh Carola at 201-968-0808.  Applications must be postmarked no later than Earth Day, April 22, 2005. The winner will be announced at Hackensack RiverFest on June 4.

The Ron Vellekamp Scholarship is supported by generous donations from friends and family of the late Mr. Vellekamp of Tenafly, NJ. Prior to his untimely death in 2002, the active high school teacher also served as a part-time park ranger at Palisades Interstate Park, a longtime Scout leader and a dedicated Trustee of Hackensack Riverkeeper.

“We endeavor to support students who show the same level of commitment to environmental protection that Ron had,” said Capt. Sheehan. “It’s a living memorial.”

Hackensack Riverkeeper is the leading environmental organization working on Hackensack River issues.  Its mission is the protection, preservation and restoration of the Hackensack River watershed and its living resources.

Free Classifieds and Announcements / Free Business Listing
« on: January 12, 2005, 12:55:32 PM »
All Hackensack businesses can be listed in the Hackensack Business Directory for free.  (See the homepage).

Businesses should email me:

Business Name
Phone number
email address
web URL

Email to:

Hackensack Discussion / Big bust in Hackensack
« on: January 03, 2005, 07:52:23 PM »
Cops in Bergen County nab four in connection with robbery spree

(requires registration)

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Main St.
« on: January 03, 2005, 11:50:05 AM »
Who is Sayhey?

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Main St. downfall
« on: January 02, 2005, 09:52:53 PM »
There's plenty of hope and promise for Main Street.   The following information is an excerpt from:

The green, bolded text under "Revitalization" explains why I think the last post is off the mark.

Why Have So Many Main Street Areas Become Run Down?

Traditional Main Street areas ... have had a difficult time competing with auto-oriented commercial development in suburban areas. Strip-style commercial corridors, regional shopping malls, and big-box "power centers" are successful for many reasons. They have recognizable chain stores, large-scale shopping formats that provide a wide selection of goods, drive-through services, large movie theaters, large family restaurants, and most importantly, abundant parking and easy access for vehicles. By way of comparison, Main Street areas tend to offer unique and small-format spaces, which are generally unappealing to modern-day chain retailers, and they tend to be constrained in terms of parking and vehicular access. Most people living in the Hartford region nowadays are auto-dependent, and they tend to do their shopping in locations with the best automobile access and parking.

Why Re-invest in Main Street?

If suburban commercial sites are so successful, why should local municipality spend time and money attempting to revitalize the old town center? Many Main Street areas still have numerous businesses, residents, and employees, all of whom would directly benefit from improvements to the area. The town as a whole would benefit from the increased tax revenues from a revitalized commercial area. Most importantly, a Main Street area is usually the historical, cultural, civic and geographic center of the community, and improvements to the town center can bolster the town's pride, image, and residential property values.

From a "smart growth" perspective, town centers are "sustainable" growth centers. With higher-density development and a mix of commercial and residential uses, town centers provide a greater variety of housing types and more opportunities for walking, biking, and transit use.


This smart growth tool can be used in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

They are an alternative to the forces that fuel low-density suburban sprawl. A revitalized town center can attract new investment that adheres to a compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented format. There has never been a better time to engage in economic revitalization efforts in historic town centers. Old Main Streets are being revitalized nationwide, and some modern retailers see old Main Street areas as the "new frontier" of retailing. Oriented to pedestrians and specialty shopping, these businesses capitalize on the character value and foot traffic of Main Street. They tap into the market that seeks an alternative to mall shopping.

What Are the Chances of Success?

Many communities have been able to turn around their traditional Main Street areas. Downtown West Hartford, which initially could not compete with the West Farms Mall, managed to renew itself through a multi-faceted revitalization program. West Hartford has been successful because it has managed to build off of the unique attributes that distinguish it from suburban commercial sites: historic architecture, a traditional "Main Street" ambiance, a safe and pleasant walking environment, and unique non-chain stores. Importantly, West Hartford Center has a unique parking scheme that makes access convenient. Similar initiatives are currently being undertaken in Windsor Center and Downtown Rockville (Town of Vernon).

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Main St. downfall
« on: January 02, 2005, 09:57:22 AM »

If you are "sayheywillie"  from the other message boards, you invented online "Zisa bashing"! (Post No. 4 torwards bottom of page).

As for your theory of a "conflict on interest", the fact that I allow you to say what you do about this administration, without simply deleting your post, clearly shows that I am not conflicted.  If you go back and look at my posts, you will see that I almost never take a political stand one way or the other. 

My problem with your posts is not that you dislike the administration, but that you insinuate with no basis in fact.  You speculate and make conjecture with reckless disregard for whether or not what you say is true.  But even this I can tolerate if you would at least identify yourself.  Annonymously, you have nothing to lose if you are wrong.  When you identify yourself, you become accountable.  You are not accountable.

Your statement that "Main Street has been been left for dead" is nonsense in light of the SID.  (See articles above).  What are you talking about??? 

For the record (again), the City hired me to oversee the redesign of the official website and to maintain it regularly:,292.0.html .  I made this fact known when I was hired.  People know who I am, where I come from, what I do. 


Hackensack Discussion / Re: Main St.
« on: January 01, 2005, 04:08:43 AM »
The current City administration spearheaded the Special Improvement District (SID) on Main Street (from Mercer to Sears).  This City Council is responsible for its formation and works with the SID to support Main Street's growth.

The southern portion of Main Street has yet to form a SID. I'm not sure, but I  think businesses in the southern portion of Main Street were not interested in a SID program.  If someone knows anything different, I'd like to know.

The current SID is just getting started.  Once it is in full swing, many are confident that it will be successful like SID's in other towns.  Bergenfield is one example.

Hackensack doesn't "add stores", - businesses do.  The City supports local merchants and fosters the development of a SID to make Main Street more attractive for businesses.

Comparisons to "Ridgewood and Englewood" are not appropriate.  They are completely different communities with completely different economic bases.  Hackensack can have a thriving, successful Main Street, but it probably won't be like Englewood any time soon.  In the future,  new housing stock in the surrounding Main Street neighborhoods will bring more spending dollars to Main Street (as many have speculated).

I and many others are very hopeful about Main Street's continued success. City residents should be cheering it on and supporting it.   
The last poster routinely attacks the current administration, always hiding behind anonymity.  I chose to allow anonymous posting because I want frank discussion in these boards.  Some posters abuse this privilege by personally attacking others (by name) without having the courage and common decency to identify themselves.  This makes me crazy. I can only hope that readers will give less credibility to anonymous posters and make some effort to familiarize themselves with the facts.

Towards that end, I provide links to these related articles:

A cleaner day dawns

Main Street Revitalization

The Main Street Business Alliance

Hackensack MSBA Embarks on District Improvements

Stores hope festive notes will entice shoppers

Bergen County briefs

Al Dib
Editor, Hackensack Now

Hackensack Discussion / Amazing Pictures of Hackensack
« on: December 30, 2004, 01:33:05 PM »
The County Seat recently did an article about Bob Leafe, a local photographer.  His pictures are truly amazing.

To see his work, click here.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Merry Christmas
« on: December 30, 2004, 01:28:51 PM »
One of these days.  I want to play drums.  Send me an email.

Hackensack Discussion / Merry Christmas
« on: December 24, 2004, 11:48:45 PM »
Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Kwanza Greetings

Wishing all the best for you and yours this Holiday Season.

Al Dib
Editor, Hackensack Now

Spread the Joy with some follow-up posts!

Free Classifieds and Announcements / Re: George Scudder Remembered
« on: December 10, 2004, 10:02:03 PM »
Yes.  How did you know him? (send me an email).

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Hackensack Cultural Arts Center Part 2
« on: December 10, 2004, 09:54:00 PM »

          Many people have criticized that our Arts Center is too small.  Slow Down!!!!  First lets sell out all of our events consistently, and then we’ll talk about it being too small! 

Didn't Seussical sell out every seat for all performances???  Everytime I go there, it's a packed house. 

Seussical, by the way, was fantastic.  It caught me off guard.   This show was  truly something special. 

'Seussical': A flight of whimsy finds a home not flimsy

Hackensack Discussion / City launches "Operation Clean Sweep"
« on: December 08, 2004, 04:28:41 PM »
The following is a press release issued by the City of Hackensack:


Hackensack, NJ – December 8, 2004

Over the years, the City’s Property Maintenance Division has received numerous complaints from residents regarding the poor condition of several residential and commercial properties in the City.  In response to these complaints, a team of code officials will canvas the City over the next several months to enforce all applicable property maintenance codes.  Newly hired inspectors will participate in the canvas to ensure present and future code enforcement.  While the problem is limited in scope, even one sub-par property can affect a neighborhood. 

Inspectors will look for overall poor condition of structures, overhangs, gutters, driveways, fences, roofs, sidewalks and other deficiencies.  After the issuance of a citation, property owners will be allowed 14 days to remedy the violation. 

In addition, the City Council has introduced an ordinance that will require owners of single and two family homes to secure a Certificate of Continued Occupancy prior to selling or renting a home.  This procedure necessitates an inspection of the property.  Should an inspection reveal the existence of illegal housing units, including basement dwellings in violation of the Property Maintenance Code, homeowners will be required to remove these units.  Inspectors will also note any home improvement work that was performed without the issuance of a permit.  Homeowners will be required to obtain permits for all work covered under applicable City ordinance. 

“While we have had generally effective codes on the books, the key to improve the overall quality of life in the City is enforcement,” said Mayor John “Jack” Zisa.  “The update to our codes and supplementation of a staff of inspectors are vital components of the solution.” 

The City’s Property Maintenance Division welcomes this opportunity to work with City residents to make Hackensack a safer city and to improve the overall appearance of its neighborhoods.   

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