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Messages - ericmartindale

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Goodbye, parking garage at 210 Moore St
« on: June 13, 2016, 07:14:39 PM »
great shots. thanks for documenting

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Goodbye, Geri's Deli
« on: June 13, 2016, 07:13:33 PM »
That's a very historic house, if I recall that is the home of Captain Berry, circa early 1800's.  It's little changed except for the storefront addition.  I hope it is not destroyed

I wonder if all the regulations are being followed.  That's a significant reconstruction and addition.  Are they building a section of the riverwalk, per NJDEP waterfront development regulations?

Google earth needs to update their photo, the Bogota tank farm is gone

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Temple Beth El
« on: May 30, 2016, 08:36:51 PM »
what a dumb stupid kid.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: City Considers Private Waste Contract
« on: May 28, 2016, 04:12:53 PM »
Cutting public employee pension costs will save additional millions.

Beware of one thing, the city tried this about 20 years ago under the Zisa regime, and there was a huge uprising against it.  The city then backed off and didn't do it.

A smart move would be to negotiate with the company being hired, and GUARANTEE rock-solid that the employees being cut will secure an offer of employment from the private-sector company.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Main St.
« on: June 11, 2007, 05:28:49 PM »
That's a reasonable observation, and I have a reasonable response. 

The statement is true, but traffic lights complicate and delay any driver taking Central Ave to State Street, then east on Mercer.

For one, the light at the corner of Central and State Street is EXTREMELY long, and you CANNOT make a right on red at that light.  NOBODY wants to wait that long, possibly over 3 minutes.  The bypass route I suggested also eliminates the eastbound wait for the light at Central Ave and Union Street.  This is because eastbound traffic on Central Ave can make a right on the red light onto Union Street.

Either way there would still be the light at State and Mercer, but under my suggestion, the driver has to wait ONLY AT THAT ONE LIGHT.  The other way, the driver has to wait at 3 lights, including one very long wait at Central and State.

It's a shame that getting 3 blocks from the corner of Central Ave & Union Street to Main Street takes so long.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Main St.
« on: June 09, 2007, 04:22:04 PM »
I wasn’t expecting the study to suggest a pedestrian-only plan for both Main Street and Banta Place. I'm glad that professional traffic experts are NOT recommending the restoration of two-way traffic on Main Street.  It would immediately become completely congested. I like the two-way street suggestions for some of the side streets accessing Main Street, especially Camden Street. 

I also think that Berry Street between State and River Streets needs to be renamed  since it no longer connects to the rest of Berry Street.  There are no residences or business with an address on this 2-block street, so the change would inconvenience nobody.  What would be the new name?  Let’s continue tradition and pick one of New Jersey’s counties.  Just about all of the streets intersecting Main Street in the downtown are named after counties in New Jersey. There’s still a few prominent counties not on the map in Hackensack. Perhaps Monmouth, Burlington, Hunterdon, or Somerset.

The Banta Place pedestrian street suggestion is a welcome surprise.  It will be great to see what happens to Banta Place as pedestrian-only street.  For it to work, the complete redevelopment of the block south of Banta Place has to happen.  This is one of the city’s pending redevelopment projects.

I also think that Trinity Place needs to be connected through the corner of the city-owned  parking lot to Mercer Street. I’ve advocated this in the past, and the time is right to suggest it again.  This is especially true if Banta Place will be abandoned to vehicular traffic.

There is a lot of traffic eastbound on Central Ave that is looking to go to the following locations:

 (1) anywhere on Main Street from Mercer Street to Passaic Street
 (2) Moore Street
 (3) River Street northbound,
 (4) river street southbound, and
 (5) left on River Street, and then a right onto the Midtown Bridge Approach, and then across to Bogota.

Connecting Trinity Place to Mercer Street will allow all of these traffic connections to happen WITHOUT detouring cars all the way down to Atlantic Street.  Atlantic Street is busy enough with it’s own traffic and HUMC traffic.

Here’s how the flow would work, and signs could be placed to direct the flow:  Traffic eastbound on Central Ave can make a right turn at Union Street, and then a left turn at Trinity Place. Currently, when you reach State Street, you can’t get to Mercer Street because State Street is one-way south.  Physically connecting Trinity Place to Mercer Street through the corner of the parking lot will make all five of the above-listed traffic connections work. 

It’s likely that this matter was out of the geographical scope of the study. This might be why it wasn’t considered.  It’s never too late to look at it.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« on: May 22, 2007, 08:41:31 AM »
I found something online that I thought people would find this interesting. 

There's a Charter School in Newark called the Robert Treat Academy that is the 4th highest rated school in the State of New Jersey. That's according to That's not comparing all Charter Schools. That's comparing all public, private, and charter schools.   And the enrollment at the Robert Treat Academy is 77% Latino and 19% African-American.  Language barriers appear to be of little obstacle to high test scores.

You heard me correct.  There is a school in Newark with 96% minority enrollment that is outperforming virtually every public school in northern Bergen County.

To some extent, this particular school must be attracting the best and brightest from all of Newark.  And it's located in the Forest Hill District, which is a very good neighborhood.  Nevertheless, they must be doing something right to have these kinds of scores within the city limits of Newark.

Here's the link, I hope it'll appear "live".

I also reviewed their scores on, and found that most grades at the Robert Treat Academy have 100% of all students passing the state standardized tests.

Maybe the school administration there should take what they do, bottle it, and sell it throughout New Jersey.

This has me wondering if it might be better for ENTIRE CITIES to turn over their entire school systems to the Charter System.  This alleviates the problem of the Charter Schools draining the Elementary Schools of the families most concerned about quality education, and leaving the Elementary Schools with worse-performing students.  I think this would be good public policy for New Jersey's cities. Our illustrious Governor should start with one entire Abbott District, convert it 100% to the Charter System, and see what happens.  We already know that state takeover of Abbott Districts has achieved little or nothing, so what about Charter Takeover ????

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Borgs Woods
« on: April 30, 2007, 01:07:27 AM »
We had about 60 volunteers for the Borg’s Woods cleanup on Saturday, April 28, 2007, a few more than last time. Linda Flynn, a teacher at the 5ive6ix School, and her son, are already planning on taking on more responsibility and expanding this program.  Most of the volunteers were kids, and mostly new faces. At least half of the volunteers had never stepped foot in Borg’s Woods before, and were amazed that such a place exists in the most heavily developed community in Bergen County.

People came early, and were eager to start. A dozen people were there waiting when I arrived 10 minutes early to direct the scope of work. The group worked steady for 2.5 hours, more than last time.

The trails overall were as muddy as I've ever seen them, since it rained hard less than 24 hours earlier. I caught some flak from the city DPW when they saw more debris than they expected, including an 18-foot steel pipe, a rusted barrel, one tire, the hood from a 1970’s Chevy, a large extra-thick pane of glass, and cuttings from invasive species.

Officials from the city DPW say there is some discrepancy over whether or not the group should be pruning away invasive species.  Supposedly the County had not signed off on this aspect. This is regularly done by other environmental groups at other nature areas.  The Hackensack Riverkeeper holds an annual event at Staib Park in Hackensack and adjacent areas along Coles Brook in Paramus that includes invasives control.  Meanwhile, the Friends of the Teaneck Greenway are organizing their first invasives control project at Brett Park in Teaneck.

Any disagreement over the scope of work is due to poor communications with the County. The “scope of work meeting” I had set with the County was canceled before the event.  I have every reason to believe that the County Parks Department consists of intelligent and reasonable people who can be educated as to importance of controlling invasive species in their parks and preserves throughout Bergen County.  This is not going to be a problem when the event is held again this Fall.  Flynn says she is going to be in communications directly with the County Parks Department well before then.
The group got rid of all the yard waste dumped by local homeowners at the Allen Street entrance, plus an inflatable swimming pool and a pile of cinderblocks dumped near the end of Fairmount Ave, and one entire patch of English Ivy. They even started stripping the invasive Purple-Leaved Wintercreeper ivy off the trees.

The trail paralleling the rear of the former Borg estate was widened, and a huge fallen limb removed. One crew of volunteers worked hard at this project for 2 solid hours. This trail is believed to have been created over the last few months by local residents walking their dogs to and from the trail east of the central wetland. Evidently it was the cutting of a gigantic specimen of Burning Bush (an invasive species) along Fairmount Avenue during last Fall’s cleanup that opened up more direct access to the “upper trail”. This avoids the need for visitors and their dogs to walk through a privately owned back yard to reach the woods.
We had a one-woman fence demolition team working on the remaining sections of the former vegetable garden along Fairmount Avenue.  She ripped out 40 feet of ivy-infested fence by herself. This was tough work, but no big challenge for a 5' 2" Asian woman wielding a bolt cutter.  After two cleanup events, only about one-quarter of the original fence remains, most of which is fully collapsed and buried in ivy.
We had anticipated help from the Hackensack Riverkeeper and the city’s Environmental Commission, but neither produced any volunteers for the event.  Linda Flynn takes much of the credit for getting people there and she was awarded a “golden broom” at the 12:00 noon reception held at Johnson Park.  Most of the volunteers went to the reception, which included some political grandstanding and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the city’s riverfront walkway in Johnson Park.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Borgs Woods
« on: April 23, 2007, 02:02:27 PM »
There’s been a minor change for “Cleanup Day”, set for Saturday 4/28.  The event is still to be held at 9 AM at Borg’s Woods and various parks, but the RECEPTION and FREE FOOD will be under a tent at Johnson Park.

The city will be dedicating the walkway at Johnson Park at 12:00, so this will be a good opportunity to gather residents who are doing the cleanup and let them participate in the walkway dedication.  The city’s section in Johnson Park was completed last year, and the County’s section running north from the end of Johnson Park is currently under construction !!!

The current weather forecast is for a high temperature of 49 degrees on Saturday, and partly to mostly cloudy. It should be in the 40’s for this event.

Charlotte Panny had set a meeting with the new County Parks director, Bruce Bonaventuro, to discuss the scope of work for this and future events at Borg’s Woods.  Bruce canceled the meeting, and another has not been set.

However, Bonaventura has spoken with and met the local residents on Brook Street who are DESTROYING the environment, and are advancing an agenda contrary to the interests of Borg’s Woods.  The Brook Street residents are draining the wetlands and lowering the profile of the stream that drains out of the central swamp, altering the fragile ecological balance.  The wetland is a vernal pond, which is typically fullest from November to mid-May, and usually bone dry in mid-summer. Over the past 20 years, the residents of Brook Street are responsible for a 1-foot drop in the water level.  They come in at night with shovels and do their work.  The Hackensack Riverkeeper Organization researched this, and it was determined that [name remove by Editor] is the primary responsible party.  [name remove by Editor] is a former advocate of Borg’s Woods who I know well.

As a result of the water level drop, Borg’s Woods has experienced LOCAL EXTINCTION of amphibian species. In addition, small trees are now growing in the open wetland, an area previously too wet for them to take root. The entire open marshy habitat is slowly being destroyed.  The swamp is NOT filling with organic matter through any natural process and become a forested wetland.  It’s being drained by residents, including one resident who wants to sell their house, and doesn’t want buyers to see standing water behind their property.

Is this a question of resident interests VERSUS environmental protection? Not at all. The entire premise of the residents view is faulted.. The residents complain about basement flooding, but the irony is that the swamp is NOT responsible, as follows:

(1)   the water table under Brook Street is MUCH HIGHER than it was before the street and the houses were built (1952 +/-) because a previously existing intermittent brook along the base of the hill was filled in when the area was landfilled and the houses were built. The street was named for this brook. Landfilling is known to cause water tables to rise, this is a classic case. Especially when a BROOK is landfilled.
(2)   Underground water flow around Brook Street is NORTH, not south. Nature wants to recreate the stream that used to flow north into the swamp.  The water in their basements is draining off the hill to the east, flowing north underground, and causing the water table to rise. It has nothing to do with the swamp or anything else downstream.
(3)   The bottom line is that northwards migration of groundwater ensures that THE WATER TABLE ON BROOK STREET WILL ALWAYS BE HIGHER THAN THE SURFACE LEVEL OF THE SWAMP no matter how much they drain the swamp, or they persuade the County to drain the swamp. 
(4)   Theoretically, the entire swamp could be dredged and the water table dropped 3 feet, and it wouldn’t stop their basements from flooding. 

These same residents would prefer not to have trail improvements either, as if the nature preserve is their big back yard and nobody is ever walking back there. The “big back yard syndrome” was Freeholder Richard Mola’ objection to purchasing the woods in 1994. Then to top it off, all 5 houses regularly dump all their leaves, branches, and yard waste in the woods, smothering native plants and wildflowers and despoiling the environment.

These people communicate with the County, and present themselves as the voices of reason, and the advocates of the woods.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

[Editor's note: I don't know the person ericmartindale accused.  I delete the name because as far as I know, this is only ericmartindale's opinion about the situation.  Since I do not (and will never) try to verify all the facts that other people assert, I will usually delete anything that I may consider defamatory.]

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Borgs Woods
« on: April 16, 2007, 12:49:50 PM »
Charlotte Panny, Hackensack's Clean Communities Coordinator, has scheduled the SECOND Borg's Woods cleanup event.  It will be Saturday, April 28th, 9AM -12 Noon, at Borg's Woods.  Cleanup of city parks will occur the same day, and all volunteers will be treated to a free lunch at the Hackensack Civic Center at noon.  For more info, Charlotte can be reached at 201-646-3907.

The first event, held last fall, was a great success.  Over 50 people turned out, mostly kids from local schools.  The kids even created a new trail, under my supervision.  Large sections of dilapidated fence along Fairmount Avenue were removed, and a large dumpster provided by the city, was 2/3 full of debris, including fence sections, remains of an old grape trellis, cuttings of invasive species, and litter.  It was originally billed as the "first annual Borg's Woods cleanup", but the event was so popular with kids, and such an overall success that it will now be held twice a year.

I am seeking to get the County Dept of Parks to remove all the invasives from the former vegetable garden along Fairmount Ave. This is to provide "garden space" for kids to plant and maintain a native species wildflower garden. The existing tangle of invasive stickers, invasive vines, dilapidated fencing, and fallen Mulberry trees is so dense that volunteers can barely make a dent in it. Construction equipment is needed to clear it out. I'm willing to volunteer my time to help supervise this clearing. As envisioned, only species native to NJ will be planted in the garden.  I am also hoping to get the County to fill in some muddy holes along the first hundred feet of trail coming in off Allen Street.  This could be done in a few hours by a County crew. Anyone who has ever walked this section of trail knows exactly what I'm talking about.  It's a problem that can easily be fixed.

Linda Flynn, a science teacher at the 5ive6ix school, is organizing another "Green Team" for the Borg's Woods event.   She's a great believer in Borg's Woods, and the potential to be used by Hackensack and Maywood for outdoor environmental education programs.  The garden would be one component of the system.

Another project still on the back burner is a foot-bridge over Coles Brook from Woodland Avenue in Maywood.  There is a non-wetland mound on the Hackensack side, so the short span could be built without impacting wetlands. This would allow students from the Maywood Avenue school to walk straight down Elm Street to Borg's Woods. Borg's Woods is about 200 feet from the end of Elm Street. It's about 6 blocks, an acceptable distance to walk.  No need for a school bus.  In the past, students from the Nellie K. Parker School have walked a longer distance to Borg's Woods for 1/2 day field trips. 

Lack of adequate access from Maywood remains an issue 13 years after the preservation of the land.  And there was no shortage of supporters from Maywood during the campaign to preserve the land.  Their support should count for something.  More access means a greater constituency of people who care for the woods, and to look out for it's interests. 

Today's kids are tomorrow's homeowners, let's get them thinking about caring about the environment, and not just Borg's Woods.  These cleanup events and any future science programs established by the school systems are exactly what is needed to get kids to be concerned about the environment. Wasn't that the purpose of preserving Borg's Woods ? It was more than the animals and the trees, it was for our kids and for the future.

Hackensack History / Re: Hackensack NJ Orphanage on Essex St.?
« on: April 16, 2007, 12:02:25 PM »
Perhaps it was the Conkin Youth Center. But perhaps not.  The reason I express doubts is that I am unaware that the Conklin Center was ever a Catholic-run facility.

The Newman Boys School (SW corner of Essex and Polifly Road), was definately run by Catholics.  Some or all of the large sprawling wood-frame complex may (or may not) have been used as an orphanage in latter years.  Not sure when that was torn down? The land has had several uses, including the "Player's Club". It's now a Rite Aid with a condo under construction.

I don't have a firm answer, but I think this is noteworthy speculation.

Hackensack History / Re: Maplecrest Beach
« on: April 16, 2007, 11:57:59 AM »
My parents, who grew up in Bergenfield in the 1950's, remember this place. 

As late as the 1950's, the main road from Bergenfield to Hackensack went over the old wood-plank bridge at the Steuben House.  All the kids from Bergenfield (and other towns) would congregate on Main Street in Hackensack.  My understanding is that they would take a BUS to Hackensack, and often hitch-hike back to Bergenfield.  This sounds fairly absurd. Nowadays, kids do neither.

Maplecrest Beach can be seen on old USGS (US Geological Survey) maps. This was not a natural feature, but a hole excavated to a level below the water table, and lined with sand.  The water may have come from the ground, but to call it a a "spring" would not be accurate.  But I'm sure it made for a great marketing ploy by the management.

I believe the exact location ran from Hackensack Ave to the Staples store.  But check an old USGS map to be sure.

Well, it's about time. Perhaps this summer, we'll have a continuous completed pathway from the Anderson Street Bridge through FDU and the Bergen Tech complex. The Johnson Park segment was completed last year, and so far it is too short to attract much use.

The longer the whole project becomes, the MORE it will be used.  That's a fact, and that's been the experience of other riverfront walkways in New Jersey and other states. Let's see if this new stretch is long enough to attract a good sized constituency of users.  My gut feeling is that it will be heavily used only when it connects to the New Bridge Landing / Von Steuben House area.  Then you'll have over 2 miles of continuous path. 

A rough walking path currently exists linking the rear of the Bergen Tech campus under Route 4 to Hackensack River County Park, which is behind the Shops At Riverside.  It's rough, but passable for pedestrians and hikers. This will allow the more hardy users the ability to walk from the Anderson Street Bridge to the Hackensack River County Park.

I've long believed that linking the New Bridge Landing to Hackensack River County Park is the highest priority segment along the entire river south of the Oradell Reservoir, and it's frustrating that the County is dragging their feet on this segment, and making it a 2nd or 3rd phase.  From a county-wide perspective, t should have been the FIRST PHASE.  There's NOTHING there but vacant land behind the radio towers and a very wide swath of wooded land behind the Timeplex property.  There is almost a half mile of riverfront, with only two owners. You almost couldn't ask for an easier section to purchase and build.  Yet nothing is happening.

This pathway link under Route 4 was opened by volunteer efforts sometime around November of 2006.  In previous times, it's been open from 1991 to 1994, during the heyday of the now-defunct Hackensack River Pathway Committee. This link quickly become impassable with the growth of Phragmites reeds if it is not regularly maintained.

South of the Anderson Street Bridge, the city is "studying" the link between Johnson and Foschini Parks since 1990. Something happened about a year ago that delayed the project going out to bid, perhaps objections from the NJDEP over the deficiency in the required pathway width.  I haven't been able to get a straight answer on it. I know that a few of the businesses have objected. However, if the city can (and has) condemned whole square blocks for redevelopment by eminent domain, taking the narrow rear strips behind those businesses shouldn't be such a serious obstacle.

Other major links in the works include redevelopment of the 7-acre Mazda dealership at River and Berry Streets (that 97 unit townhouse community will include the pathway, IF it is ever built), the possible redevelopment of the entire Record campus, redevelopment of the oil tank yards just south of Route 80, and the redevelopment of the abandoned Fuji photo factory. The latter project is currently before the Planning Board.

Pretty soon, the only major obstacles will be south of the city DPW, notably the J. Fletcher Creamer property and the self-storage facility. In some bizarre way, the project is just starting AND almost complete, all at the same time.

Also, it is important to note that the Spotless Auto Wash was approved for expansion CONDITIONAL upon them completing their link of the pathway.  A lot of wheeling and dealing has gone on, and the net result is that such groundbreaking never occurred. The Zisa administration was somehow responsible for allowing a "delay" in the Spotless pathway segment, which has now become the new status quo. Under no circumstances should they ever by "off the hook" in terms of their financial responsibility for this segment.

Ditto for the Ice House.  There is a little-known 20 year agreement with the former administration regarding construction of that segment.  Richard Salkin has the agreement. About 15 years has gone by already.  Money has been allocated and moved around, and who knows where it is now. And if the city doesn't move on it within 5 years, the Ice House will be "off the hook" regarding constructing their pathway. This would be in VIOLATION of stated NJDEP regulations.

The NJDEP does not issue approvals for projects along the Hackensack River unless it is a "water-dependant use", which in this case means any redevelopment WITH a public access pathway.I would strongly encourage ANY CONCERNED PARTY, including investigative reporters at The Record, to contact the State Attorney General's office and the highest levels of the NJDEP to ascertain why these two major sections of the pathway have been forever "delayed" and never built.  It's an absolute outrage.

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