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Messages - ericmartindale

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I saw that on Facebook.  It's short-sighted. Yes, taxes go up but you'll get it all back when you sell the house in 5, 10, or 20 years. Hackensack will be a much better place with schools that are not overcrowded, with free pre-K for 4 year olds, with a stunning "magnet" school for grades 7, 8, and 9, and with all the schools having air conditioning and security upgrades. All of that is surely worth something when you sell the house

So who's going to vote against it. Renters are going to vote "yes", and especially those with children. Homeowner families with children in the school system or soon to enter will vote "yes". Many people who plan to sell their house in a few years and retire somewhere will vote "yes" because it'll increase their house sale value. It's people who meet ALL of the following criteria that are most likely to vote against it, which are no kids in the schools, own their house, and not planning to move for at least 20 years. And some of those people will still vote YES because they are very progressive minded and want to support public education. And the vote is deliberately timed for the day after MLK Jr Day to tap into the feeling that education is a civil right.

And even then, people who are thinking of voting "No" will still flip and vote "Yes" because a No vote passes up over $40 million in State aid.

Folks, it's going to pass, and the turnout will be much higher than most people think.

I find it astounding that the famously liberal Democrat, Victor Sasson, is coming out against public education. The same liberal who blasts Christie and Trump repeatedly on his blog and supports all the most liberal Democratic politicians.

Has Victor ever thought that the value of his house would GO DOWN in a school district so overcrowded with kids that the school system eventually resorts to renting trailers for classrooms. That's what they do in the majority-Latino neighborhoods of Newark when classroom space runs out.  And by the way, you can be sure that the 3 sending districts will stop sending if the high school is absurdly overcrowded and the school has to start renting trailers. And what do you think will happen to the high school's performance and test scores if there are classes in trailers and the 3 sending districts contribution reduces even further.

Also key to the entire plan is to create a new junior high school (grades 7, 8, and 9) so prestigious and filled with new technology that it will be sort of like a magnet school. This contrasts greatly with the existing Middle School (grades 5, 6, 7, 8) that has been somewhat stigmatized for decades. Most parents in Hackensack feel that the Middle School is "the weak link", and perhaps that is not justified, unsure. In any case, that entire problem will be gone. And that's also something that affects property values.

So readers, if you don't care about your kids, and if you are not a liberal and don't care about  defending public education, vote YES to preserve the value of your house.  I think that everyone planning on selling their house within the next 5 or 10 years would be eager to vote YES, because they'll get it all back and then some when they sell their house.

Oh, and I mentioned one more thing. If the referendum passes, the State kicks in over $40 million towards the construction. If the referendum fails, lots of the work will still be done, but without any State contribution. Oh wait, that's another reason for the taxpayer-conscious voter to vote YES.

I'm not 100% on board with their decision on what and where to build, and I would have done something different, but to vote "NO" at this point would be insane.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: HUMC Expansion
« on: December 25, 2018, 01:54:55 PM »
I'm interested in Reiner's comment on the combined stormwater and sanitary sewer system.

"If a developer comes and proposes a project, then they’re going to have to fix the system along Second Street and Atlantic Street and separate out those systems so the stormwater can go into the river and the sewage can go into [the Bergen County Utilities Authority], like it’s supposed to," Reiner said at the meeting.

To me this is a good sign that people are now thinking in the right direction. I have long advocated that the best way and cheapest way to solve this problem is to get stormwater out of the system, not build a new sanitary sewer system with literally thousands of major plumbing connections. The number of storm sewer grates draining into the combined system is only in the dozens. I continue to believe that a major discharge pipe can be built from the vicinity of Railroad Ave direct to the river, and it will drain east by gravity.  It would be relatively shallow at Railroad Ave, and pretty deep around State Street, but that's OK. As long as it is fairly straight, at good 5' in diameter, and drains by gravity, it will work.

Yes irons35, and there were two incidents in Hackensack within the past 20 years in which buildings being demolished fell unexpectedly.  One was on Newman Street and Atlantic, the demolition to prepare for the parking tower. They were demolishing one end of the building and they didn't have the sidewalk blocked off at the other end, along Newman Street. The west end of the building then collapsed onto Newman Street, and could have killed people if they were walking there. The other was during the construction of the Ice Quad. The plan was to take off the roof and leave the 4 walls, and then rebuild from there to create the Ice Quad. High winds caused at least one of the 4 walls to completely collapse.

I notice something on the city's promotion of the project that will infuriate the future tenants of this complex. And that is: "Amenity Space that may be converted to retail". I can tell you from being a tenant leader in Newark for 10 years that this is WAY BEYOND extremely objectionable. The builder is going to have some kind of temporary amenity, perhaps a fitness center or an oversized luxurious lobby, in order to lure in all the tenants at high rent, and then as soon as the building is filled and they have great rent roll coming in, they are going to screw the tenants and remove that amenity that they treasure. And then the tenants don't get a rent reduction for the loss. It's really VERY obnoxious and objectionable for a builder to do this. The city Zoning and Planning Boards should never allow or encourage that, and in fact, the reverse should be true. Approvals for construction should REQUIRE that amenities remain. And if a builder provides security guards in the lobby, they should be required to keep them. The most tremendous tenant movement in Newark all started with amenity reduction, and it culminated with the city council being pressured to adopt the strongest rent control ordinance in the United States.

I attended last night's forum. 90% of what is planned is really excellent.  The best part of the plan is that the High School will essentially be a double campus covering 6 grades. The existing buildings will be grades 10-12 instead of 9-12, and that will free up space for growth (even though enrollment was higher than now in the 1970's). The new buildings will be built along American Legion Drive and Comet Way for grades 7-9. That will include all the 9th graders from the sending districts in what is being billed as "the 9th grade academy". This will be a State-of-the-Art school with everything modern and high-tech, and I susepct it will be extremely attractive to the 3 sending districts. The kids will be very eager to attend it, and more parents will say "yes" to this option. The presenters expressed serious concern that magnet schools will be draining away our best kids in the future, so this new school will be competition and function as it's own kind of magnet.

All schools in Hackensack will be getting air conditioning and security upgrades. Every one will have a single point of entry and there will be street improvements for drop-off purposes. Most or all bathrooms will be modernized.

Hackensack will have free pre-school for all kids that are 4 years old by October 1st. There are about 800, and currently only about 300 are enrolled due to space issues, and it's all the way in the South Ward at the old St. Francis school. They are renting from the Catholic Archdioscese

The 4 lower elementary schools are currently K-4, which is 5 grades, and maxed out for space. They will become Pre-K to 2, which is 4 grades. Having 1 grade less per building frees up space, just a little, for future growth.

A large parking garage for students and teachers will be built along Comet Way. They are discussing with the City Council about widening Comet Way and making it 2-way, but that is not finalized. They are also eliminating the eastern block of American Legion Drive (the city council is doing that), and adding it as green space to the school campus to help compensate for the loss of one athletic field. Kathy Salvo was there asking them fencing off space on the roof of the new building for school recreation purposes, and they said the architect will consider that.

Some of the savings:
1. The school system will no longer be spending $700,000 a year to rent that space from the Archdioscese, which over the cost of 30 years would be $21 million. Actually more because that cost will probably go up every year. So it's fair to say at least $26 million. (FYI, the Board of Education is doing a bad job talking up this aspect of the savings by not multiplying it out over 30 years and explaining that on their literature)
2. If this is all approved in the Referendum, the State of NJ will kick in $41 million.  So that's $67 million
3. There are additional efficiency savings, the presenters said.

My outstanding concern was that all kids grades 3-6 from Hackensack will have to attend one school (currently the Middle School). The presenters said that the modern educational needs of pre-school and kindergarten kids is "so vastly different" from that of 5th and 6th graders that it no longer makes sense to put them all in the same building. 

They said they have thought for years about shrinking the district sizes for the existing 4 elementary schools so there will be space for the existing grades, and then building a new school somewhere in central or south-central Hackensack. They couldn't do it, they couldn't make the numbers work. I tell you what, they can pay me $30,000 and give me all the enrollment data. It might take me some time, but I could do it, I'm sure.

What I think will happen in the future is that the school enrollment will continue to grow, and they will STILL be forced to build another new school in Hackensack, somewhere near Kansas Street. That could be a Middle School South, for Jackson and Hillers. And the existing Middle School would be a Middle School North for Nellie K. Parker and Fairmount. Or perhaps, since the old Middle School is pretty huge, it would nibble a bit into the territory of the South elementary schools. My $30K offer stands on the table, in a few years when they are ready to think about this again. I am sure I could do it.

Also, if I was on the Board of Education, I would immediately use eminent domain to seize and purchase the Cinelli Brothers metal recycling property off of Lodi Street. That way the Board of Education would own a piece of property for future school construction, and it would be just about where it needs to be geographically. They could then lease the property out to Cinelli or anyone else with a similar business plan. The cost of buying that property, spread out over 30 years, would probably be less than the annual rent from Cinelli. They should consult with the appropriate realtor on this, see if the numbers work. The property might be rented out for 10 years or more before any school construction occurs.

The plan to build a new elementary school on a high school athletic field should be considered a loss of open space. It's more than just a loss of recreation for the students.

I also feel that the school system is moving in the opposite direction of neighborhood-based schools. Decades ago, all children K-5 went to schools in their own neighborhood, or reasonably close. The logic was that 6th graders are old enough to walk to or from school on their own, so if they had to walk a mile or two, that was considered acceptable.

Then, all 5th grade classes were consolidated into the Five-6 school on the Middle School campus. So now you have kids a year younger having to walk very far.

Now the Board of Education wants to take that same approach for younger and younger kids. Now they want even 3rd and 4th graders from all over the city to attend a single school. They are essentially forcing all parents to drive their kids to and from school. I am remarried with a 5-year old, and living in Maywood. Thinking of buying a house in Hackensack, which is more affordable than the suburban towns, but I would then be subjected to these education logistics and having to purchase another automobile. The Board of Education should not be complicating people's lives with education logistics.

There are multiple problems with education logistics.

1. First is that it complicates the ability of parents to have employment. The potential employment of at least one parent (sometimes there is ONLY one parent) now has to work around driving a child to and from school. So that leaves not enough daytime hours to work full-time.

2. Second, if there are children in more than one school, the logistics are even worse.

3. Third, not everyone has a car, or perhaps they only have one car and the spouse who works full-time with a good-paying job is using it all day.

4. Lots of parents without cars walk their younger kids to school. It's too much to expect them to walk their small child miles across town. Especially in the cold, in the rain, in light snow when there is no snow day.

All of this really makes life difficult for families in Hackensack. It's totally anti-civic. Maybe this is being done deliberately to discourage families with children from living in Hackensack. And if that is the case, (unsure) that would be simply terrible public policy.

The Board of Education is moving in the opposite direction. They need to go back to having all kids K-5 educated in neighborhood schools, or perhaps K-6. If that means expanding them, expand. If that means building a new school somewhere in the center of Hackensack, do it.  If that means to change the boundaries of the elementary schools, do it. The boundaries are non-sensical, having been gerrymandered for racial balance reasons at least 40 years ago, and those demographic issues no longer exist. All of Hackensack is thoroughly mixed. There are Latino's and African-Americans all over Hackensack, in every neighborhood.

Or even better, make all neighborhood elementary schools K-6, and perk the boundaries to make the enrollment numbers vs. available classroom space work. I bet grades 7-8 can fit in the old Middle school building, which was designed for 6-8. The current Five6 school can become a K-6 school for the Park Street area Hackensack, and lower Anderson Street, and moving outwards a few blocks as needed to fill up the school.

There would still be the need to build one new school, I would say somewhere in the area of Kansas Street. 

The Hackensack School system should be moving in the direction of neighborhood-based schools, and not in the direction of parents having to drive little kids all over Hackensack.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Clinton Place Halloween Decorations
« on: November 22, 2018, 09:55:01 PM »
Since this website is being billed mostly as a local history site, maybe you should change the name from to

Hackensack Discussion / Re: School safety, guns, etc...
« on: November 21, 2018, 08:59:45 PM »
HUNDREDS OF OUTSIDER STUDENTS AT HHS. My step-daughter is a senior at Hackensack High School. She says there are "hundreds" of students who live in other cities that either drive or take a bus to attend Hackensack High School. "There five from Garfield, that I know of". She says there's dozens each from Paterson and Passaic, and a few from Englewood and Bogota. Even 2 or 3 from Teaneck.  She says just a few of them are athletes that were given permission or their coach pulled some strings to get them in, and the vast majority are just here illegally. 

Most either use relatives addresses for the registration, or they used to live in Hackensack and moved, but continue to use their old address.

I guess the word is out that Hackensack is really lax on this front, and you can get away with it.  Just like some people want America to have "open borders", perhaps some administrators in the high school want an open border concept for students from other places to attend HHS.

This is important because Hackensack is spending money to build another school. And if there are really that many extra kids in Hackensack High School, that's a taxpayer issue in its own right.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Clinton Place Halloween Decorations
« on: November 19, 2018, 10:38:19 PM »
Today I saw something paranormal on the Halloween block of Clinton Place. Absolutely out of mainstream science, and cannot be explained.  No, I'm not going into details, only that it can be categorized as a reddit, and it happened in the street in front of the vacant lot just west of Prospect Ave. Now, the story gets more interesting. I tell what I saw to a group of three people, and one of them keeps interrupting me and completing my story. He has seen something similar on Clinton Place.  It happened to him a half-block away. Something weird is going on.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Vote Tuesday: Open Space Referendum
« on: November 07, 2018, 01:16:43 PM »
Great news on the landslide voter support for this initiative.  I'm going to try and appear before the Hackensack Environmental Commission and try to get support for either direct acquisition or conservation easement on the 3 hill lots adjacent to Borg's Woods, especially the one closest to Fairmount Avenue, which people think has street frontage to Fairmount Ave, but it does not. 

My guess is that the three lot owners would probably prefer a conservation easement, if they want preservation at all. And one with a guarantee that no trails will be lain out on the lots. At least a conservation easement will be less money to come up with. I'm guessing a few hundred thousand, tops, will be enough. In 1995, two other hill lots totally 1.0 acres were added to the land preserved in 1994, and those lots totalled $91,000. In 1994 money.  Land is worth more now, I'd say.

One of the owners is the house on Summit Ave that just spent a few hundred thousand on rehab (Summit west side near Poplar Ave), and recently cut down all the huge Sweetgums on the front yard. They are the most magnificient fall foliage tree in our area, and it was a loss for the beauty of Summit Ave. This house owns the "fenced lot" along the trail that parallels the ridge.  I am most doubtful of this owner, but you never know.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Hackensack Transit Connector
« on: November 07, 2018, 02:26:50 AM »
Nice find.  Yes, it looks like a resurrection of the former shuttle route, but I'm betting that it will run up State Street instead of Main Street, because NJ Transit is removing all buses from Main Street, and moving them to State Street, as part of the 2-way conversion project.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Hackensack Transit Connector
« on: November 02, 2018, 05:19:25 AM »
Sounds like a resurrection of the once-popular shuttle that ran Main Street, Anderson Street, Prospect Ave, and Essex Street. Joseph Campagna and myself headed up that effort so many years ago, starting around 1993, and the proposal was part of the whole plan to revitalize the business community by bringing large-scale residential development to the downtown center.

There were lots of things that went wrong with the original shuttle, including them breaking down too often, making it free instead of charging something nominal, and not implementing the advertising plan as originally proposed. I guess it's time to try again.

Does anyone know, what is the new route ?

Hackensack Discussion / Re: 153 Main Street fire
« on: October 28, 2018, 09:27:54 PM »
Hackensack has lost ANOTHER building of significant historic character, one that I had long hoped would be someday restored to it's original glory.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Teterboro Airport
« on: September 21, 2018, 06:52:07 AM »
yes, Homer, I remember that one.  One of many downtown proposals that sat gathering dust.  The one I was talking about for Banta Place extending eastwards was much older, and it was something I found while researching things. It wasn't a current news story I experienced. 

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