Articles Archive for March 2014
Housing for our seniors and residents with special needs is a very important topic for our future and as such it was contemplated by the new Englewood Master Plan.
I have called upon our Housing Authority to create a detailed plan for the future that will address the needs of our senior and special needs individuals. Now that we have taken the first step I am looking forward to making this dream – affordable quality housing for seniors and those with special needs – a reality.
The following press release gives greater detail on that plan and its underpinnings. I ask you to stay tuned as we take the next important steps in this process.
Mayor Frank Huttle
Huttle Calls on Englewood Housing Authority to Help Spearhead Ambitious New Housing Projects
Mayor Moving Forward with Plans Laid out in New Master Plan for Senior and Special Needs Housing
ENGLEWOOD – Mayor Frank Huttle III today called on the Englewood Housing Authority to support his vision for affordable, quality housing for seniors and residents with special needs as part of the comprehensive blueprint for Englewood’s future that he recently laid out in the city’s new master plan.
“Our new master plan is essentially a road map for Englewood for decades to come,” said Huttle. “In order for it to be effective, it needs to represent the needs of Englewood’s diverse community. Affordable housing for seniors and special needs individuals is crucial to ensuring that everyone can live and age in our community as self-sufficiently as possible.”
A recent report put out by the non-profit, nonpartisan organization New Jersey Future considered four key development characteristics when evaluating municipalities that enable older residents to accomplish their daily activities without having to drive long distances on busy regional roads – density of destinations, presence of a mixed-use downtown, existence of a well-connected street network and access to public transportation. The report also found that half the places in Bergen and Passaic County that have the most aging-friendly features lack adequate types of housing for older residents.
“While Englewood ranks high in all four of these characteristics, we have a challenge to confront, like many other municipalities throughout the state – we must prioritize the development of housing that accommodates the needs of older residents and allows them to ‘age in place.’ We shouldn’t wait until the crisis is on our doorstep. It’s time to start planning and acting now,” added Huttle.
With that in mind, Huttle hopes to see a new senior housing building constructed at relatively little cost to the city, perhaps by joining with non-profit developers and utilizing tax credit incentives. He also hopes to couple this vision with a smaller project of 8 to 12 units for adults with special needs.
In order to make these plans a reality, Huttle hopes to create public-private partnerships and maximize existing benefits under federal and state programs.
“Our goals have been laid out in the Master Plan and now it’s time to set them in motion. I hope the Englewood Housing Authority will embrace these goals and help spearhead these projects as we move forward,” added Huttle.
Huttle noted that Englewood is comprised of residents of all ages, with roughly 10 percent of households consisting of someone 65 years or older living alone, according to the 2010 census. Equally significant is that nearly 30 percent of the population is aged 45-64, meaning the demand for affordable senior housing will increase significantly over the next several decades.
“Lifelong residents should have options to continue to live and enjoy living in Englewood and should not be pushed out of the city as they age because of affordability,” added Huttle.
Huttle also noted that there are approximately 40,000 individuals with special needs in New Jersey. With roughly 8,000 of these individuals in need of housing at the moment, New Jersey is facing a crisis that will only worsen as existing state-run developmental centers are in the process of being closed by the administration.
“People who live in supportive housing pay taxes, shop and work in local stores, and contribute to the vibrancy of our community. This is the right thing to do for our neighbors with special needs and an important step in addressing a deep need within our community,” said Huttle.
In case you missed it, I have provided a link here to an article published in the Bergen Record regarding the proposed expansion of the Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Line on the Northern Branch and terminating in Englewood at the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
Englewood had been continuously involved in the planning of this new option since 2012 and earlier when the City together with the Englewood Economic Development Corporation, as coordinated by the Mayor’s office, submitted a comment to the DEIS version under review at that time. Those comments formed the basis of many of the changes now being made. Englewood has and continues to consult with NJ Transit as the project moves forward.
I have also attached a map of the newly proposed Northern Branch Expanded Rail Line for your reference. Please stay tuned for further details and developments on this exciting new project.
Mayor Frank Huttle
Please click here for the map of the proposed Northern Branch line nbcorridormap
I have pasted an Opinion Editorial piece written by myself and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop expressing our opinion that the time to bring Passenger Service back to the Northern Branch of the Hudson/Bergen Light Rail is now.
As you may know, the restoration of Passenger Rail Service has been discussed for over a decade. Englewood has been actively working on not only making this project shovel ready but also the best it can be. That is why Mayor Fulop and I founded the Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission which will be a single focused entity that will unify each of the independent municipalities of the line together and speak with one voice. It will coordinate ground-up planning and consultation between the local government entities within each municipality, both counties and amongst stakeholders while providing a direct conduit to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project.
I encourage you to read the piece and also to stay tuned for more developments.
Mayor Frank Huttle
Opinion: Why we need to act on Hudson-Bergen light rail now
MARCH 24, 2014, 4:35 PM
BY STEVEN FULOP AND FRANK HUTTLE III
Steven Fulop is mayor of Jersey City and Frank Huttle III is mayor of Englewood. Both are Democrats.
ANYONE who lives in northern New Jersey knows that commuting – by car, bus or rail — is a universally unpleasant topic. While it is central to our daily lives, the everyday traffic jams and crowded trains frequently leave us in the breakdown lane.
This shouldn’t be the case, especially when considering the high cost of living in Bergen and Hudson counties.
We need a transportation system that meets the needs of our communities while at the same time improving our regional economy. Moving forward with plans for the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line into Bergen County should be an immediate priority for Governor Christie and the State legislature.
NJ Transit began operating the first segment of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail — currently only in Hudson County — in Jersey City in 2000 and expanded the system to 21 miles over the next 11 years serving approximately 44,000 weekday passengers. But it has yet to become what planners originally envisioned, which is a regional transportation network connecting two of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey – Bergen and Hudson – to one another and to New York City.
The long-talked about light rail expansion would ease traffic congestion for commuters, create thousands of jobs and spur added economic development in both counties. Since there is no rail option in eastern Bergen, new investment in transportation should be in the form of public transit, which is why the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen line makes so much sense.
Studies show that federal investment in transit will create jobs and boost the economy. A 2009 study by the American Public Transportation Association found that for each billion spent on public transit, as many as 41,000 jobs are created. This same investment in public transit would also generate as much as $3.8 billion annually in business sales further enhancing the economy.
This expansion will help many Bergen residents. In fact, unique to our area, commuters of all income levels use mass transit. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in most major American cities there is a huge gap between the median income of residents and ridership on public transit. Not so in New York City and northern New Jersey, where the median income essentially matches the average income of the mass transit rider.
More efficient workers
In addition, by improving our transportation network, less time is spent commuting, making workers more efficient. Saving just 15 minutes on employees’ commutes equates to a 12 percent increase in productivity in their 40 hour work weeks.
To help advance this expansion, we have formed a mayors’ commission representing all 12 municipalities with present and future Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service to provide direct dialogue to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project. We fully intend to show the value in beginning to build the line into Bergen County.
Funded with a combination of state and federal dollars, the final cost of the Hudson portion of the project was approximately $2.2 billion and was one of the largest public works projects ever in New Jersey. It would only cost half of that amount – approximately $900 million – to expand the line into Bergen County, increase the volume of riders and improve our transportation network.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, recently testified before the State Senate Transportation Committee’s hearing on the extension of the line, and advocated for the use of the federal New Starts program, which can provide up to a 50:50 match with state funding. Pascrell noted “it is critical that planning be expedited — every day we wait is another day for other projects across the nation to jump ahead of New Jersey in the federal queue.”
Role for private sector
We agree. We also believe there is a role for the private sector to play in supporting the line. In Jersey City, for instance, developers are paying the nearly $12 million cost of a new station because of the importance the new stop means to their projects. In Englewood, the city has partnered with NJ Transit and Englewood Hospital to build an End of the Line parking lot on the hospital’s land. Partnerships with the private sector should be pursued at other locations in Bergen County where the rail line will enhance the value of adjacent properties, spurring new development.
It’s time to stop hoping and start acting to make the Bergen part of the Hudson-Bergen line a reality. There are federal and private dollars to pay for a substantial portion of the project. Governor Christie needs to show his support and call for this line as well.
For those of you who may not have seen it, I have attached a flyer on a program being offered by the City of Englewood Health Department on the Affordable Care Act. Enrolling in the Affordable Care Act is a fast and affordable way to make sure you have health coverage. There are plans available for all different budgets and needs.
The program will take place beginning today, March 24th through March 27th and again on March 31st from 4PM to 8PM in the Englewood Recreation Center (the Liberty School) 12 Tenafly Road.
See the attached flyer for further details.
Mayor Frank Huttle
I have pasted below a Press Release announcing the Formation of the Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission to be co-chaired by myself and Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City.
Please stay tuned for more news on this exciting development.
Mayor Frank Huttle
MAYOR HUTTLE ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF MAYORS COMMISSION TO FINALLY MAKE LIGHT RAIL A REALITY FOR BERGEN COUNTY
Bi-County Commission will be Co-Chaired by Huttle and Jersey City Mayor Fulop
ENGLEWOOD – Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle III today announced the formation of a mayors’ commission to spearhead an ambitious plan to extend the long-awaited northern portion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line through Bergen County.
The Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission will be co-chaired by Huttle and Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop and is comprised of all of the mayors from Hudson and Bergen counties representing towns along the rail line and its proposed extension, as follows:
Mayor Frank Huttle III of Englewood
Mayor Steven M. Fulop of Jersey City
Mayor James Rotundo of Palisades Park
Mayor Anthony Suarez of Ridgefield
Mayor Vincent Bellucci, Jr. of Fairview
Mayor Nicolas Sacco of North Bergen
Mayor Felix Roque of West New York
Mayor Brian Stack of Union City
Mayor Richard F. Turner of Weehawken
Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken
Mayor John DeSimone of Leonia
Mayor Mark Smith of Bayonne
The Commission will be a single focused entity which will unify each of the independent municipalities of the line together and speak with one voice. It will coordinate ground-up planning and consultation between the local government entities within each municipality, both counties and amongst stakeholders while providing a direct conduit to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project.
The move comes on the heels of the city’s recent adoption of a comprehensive new master plan that places a high priority on extending the light rail line through Bergen County and ending in Englewood in order to foster economic development and smart growth in one of the most densely-populated areas of the state.
“Hudson and Bergen counties are fully developed and host mature economies,” said Mayor Huttle. “For the most part, it’s not feasible to build new roads, bridges or tunnels for people to get to work between Hudson, Bergen and New York City. New Jersey is still struggling to rebound from the recession and lags behind New York and Pennsylvania in job growth. We need improvements in our transportation infrastructure to grow and create jobs in New Jersey and improve the quality of life for area residents. Light rail will do just that.”
“We have seen the success the Light Rail has had in stimulating residential and commercial development in Jersey City and Hudson County, and know that a full expansion into Bergen County will only benefit Jersey City and add to commerce in our region,” said Mayor Fulop. “Providing more northern New Jersey residents access into Jersey City and Hudson County is good for development, job growth and small business alike. This Commission will allow mayors along the route to have a more active role in this important transit system and its future growth.”
The restoration of passenger rail service to the Northern Branch of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Line has been under discussion for years. Huttle noted that Englewood has been working extensively with NJ Transit in recent years to hone the project to adequately meet the needs of the eastern Bergen County region it is intended to serve.
Chief among Englewood’s concerns in a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) created by NJ Transit were a potential loss of roughly 128 on-street parking spots in the city’s central business district and the exclusion of a stop at Englewood Medical Center.
During the official comment period on the DEIS, Englewood proposed in a letter that the last stop on the line be Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and that there be two other stops in the city at Englewood Town Center and Route 4.
NJ Transit has been receptive to Englewood’s concerns and not only agreed to restore the parking spaces, but under the DEIS the transit agency finally approved last May, proposed stations now include: 91st Street in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, Englewood Route 4, Englewood Town Center and Englewood Hospital.
“The light rail service, if accomplished properly, will transform the region for the better, easing congestion, raising property values and providing myriad other benefits,” added Huttle. “A coordination of planning and consultation between local government entities will ensure the light rail service will be the best it can be.”
To this end, Englewood has already begun the process of gathering the municipalities of the light rail service line in a collaborative group that will not only coordinate individual municipal planning but will also serve as a repository of institutional knowledge over what will certainly be a long planning and build process.
The Mayors Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Commission will serve as a semi-permanent body to fulfill the needs of the line communities, individually and collectively, through the following primary objectives:
1. Connection of the two largest and most congested counties in New Jersey to promote transportation to and from Englewood to North Bergen, Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne, as well as NYC;
2. Creation of jobs and development along the line connecting all residents living in Bergen County to Hudson County and NYC; and
3. Focus on economic growth.
The Commission is timely formed because of the imminent finalization by NJTransit of the DEIS and Supplemental DEIS which should be completed by the Summer of 2015.
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Please see article in today’s Suburbanite entitled “Library board seeks increase in 2014 city budget” on pg 5.
One of my 2014 goals was to work with the trustees to engage top notch consultants to help with the update of new technology.
Englewood library board seeks increase in 2014 city budget
Thursday, March 13, 2014
BY STEPHANIE NODA
Northern Valley Suburbanite
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ENGLEWOOD – Library officials are requesting an increase of $87,000 in their budget for upgraded technology, pay for contract services and legal fees.
During a Feb. 19 budget meeting, Katherine Glynn, president of the library board of trustees, requested a $144,000 increase. However, library officials later revised their request to $86,980 after discovering their calculations were incorrect.
Trustees would use $43,980 to cover contract services, $30,000 for technology upgrades, and $13,000 for legal fees associated with negotiating for new union contracts, HVAC maintenance and cleaning contracts.
City Manager Tim Dacey allocated $2,105,970 for the Englewood Public Library in the administration’s proposed $60 million budget, the same amount the library received last year and $533,218 more than the state minimum that is required. This amount includes the extra $70,000 that the council added into the library budget last year when library officials had requested an increase.
Dacey has also budgeted for various capital improvement to the library building, including somewhere between $150,000 to $160,000 for a new roof, $45,000 to $60,000 to re-do the main entrance and $10,000 to $20,000 for engineering for drainage improvements.
Library Director Catherine Wolverton said 12 of the library’s approximate 20 computers work at a given time.
“The keyboards are falling apart, even the staff PCs” said Wolverton. “I’ve been bringing my laptop from home because the computer at my desk has been broken for two months.”
In 2013, the library hosted 75,092 computer sessions where residents could research, do homework, access social services, job searching and homeschooling, according to numbers from Wolverton.
“We have a lot of people who come in and we really want to provide [them] with the resources they deserve that are going to allow them to get the results that they need,” said Wolverton.
She was particularly passionate about replacing computers in the children’s room which has two “very old” PCs. While some parents, like Wolverton, are able to send their young children to daycares that immerse children in technology, many parents don’t have this opportunity.
“We want to make sure we have the same technology that they use in the schools, so the kids have parity between school and the library,” said Wolverton. “Right now, our technology is really out of date and our infrastructure is basically none existent.”
In addition to replacing computers, Wolverton would like toimplement a computer and print management system for the library’s public PCs, which would help reallocate staff to help more library patrons.
Mayor Frank Huttle III said one of his goals for 2014 was to work with the trustees to “move the library forward to the best that they can be.” To address the need for technology, Huttle said the board was looking to engage “top notch strategic consultants” to put together a computer replacement plan.
The strategic plan would require $25,000, which is allocated in library’s budget. Consultants would construct the document much like the Master Plan process that the city just undertook, said Wolverton.
The report, which will “address the question of the evolving role of a library in the 21st century,” will examine current library services and research if there are any gaps in how the library serves “different segments of our diverse communities,” said Wolverton.
“This report provides an opportunity for our residents to have a voice in building a better library for Englewood and Englewood Cliffs,” said Wolverton.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
Please see article in the March 6, 2014 Suburbanite entitled:
“Revisions to city’s master plan get OK’d”
I am happy to announce that the Planning Board adopted the 2013 master plan on February 20th. This document was updated early to reflect current times.
Englewood Planning Board approves changes to master plan
Thursday, March 6, 2014
BY STEPHANIE NODA
Northern Valley Suburbanite
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ENGLEWOOD – After months of city-wide meetings, the Planning Board adopted the 2013 master plan on Feb. 20.
Planning Board members voted 6-1 to approve the plan, with Curtis Caviness casting the sole dissenting vote.
A municipality will typically update its master plan every six years, but officials decided to update the document early to reflect current times. Mayor Frank Huttle III previously said the 2009 master plan was using “decade old census data.”
Hundreds of community members flocked to three city-wide meetings throughout the past year to give their input on what should go into the master plan, which is an outline for future growth and development.
Brown & Keener, the planner who authored the document, broke up its recommendations into five categories: Destination Downtown, My Neighborhood, Englewood South, Mobility, and Our Town.
About five people attended the meeting to adopt the master plan, while one resident spoke at the public comment.
David Popkin opposed the recommendation to create a historical commission “that has teeth.” Popkin, who lives in a home on the National Register of Historic Places, believed he should have the same rights as his neighbors to modify his home without the restrictions placed by a historical commission.
“Some 25 years ago, my eighth-grade social studies teacher made a comment: ‘you’re not the owner of your house; you’re only a temporary custodian during the limited period of time you’re on the face of the Earth,’” said Popkin. “I don’t consider that to be where I am. I pay the same taxes everyone else pays.”
Lewis Baer, a Planning Board member, said the body received a lot of public input about the advantages of having a historical commission. He said that the commission was a recommendation in the master plan, but the city council would decide whether to create the commission.
Planning Board Attorney Michael Kates added that the council could make accommodations in a potential historical commission ordinance, including possible tax abatements for the burden of maintaining a historical home.
Before the vote, Huttle discussed last minute changes to the plan that were in response to issues brought up during public comment at a master plan hearing on Jan. 23.
At the hearing, community members brought up topics ranging from the public school system, the extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, the future use of Liberty School, the feasibility of an arts district and a desire for a physical community center.
Planners added a recommendation to have the Englewood Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) take a leadership role in managing a proposed cultural arts district in the downtown centered around bergenPAC. At the master plan public hearing, some residents expressed skepticism to establishing an arts cultural district in this area.
The EEDC would create a “strategy for arts culture and industry that are to be implemented through programs, marketing, branding and real estate ventures,” said Huttle.
Another paragraph was added into the plan that promoted adding senior independent living and assisted care facilities, stating the additions would benefit the tax base and create employment opportunities.
“These independent living and assisted living facilities employ many moderate income workers who often utilize public transportation,” said Huttle, quoting the master plan.
Creating a parking authority in cooperation with the EEDC, was another recommendation added to the master plan, said Huttle.
The authority would monitor the South Dean Parking Garage and street parking in the downtown, as residents have raised concerns over the years that employees of Palisade Avenue businesses feed the meters all day preventing shoppers from using key parking spots, said Huttle.
While a number of residents expressed concerns about the public school system during the master plan public hearing, Huttle said the document “has no jurisdiction over the school system.” Despite this, a paragraph outlining the history of public school system buildings and number of enrolled students was added into the planned in response to the comments.
During the meeting, Huttle raised concerns about an added statement recommending the addition of townhomes in single-family neighborhoods with oversized lots “in specific instances.” The statement, which Huttle consider “too broad,” was removed from the plan before adoption.
“I’ll be damned if I have a sentence in here that says we’re going to build town houses in single-family neighborhoods in oversized lots,” said Huttle.
City Engineer Ken Albert, who would later agree with Huttle to remove the oversized lot statement from the plan, said if planned approximately, townhomes may offer more green space, less impervious areas and more landscaping to buffer against single-family neighborhoods.
Albert said the city also has issues with many of these large oversized lots being converted into houses of worship. There are 53 houses of worship throughout the city, said Albert.
“Houses of worship are great for neighborhoods, but because our land is less expensive than competing towns, these large lots one by one are being converted into houses of worship,” said Albert. “We have this need for town houses. The need is expanding daily.”
Huttle believed other statements in the master plan “provide pretty clear language to protect single-family neighborhoods,” but also addressed the need for townhomes. One such statement in the document addressed the prospect of town houses, saying “the city should create appropriate town house zoning in strategic locations.”
“That sentence is filled with careful planning,” said Huttle.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/248693401_Englewood_Planning_Board_approves_changes_to_master_plan.html?page=all#sthash.BFHlw5Rk.dpuf
Please see article below in today’s Suburbanite entitled: “Council takes steps to protect trees: Amends regulations that govern removing and planting.”
I am pleased that this ordinance has come to fruition as it will protect every Englewood resident.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
BY STEPHANIE NODA
Northern Valley Suburbanite
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ENGLEWOOD – With a desire to preserve trees and discourage resident clear-cutting their property, city leaders amended the law that regulations trees in the municipality.
“We want to create a culture that says we value our tree,” said Council President Lynne Algrant. “This ordinance is really helping us to do that.”
The amended ordinance, approved unanimously at the Feb. 25 council meeting, requires a tree replacement plan seven days after emergency removals, increases the diameter of replacement trees from two-and-half inches to three-and-half inches, raises tree replacement fees, limits the number of trees residents can remove without a permit, and adds an appeal process.
Mayor Frank Huttle III said he experienced the ill effects of unregulated tree cutting a few years ago when a neighbor removed about 38 trees from their land, causing flooding issues on Huttle’s property.
“This [ordinance] is something I’m very pleased has come to fruition,” said Huttle. “It will protect every residence in Englewood.”
Residents are now allowed take down two trees within a three-year time frame without a permit, when previously they could remove three trees per year.
While tree removal fees remained at $50, the amount of money residents must contribute to a tree fund in lieu of replacing trees increased from $200 to $250.
An appeal process if an applicant does not agree with the rejection or an application or conditions opposed by the city engineer was also added to the ordinance. The applicants would present the appeal to the City Manager Tim Dacey, “who at his discretion may request assistance from a representative of the Englewood Environmental Commission.”
Before the vote, Jack Silberman, a member of the Environmental Commission, said the city may gain more flexibility in placing a designated person for an appeal, such as someone from Department of Public Works, with tree experience instead of the city manager.
City Engineer Ken Albert responded that all city ordinances cite the city manager, as he is the administrative officer.
“This type of language gives the city manager flexibility to choose people and change that selection over a period of many years to a different person should the need arise without having to come constantly back with a new ordinance,” said Albert.
Kevin Lake, another member of the Environmental Commission, said while he had no objection to amending the ordinance, believed there was some language that could have “unintended consequences.”
Lake believed seven days was a “very short” period of time to file a permit and a replacement plan, instead suggested a 30-day timeframe.
“If there is an emergency, trees fall down and people deal with that and with their insurance companies,” said Lake.
Albert said that to his knowledge, no one had ever had trouble getting a replacement plan in within seven days.
While the ordinance says that emergency removals are exempt from the ordinance, it also states the residents must apply for a permit, said Lake. He suggested removing the emergency removals from exemptions to eliminate confusion, which was accepted by Albert and struck from the ordinance before the vote.
Mayor Frank Huttle III