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[24 Feb 2017 | No Comment | 34 views]

Dear Residents,

It is once again time for the City Council to adopt an annual budget – a document that may seem abstract to many, but has real, everyday consequences for each and every resident of our City.
This year I’m gravely concerned because despite my warnings last year, the ill-advised decision to use one-time revenue from the sale proceeds of a City property, the Liberty School, to plug a budget hole has come back to haunt us.

Unless the City Council takes immediate action to cut spending, residents could be facing a nearly unprecedented 7.5 percent hike in property taxes.
To me this is simply unacceptable so I sent a letter to each Council member outlining a number of steps that must be taken to ward off this crisis. For a look at the bigger picture, you can read my full letter below.

We have come too far in recent years to simply turn our backs on sound financial planning. We adopted a historic, new Master Plan that provides an exciting blueprint for our future, ratables continue to grow, and we are poised to witness nearly $200 million in new tax assessments and over $3 million in new annual tax revenues this year and the next two years through exciting new development. This added revenue will reduce the tax burden on residential homes.

Your help is crucial to continue this progress. Please take a moment to call or email your Council Member and urge them to take the steps I have outlined to cut spending and roll back this massive, proposed tax hike (click for email):

Councilman Charles Cobb (At Large)
Councilman Marc Forman (Ward 1)
Councilman Michael Cohen (Ward 2)
Councilman Eugene Skurnick (Ward 3)
Councilman Wayne Hamer (Ward 4)

No crisis is too big if we tackle it together.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

Mayor Huttle – Letter to Council on 2017 Budget (2.24.2017)

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[28 Aug 2015 | No Comment | 44 views]

Dear Residents,

I’m pleased to be able to invite you to the Hispanic Heritage Festival being held at Depot Square Park on Saturday, September 19th from 11AM to 4PM. Join us for live music, vendors and local restaurants, dance exhibitions, artists and a lot of other fun family activities!

Following the afternoon’s activities there will be a special performance by Grupo Niche at bergePAC at 8PM. Tickets are available at the bergenPAC box office now.

Please see the flyer below for further information on this exciting event. I hope to everyone there for this great event to bring in the Fall season.

Regards,
Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[18 Jan 2015 | No Comment | 13 views]

Dear Residents:

I was pleased to attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. ceremony at Englewood’s Mt. Calvary Baptist Church on Friday, January 16, 2015.

Congratulations to honorees who have displayed the “spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. “: Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz, Filmmaker Kobie Brown, Bergen County Links and Community Leader Javalada Power. Speaker: Rev. Michael Waldron was indeed very moving.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle, III

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[12 Sep 2014 | No Comment | 5 views]

Dear Residents:

Please see article from today’s NJ.com on N.J. panel approves tougher inspection, investigation requirements to protect disabled people.

I am pleased that that the Assembly panel has approved this bill to ensure the reporting of group-home operators in regard to accusations of abuse. Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle and the entire Committee has worked hard to make this happen. An additional bill that was approved extends protection for children with developmental disabilities who are under a private agency.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle, III

Please copy and paste link below for full story.

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/09/nj_panel_approves_tougher_inspection_investigation_requirements_to_protect_disabled_people.html

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[31 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 12 views]

Dear Residents:

I have co-written a letter with the Englewood Economic Development Corporation in support for the Rt C4 proposed in a Bergen County bus rapid transit study.

Please click and copy link below for full article which appeared in The Record.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle, III

http://www.northjersey.com/news/city-urges-nj-transit-to-support-brt-line-1.1056097

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[19 Mar 2014 | No Comment | 81 views]

Dear Residents,

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.

Regards,

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:

Co-Chairs
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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[12 Feb 2014 | No Comment | 8 views]

Dear Residents,

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow, which is in effect from midnight tonight to 6am Friday, February 14, 2014. The anticipated accumulation is between 10 and 14 inches and temperatures well be in the upper 20’s.

If you are able to park in your driveways, please do so to assist in the street cleaning process. Street parking will make it extremely difficult for plows to maneuver through streets that are narrow and have snow banks from the past winter storm.

During this time, the City will be offering free overnight parking in the Downtown Parking Garage for all residents beginning tonight at 6pm until Friday, 2/14 at 6pm. Please note that the roof deck of the parking garage will be closed. There will also be additional parking in the Liberty School parking lot.

Garbage collection will also be suspended Thursday and Friday and will resume its regular schedule next week.

During the storm, the Police and Public Works Departments will be working to enforce snow parking restrictions as per City Ordinance § 25-21 Parking During Snow Accumulation. The following streets are not to be parked on while the streets are snow covered:

. Grand Avenue

. Engle Street

. Dean Street

. Palisade Avenue

. Dana Place

. Broad Avenue

. Van Brunt Street

. West & East Englewood Avenue

. Lafayette Place

. Lafayette Avenue

. West Forest Avenue

. East Linden Avenue

. Jones Road

. Lydecker Street

. Booth Avenue

. West Hudson Avenue

. Tenafly Road

. Knickerbocker Road

. Liberty Road

. Van Nostrand Avenue

. William Street

. North & South Woodland Avenue

We urge residents on the above streets to take advantage of the free garage parking. The Police Department will ensure that the ordinance is enforced which may subject those in violation to tickets, tows and/or fines.

For more information regarding the Winter Storm warning please visit www.weather.gov.

Please use extreme caution throughout the day tomorrow.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

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[28 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 1 views]
[23 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 7 views]

Dear Residents:

Please see today’s Suburbanite page 3 article:”Bond ordinance gets first round of approvals- $7.2 will help fund new fire house named after Drakeford”

This has been one of my priorities since the year 2010 and it has taken a lot of work. I am happy and pleased that the Council unanimously introduced this bond ordinance.

Please stay tuned for more to come

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

“http://www.northjersey.com/news/241595981__7_2_millon_bond_ordinance_for_new_Englewood_fire_house_gets_first_round_of_approval.html?page=all”>

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[23 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 11 views]

Dear Residents:

Please see page 1 of today’s Suburbanite: “Master Plan nears final stages: At meeting tonight, public to get official say on document”

At the Planning Board’s public hearing tonight, residents will have the opportunity to give their input. I am delighted that the Master Plan is bringing the community together as one.

Please watch for updates as they occur.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[21 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 10 views]

Dear Residents:

Please see the article in today’s Record on the Martin Luther King Day rally and march which began at City Hall and was followed by a special celebration service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Click on link below.

I was honored to attend the special celebration and to welcome Senator Cory Booker who delivered an uplifting speech to a huge crowd honoring Dr. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church. A special thanks to all of those who attended the ceremony and participated in the rally. Rev. Jovan Davis of Ebenezer introduced well known guest speaker Rev. Kenneth Darryl Ray Clayton.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

“>http://www.northjersey.com/news/North_Jersey_celebrates_Martin_Luther_King_Jr_birthday.html

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[16 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 35 views]

Dear Residents,

As Martin Luther King Day approaches this Monday, January 20th I wanted to invite you all to a special event that will commemorate the day and its importance to the entire Englewood Community. I am also pleased that our new U.S. Senator Cory Booker will attend the event and annual service.

Please join Rev. Jovan Davis, Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, at a Celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Celebration will begin at 9.30AM with a Rally on the steps of City Hall (2-10 N. Van Brunt Street) followed at 10.00AM with a March from City Hall to Ebenezer Baptist Church (216 Fourth Street, Englewood). Following the arrival at Ebenezer, the Annual Martin Luther King Day Service will begin at 11.00AM.

The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and its significance grows with every passing year. Marking the day is always important in keeping this legacy alive. As Dr. King said in his own words, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

I hope that you will join Reverend Davis, Senator Booker and me on this special day. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

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[10 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 8 views]

Dear Residents:

I was honored to present the National Council of Jewish of Women with a proclamation today at City Hall for their efforts in raising awareness in Bergen County too stop Human Trafficking.
Marcia Levy, Vice President; Elaine Pollack, Past President and Bea Podoresfsky, Chair-Human Trafficking accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Council.

The Council expressed their appreciation to Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, the author and prime sponsor of the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act whose bill was signed into law in May 2012.

NCJW Bergen County stated: “We became interested in the problem when we discovered that major sporting events such as the super bowl are associated with an increase in Human Trafficking.

We have been working in coalition with the NJ Coalition against Human Trafficking along with 70 diverse organizations since early last year to raise awareness in the Bergen County community to combat what has become the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the word.

At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced and bonded labor.

NCJW wishes to express its gratitude for the encouragement and support you have given in acting upon this request in such a timely manner. With your awareness and the awareness of other communities in Bergen County, and in the State of New Jersey and in communitities of states across the country we hope to be able to put an end to this heinous criminal activity.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[6 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 20 views]

Dear Residents,

Yesterday we had a great event at the John T. Wright Arena where hockey and skating equipment was donated to the Arena. This will lower some of the barriers for those residents who may not have access to skating or hockey equipment.

A very special thanks to Stephen Borg and the Borg family who generously donated a large portion of the equipment. Their continued generosity and support of the Arena and the Englewood Community is something to be truly thankful of.

Take a look at some of the photos from the event.

Stay tuned for more news on the John T. Wright Arena for the rest of the Winter Season.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

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[2 Dec 2013 | No Comment | 36 views]

Dear Residents,

On Sunday, December 8th, 2013 at 6:15pm, please join me and the City Council as we present the 4th annual lighting of the Englewood City Christmas Tree. The ceremony will take place outside City Hall at 6:15pm in front of the City’s Official Christmas Tree immediately following a special performance of the New Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker at bergenPAC. I am once again pleased bergenPAC joins the city holiday spirit by joining us in donating tickets to Englewood school children so they may attend the Nutcracker performance that precedes the tree lighting ceremony. The Nutcracker performance will begin at bergenPAC at 4:00pm. The Tree Lighting Ceremony will provide a festive conclusion to the day’s holiday events. It will feature performances by Mark A. Trautman and the St. Paul’s Children’s Choir from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, bergenPAC’s Performing Arts School Voices, directed by teaching artist, Hannah Faye Zarate and a solo by Chavez Ravine. Santa is planning to visit and hot chocolate and cookies will be served. The Ceremony will begin at approximately 6:15pm outside of City Hall following the Nutcracker performance and will run for approximately 45 minutes.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[13 Nov 2013 | No Comment | 20 views]

Please see attached link to the Suburbanite article November 7th – Not up to city’s standards? Council to pressure CSX to clean up railroad lines

Dear Residents:

Please see the attached link to the Suburbanite article from November 7th on Council to pressure CSX to clean up railroad lines. City officials plan to urge the CSX Corporation to clean up trash, tree debris and fix water drainage issues that line railroad tracks, citing concerns about flooding and aesthetics. I would like to see this push before Christmas

Please stay tuned for further updates.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

http://www.northjersey.com/news/230935851_Englewood_to_pressure_CSX_to_clean_up_grabage_along_railroad_tracks.html?

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[29 Oct 2013 | No Comment | 6 views]

Dear Residents:
Please see the attached link to the Suburbanite Article from October 4th on PSE&G Electrical Service Upgrades that will affect Englewood and the Bergen County Area.

New electrical transformer at PSE&G’s Bergenfield substation came in March which will improve reliability and present future blackouts.

Many residents in the area were left without electricity for a week or more and out-of-state crews were called in by Rockland Electric and PSE&G for downed lines and transformer repairs.

After Hurricane Sandy, Englewood residents met with a PSE&G representative to voice their complaints during a Town Hall meeting that was set up by the Mayor’s office.

Please stay tuned for further information on these upgrades.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle
http://www.northjersey.com/community/226511051_Utility_companies_upgrading_infrastructure_in_Northern_Valley_towns_to_restore_power_faster.html#sthash.gYwqRz2r.dpuf

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[29 Oct 2013 | No Comment | 5 views]

Dear Residents:

The City is proposing the forming of a light rail grassroots commission which will urge Transit to use recommendations made by the city during the light rail hearings.

This would be a joint venture between the EEDC and Mayor Frank Huttle III. This will have an impact on the economy, quality of life and the city’s growth.

The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail would be extended to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
Please stay tuned for further updates on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and Englewood’s involvement.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

http://www.northjersey.com/news/229041261_Englewood_wants_to_form_committee_to_keep_tabs_on_light_rail.html?page=all

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[5 Sep 2013 | No Comment | 14 views]

Dear Residents,

The time for the City of Englewood 9-11 Commemoration Ceremony has changed to 6.30PM (previously 4.30PM). The ceremony will be held at the new monument in Veterans Memorial Park (across from Bank of America and the corner of Park Place and North Dean Street) on Wednesday, September 11th 2013 at 6.30PM. In case of rain or inclement weather the location will be bergenPAC.

I would also like to invite you to a reception following the Ceremony to be held at Solaia’s at 22 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

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[20 Aug 2013 | No Comment | 7 views]

Dear Residents,

I have attached an invitation for you to join Congressman Bill Pascrell at his annual Summer Town Hall Meeting , Tuesday, August 27, 2013 from 6.30PM to 8.00PM in the Council Chambers at the Cliffside Park Municpal Building, 525 Palisade Avenue, Cliffside Park.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle    

2013 Town Hall Flyer

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[17 Jun 2013 | No Comment | 134 views]

Dear Residents,

I have pasted below an Article that was published in the Bergen Record in case you may have missed it.

It was first published on June 9, 2013. 

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

Ice rink is at the center of a divided Englewood

Sunday, June 9, 2013    

BY REBECCA BAKER 

STAFF WRITER

The Record

From the day it opened more than 30 years ago in the heart of Englewood’s minority neighborhood, the Mackay Park ice rink held the promise of being a symbol of inclusion, a place where the wealthiest and poorest residents could come together and have fun.

But over the years, the John T. Wright Arena has, instead, become a symbol of privilege and division, as well-off residents and out-of-town teams began claiming the rink as their own, making some residents, particularly those in the working-class 4th Ward, feel unwelcome.

“The symbol that I would use to describe what this building has become is one of an invasion — an occupation,” said Melvin Drakeford, head of the Mackay Park Legacy Committee, a community booster group.

Those grievances exposed long-standing racial and class divisions in this small city of 30,000 that, in the past, has seen protests over school segregation and street clashes over civil rights. More recently, 4th Ward residents objected last fall to outsourcing by the public school district, whose student population remains overwhelmingly black and Hispanic.

Their anger over about 100 employees losing their jobs carried over this year and contributed, officials say, to derailing the city’s plans to repair and renovate the Mackay Park arena, which now sits dormant.

The divisions are largely rooted in frustration over how, and on whom, the city spends taxpayer money. Leaders and activists in the  4th Ward say the city has made the rink a high priority while overlooking other needs, such as a community center, and allowing their neighborhood — including Mackay Park — to decline.

“The rink has not really served the whole community, especially the community in the 4th Ward,” said Shirley Smith, a former school board member who has lived in the 4th Ward for nearly 50 years.

Those resentments helped fuel opposition to the city’s plan to borrow $675,000 to fix the rink, which was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Councilman Wayne Hamer, who represents the 4th Ward, cast the deciding vote that defeated the borrowing plan, one day after scores of residents criticized it at a public meeting in a Baptist church.

“[Opponents] may have had a chip on their shoulder because of the political abuse they’ve received over the years,” said James “Sid” Jordan, a retired builder who served on the Planning Board for 30 years. “They were ignored.”

Mayor Frank Huttle wants that to change. He is asking the residents from all parts of Englewood who have been the most outspoken about the ice rink to serve on a 15-member task force that will advise the City Council on what to do with the shuttered arena. Huttle said he would not support reopening the rink unless it becomes a place that welcomed all of Englewood.

“If we’re going to have an ice arena, it’s going to be for the kids, for Englewood kids, not for kids living across the 70 towns in Bergen County,” he said,

Named after the city’s first black councilman, the ice rink opened in 1982 and initially was a source of community pride.

“When [the rink] was first built, it was exciting,” Smith said. “People came, and there was a good turnout from all the wards.”

The city paid for the rink with federal funding and a state Green Acres grant. Putting it in Mackay Park, a place of cultural significance to Englewood’s black community and which has played host to church picnics and civil rights rallies, was also a sign that times had changed — the area around the park was the scene of three days of rock-throwing, firebombing and looting during civil rights demonstrations in 1967.

But the ice rink struggled to pay for itself. After it operated in the red for two years, the city gave a 25-year contract to a private operator, Mackay Ice Arena Inc. To turn a profit, the private operator increasingly came to rely on hockey teams from communities such as Tenafly and other outside groups who could afford hundreds of dollars per hour for ice time.

“A lot of children from the 4th Ward were not able to use it, and interest went away,” Smith said.

Larry Reid, the former longtime rink operator, has said many of the figure skaters who used the rink for private lessons were from the East Hill, the city’s wealthiest neighborhood. He said he tried to involve the entire community with learn-to-skate programs and public skating hours, with mixed results.

Councilwoman-at-large Lynne Algrant said more people skated in the past few years, but the rink didn’t draw many 4th Ward residents, who had come to view it as a private club for their wealthier neighbors. “Of course people [in the 4th Ward] hated the ice arena,” she said.

When the long-term contract with Reid expired in 2009, the City Council approved a series of one-year extensions, which Algrant said included more free ice time for residents, and debated how to make the rink more accessible. Last year, the city advertised for a non-profit group to manage the rink for 10 years, with the stipulation that the new operator offer year-round programs with the profits made from skating and hockey.

Three groups offered to run the rink, and a divided council chose the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield. Huttle, as mayor, had to cast a tie-breaking vote to hire the Boys & Girls Club after the council deadlocked 2-2. Jack Drakeford, the 4th Ward councilman, had recently died and his seat was still vacant.

Councilmen Eugene Skurnick and Marc Forman were opposed, saying the organization had no experience running an ice rink; Councilman Michael Cohen, who represents the 2nd Ward, and Algrant were for it, saying they wanted a “brand name” connected to the rink and praised the club’s youth programs.

After the vote, the council agreed to invest $450,000 in the rink, removing an underground oil tank, buying a new Zamboni ice-surfacing vehicle and installing a new cooling tower, heating system and pipes. The arena was nearly ready for its grand reopening when Superstorm Sandy shredded the roof and shut it down for the first time in its history.

The tipping point for 4th Ward residents seemed to be when the city announced plans to double down on its investment and spend nearly $1 million, some of which would come from insurance and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to repair the roof and refurbish the interior. That plan galvanized opponents who said it was time to take a stand against what they saw as the city’s misplaced goals.

“It was about the rink being made a priority over any and everything that the community was thinking about,” said Melvin Drakeford, who is not related to the late councilman.

The perception of past slights has made 4th Ward residents quick to take offense, even when city officials say their actions are innocent.

In a recent flap unrelated to the rink, an outspoken community activist questioned if the city was “at war” with the 4th Ward after it removed debris and topsoil from a vacant lot that had been used as a community garden. It left a “pond” after rainstorms this spring. According to officials, the city had been waiting until the ground dried out to replenish the topsoil.

Algrant said she understands the frustration on both sides but said residents didn’t give the Boys & Girls Club, or the city’s plan to fix the rink, a chance to succeed.

“There is a wound in the community that is absolutely legitimate,” she said. “But I think a lot of things are being conflated.”

Algrant and Huttle blame Skurnick for using the 4th Ward’s sensitivities for political gain by spreading rumors that the city was trying to outsource its Recreation Department by bringing in outsiders from Garfield. Those rumors came on the heels of the Board of Education’s decision to outsource nearly 100 secretaries and classroom assistants, many of whom were black and Hispanic women with ties to the 4th Ward.

Skurnick declined to respond to the charges, and city officials said the Recreation Department was never in jeopardy. But Algrant acknowledged that some people might have been more willing to believe the rumors because of built-up resentment toward the rink.

“I understand where it comes from,” she said. “But I also have to say that the level of it was built upon and drummed up by a calculated misinformation and disinformation campaign.”

Hamer, who was appointed to fill Jack Drakeford’s unexpired term, said his opposition was based on the city’s hazy plans for the rink. He said no one explained what programs would be offered once skating season ended or how they would be funded if skating and hockey programs failed to turn a profit.

“If it could’ve been done in a clear way, I think all of that [opposition] would have been blunted,” he said.

Others saw the city’s plan as a poor substitute for a community center, something that 4th Ward residents say they’ve spent decades lobbying for, ever since the city’s former community center on Armory Street became the privately run Bergen Family Center.

“I think anything short of a community center after waiting this long of a period of time is going to meet resistance,” Melvin Drakeford said.

The city’s reluctance to pursue the idea, some community activists say, has caused long-held resentment to smolder.

“It’s really upsetting, because 4th Ward people feel like they’re being ignored,” Smith said. “That’s caused a lot of division in the whole city.”

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[17 Jun 2013 | No Comment | 2 views]

Dear Residents,

I have posted below for your reference the Formation Letter of the John T. Wright Ice Arena Task Force.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

FormationLetterExecuted

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[19 Mar 2013 | No Comment | 38 views]

Dear Residents,

As you probably have heard, the City of Englewood is updating its Master Plan for 2013 which will set objectives and the policies that will shape Englewood’s future. After a series of general public meetings and meetings with specific constituencies, the professional project team (Brown & Keener and Regional Plan Association) has been hard at work developing the vision and finer points of the Master Plan.  

On March 21, 2013, from 1PM to 8PM, the project team will host a Pop-Up Workshop to present the Englewood Vision and Master Plan to be held at 14 West Palisade Avenue (formerly Chico’s clothing store) in downtown Englewood. At the storefront, visitors will be able to stop by any time during “shop hours” and take part in hands-on exercises to weigh-in on the Plan. Materials and presentations will showcase what a future Englewood could look like under the recommendations of the Master Plan.

The Plan places particular emphasis on creating an even more lively downtown; a reimagined industrial district in South Englewood; enhanced neighborhoods whose character is preserved; improved access to community amenities; and better transportation connections throughout the city and to the region beyond. In addition to hands-on exercises, residents will be able to provide feedback in comment booklets provided on site.

The Vision and Master Plan was developed over a 9-month process through which nearly 600 Englewood residents and stakeholders participated in two public workshops to shape the recommendations found in the plan. Following the pop-up workshop, the Project Team will incorporate feedback into the Plan and present it to the city in April.

Many of you have been active participants in this process and I thank you for it. We would urge you to join us at this Pop Up Workshop as your voice should be heard. Attached below is a copy of the invitation for the Workshop (simply click on the link), please feel free to distribute it to your friends and neighbors via email.

If you should have any questions regarding the event or the Master Plan please feel free to contact me at City Hall at 201-871-6666 or by email at frankhuttle@englewoodmayor.com

I look forward to seeing you there!

 Sincerely,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

MasterPlanOPEN_HOUSE-Invite

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[24 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 50 views]

Dear Residents,

I wanted to share with you a mail piece that was sent out in support of Recreation and Athletic Programs providing our children with a safe and secure place to play at the John T. Wright Arena.

The mailer is posted directly below for your convenience.

Once again I would urge you all to attend the upcoming Council Meeting to be held on Tuesday, February 26th at 7:30pm at the Municipal Court, 75 South Van Brunt Street. It will be a critical meeting to decide the fate of the recreational and athletic programs at the John T. Wright Arena. I would encourage you all to attend the meeting and weigh in on this most important matter.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[23 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 25 views]

Dear Residents,

I wanted to share my presentation from the town hall meeting on February 11th on Recreation and Athletic Programs for the City’s Youth in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club at the John T. Wright Arena. You can find it by clicking on the link directly below. For those of you who did not attend, I hope this will give you an idea of the challenges and historic opportunities we have regarding John T. Wright Arena. For those of you who did attend you may want to take a second look especially since we tried to cover a lot of ground at the meeting.

I would like to thank all of those who came out to express an opinion and make their voices heard at the town hall. I urge you all to attend the upcoming Council Meeting to be held on Tuesday, February 26th at 7:30pm at the Municipal Court, 75 South Van Brunt Street. It will be a critical meeting to decide the fate of the recreational and athletic programs of the partnership with the Boys and Girls Club at the John T. Wright Arena. I urge you all to attend the meeting at the City Council Chambers and weigh in on this most important matter.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

Englewood.2.11 Mayor’s Presentation

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[10 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 12 views]

Dear Residents,

During my State of the City Address at a Special Council Meeting held on Ocotber 16, 2012, we welcomed Professor Raphael Caprio of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He gave an address on the sustainability of the current taxation and finance model of municipalities in the State of New Jersey. His powerpoint is posted immediately below.

Englewood v2

Regards,

Mayor Huttle

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[10 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 5 views]

Dear Residents,

I posted my State of the City Address directly below.

MayorHuttle-StateofCityAddressV.4-10.16.12

Regards,

Mayor Huttle

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[4 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 69 views]

Dear Residents,

I would like to invite you to a very important Town Hall Meeting that I will be hosting on the partnership that we have created with the Boys and Girls Club of Garfield involving youth recreational programs both during the school day, after 3 and weekends at the John T. Wright Ice Arena, MacKay Park and other City facilities, the Boys and Girls Club of Englewood.

This Town Meeting comes at an important time. The City Council in 2011 overwhelming voted to re-open the John T. Wright Ice Arena last year. I had deep concern that, should the Ice Arena re-open, it must provide substantial ice skating programs to our children and much more. My goal remains that the Arena cannot be about “Ice in Isolation” but must be a year round facility offering a variety of recreational programs for our children.

After close to two years of work, on October 1st of last year a partnership was created with the Boys and Girls Club of Garfield that would create the Boys and Girls Club of Englewood (the program name having been approved by the Boys and Girls Club of America) with a full set of school day and after 3 programs for our City’s Youth. Together with a leadership grant from Benzel- Busch Motor Car Corp., which enabled the Laureus Foundation and Coaches Across America to join the partnership and with participation by the School District, these programs will be historic in scope.

The larger vision is to create a public – non-profit – philanthropic partnership between the City, the Boys and Girls Club and other non-profits, and private individual donors. This Public/Private partnership would allow the programs to be robust and run indefinitely, benefiting our children for years to come. This is the same model that I used successfully when reinventing the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC) as one of the leading performing arts and educational centers in the State. It is also important to highlight that 100% of profits made by the Boys and Girls Club will go directly to Englewood youth programs.

That vision and the programs it would bring are in jeopardy at present due to lack of full Council support of the agreement with the Boys and Girls Club that the Council previously voted on. With decades of neglect at the John T. Wright Ice Arena combined with the effects of Superstorm Sandy, the Ice Arena requires a commitment by the City. The recently introduced Bond Ordinance is that commitment, but the real issue here is not about the capital improvements it’s about the opportunity for our children.

I asked the Council and it voted to introduce the Bond Ordinance to promote an unfiltered, full and open public discussion on this Ordinance and allow each resident the opportunity to fully participate, weigh in and share their opinions on these important decisions before the Council votes upon it later this month.

The total cost of the capital improvements would be substantially covered by insurance proceeds and the rental income on the property, with little annual cost to the taxpayer. Should the Council vote to replace the roof only this month or if it refused to make the necessary improvements to assure the facility is safe, the Boys and Girls Club year round programs will be lost and the facility will continue to be an eye sore in MacKay Park.

The John T. Wright Ice Arena is just one vehicle to deliver these programs and there is opportunity to expand them to other City facilities but this is the critical first step.

I would ask that you please attend and participate in this important meeting and also make you fellow residents aware of it as well, particularly grandparents, parents and school age children. Please ask them to join us and let their voices be heard!

The meeting will be held on Monday, February 11th at 6.30 PM at Community Baptist Church. I have posted an invitation right below this post for your convenience. Please forward it via email or distribute it in any way you wish.
I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Best regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

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[4 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 348 views]

Dear Residents,

Please see the invitation below and join me for a very important Town Hall Meeting that I will be hosting on the partnership that we have created with the Boys and Girls Club of Garfield involving youth recreational programs both during the school day, after 3 and weekends at the John T. Wright Ice Arena, MacKay Park and other City facilities, the Boys and Girls Club of Englewood. I hope that you join me there and share your thoughts during the open discussion.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle

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[5 Nov 2012 | No Comment | 20 views]

Important Voting Information on Polling Locations

Dear Residents,

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has made it necessary for several polling sites in Englewood to be relocated. Briefly, the changes are as follows:

1.2 — Englewood Public Library (with 1.1). (Formerly at Quarles School)
2.1 — Congregation Ahavath Torah (with 2.2). (Formerly at SESCIL)
2.2 — Congregation Ahavath Torah (with 2.1). (Formerly at SESCIL)
3.3 — Janis E. Dismus Middle School (with 3.4) (Formerly at Dwight Morrow HS)
4.1 — Liberty School (with 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4) (Formerly at Ebenezer Baptist Church)
4.2 — Liberty School (with 4.1, 4.3 and 4.4) (Formerly at First Baptist Church)
4.3 — Liberty School (with 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4) (Formerly at Ebenezer Baptist Church)
4.4 — Liberty School (with 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3) (Formerly at King Gardens)

Note that the polls for 2.3 and 2.4 will be returned to Flat Rock.

The complete Listing of Polling Locations is at: http://www.cityofenglewood.org/filestorage/1441/1468/2265/1477/PollingLocations_2012-_General_Rev_110212.pdf.

To verify the District in which you reside, refer to “Roster of Streets – by Wards and Districts” at: http://www.cityofenglewood.org/filestorage/1441/1468/2265/1477/ROSTER_OF_STREETS-_WARDS_AND_DISTRICTS-October_2012.pdf.

The Second and Fourth Wards underwent redistricting (from three to four districts each) in early 2012 and, as a result, considerable changes were made. Minor changes were made in other wards as well.

As an alternative, registered voters may go to The Bergen County Clerk’s office at One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack, Room 130, today (SUN., NOV 4th)or on MON., NOV 5th, from

8:30AM to 4:30 PM. to cast their votes.

The Governor issued a Press Release yesterday, “Christie Administration Announces E-Mail and Fax Voting Available to New Jerseyans Displaced by Hurricane Sandy” at http://www.state.nj.us/governor/news/news/552012/approved/20121103d.html.

Please do not hesitate to pass this information along to others. It is important that each person exercises his/her right to vote. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[2 Nov 2012 | No Comment | 218 views]

Dear Resident,

I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with President Obama and Governor Christie. The message is clear: all local, county, state, and federal efforts are focused on getting New Jersey back up and running as soon as possible. We are all in this together. Please forward this and future updates to any City resident who may not have received this information.

Restoration of Electricity There is a city-wide power outage in Englewood. PSE&G is working to restore electricity to every neighborhood as quickly and safely as it can. It must first address outages at water treatment facilities, hospitals, and police and fire stations. PSE&G announced that it that it will take at least 5 days for electricity to return but it could take until Friday, November 9th for full power restoration. We must be patient. If you do not have power and you have not yet reported the outage, please call PSE&G at 1-800-436-7734.

Election Day Voting Every registered voter in Englewood will be able to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th. Please see below for polling locations.

School Closure Due to power outages, all Englewood schools are closed until at least Wednesday, November 7th. The Greico and McCloud Schools will host supervised recreational activities for K-8 on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. Please visit http://www.epsd.org/ for more information.

Fuel Shortage Due to difficulty transporting fuel into New Jersey, residents across the region face extensive lines and wait times at gas stations. We advise that you do not drive unless necessary. Please take the fuel shortage seriously.

Clearing City Streets The Department of Public Works cleared away most trees that are not entangled in electrical wires. PSE&G must service trees entangled in electrical wires before we can remove them from our streets. This is a critical public safety procedure. We are resuming regularly scheduled leaf pick-up.
Garbage Removal Regularly scheduled garbage removal has returned. Residents have disposed of perishable food items over the past several days and we are now clearing this out of the way.

Working Together We thank all residents for your cooperation and patience. Let us also remember how fortunate we are in Englewood, and send our thoughts and prayers for those whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. If you are in need of immediate assistance, you may call the Englewood Office of Emergency Management at 201-567-3124. To volunteer, contact our Volunteer Coordinator Andrea Katz at 201-871-6666 or frankhuttle@englewoodmayor.com.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

CITY OF ENGLEWOOD – 2012 POLLING PLACES
General Election (Tuesday, November 6, 2012) Revised 11/2/12
Polls Open 6:00am- 8:00pm Due to Hurricane Sandy

1 – 1
Englewood Public Library
Mackay Room
31 Engle Street

1 – 2
Englewood Public Library
Mackay Room
31 Engle Street

1 – 3
Grieco School
Media Room
50 Durie Avenue

1 – 4
Englewood Housing Authority
111 West Street

2 – 1
Congregation Ahavath Torah
240 Broad Avenue

2 – 2
Congregation Ahavath Torah
240 Broad Avenue

2 – 3
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center Lobby
443 Van Nostrand Avenue

2 – 4
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center Lobby
443 Van Nostrand Avenue

3 – 1
Liberty School
(Entrance on Liberty Road)
12 Tenafly Road

3 – 2
Grieco School
Media Room
50 Durie Avenue

3 – 3
Janis E. Dismus Middle School
Cafeteria
325 Tryon Avenue

3 – 4
Janis E. Dismus Middle School
Cafeteria
325 Tryon Avenue

4 – 1
Liberty School
(Entrance on Liberty Road)
12 Tenafly Road

4 – 2
Liberty School
(Entrance on Liberty Road)
12 Tenafly Road

4 – 3
Liberty School
(Entrance on Liberty Road)
12 Tenafly Road

4 – 4
Liberty School
(Entrance on Liberty Road)
12 Tenafly Road

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[13 Sep 2012 | No Comment | 54 views]
FOR RELEASE: CONTACT:
September 13, 2012 Mayor Frank Huttle III

201-906-5638

Mayor Huttle Creates Unique Partnership to Bring ‘Coaches Across America’ to the City of Englewood

Partnership is designed to greatly enhance City of Englewood Department of Sports and Recreation programs

(ENGLEWOOD) – This week, Mayor Frank Huttle III announced plans of an exciting partnership combining the public, not for profit and philanthropic sectors. These plans were part of a fulfillment of the Mayor’s promise to bring not for profits into the City to enhance programs and services for the City’s residents and youth. It follows a recent, complimentary initiative in bringing the Boys and Girl Club to the City. Taken together, these steps push the Mayor’s plan to create an immediate platform of community programming, which Englewood needs now, without waiting for the construction of a physical Community Center.

The forging of this new partnership with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to benefit the City of Englewood Sports and Recreation Department is truly an innovation.  The Laureus Foundation is a charitable organization that supports projects to improve the lives of youth through the power of sports. In Englewood, this initiative will train and place coaches to mentor dozens of children through Coaches Across America, the Laureus delivery partner.

The partnership with the City of Englewood, Benzel-Busch Motor Car Company, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation will fund professional coaches for children’s sports in the City of Englewood. “I’d like to thank the Agresta Family of Benzel-Busch Motor Car Company for investing in the youth of Englewood.  Englewood is fortunate to have the Benzel-Busch, one of the top five Mercedes Benz dealers in the County right here in Englewood,” said Huttle.  “It is an economic driver for the City but more importantly Benzel-Busch and the Agresta Family have made a longstanding commitment to Englewood. They have greatly contributed to Englewood in the past and through this initiative are doing so again. Their generosity is truly a blessing.”

Coaches Across America is a nonprofit and the delivery arm of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation whose mission is to inform, inspire and initiate individual, communal and societal change that will empower men and women to be their very best – personally and professionally. The Mayor concluded by saying, “The stars have truly aligned to make this partnership possible and the winners will be the children of Englewood.”

###

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[4 Nov 2011 | No Comment | 20 views]

11/2/2011 – Update from Mayor Frank Huttle III on Progress by PSE&G

Dear Residents,

I just received an update from PSE&G and am writing again to pass along the information.

By way of background to understand the extent of the damage, circuits from the following substations were damaged affecting outages in the City: Bergenfield, Dumont, Englewood, Leonia, Hillsdale, Hudson Terrace, New Milford, Paramus, Ridgefield, Teaneck and Waldwick.  There was extensive tree damage to primary feeds and individual services.  Wires are down throughout our City and surrounding areas due to the downed trees.  Crews were dispatched as of late Sunday.  Initial efforts focused on reevaluating the extent of the damage and repairs to restore the maximum number of residents.

To date, 3,700 Englewood PSE&G customers remain without service.  At the height of the storm over 7,500 were without power in the City.  Restoration activity has increased due to PSE&G crews now being supplemented by crews arriving from Alabama, Georgia and other states.  PSE&G expects the majority of customers to be restored by midnight on Thursday.

I will continue to keep you updated as I receive more information.

Sincerely,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

11/2/2011 – Message from Mayor Frank Huttle III; November 2, 5:30PM

Dear Residents,

As of 10:30 AM PS&G reported that less than 900 customers remain out of service in Englewood and as of 12:30 PM their customer count shows Englewood 675 customers still remain out of service. Crews continue to work to restore service with additional crews from Florida and Mississippi that arrived today to assist in the restoration efforts.

The City’s Department of Public Works continues to work on trees and picking up branches. Branches will continue to be picked up curbside through Thursday of next week. No appointment is necessary.

I will keep you advised of any updates that I receive from PSE&G.

Sincerely,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

11/1/2011 – Update from Mayor Frank Huttle III

Dear Residents:

I had a meeting this morning with executives from PSE&G regarding their response in Englewood to the weekend’s storm.

The Police Department, Fire Department, and DPW have been working diligently since Saturday night to clear roads of debris, remove fallen tree branches, keep traffic moving safely and assist Englewood residents.

I informed PSE&G that Englewood will assist them as they mobilize crews from multiple states to work to clear wires from trees.  The Police Station, Firehouse and Town Center all have had power restored since Monday night and crews are working in all four wards to restore residential power.

When I contacted the President of PSE&G I was advised that their goal is to have all power restored by Thursday.  I understand that this is a long time for residents who have not had power since Saturday or Sunday.

I have asked the PSE&G executives to work with the City, after this crisis passes, to re-establish the total system of protocols for emergency situations in the future.  A mobilization time of 48-72 hours is too long and we hope to be able to work with PSE&G to reduce this in the future.

Please note that the City cannot work in trees that have downed wires in them until PSE&G cuts out the wires.

Englewood DPW will be working on trees and picking up branches all week.  No appointment is required for branch pick-ups.

I will keep you advised of any updates that I receive from PSE&G.

Sincerely,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

10/31/2011 – Message from Mayor Huttle

Dear Residents:

This weekend’s storm was very damaging to property in the City of Englewood.

Over 7,500 homes lost power and hundreds of trees were damaged due to the weight of the snow and the winds. The most important thing that all residents should do is be concerned about safety, stop at all intersections where the traffic lights are out and do not move barricades or caution tape that has been put-up near down wires or trees.

I have written to PSE&G and have given them lists of all trees that are down or damaged and are involved in wires. I have asked PSE&G to give me an update as to when they expect to get power returned to the residents of Englewood.

The City of Englewood is actively working to recover from this past weekend’s storm. Due to the extensive damage, however, it may take several days until all roadways are completely reopened, and free of debris. There are still multiple wires and trees down throughout the City. If you encounter any down wires, immediately leave the area. Do not attempt, under any circumstances, to move any down or low hanging wires. Please remind all children and adults who may be going door to door tonight for trick or treating to stay away from all wires and damaged trees.

It is strongly recommended that those with young children, the elderly, and those with special needs, who are without power and/or heat, seek shelter at a location that has adequate temperature control and protection from the weather.

The City of Englewood Library, located at 31 Engle Street, meets these criteria, and will be open to all Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until 9:00 PM.

A regional shelter has been established at the FDU Rothman Center, 100 University Plaza Drive, Hackensack.  The regional shelter is open and available with food, beverage, and cots. People can stay overnight, if they do, should plan to bring the following items with them:

• Medications
• Identifications
• Toiletries
• Clothing and whatever else they need to be comfortable

Please remember that 9-1-1 is for emergencies only. To report non emergencies, the City of Englewood Police Department can be reached at (201) 568-2700.

Further updates will provided by the City of Englewood, as needed, in the upcoming days.

Thank you,
Mayor Frank Huttle III

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[26 Aug 2011 | No Comment | 11 views]

The National Hurricane Center is advising that Hurricane Irene is expected to impact the New Jersey New York area.  As a result of the hurricanes heavy rain and winds, severe flooding throughout the area is expected.  Additionally, trees and power lines may be damaged as a result the storm.

The damage from the trees and power lines will make driving on the roadways hazardous.  As such, all residents are asked to remain indoors and refrain from driving on the roadway during the hurricane, unless an emergency warrants such action.

Residents should expect power outages that could last for an extended period of time, and should prepare accordingly.

Residents are urged to have the following:

·        flashlights with a supply of batteries

·        At least a three day supply of water and non-perishable foods (for each person and any pets)

·        A three day supply of necessary medications

·        A basic first aid kit

·        Manually / battery operated tools and resources (can openers, radios, screwdrivers & pliers)

·        Charge any devices that may require charging

Any lose items on your property should be secured or put away.

Residents should report any hazardous conditions to the Police or Fire Departments immediately

9-1-1 should be used for emergencies only

The police department can be contact at 201-568-2700

The fire department can be contacted at 201-568-6300

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[18 Apr 2011 | No Comment | 24 views]

BY MICHAEL P. RICCARDS
The Record
Michael P. Riccards is executive director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy in New Jersey. Riccards is a former college president and a presidential scholar who has authored 15 books, including “The Ferocious Engine of Democracy – A History of the American Presidency.”

GOVERNOR Christie has correctly commented that wherever states are going with the public pension problem, New Jersey will arrive first.
LANCE THEROUX / THE RECORD

In May 2009, Fortune magazine decided to give a close look at the question of the “public pension bomb.” Fortune argued that for years the states have shortchanged the retirement programs of public employees. The unfunded liabilities have been compounded by huge investment losses; according to a 2006 Deloitte study: “Everything is coming together to create a crisis.”

Fortune, of course, looked for a case study of one state where matters are “dire” – and up came New Jersey. In June 2008, Fortune reported that New Jersey’s public pension fund, one of the nation’s largest, had $34 billion less than its obligations. Since then, the market value of the plan dropped from $82 billion to $56 billion.

Growing liabilities

The most recent figure from the Investment Council is that the total pension fund is at $72.6 billion as of Feb. 28, 2011, but the pension liabilities grew in 2010 by $8 billion to nearly $54 billion.

The last two governors have stopped contributing state monies to the fund. Gov. Jon Corzine made that shortfall one of his campaign themes back in 2005, but his plans and initiatives ran into major roadblocks.

The Fortune survey looked for the historical roots of this crisis, and those findings were very similar to our report on public pensions in 2009. In 1992, Gov. James Florio pushed through a reevaluation of the fund’s assets, and thus allowed the state to cut its pension contributions by more than $1.5 billion in 1992. His successor, Christie Todd Whitman, promised major tax cuts and to do that she pushed another “reform” act that allowed the state to reduce state and local contributions to the fund by nearly $1.5 billion in 1994 and about the same in 1995.

Turning to the market

In order to make up for “lost ground” without more revenue, the state leaders went heavily into the market. In 1997, New Jersey sold $2.75 billion of bonds paying 7.6 percent interest, putting the proceeds into the pension funds to be invested. Whitman pledged that the plan would save taxpayers about $45 billion. The fund instead earned less than 6 percent annually.

Then in 2001, Democrat Gov. James McGreevey turned over more control of the fund to professional money managers. The fund put more money into the hands of Wall Street professionals and into diversification in alternative investments such as hedge funds and private equities.

But it took time to implement that strategy, and money began to get into alternatives in 2006, just before the onset of a massive bear market.

The New Jersey pension decline has “more or less traced the broad stock market’s, the real problem is underfunding,” the Fortune authors concluded.

As obligations grew, New Jersey politicians increased public worker benefits. In 1999, the state allowed local police and firefighters to collect pensions equal to 50 percent of their pay after 20 years of service. In 2001, the state increased benefits by 9 percent, which added another $4.2 billion in liabilities.

Recession forces cutbacks

Corzine did put $1 billion in the fund in 2007, and another billion in 2008. But he had to cut back during the major recession, and he allowed a pension holiday, which meant that municipalities could skip their con

tributions for 2009 and maybe beyond.

He raised the retirement age to 62, increased salary requirements for pension eligibility, increased employees’ contributions and capped pension income.

But the gaps between liabilities and assets remain enormous, and makes New Jersey into a basket case study, as Governor Christie once described it.

Neglect

Corzine criticized, quite rightly, the neglect of the state’s obligations and made a major commitment to fund the full debt. He proposed a courageous policy of massively increasing tolls on some of New Jersey’s major roads to a level that caused a public outrage.

He and the Legislative leaders backed off.

Initially, Corzine included monies for the pension system in his budgets, but not really enough to meet the ongoing deficit.

But then facing the major economic dislocations of 2008-2009, the governor encouraged municipalities and other entities to postpone payments to the pension system and cut state payments as well.

Governor Christie has followed suit.

Reforms have become the new watchword for pension control. First, a public employee should be allowed to contribute to the pension fund, and get credit for only one job based on the average of his or her normal annual salary (not overtime) over the five highest years. Jurisdictions and agencies in this state commonly award favorites with a huge number of overtime days to jack up the final base.

He or she should not be able to accumulate other pension contributions from other state jobs. Some state and local employees hold two or three, or even more, publicly funded jobs. Pensions should be based on one position only.

If a person retires from the state and comes back into public service, there should be no additional pension credit.

Frankly, people should not hold two or more public positions in the first place, even if they are not on pension — that practice was prohibited in 1787 in the national government by the federal Constitution.

Sick days

Sick days are for sickness, not for a final payout. Vacation days should not be accumulated beyond one week on top of the normal vacation period. The practice of police chiefs and superintendents of schools, for example, retiring with six-figure buyouts of sick and vacation days, in addition to their generous pensions and medical care, is a gross abuse of public service.

In addition the state needs to pay more attention to its very generous medical coverage policy, which covers retired state employees as well as current ones. There is now some $66 billion in unfunded lifetime health benefits that are added to the pension mess. New Jersey is first in line with its irresponsible giveaways, now it must be first in line to fix them.

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[15 Feb 2010 | No Comment | 49 views]

Englewood has long been in need of a community center but with scarce resources and land available for such a facility. The objective of the Community Center Task Force is to not only try to achieve a physical facility over the long term but to make an attempt to identify existing venues and spaces in the City that can serve the programming and service goals of a community center immediately without having to wait for the physical structure of a community center to come on line. The task Force is charged with making a report to the Mayor.

In late 2008  the Council issued a Request for Proposal (a “RFP)  to determine options for the development of the Liberty School for a residential housing project vs. a privately funded performing arts school, community programs and/or  other community uses. The RFP also was to examine uses for the Wright Arena, including alternative uses. At the time, I strongly opposed the study because the RFP was flawed. For example, the study was to examine alternative uses for the Liberty School and to assess its physical condition.  I argued at the time that any study for the Liberty school must fully address the community needsand the economic impact of alternative uses such a performing arts school for our school children and adults.   At the time, private individuals were considering  donations in the millions of dollars for the purchase of the School with the mission to keep this historical building in place to serve  our community.  Several council members (representing the majority of the council, but not all)  wanted to sell the property for  $6.5 million for residential housing, the amount the City paid for the property in 2003. One problem with the Council’s decision, the property was never worth $6.5 million then or now. The second problem, bergenPAC offered to match any bona fide offer from any other purchaser, dollar for dollar, but the then Council President denied to hold any meeting to discuss this opportunity.  The majority of the City Council then hired the consultant for the purposes of issuing a report to identify  a partial or full demolition of the Liberty School to make way for residential housing.  After a one year delay, the report was issued. The report concluded that residential housing was not economically feasible  and recommended to the Council that consideration should be given to the performing arts school or other community services.

I strongly opposed a residential house project on this site. The Committee will review findings of this report in connection with the mission and goals of the Committee.

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