Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hackensack OKs bonds for downtown, recreation projects

Under a bond ordinance approved by the City Council on Monday night, Main and State streets in Hackensack will be converted to two-way traffic. Bus stops, such as this one at Main and Berry streets, will be moved to side streets, and the added curb space would become loading zones for stores or used for a parking scheme that will allow drivers to pull into and out of spaces without stopping and backing up.


Despite a small number of vocal critics, the Hackensack City Council has approved issuing more than $18 million in bonds for four major projects.

One project would return Main and State streets to the original two-way traffic as part of the city's ambitious downtown redevelopment.

Leasing already is underway for a new apartment building on State Street, and a 14-story residential-retail high-rise is under construction at Main and Mercer streets.

A consultant told city officials no downtown with one-way traffic has ever been a success.

Two other ordinances approved on Monday night will:

  • Build and equip a sports arena in Johnson Park to allow youth teams to play year-round.
  • Expand the city's main recreation center, the M&M Building, to add two enclosed basketball courts, and build a second level for multi-use rooms. 

'No tax increase'

The conversion of Main and State streets is expected to cost $6.2 million, and the city has $2.4 million of that in reserves, CFO James Mangin said in an email.

So, the city will borrow the remaining $3.8 million, and anticipates getting a $1.575 million Bergen County grant when the project is completed.

That money will be used to re-pay a portion of the debt.

The Johnson Park sports project is pegged at $7 million, and the M&M building expansion is expected to cost $8.2 million.

Except for a 5% cash down payment on each, the rest of the money will come from bonds.

"All of this debt is repaid from the debt-service portion of the budget, and I've said we can re-pay this increased debt without increasing the existing debt-service budget, which means no tax increase," Mangin said.

For and against

Council officials heard from the usual critics, who urged them to delay the projects or said they were too expensive.

Other residents supported the projects as making the city more livable and as investments in our youth.

The projects were discussed at the council's Committee of the Whole meeting starting at 6:30 on Monday evening, and again at the regular 8 p.m. council meeting, where the ordinances were approved.

Today's paper

The Record's front-page news story about Governor Christie suing Atlantic City, and a boring Charles Stile column on the risks of that action might as well as be about the planet Mars as far as most North Jersey residents are concerned (A-1).

Another Page 1 story on the Pascack Valley Regional High School reintroducing a policy on transgender students only reminds Hackensack residents they haven't seen a story about their schools for many, many moons (A-1).

Salmon battle

Mavens of lox were delighted to learn from today's banner at the top of the front page that "Nova" -- salmon that is cold smoked -- won its first title since 1985.

Eye on The Record
will return next week

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