Police chief will retire June 1
Air quality, development also discussed at council meeting
by Art Schwartz
Reporter staff writer
Jun 01, 2014 | 4545 views | 0 0 comments | 57 57 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HONORING SERVE AND THOSE WHO PROTECT – Sheriff’s K-9 Unit Officer Samson (with Officer Michael Negron) received thanks from the Town of Secaucus for his part in apprehending a criminal. The dog was punched repeatedly in the face by the assailant, requiring surgery
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Police Chief Dennis Corcoran has announced his intention to retire. Negotiations are underway to make his retirement effective June 1.

“We do not plan to hire a new chief at this point,” said Councilman Gary Jeffas at this week’s Town Council meeting. “Deputy Chief Cerny will continue to man the department and act as the department’s chief.”

“I think it’s this council’s position to crawl before we run and make a new chief,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli, “so I don’t think you’re going to see that happening any time relatively soon. The deputy chief will assume all the day-to-day responsibilities of the police department until such time as we make the decision on how we’re going to fill that [position].”

Corcoran will serve as a consultant for four years following his retirement, at a cost of $12,000 a year. In addition, he will receive unused sick and vacation time due to him under his contract, totaling about $197,000 over five years.

“If somebody in the department is moved up to chief or if another scenario plays out, that would certainly be at a lesser salary than where our chief is now,” said Jeffas. “As it stands our cost savings over the first year, based on salary, budgeting the chief for the entire year, would be $102,500.” Adjusted for payouts for consulting and other items, first year savings should be close to $55,000.

“From a finance point of view you will see a savings over a long period of time,” said Councilman Robert Costantino. “Moving forward we can utilize that money to serve the town and hire more police officers.”

The mayor and council members all expressed their personal appreciation to the chief for his long service to Secaucus. “The chief’s been here a long time,” said Jeffas. “He’s a wealth of knowledge. He’s done a great job with the department.”
“The chief’s been here a long time. He’s a wealth of knowledge. He’s done a great job with the department.” – Gary Jeffas
The mayor and council also recognized a very special police officer at the council meeting. In the early morning of May 20, the sheriff’s department dispatched a K-9 unit with Samson, a trained German shepherd, to assist in tracking a robbery suspect who fled the scene of an altercation in a hotel. The suspect had jumped from a second floor parking deck and fled across Route 3 on foot.

K-9 Officer Samson and Officer Michael Negron tracked the suspect to a building under construction, where Samson sniffed out the robber on the third floor, hiding under debris in a bathtub.

“When Samson went to apprehend the individual,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli, “Samson got punched frequently in the face, got a lacerated gum, cracked his front tooth, which required surgery, but continued through and made the arrest with Officer Negron and the Secaucus police department.”

Samson was presented with a basket of treats and commended for a job well done. The council thanked the sheriff’s department for always providing necessary assistance to the town.

Another public servant received an honor, this time posthumously. Joseph F. Taglieri Jr. will have a bridge named after him. Councilman James Clancy invited the public to the bridge on Paterson Plank Road between First St. and Maple St. for a special dedication at 7 p.m. on June 13.

“Joe Taglieri was a young man who grew up in Secaucus and he wanted to give something back to the town,” said Clancy. “He became a volunteer fireman and worked hard at it and was dedicated to it.”

Sadly, while driving the fire truck to a fire, Taglieri felt ill and pulled to the side of the road under the bridge, suffering a fatal heart attack. “So the firemen got together to see if they could do something in memory of Joe and so that bridge will be dedicated to Joe on June 13,” said Clancy.

Air quality issues

Councilman Jeffas presented an update on the ongoing testing for environmental contamination at the Keystone Metal Finishing plant. Two sets of samples have been done so far, with results for the second set expected soon.

The first set of air and water samplings for five residents came back with “no contaminants found at all in the indoor air quality studies,” according to Jeffas.

“This is very, very good news for the Keystone area,” he said.

In addition, three homes were checked for sumps. “One had no detection at all and two others had detection of some chemicals but not airborne.” As a result the state will retest those homes at the appropriate time to ensure accurate results.

Councilman Robert Costantino reported on a separate air quality issue, explaining that the Hudson Regional Health Commission has jurisdiction to enforce the registration of air contamination sources throughout Hudson County. Going forward, the commission will prosecute using the Secaucus municipal court. Proceeds from any fines collected will be split evenly with the town, resulting in another revenue source for Secaucus.

According to Gonnelli, the amount of fines currently pending is over $300,000, although the amount to be collected subsequent to prosecution is unknown.

Real estate development issues

Councilman William McKeever read excerpts of a letter from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission regarding the prospective purchase of Hess property by Hartz Mountain Industries, with the intention of constructing a four-story, 72,000 square foot residential building with 65 units at 34 Meadowland Parkway.

The developer is seeking variances to build above the allowed height and to install 97 parking spaces instead of the required 130. The site is located inside the commission’s commercial zone, therefore it is under Meadowlands Commission authority, not the town of Secaucus.

Gonnelli explained that the property has been vacant for 25 years and that Hess is also in negotiations to sell another parcel of property directly across from it on Meadowlands Parkway, possibly for a hotel.

Hartz intends to build something similar to what they built at Osprey Cove. “There’s pros and cons to every project,” said Gonnelli, describing the height variance as a negative.

“The upside to that is right now the people are faced with a tremendous noise burden from Meadowlands Parkway. They have a clear line of sight with Meadowlands Parkway with nothing to block it.”

In discussions with the developers, the town asked that they create an 18 foot landscaped buffer to alleviate this problem, and also to widen Tenth Street and create additional parking.

“They are required to have 15 percent open space at the site. They’re proposing 35 percent, a huge number,” said Gonnelli.

“The other positive of this is it would address flood control,” he added. During both Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy, water came directly across the Hess site, inundating Tenth Street and Ninth Street.

The town has worked with the developers to reduce the number of three-bedroom units, which statistically reduces the number of children in the development. The town also asked the developers to provide EZ Ride access to the train station to ease transit problems.

A public hearing on the development will be held on Tuesday, June 3 at 10 a.m. in the office of the commission at 1 DeKorte Plaza, Lyndhurst.

“People should read what’s going on with the project, people should pick up the plans for the project, and people that have any concerns should go to the public hearing because that’s the time to voice your objections or if you’re in favor,” said Gonnelli. “This project, unlike what people are saying, is not yet approved.”

The commission will review all comments from the public before they make a decision on the variances. Written comments may also be submitted to the commission if residents cannot attend in person.

Community news

A presentation was provided to the council on the new CommunityPass system, an electronic registration program being implemented that will incorporate all events and activities within Secaucus.

Residents will eventually be able to register online for anything taking place in town, including all the recreation programs and summer events. A fully clickable calendar of Secaucus events will be available via the site.

CommunityPass will be accessible through the town website at www.secaucusnj.org. It is expected to go live on June 1 for registration of this summer’s activities, with registration for the recreation center to follow later. Pool registration will be added next year.

Among the upcoming events in Secaucus is the annual street fair from Friday to Sunday, June 6 to 8. “There’ll be over 100 vendors,” said Councilwoman Susan Pirro. “There’ll be games, food, music, free admission of course.” The event will take place at Buchmuller Park.

“And we have two concerts coming up to start the concert season off,” continued Pirro. “The first one is always over in Harmon Meadow and that will be Thursday, June 12.” On that night the band Invincible is presenting a Michael Jackson tribute show at 7 p.m.

This will be followed by Eaglemania at Xchange on Saturday, June 21, also at 7 p.m. “They are the world’s greatest Eagles tribute band,” said Pirro.

In less positive music news, an electronic dance music event called the Electric Daisy Carnival took place at MetLife Stadium on May 24 and 25 and it could be heard throughout Secaucus. According to Gonnelli, the noise level exceeded 94 decibels at times. The legal limit is 65 decibels.

The town’s new Quality of Life Committee met for the first time to discuss the matter and is determining how to proceed with the issuance of noise summonses. A total fine of $500 per complaint is allowable and the committee is looking into whether fines can be issued per individual complaint from town residents.

Numerous drug busts and hospitalizations occurred throughout the two-day rave. MetLife Stadium is being asked not to hold events like this in the future.

And finally, the council passed a resolution naming the week of June 15-21 as Childhood Cancer Awareness Week in the town of Secaucus.

Art Schwartz may be reached at arts@hudsonreporter.com.

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