A recent letter to the editor published in a local newspaper contained some blatantly false information about the Vornado Development in North Bergen that should be corrected. First of all, Vornado was given a five-year tax abatement that began in 2009 and ends in 2014. This is a standard practice that many municipalities use to attract beneficial development to distressed areas. Vornado pays a $1.45 million payment in lieu of taxes to the township each year, a substantial sum, and will pay standard taxes starting in 2015. In fact, the township receives more in direct tax revenue from this PILOT than it would have received in conventional taxes, portions of which also get directed to the county and local school system.
The letter goes on to blame the closing of the Pathmark supermarket formerly located on Tonnelle Avenue on the opening of the Walmart inside the Vornado shopping center. This is patently false. The North Bergen Pathmark was just one of nine New Jersey Pathmark stores that closed in the fall of 2010 as part of a national restructuring plan by the store’s parent company. It is likely that it would have closed regardless of the opening of the Walmart. In fact, Walmart – which contains a full-service supermarket – has filled the void left by the loss of Pathmark very well, giving North Bergen residents an excellent new shopping option.
Finally, the letter delves into the long-delayed construction on Tonnelle Avenue, which has dragged on for many years with seemingly constant interruptions and delays. It’s also pertinent to note that the state project’s original schedule had it being completed well before the opening of the Vornado Center. Now the project is finally nearing completion and at its end will provide wider lanes on Tonnelle Avenue, improving traffic flow considerably. No one could have foreseen the extent to which the state project was delayed. Also, a Left-Turn Only lane heading into the shopping center will be installed, which should significantly ease congestion. Similar turning lanes are in place near Target and Lowes/Home Depot and have been effective in improving traffic flow.
The Vornado Development is doing exactly what it was planned to do – give North Bergen a great new shopping destination while adding to the township’s ratable base and helping keep property taxes stable. We are comfortable defending the project any day and will continue to do so.
North Bergen Township Administrator