If approval was going to be granted to build along the waterfront, then the development had to include a new firehouse that would service not only the many new residents of the area down near the river, but also the ones who live above the Palisades as well.
Last Monday, Roseland Properties President Carl Goldberg lived up to his promise when ground was broken along River Road in West New York to build a $1.2 million state-of-the-art fire station for the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue that could eventually become the permanent headquarters of the regional in the near future.
Roseland Properties has committed to nearly $900,000 of the total $1.2 million cost of the project, which should take nine months to complete once construction is started.
The rest of the money will come from the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue squad's budget.
The NHRFR replaces regular fire departments in five towns, which pay an annual fee into its budget based on the population of the town. They are: North Bergen, Guttenberg, Weehawken, Union City, and West New York.
"This is a first for Roseland Properties," Goldberg said. "It's all because of the vision that Mayor Albio Sires [of West New York] and Mayor Richard Turner [of Weehawken] had in seeing this happen. They saw the importance of us making a long-term commitment to the community. They said that they wanted more than just sticks and bricks to be put in the ground. They wanted to insure that a new firehouse was part of that commitment. It's a commitment unlike any other I know of between a developer and the town government."
The two-story facility will not only house a three-tiered engine company, complete with a hook and ladder and other essential firefighting apparatus, but it will also offer sufficient office space that could allow the NHRFR to move its headquarters from its temporary status in North Bergen to the new station in West New York.
The fire station will service most of the five communities that the Regional covers, including new residential waterfront developments in North Bergen and Guttenberg (Full Moon Harbour in North Bergen and Bulls Ferry in Guttenberg), less than two miles from the where the station will be located.
"But there are also some pre-existing facilities, like the Galaxy in Guttenberg, that will also receive full fire service from this new firehouse," said Michael DeOrio, the co-director of the NHRFR. "It will be a great asset in terms of fire protection to the entire community and will cut down greatly on response time along the waterfront especially."
Fellow co-director Jeff Welz said that the new firehouse will cut down on response time because of its centralized location.
"It will be equidistant to any other firehouse we have," Welz said. "It's located in the dead middle of every community we serve, not just the waterfront. It's close to the upland roads, so we can respond to there as well from here."
Pleased with the opening
The elected officials present at the groundbreaking were pleased that the project will now officially begin.
"Roseland is going through with something we thought was a priority when we first started talking five years ago," Sires said. "It's something that the entire Regional will benefit from, not just West New York."
North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco was also on hand for the groundbreaking ceremonies.
"It's a great situation," Sacco said. "And it's cost effective. We received a major donation from Roseland and we'll all be able to take advantage of it. This will make the entire area down here safer."
Turner echoed Sacco's sentiments.
"You don't build a new firehouse here without development," Turner said. "With the development already taking place, the time is now. It's something that was sorely needed. It will be a wonderful facility and we all look forward to the day when it is open. Everyone has cooperated fully in this project. It's another commitment made by the developer and another one kept."
Goldberg continued to give the credit for the firehouse to Sires and Turner.
"They told us that they didn't expect us to build [the development] and then leave forever," Goldberg said. "Fortunately, they had the foresight to realize the importance of a new fire facility and they made us appreciate that it should be part and parcel with our development. The Weehawken and West New York developments should continue, but the firehouse is part of that development. It's important for all the communities involved. Not only does it add to the quality of life for our new residents, but it will act as a model, that it's not just a building. It's going to be in character of the entire area and we're proud of that fact."
Added Goldberg, "It's a substantial financial commitment on our part, but it's well worth it."
Schier & Lesser, an architectural firm based in Paramus, designed the facility.