A resolution that was tabled at the last meeting was passed at Tuesday's meeting. The item mandated that management offices be placed directly on the premises of buildings in the city that have more than 100 units. The idea is to make sure that residents can address their complaints with an on-site manager between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The buildings affected are the Doric, the Troy Towers, Bella Vista and the Lennox Apartments.
A settlement between the city and a local landlord was announced. The city had taken it upon themselves to, along with the health department and state officials, condemn and shut down a local house where the residents were found to be living in what Mayor Brian Stack described as "deplorable" conditions. The city paid to relocate and house the tenants to the tune of $55,000. An agreement was reached with the landlord to pay this amount to the city in full.
Said Stack, "If anything sends a message to 'slumlords,' this does. The taxpayers shouldn't suffer from one 'slumlord.' We don't have many, but we do have a handful and they ruin it for the rest."
An ordinance was introduced mandating that the minimum temperature in all apartment buildings run by landlords in the city be kept at 70 degrees, an increase of 2 degrees from 68. Said Stack, "These two degrees may not make a big difference to people like me or other younger people here, but to an elderly person or young infant, it makes a big difference."
Another ordinance introduced requires that dog-walkers carry a plastic bag or similar receptacle at all times to pick up dog waste. Said Stack, "This will be strictly enforced."
Passed Tuesday was an ordinance that would require an applicant to the Planning Board to pay a $200 fee that would go to the city attorney, at which time the money would be kept in an escrow account. In the event that the application is rejected, the $200 will be returned. The reason for this, according to City Clerk Mike Licamelli, is that in the past, the applicant's attorneys were charged with preparing the applications. It was found in some instances that they were "inadequate" or incomplete. With the new ordinance, the city attorney would be paid by the applicant to oversee the process, effectively keeping it "in-house."
Next on the agenda was a state-mandated ordinance that raises the price that the public would pay for copies of city records. Currently, a resident would pay $.50 for the first 10 copies and $.25 for the next 10. The new fee schedule raises that by $.25. So, a resident will now pay $.75 for the first 10 copies, $.50 for the next 10 and $.25 for the rest.
Mayor Stack announced new city projects that will be completed in the coming year. First on his list was a new recreation center at 47th Street. This center will have a retractable roof, which according to Stack "will expose 75 to 80 percent of the pool area during the summer." The pool will be Olympic-sized and will include a kiddie pool. Bids will be accepted for this project on Dec. 16 at 10 a.m.
Stack also announced that the long-neglected Yardley Steps will finally be rebuilt. The contract was just awarded to the Tec-Con Corporation of East Orange, who came in with the lowest bid at $688,291. According to Stack, the project "will be started in January and should take about six months or so to complete."
Said Stack in an interview during a recess, "This is something that has been in the planning stages since 1997. The project is being funded by a federal ISTEA grant of approximately $800,000. The stairs will be wider and fenced in. People are still using these stairs even though they are in a state of disrepair. Right now, I'd say 50 to 60 people are using the stairs daily." According to the mayor, the new steps will be lit by "period lighting similar to what's on Bergenline Avenue" and will include emergency call boxes.
Also at the meeting, Mayor Brian Stack and the rest of the commissioners held a ceremony honoring a group of people who helped erect a monument in Doric Park dedicated to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. Engraved plaques were given to all the people involved.
Union City-based architect Anna Galvan, a West New York resident, was feted for donating her time and expertise to the project by designing the memorial. Stack said, "On behalf of Union City, I'd like to personally thank Anna. Whenever Union City needs her, she's there. She's done so much for Union City."
Next to receive a plaque was Steven Avella from the Hi-Point Garage in Union City. Commissioner Tilo Rivas read from the plaque and thanked Avella, who had gone to the Fresh Kills landfill and brought back a steel beam from the WTC wreckage for use in the monument.
Commissioner Christopher Irizarry introduced West New York resident Enrique Beltran, who had donated time and materials to the monument. Two other people were involved in the effort but could not attend the meeting so they were thanked by the board in absentia.
Mayor Stack asked the assembled crowd to stand and observe a "moment of silence" in remembrance of the victims of flight 587. Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the air disaster in which an Airbus A-300 jet crashed in the town of Belle Harbor, N.Y. on its way to the Dominican Republic, killing 287 people.
Liquor license and extra hours denied
Mayor Brian Stack's administration continued Tuesday night with its campaign to crack down on what he believes are quality-of-life problems imposed by local bars.
Union City nightclub and tavern representative Maria Garcia came to speak to the board with a petition requesting that the ordinance requiring all liquor-serving establishments to close by 2 a.m. be rescinded for one night only: New Years' Eve. According to Garcia, it is a "tradition" for the Spanish culture to congregate together and stay out late on that night.
This was met with a myriad of comments from the board, including Commissioner Irizarry, who commented that since the ordinance to was passed closing all bars by 2 a.m., police calls to these locations was down almost 40 percent. Said Irizarry, "People have stopped various members of the board on the street, thanking us for passing the ordinance."
The board unanimously rejected the petition.
The assembled residents then spoke out against the transfer of a liquor license from one part of town to their neighborhood.
The liquor license, officially known as the "Columbus Democratic Club" had lost their lease at 417 39th St. in the early part of the summer and looked to relocate. They finally found what they thought was a suitable location at 420 34 th St. and took occupancy of the location. There were, according to official record, complaints from local residents about noise and people congregating outside. Union City police Sgt. Michael Figeroa testified that he had found that the establishment had no Certificate of Occupancy and also "had no exit signs and no fire alarms and the only exit was the front door." He wrote them a summons for "unlicensed premises."
John Lynch, counsel for the owner of the liquor license, vehemently protested, saying that the fact that there was a summons written for lack of a CO had nothing to do with the transfer of the license.
The mayor responded by inviting residents to come up and speak to the subject.
First up and most vociferous was 34th Street resident John Fusoni who stated, "I cannot think of any good reasons to have this bar in our neighborhood, but I can think of a million as to why we shouldn't. Thirty-fourth Street is the nicest block in Union City. I want my father in his last years to have peace and quiet. And if this bar is put here, he won't have it."
A parade of residents made their way to the podium and not one was in favor of the bar.
Mayor Stack then moved to deny the request. A unanimous vote to deny was cast to thunderous applause.
Said Stack, "I don't think there are any benefits to having this bar in this neighborhood. I could not approve this in good conscience. It wouldn't be in the best interest of the children." -- Dylan Archilla