The wooded area was owned by the township, but was too small to develop anything on it. So it sat there for decades.
That was, until North Bergen Parking Authority executive director Bob Baselice came up with an idea to turn it into a viable parking lot.
"It was property that was being underutilized," said Baselice, who has been the director of the township's Parking Authority for the past year. "We had a lot of requests from residents in the neighborhood to see if we could somehow increase the parking."
Baselice had every reason to examine the parking situation in the most southern end of the township, just off the border between North Bergen and Jersey City.
"Bob lives in the neighborhood," North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco said. "He drives past this area every day. He saw this area as something that could be better used if fixed properly."
So Baselice got together with the powers that be in the township and came up with a concept to turn the area into a viable parking lot. There would be room for 23 rented spaces for local residents. The income would go to renovations of the lot.
To save money, Baselice rounded up the township's departments, such as Public Works, Parks and the Parking Authority, in order to build the lot from within and no help from an outside contractor.
That's right: All the paving, the macadam blacktop, the construction of the fencing, and the lighting was all done in house.
"It was a combined effort," Baselice said.
Eighteen already rented
Last Wednesday, there was a ribbon cutting to officially announce the opening of the new Parking Authority lot on Bove Terrace and Fifth Street. Already, 18 of the 23 spaces have been rented, at a cost of $75 per month, to local residents.
"When we started to fix it, people in the area started asking about it," Baselice said. "I'd have to say about 90 percent of the renters are Columbia Avenue residents who didn't have a place to park before. Not only has this area become valuable for the residents, but it's also now a viable revenue source. In this area, parking is at a premium with really no place to park on the streets. We're able to provide 23 new spaces because of this."
Baselice said that residents were parking their cars anyway along the street on Bove Terrace. Now, there is room for even more cars - with the township collecting monthly revenue from it.
"The Parking Authority is leasing the property from the town for $1 a year," Baselice said. "The work was done by us and took about six weeks. Everything about this made sense."
"This happened because of the vision of Bob Baselice," Sacco said. "It goes from being an underutilized eyesore to a practical parking lot for an area that was desperately in need of parking. We're providing a service to the community and we were able to do it ourselves, using our staff. It was a long, narrow strip of land that couldn't be used for anything else."
Baselice said that it will not take long to rent out the final five spots. If anyone is interested, they should contact the Parking Authority at (201) 869-6200 during business hours.