In a recent unscientific poll – no, not that one – the Reporter asked 20 Secaucus residents three local trivia questions: What’s the name of the Secaucus High School football team? Where is the Anthony E. Just Memorial Duck Pond? Can you name the current or previous two mayors?
Ten of the residents were queried near the Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center. Those residents answered all three questions correctly (Or at least we think they did, since we don’t really know how to find that duck pond ourselves.)
The remaining 10 residents were queried as they came off the shuttle bus from the train station to Xchange at Secaucus Junction. Most of those residents struggled to name anything beyond Laurel Hill, the big county park located next to the large-scale housing development.
The differences in response speaks volumes, because it illustrates the broad differences between the Secaucus of old, and what could be described as the newer, emerging Secaucus over by the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station.
“It’s the job of the town officials to bring everybody together.” – John Bueckner
Harmon Cove is a sprawling gated community on Meadowlands Parkway that was built in the 1970s. Years ago, some residents of Harmon Cove pushed for a different zip code from the rest of Secaucus, and even wanted Harmon Cove to be a separate township.
“It always bothered me because we’re one town. Or at least we should be one town. We’re all part of the same thing,” Bueckner continued.
But like Harmon Cove did 35 years ago, Xchange promotes itself as a “luxury” community that caters to young urban professionals who want easy access to Manhattan – and who may have little interest right now in some of the family or senior-oriented community institutions that are the backbone of old Secaucus. Although Xchange residents are diverse, its core demographic is professionals between the ages of 27 and 35, according to its developer.
Xchange currently has about 1,000 residents living in approximately 478 units. When completed, Xchange will have more than 2,000 units.
Bueckner admits that a division between old and new could develop if town officials don’t take proactive steps to prevent it.
“When you have that kind of division, it’s not good for anybody,” he said. “It’s the job of the town officials to bring everybody together.”
To keep such a division from happening, the town has worked closely with Xchange’s developer over the last year to foster a sense of community between the old and the new.
“We want to make sure the Xchange residents are part of the community. And we want the older community of Secaucus to know that Xchange is there and see what we have to offer,” said William Hayes, a project manager with Atlantic Realty. Atlantic owns Fraternity Meadows, which is developing Xchange. “We’ve built public parks. We have an amphitheater down there. One of the first things we did was we installed a riverfront walkway. And we did that to bring the community down to Xchange.”
The 10-foot wide paved walkway begins on New County Road Extension, goes about 2,000 feet, and connects to Laurel Hill Park.
Earlier this year, Atlantic also purchased a small $29,000 fire truck that can navigate Xchange’s narrow internal streets more easily than the town’s other fire vehicles.
“The truck can more easily access places like the parking garages,” Hayes said. “And it helps the town because there are other similar garages in Secaucus over at Harmon Meadow and Harmon Cove, and they didn’t have the best equipment to fight fires in those types of situations. So we wanted to do our part and help them.”
Bueckner said the town is now working with Atlantic to co-host a day-long concert, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18, that will feature a line-up of Elton John, Billy Joel, and James Taylor tribute artists.
The day will also feature food and games, Hayes added. Atlantic is underwriting the cost of the concert, which will take place in the Xchange amphitheater.
Town officials have reciprocated by hosting some of its recent movie nights at the development.
Development likely home of new supermarket
Residents town-wide may soon have other another opportunity to meet their new neighbors.
The D’Agostino food store chain has taken an interest in a 15,000 to 20,000 square foot retail space at Xchange. Currently, the company is putting together architecture plans for a grocery store at the development. If D’Agostino goes through with preliminary plans to open a store there, it will be the town’s only alternative to the grocery inside the Walmart Supercenter.