A Message from Mayor Minichetti
Another year has gone by in what feels like a flash, yet much has been accomplished. Many of the challenges that have faced our community over the past few years are nearing or have been brought to a conclusion through the incredible dedication and efforts of the council, Borough staff and our professionals. It is a privilege to work side by side with people of such integrity.
None of these challenges were something our community wanted; however, the municipality had no legal choice but to comply. Nonetheless, the council worked to ensure the best possible outcomes for our residents as a whole. Tough decisions were made while balancing the community’s concerns along with the harsh realities of legal and financial constraints. We faced up to 1,500 rental apartments on One Lake Street and 353 townhomes on the golf course. Options and alternatives were extensively weighed but none were realistic. Municipalities throughout the state have been working to satisfy requirements set by the NJ Supreme Court and Fair Share Housing. Those who think otherwise are either unaware or refuting the facts regarding affordable housing mandates in the State of New Jersey.
One Lake Street: A settlement agreement was reached after Mack-Cali sued the Borough in both federal and state courts in a builder’s remedy lawsuit. Toll Brothers closed on the One Lake Street property in December, 2018. The developer purchased the site of the former Pearson Education building from Mack-Cali and will be constructing 208 townhomes, including 22 affordable units, along with a clubhouse and pool for the owners to enjoy. The project will likely take several years to complete in entirety. However, the change in ownership and the selling price will allow for the reassessment of the land in 2019. Again, if local officials denied the demolition, the decision would be quickly overruled. As a result of the demolition, the improvement assessment of $31,512,000 was eliminated at the end of 2016, reducing the 2017 ratable by that amount. Although at that time there was approximately a loss of $600,000 in tax revenues, that has been offset with additional assessments of approximately $940,000 in tax revenues by 2018. This includes additional revenues from the reassessment of the Apple Ridge site of $40,255,000. (Read more in the Apple Ridge Golf Course paragraph below). Long-term financial stability has been one of the critical components in the Governing Body’s decision process.
New Recreational Opportunities: The Borough purchased nine acres of the property at One Lake Street for future recreational use at a cost of $2 million and was awarded $1.6 million in Open Space monies from the County of Bergen. This is a project that has long been discussed as our community grows and our recreational needs expand. When the project is nearer to becoming a reality, a committee will be formed and input from residents, coaches and sports teams will be encouraged to help design something that will meet long-term needs and be a true asset to our community. It is a very exciting opportunity for everyone.
Apple Ridge Golf Course: The roadway leading to the new cul de sac and plantings are now finished to allow for the beginning of construction of 44 single family homes. Originally a plan for 353 townhomes with 71 affordable units was submitted due to the golf course having been designated as an overlay zone for affordable housing in the 1990’s. According to the developer, Toll Brothers, there is much interest in the marketplace for the homes but obviously there is no way to estimate the completion of the project. As mentioned above, the property was reassessed after receiving sub-division approval and will be again reassessed as each home is completed. This will be extremely helpful to the Borough’s tax base and long-term financial stability.
There has been talk on social media regarding the methodology and completion of the remediation of the former apple orchard. Pesticides including lead and arsenic were historically utilized on the fruit, typical usage years ago. Our residents’ health, safety and well-being are always the first priority of the Governing Body and our professionals. To this end, we have sought certification from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and the Bergen Soil Conservation District numerous times. The Borough has authorized water samples in strategic locations, both before and after severe rainstorms. In addition, I had asked for oversight from Governor Murphy’s office and Congressman Josh Gottheimer. We have received strong reassurances from both offices that the remediation was completed in conformance with NJDEP guidelines.
On December 3, 2018, approximately one year after the NJDEP deemed the project successfully remediated, a letter was sent to both Mayor John Roth of Mahwah and myself with the conclusion, “It should be noted the sampling results, ordered by Upper Saddle River, of October 16, October 29 and November 12, 2018 confirm DEP’s determination that the historically applied pesticides at the Apple Ridge Golf Course have been satisfactorily remediated and the final remediation document issued by the LSRP is protective. Consequently, DEP’s Site Remediation and Waste Management Program considers this case to be closed.”
The letter in its entirety can be found on the Borough website, www.usrtoday.org, along with test results and other related information. The Borough of Upper Saddle River will continue to monitor and test the surface water as a reassurance.
Become involved: Volunteers are needed for many of our boards and committees. Community participation is one of the things that makes Upper Saddle River a wonderful place to live. Events like Oktoberfest, 5K Run, Historical Society and Library programming, and our community and service organizations enrich our quality of life. If you are interested in being part of the Board of Health, Shade Tree Commission, Youth Guidance Council or Recreation Commission, please email a letter of interest and short resume to Rose Vido at email@example.com for consideration. If you’d like more information on a particular board or position, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to discuss the many ways you can become involved.
The strong support and generous offers of assistance I receive from residents are greatly appreciated. Mine is not an easy position, however, it is a most rewarding one. It is an honor to lead and represent my community. I extend my gratitude and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year to all of you.
Joanne L. Minichetti – Mayor of Upper Saddle River
1st Quarter Taxes Due Feb. 1: The Tax Office wishes to remind residents that the first quarter 2019 taxes are due on or before February 1st. Upper Saddle River offers a ten-day grace period. If real estate taxes are not paid by February 11th, State law requires that interest is then due from February 1st to the date they are paid. The Borough accepts checks or money orders only.
Recycling Schedule Change: Please note there will be no East Side recycling pickup on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 (New Year’s Day). The pickup has been rescheduled for Friday, January 4th.
Curbside White Goods: Thursday, January 10th. Please call 201-327-2196 x 221 at least 3 days prior to schedule this pickup.
Christmas Tree Pickup: Christmas trees, stripped of all decorations, will be picked up curbside from January 2, 2019 through January 31, 2019. Trees may also be dropped off at the Recycling Center behind Borough Hall any Saturday in January from 8 a.m. to noon.
A few important winter weather reminders: During snow and ice events, garbage and recycling need to be placed curbside. Trucks can’t get in and out of driveways. To ensure pickup, please place tightly sealed containers at the curb.
By ordinance, overnight parking is not allowed on any municipal street. Vehicles parked overnight will receive a summons. If special circumstances are involved, please call the Police Department. Keeping the roadways clear becomes even more important during winter months, as roadways are being salted and plowed. Cars parked overnight in the roadway will be towed.
Please don’t forget to plow a 3-foot clearing around any fire hydrant near your residence. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to keep these clear of snow and ice. Tickets will be issued. The USR Volunteer Fire Department has installed tall markers so the hydrants can be located more easily.
Dog and Cat Licenses Due in January: Upper Saddle River dogs and cats are due for their annual licenses. The new 2019 certificates and tags will be available at the Borough Hall starting January 2019. Licenses are required for all dogs and cats that have had rabies shots. Proof of rabies immunization, which must be valid through the 10th month of the licensing year as required by the State of NJ, and proof of neutering/spaying (if applicable) are also required. USR basic licensing fee for dogs is $15 and for cats $5. There is an additional charge of $3 for a non-neutered/spayed dog or cat. This fee is established by the State to help control the stray animal population. There is a $5 late fee for dogs and cats registered after February 15, 2019.
Upper Saddle River School District Kindergarten Registration: Parents of Kindergarten age children (having attained the age of 5 years on or before October 1) are invited to attend a Kindergarten Orientation Program. The meeting will be held in the Travers Multipurpose Room on Thursday, January 10, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Registration procedures, a typical Kindergarten day, and curriculum will be discussed. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Mrs. Finn, Reynolds School Secretary at (201) 961-6300 or email email@example.com by Friday, January 4, 2019.
A Message from the Upper Saddle River Police Department: The snowstorm that occurred back in the middle of November 2018 proved to us the importance of preparing yourself for winter driving. The storm left many of us stuck in traffic for hours during the evening commute. Many drivers were not prepared to spend this time in their vehicle. Whether it be a winter snowstorm, flooding, or a hurricane there are things that drivers can do to prepare ahead of time if confronted with one of these types of events.
- Get your vehicle serviced. Make sure the tires, windshield wipers, battery, electrical system, cooling system, and brakes are in good condition.
- If you must travel during a winter storm, let someone know your travel plans and make sure your cell phone if fully charged. Remember that roadways may be closed and your route may have to change.
- Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, hood, and roof areas.
- Leave plenty of room for stopping, and be mindful of the reduced speed limits.
- Drive with care, even if you think a roadway was cleared.
- Avoid any roadway covered in water. You have no idea how deep the water is.
- A vehicle is not a safe place during a flood. Seek higher ground. Moving water can and will float a vehicle. The opposite is true if stuck in a snowstorm. Do not try to leave your vehicle as the cold weather can endanger your life.
- Make up a survival kit for your car. Suggestions include but are not limited to an ice scraper, blankets, a First Aid kit, a small shovel, jumper cables, non-perishable high calorie food, warm clothes, a flashlight, matches and road flares.
- Drive defensively, and always wear your seatbelt.
- Watch for downed trees and wires. Do not try to move any type of wire laying in the roadway. The wire maybe energized.
- Traffic lights may not be functioning at intersections. If this occurs, treat the intersection as if it were a four way stop.
- The best advice for drivers is to stay off the road. The snowstorm in November proved to be very challenging for emergency service personnel and the Department of Public Works this in part due to the number of drivers whose vehicles were stuck. Furthermore, there were many who abandoned their vehicles on the roadway, which affected road-clearing operations.
Please understand that depending on the severity of the event some situations can make it difficult for emergency service personnel to reach you in a timely manner. Remember to call the Police Department immediately, if you are in danger should need assistance or become stranded during a severe weather event. We are here to help you. For more information on traveling during severe weather, events please visit https://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/#.XA58WOJOmUk
Adult Walk-In Health Clinic: Thursday, January 24, 2019 from noon-1 p.m. at Borough Hall. Services include a Health History Evaluation, Blood Pressure Measurement, Height and Weight, Individualized Counseling and Education, Referral and Follow-up and a Confidential Consultation with a Public Health Nurse. This is free of charge to adult USR residents on the 4th Thursday of each month through the Borough’s contract with the County of Bergen Health Department. For more information please call 201-327-2196.
USR Cares Coat Drive: USR Cares is partnering with our local quad district teachers. Help give the gift of warmth! They will be collecting new and gently used coats from January 2nd to 20th. Collection boxes for children and adult sizes will be located at Northern Highlands, the USR Library and the Allendale and Saddle River Post Offices. A coat distribution will be held on Monday, January 21st from 9-11:30 a.m. at the USR Firehouse. Any coats not given out on the 21st will be donated to local charities.
USR Library Happenings:
KANOPY- The World’s Finest Cinema: The on-demand film streaming service Kanopy is now available for free to our cardholders! Access Kanopy and sign up to start streaming more than 30,000 of the world’s best films, including award-winning documentaries, instantly by visiting www.uppersaddleriverlibrary.org. Films can be streamed from any computer, television, mobile device or platform by downloading the Kanopy app for iOS, Android, AppleTV, Chromecast or Roku.
Anita Laugh Comedy Troupe: On Wednesday, January 30th at 7 p.m., Anita Laugh Improv Comedy Troupe brings their dead-on celebrity impressions and slick improv in the style of “Who’s Line is it Anyway”. Scenes are fueled by audience suggestions so every show is unique. Be prepared for an all-around great time! Registration is required.
Woman’s Club $pread The Love Mega Raffle: 2019 might be your lucky year! Get your ticket to win Valentine’s Day $ today! The Woman’s Club is sponsoring a $pread The Love Mega Raffle. Only 300 Tickets will be sold at $50 each. Prizes are:
$2500 Visa Gift Card
$1500 Visa Gift Card
$1000 Visa Gift Card
Proceeds will benefit USR First Responders, Scholarships and other charitable causes. Tickets are going fast! Get yours today! Call Diana Nash 201-669-8468. Drawing will take place at Borough Hall on February 14th at noon.
JCO of Northern Bergen County: Save the date to join the JCO in celebrating our 6th year of granting wishes at our annual Make-A-Wish luncheon on March 1 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. This year we have adopted the wish of a nine years old boy who has bone cancer. He likes to swim and loves to eat chips. He wants to visit Mexico because he learned about it on his IPAD and wants to see the pyramids. He hopes to swim and eat lots of chips on a Western Caribbean Cruise. To donate a raffle prize or for more information please contact the JCO at firstname.lastname@example.org.