The Jersey InsiderOpen for BusinessMarch 13, 2009
Vol. X, Issue 1. Friday, January 1, 2014
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Open for Business


March 13, 2009


Nicholas J. Veliky

The first casualties of Clifton's Economic Crisis occurred this past Friday March 6th at close of business and on Saturday Morning March 7th. City employees, some who were long time City Hall fixtures, said their goodbyes as they left City Hall for the last time, facing what for many, will be an uncertain future. On Saturday morning, Fire Station 2 located on Dumont Avenue, was closed as the final tour of duty came to an end. The somber ceremony at the Clifton Firehouse was attended by over 100 residents and firefighters who were there to show their support of the firefighters who were laid off as a result of the City's cutbacks. For a time there seemed to be hope that the firefighter layoffs could be averted. Sticking points that prevented coming to an agreement included the firemen requesting a guarantee of no additional layoffs for the next four years and extending their current contract for the next four years. The FMBA had agreed to $660 thousand dollars in give backs in concessions when the city had requested $750 thousand. . . Swaying in the morning breeze from atop the Fire Station #2 roof was a homemade banner that read "Firehouse Closed By the City That Cares?" . . . Residents arriving at City Hall Monday March 9th found departments maneuvering to provide the level of service that the residents have come to expect, but with fewer personnel. With rumors already circulating about additional layoffs in July, the real question here is how much more can they cut? . . . So you would think that with these layoff and cutbacks, things would be "better" with Clifton's economic forecast. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Residents will be facing a substantial tax increase to the municipal tax bill, not to mention the guaranteed increases we can expect from both County and Board of Education tax levies. Hold onto your wallets folks this is definitely going to be a rough ride.

It would seem as if no institution is safe from our current economic woes with the announcement that St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic has filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. Hospital officials stated that the Hospital will continue to operate without interruption of services during the course of the bankruptcy case. This recent turn of events makes one wonder what impact this will have on the recently announced capital campaign organized by the St. Mary's Hospital Foundation. St. Mary's Hospital was founded in 1895, and is the only remaining hospital in the city of Passaic. The facility currently operates 300 beds, and has approximately 1,300 employees and 400 affiliated physicians. Last year, it treated approximately 13,000 inpatients, 10,500 patients requiring same-day procedures and 35,000 individuals at the Emergency Department. With this kind of demand by the community it's sad to see they've fallen on hard times.

With no new major projects on the horizon the attention of Clifton's Economic Development office will be focused on local corridor enhancement, what that basically means is that Main Avenue, Lakeview Avenue, Athenia and Botany all need to focus on bringing businesses that provide personal (hair salons nail salons), financial (accounting, law and insurance offices), and medical services to the community. It has been determined that local retail (unless they are extremely specialized) has an insurmountable task when competing with big box retailers. Going forward you can expect Clifton's local corridors to take on a new look. One thing for sure, it's going to take more than fa├žade improvements to breathe new life into the local economy.

On April 18th the 5th Annual Passaic County Film Festival will be held. One of the supporters of the event is Clifton's original shopping mall, Styertown Shopping Center. . . Styertown, located at the intersection of Allwood Road and Bloomfield Avenue has remained the city's focal points for quality retail stores since its opening in the late 1950's. Major retailers like Kid City, Modell's, AC Moore, GNC - General Nutrition Center, Dress Barn, Acme and the Atlanta Bread Company have joined many local businesses such as Styertown Bakery, Bertelli's Liquors and others who have chosen to set up shop in Styertown. You can always find what you want and need locally without the trek to the highway malls.

The Board of Education election is on April 21st just over one month away. Three seats are opened and need to be filled by the three most capable candidates out of a field of seven. Running for reelection are incumbents Commissioner Lizz Gagnon, Commissioner Michael Paitchell, and Commissioner Michael Urciuoli, current board president. Challengers include, Jack Houston, an assistant Dean at Fordham University and previous challenger in the 2007 Board of Education race. Carlo Santelli, a 21 years old newcomer, Jim Daley who is probably most well known for his in-depth research into the Board of Education actions surrounding the 290 Brighton Road project. And last but not least local activist Joe Yeamans. . . Paitchell, Daley and Yeamans have made it official they are running as a ticket. . . With so many issues and challenges facing Clifton's Board of Education, it's good to see at least a few residents still think enough of Clifton's educational process to step forward and run for a seat on the Board. With one sitting BOE commissioner referring to election season as "silly season", it is sometimes hard to get people to take the election process seriously. The Clifton school system offers every student the opportunity to make the most of their education. As a community let's do justice to the students and make sure we get out and vote our conscience on the budget and cast ballots for the three candidates we feel will best serve our community. . . So you thought it was tough getting around town before, Rt 46 bridge construction at Hazel Street should slow things a bit more.
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