Redevelopment Meeting (August 22, 2007)

On August 22, 2007, in Mayor & Council, Video, by RP Citizens

The redevelopment update meeting was led by Mayor Joseph DeIorio and borough clerk Doreen Cali. Councilmen Rick Matarante, Larry Dinardo, and Ricky Badillo, as well as Kenneth Blum were also in attendance. Councilmen Harms and Yakubov were both out of the state and Councilman Rubilla was attending to business matters.

The mayor stated the meeting was an update from January as to the various aspects of Roselle Park’s redevelopment, which included the downtown district, the Romerovski property, and Westfield Avenue.

The downtown business district, also referred to as “the ‘T’ District”, is the area on Chestnut Street from Grant Avenue to Westfield Avenue and continues on both sides of Westfield Avenue at the Chestnut Street intersection. The Special Improvement District (SID) was started so the business community could govern themselves and have a means to communicate with the governing body to address their needs. An SID board was voted upon and approved, consisting of six borough business owners and/or representatives.

The borough has formed a partnership with the downtown area to improvement the area’s aesthetics.

  • Lamps had their globes replaced by PSEG
  • New burgundy benches are to be installed in the coming weeks
  • New garbage cans
  • Flower Pots
  • Tree wells have been installed
  • Antique meters (those with problems have been identified and are being addressed)
  • Meter covers
  • Sidewalks power-washed
  • Chestnut Street paved by the county
  • Street signs are being replaced

All these improvements are to contribute to the area’s ‘wow’ factor and are to maintain unity not only in image but aesthetics. The mayor stated that areas of downtown are sloppy and need to be addressed and kept up.

The Casano Community Center, as part of the New Directions Plan, is having improvements made. The building, built in the 1980s, is having work done on the inside and outside. Tiles are being replaced inside and the borough is looking for volunteers to paint both inside and outside of the building. The concrete slab in front of the center is being dressed up to make it more pleasing to the eye. The benches from the downtown area are being refurbished and put in front for people to have a place to sit. Additionally, sod is being put in the front area. The chain link fence is being removed and replaced with a more appealing one. This is the first pilot project of the redevelopment.

New “Welcome” signs, at no cost to the borough, are being created. The business that will be placing the signs will have them subsidized through advertising.

The center divider is being addressed. The borough has applied to a program through NJDOT and has had their request for a free planning service accepted. The program will help find funding for any course of action that is decided upon.

The former “Tavern In the Park” has been replaced with Solar do Minho II and is scheduled to open to the public at the end of September. Tony Montiero, a principal of the establishment, gave a presentation which showcased Solar do Minho II as a restaurant and banquet hall. Mr. Montiero stated that Solar do Minho II, a Brazilian steakhouse, will offer an old-world feel with high ceilings. There will be a bar, a garden on the side of the building and parking. There is additional valet parking across the street (140-160 cars). The property next door, an auto body shop, was also purchased to allow for additional parking (about 65 cars). Solar do Minho has two (2) banquet facilities – one can accommodate 350-400 people and the other can seat 300 people. The building is surround by lanterns outside. There will be a grand opening the third or fourth week of September. The hall already has 28 wedding booked.

After the presentation, Mr. Montiero took questions from the audience in attendance:

Is Solar do Minho planning entertainment (jazz music, adult contemporary), not club, DJ?
Initially, Solar do Minho will concentrate on its facilities. There may be old-world guitars from time to time to add to the ambience. The establishment is not interested in becoming a dance hall, per se. It took the residential neighbors into consideration and addressed any foreseeable instances from aesthetic fencing to water run off.

Will Solar do Minho be working with local businesses? Florists? Limos?
Yes, the establishment plans to work with local businesses. They will have an open house for local professional photographers, florists, etc.

Will Solar do Minho hire local employment?
Yes. The chefs and specialized service has already been hired but the steakhouse is looking to employ 80 – 85 people.

With all the expected business (up to 700 patrons) and employees (around 80), how will parking be handled?
Solar do Minho has an ample parking lot next door, a leased parking lot across the street, and it has leased a property next to the valet parking area to park more cars and house employees (chefs) and their families. There is a shuttle service for employees and residential property owners next to the steakhouse have expressed interest in selling, which would allow for more space.

The mayor then continued with the redevelopment update. He wants to instill a sense of pride. To that end, “Proud To be Roselle Park” signs were donated by Schering Plough. Litter signs, created by a borough resident, have also been adopted and will be distributed.

The Romerovski site has issues. Israel Braunstein, owner of the property, has gotten together with AvalonBay, a high-end apartment developer, and created Roselle Park, LLC. The Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) is suing the borough of Roselle Park, stating the borough has not met its fair share housing requirements. According to the mayor, amid a public notice to have developers openly present their ideas to the community, AvalonBay contacted Mr. Braunstein and wanted to be the only developer for the property. The borough stated that this was not the course of action agreed upon. The lawsuit has now stalled the process. This will cost the borough money in order to defend the process and its stance but it is necessary, stated the mayor.

The mayor then fielded questions, comments, and concerns from the audience in attendance:

Concealed public drinking, littering, and loitering not being addressed by the police department.

There are ways to address the public social problems in Roselle Park. Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. There is a website at http://www.cpted-watch.com/ that might be of interest to the borough and residents.

The Homestead Project can get areas of Roselle Park on the Historic register and allow for protection against unwanted development. This would be a challenge since it would required a formed partnership and would take years but it could protect Roselle Park from future endeavors that might go against the borough.

An audience member stated that the real problem with Roselle Park’s development is not Romerovski but Sullivan Chevrolet, Somerset Tires, and STS. It does not make Roselle Park look historic nor is it inviting to visitors. It makes it look like a poor looking community. The mayor stated that the issue with this area is money.

Former mayor Helen Ryan spoke with regard to what is commonly known as “The Ryan Property”. She stated that the NJDOT will analyze the property and come up with solutions. She just came from a meeting with the architect and engineer and is getting everything together to go before the board.

A resident asked what could be done to make the section from the Garden State Parkway (GSP) to the ‘T’ district more attractive to visitors and businesses.

The mayor stated that 230 Westfield Avenue, known as Domani’s, is planning a redevelopment to allow for stores on the first floor and possibly condominiums on the second floor. The property owner will go before the zoning board on October 23rd. Plans are available at borough hall.

A resident asked if senior (adult living) housing can address the low income housing requirement. The mayor stated that it can.

A resident stated that downtown lacks diversity and that it is not a ‘shopping downtown’ but a ‘need-to-go’ downtown. The resident, a business owner in Roselle Park, stated that she has not been contacted by the SID yet and the borough needs focus and a vision for the shopping district.

The meeting closed with a question off topic, regarding bulk pick up. The mayor stated that due to budget constraints, the number of bulk pick ups had to be reduced but the borough is looking for one more bulk pick up one more time before the end of the year. A bulk pick-up service will still be in effect next year.

Some residents asked for more public notice and advertising of meetings such as the redevelopment meeting to get more residents involved. This is to involve not only notices on web sites and automated phone calls but old-fashioned flier distribution at churches, school, community centers, and businesses.