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Mayor McDonough and Broken Promises

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The Jersey Journal Archive

COPYRIGHT © The Jersey Journal 1999

Date: 1999/06/22

Tuesday Page: 3 Section: A Edition: First Size: 556 words

Merchants agree to new SID tax to make Harrison new 'in' place to be

By Tony Attrino, Journal correspondent

Town may become the next Hoboken

HARRISON - Can this one-time industrial town become Hudson County's newest trendy spot?

That's what some people think can happen as a result of a special improvement district approved by the town council at a special Friday night meeting.

"We can turn Harrison into another Hoboken, 10 minutes away," said Steve McCormack, owner of a clothing store on Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard. "Harrison, when it's spruced up, can be the kind of place where people want to meet after work after getting off the PATH train for something to eat and some entertainment. We're going in the right direction."

About 110 commercial property owners along Harrison Avenue and Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard from the Kearny border to Essex Street will be taxed an additional one-half of 1 percent of their assessed value. The money, roughly $82,000 a year, will be used to make exterior improvements to the business district, increase security, pay for trees, install lighting and seek new grants.

The SID was unanimously approved by the town council despite some community opposition. The council also created a 15-member panel to act as the SID's managing corporation. It will include 13 business owners, Mayor Raymond McDonough, and one council member.

McDonough was so confident of the plan that he staked his political career on it at a public meeting Thursday night in Harrison High School.

"If nothing happens, don't vote for me next year," he told a crowd of about 60.

A steering committee of 41 town business owners came up with the details for the district. Supporters of the plan cited its success in Red Bank,

where the vacant stores of the 1980s became a flourishing business district in the early 1990s after the creation of an SID. In the August 1995 issue of New Jersey Monthly, it was even named "New Jersey's Hippest Town." There are now 44 SIDs statewide.

"The program works," Leonard Berkeley, owner of Laundry King on Harrison Avenue, said at Friday's meeting. "Obviously it depends on how much money is available, but it works."

But some Harrison residents scoffed at the comparison with other municipalities.

"Our community is an industrial community, and here we are trying to give it a suburban-type appearance," John Cappuccino said.

McDonough replied that that kind of thinking for Harrison is outdated.

"We have tried to get industry back to Harrison," he said. "They're not coming back."

Some people in the audience complained there had not been enough notice surrounding the effort to create the SID and wanted more input.

"I don't see what the advantages are of letting strangers handle our business," Cappuccino said, referring to the business owners who will be on the managing corporation. "Our fathers would want to know why we are trying to turn this over to strangers."

"They're not strangers," McDonough replied.

Thursday night, businessmen also had a bone to pick with the SID plan. Business owner Jose Lopes argued that the assessment formula was too high. Another said it put an unfair burden on SID stores while other Harrison businesses don't contribute anything.

"Why not assess all businesses? Some make millions in town and they have no assessment?" the store owner, who refused to give his name, asked.

Journal correspondent William Pena contributed to this story.

URL: <a href="/texis/search/story.html?table=jj1999&id=37d8314f8">Merchants agree to new SID tax to make Harrison new 'in' place to be</a>

What happened is this was a program started by Anselmo Millan.  Another one of his projects that was taken away and disolved by Mayor McDonough and the existing council.  It's time to bring these projects back.  VOTE M-I-L-L-A-N AND THE WHOLE TEAM

Facts (prove me wrong)

Michael Fernandez

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