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* Red Bulls Kick Off Season Against Chicago Fire


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The Harrison Red Bulls have just kicked off their 2010 Season in their new Red Bulls Stadium in Harrison, NJ. In at least one newspaper, the Red Bulls were kicking off their season in Harrison, NY. There is a Harrison New York but Harrison New Jersey is a far cry from affluent Harrison New York. It is unlikely that Harrison New York would accept the building of a 25,000+ soccer stadium within its city limits.

Red Bulls fans converged by car and by train on the one square mile town of Harrison New Jersey and looked with awe at the stadium as they moved closer and closer to realizing their dream of a brand new soccer specific stadium. Traffic barriers prevented fans from crossing South Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard prematurely and directed them to designated crosswalks. Former Mayor Frank E. Rodgers would have likely been on the corner of then South 4th Street and the Path station welcoming the New York Red Bulls fans and the Chicago Fire fans to his Harrison, New Jersey. Fans however were greeted by Harrison and Hudson County Police and Sheriff officer along with private security officers directing traffic and otherwise maintaining public safety.

The Red Bulls stadiums was suppose to be joined by the mixed use development by the Advance Realty Group. Despite advertisement along fences blocking off vast city blocks in front of the Red Bulls stadium promoting the Riverbend District, the Advance Realty Group has failed to start horizontal construction of any of the planned construction. Advance Realty has received permission from the Harrison Planning Board to forgo planned sidewalk and lighting improvements. In their place are temporary blacktop sidewalks and pole lighting courtesy of Harrison taxpayers who footed the bill for PSE&G poll lighting to comply with the agreement with the Red Bulls organization.

The property tax revenue which was suppose to be realized by the Advance Realty Group development has failed to materialize and the Harrison taxpayers are facing a reported 3.1 million dollar bond payment this year. The Red Bulls are suppose to pay 2.1 million dollars in an added property tax assessment in November. There are doubts however whether the Red Bulls will actually make any payment since the Town of Harrison owns the property on top of which the Red Bulls stadium sits and nobody in the administration has come forward to state that the ground lease agreement between the Red Bulls and the town contemplates a property tax payment.

What could the Red Bulls do to help the Town of Harrison? They could make an advanced payment of the property taxes they will (supposedly) owe in November 2010. They could publicize on their website the various restaurants in Harrison. They could create a handy street guide containing all the Restaurants in Town and select business that would be of interest to Red Bulls fans during their visit to the Town of Harrison.

The shuttle that has been set up to bring fans from the Newark Broad Street station is a great start but may I suggest that the Shuttle go down Harrison Avenue and then make a right onto South 5th Street and proceed past the Harrison Mini-Mall on Bergen. Maybe fans would patronize some more local businesses or at least realize that Harrison is more than just the Path station, empty lots in front of a brand new Red Bulls stadium and the new home of the Red Bulls soccer club. Local merchants are suffering from a downturn in the economy and would welcome some increased traffic. I noticed that at least one of the Red Bulls shuttle from the Ironbound section of Newark makes an extended trip along East Ferry and Ferry Street in Newark exposing riders to the various restaurants and stores along Ferry Street. The extended route is a plus for merchants on Ferry Street.

What could the Advance Realty Group do for Harrison? They could start horizontal construction and start paying property taxes for buildings. They could take some of the space advertising their development and instead advertise local restaurants and businesses on the other side of Harrison. The good will and increased commerce for local business owners would go a long way towards increasing Advance Realty's image in the face of inaction on their part in starting construction.

Advance Realty's CEO, Peter Cocoziello introductory statement in his firm's RiverBend website states that "Surely, the current economic volatility has not paved a smooth road, but for a project of this magnitude we need to look beyond today. After all, to be realized, Riverbend will require strong leadership, hard work, smart planning and determination. We must stay true to a long term strategy and take the daily steps to create the foundation for success." CEO Peter Cocoziello needs to put his company's money where his mouth is. It is time to start horizontal construction. Not with a modified plan but with the plan that was previously approved -- Mixed use properties that would transform the former industrial site that Harrisonians' fondly called the Charles Guyon complex (formerly the Crucible Steel Plant). Advance Realty tore down the massive buildings that helped the United States win War World I and II with ammunition, cannons and other materials from the Crucible Steel Factory on which their planned development is suppose to stand. The buildings that were torn down were a part of Harrison's rich industrial history. Some thought they were eyesores. I always thought the buildings were pieces of art full of rich history longing for someone to come along and convert them once again into a useful Faneuil Hall Marketplace or Quincy Market type use. While I sat on the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, an appraiser stated that the Guyon buildings (former the Crucible Steel Buildings) had an infinite life because of the manner they were constructed. The Advance Realty Group's demolition contractor cut short that infinite life. It is time that Advance Realty start construction on buildings that they promised would replace what they tore down. It is time for strong leadership, hard work, smart planning and determination. Those are Advance Realty's CEO Peter Cocoziello's words not mine.

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