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* Peter Higgins In Memoriam


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On Sunday, January 3, 2010, Peter B. Higgins III, the chairman of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, former secretary and Business Administrator to the Harrison Board of Education, and former Councilman of Harrison's 4th Ward passed peacefully after battling throat cancer. Peter's obituary reminded us of how special a person Pete was. Peter's influence on Harrison goes well beyond the accomplishments set forth in his obituary. His legacy will continue to unfold for years to come. Peter was Mayor Raymond McDonough's right hand man, an adviser, and confidant. Peter was sought out by developers due to his integral role in the redevelopment of Harrison and his notable role in the decision making.

Erik Stover, the managing Director of the Red Bulls, stated in the Red Bulls blog that quite simply the reason the New York Red Bulls have a new home inHarrison was because of Peter Higgins. Stover credits Peter's vision and leadership as the guiding force through numerous difficulties.

Former President and General Manager of the MetroStars soccer team, Nick Sakiewicz stated that he was saddened by Pete's passing and added that “Peter Higgins was the definition of class, loyalty and friendship. Iworked with Peter for four years on the stadium project in Harrison,N.J. and he always put his family and his community first in everythinghe did". The MetroStars were bought out by the Red Bulls. Much of the negotiations between the Town of Harrison and the MetroStars was conducted between Nick Sakiewicz and Peter Higgins.

I had the honor of sitting with Peter as a Commissioner on the Harrison Redevelopment Agency when it was first formed. I also had the privilege of working on one of Peter's 4th Ward ReElection Campaigns. As I attempted to get voters out and saw other campaign workers sitting around, I realized that the machine had turned against him and that Peter was destined to lose to his challenger James (Jim) Doran. Doran ran on a reform platform and has been reelected since his initial victory. Whether Doran fulfilled his promises of that campaign may be the subject of some future posting.

What impressed me about Peter Higgins was what he did in the face of defeat. Pete's opponent slammed the door in Pete's face by challenging and defeating him in Harrison's 4th Ward. No easy feat. Peter however went on to accomplish much more behind the scenes. Former Mayor Frank E. Rodgers had purportedly passed Pete over as his successor to the Mayor's chair in favor of a more amicable Raymond McDonough. Mayor Rodgers had insight. In retrospect, Peter Higgins was much more effective behind the scenes. Peter however deserved to be Mayor at least for one day.

Pete's legacy to his hometown of Harrison will unfold in the years to come. Pete did not always put Harrison first. When the developers were trying to get cheap liquor licenses Pete testified that there were no available liquor licenses for purchase in town. Pete's statement was not accurate. There were no cheap licenses available but there were some market price licenses available. Ultimately, the restaurant owners and some local liquor license owners made sure that the value of their investment was secured. The proposed legislation to issue special licenses for Harrison's Redevelopment Zone was defeated.

The above example (and others) do not take away from Peter's vision for Harrison. I am sure that the opinions of landowners who had to file lawsuits against the Town of Harrison and the Harrison Redevelopment Agency to get just compensation for their property may not have such a sympathetic view of Peter Higgins efforts as Chairman of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency.

The test of how much the management of the Red Bulls appreciates what Peter Higgins did for them to make the Red Bulls Stadium a reality is when Harrison's Tax Collector sends them a $2.1 Million tax bill this year. Will the Red Bulls pay the bill? Will the Red Bulls say on behalf of Peter Higgins "thank you Harrison for hosting our stadium"? Or will they turn their back on Peter and the taxpayers of Harrison? Time will tell.

Peter may you rest in peace. You will be missed. In lieu of flowers, the Higgins familyhas requested that donations be made in Peter’s name to Camp Fatima ofNew Jersey, P.O. Box 234, Harrison, NJ, 07029.

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