PUBLISHED BY THE OAKLAND COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION WINTER, 2005
SPONSORED BY THE BOROUGH OF OAKLAND AND THE OAKLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS VOL. 9, NO. 2
OCC Continues As The Voice
Of Oakland Residents THE MAYOR’S MESSAGE ... A GOOD YEAR
t has been quite a year for the Oakland
I or months now I have been pressing Regrettably, the Borough suffered back-
The list of events brought to the
residents of Oakland in the past 12
months is a chronicle of the special
F the Army Corps of Engineers to work
towards providing some workable
solution to relieving the flood issues affect-
to-back flood events in October. Where
September will be remembered as the dri-
est month on record, this past October will
times in our town —Town Picnic and ing the Pleasureland Area. Efforts to bring be recorded as the wettest. As a result, a
Fireworks … Baseball/Softball Opening relief from the increased flooding to the total of 113 homes were seriously affected
Day Parade … Halloween Parade … area caused by the coffer dams during the by the flood, with an estimated damage
Santa Coming To Town … Candidate’s construction phase of the flood control proj- assessment of $4 million dollars.
Forum and Debate … Live Borough ect have been frustrated by bureaucratic We are still waiting on a federal decision
Election Results … Senior Citizen red tape. on the state’s petition for disaster relief,
Center Open House … Exit 58 Live! …
As your mayor I have engaged all of our which will provide financial assistance to
School Referendum Forum … not to
elected representatives, and federal and our residents. We will notify affected resi-
mention the regular Mayor and Council
meetings. state officials to address this issue. I will dents as soon as a decision is made.
All of this was achieved through the continue to work hard towards helping our I would like to take this opportunity to
volunteer efforts of the OCC and its residents in the Pleasureland area. thank all of our emergency services per-
three committees: It appears that the best course of action sonnel, our fire department volunteers,
1. Cable Television Committee … is to accelerate the completion of the proj- ambulance corps volunteers, police offi-
This is the most visible of the OCC’s ect and especially to expedite the removal cers and DPW staff who worked so hard to
committees because it is responsible for of the coffer dams. I will be pressing the keep our residents safe and to restore the
televising all of the events mentioned
Army Corps to move the project quickly so affected areas as quickly as they did.
above. Headed by co-chairmen Fred
that the spillway is restored and the flood Everything was well coordinated and exe-
Birks and Seth Stansfield, the TV
Committee welcomes anyone interested gates are operational as soon as is physi- cuted according to plan and I am very
in working behind-the-scenes or in front cally possible. proud of everyone who participated.
of the camera to bring Oakland events The library construction project contin-
to Oakland residents. ues and last month the new library wing
2. Web Committee … Headed by opened. I understand the frustration felt by
chairman Pete Foley and kept up-to- many over the delays in the construction of
date by web master Dmitri Kozlovski, the library. I am frustrated as well. I ask for
this committee makes borough
everyone’s patience and understanding.
information available online at
As I have explained at numerous Mayor
www.oakland-nj.org. Meeting minutes,
bulletin board announcements, special and Council meetings, the delays in open-
notices and recreation schedules are all ing the library were necessary in order to
part of the online community. protect the community’s interests in mak-
3. Newsletter Committee … Run by ing sure that the library was constructed to
co-chairpersons Karen Marcalus and our standards and, more importantly, with-
Mike Jacobsen, this committee writes, in the budget the taxpayers approved. It
edits, publishes and distributes the was therefore, necessary to take legal
Crossroads newsletter twice a year.
(Continued on page 2)
(Continued on page 2) Mayor John Szabo
Open Space Initiatives Include Less Development,
More Recreation Space • By Betsy Stagg, Council President
s most residents know, to purchase the old Mueller’s Park and Road. The preliminary plans for this
A Oakland’s Open Space initiative
for 2004, Camp Todd, was
accomplished, with the governor’s visit
Pleasureland Pool area, which con-
sists of some 40 acres along the river.
The developer has pulled back from
seven-acre park include a walking/jog-
ging path, a picnic area, an education-
al program area and perhaps seating,
here in April to tell the state that they, purchase and the owner is willing to just to enjoy the quiet of the area.
in conjunction with Bergen County, sell the land to the Borough. Dottie Stewart, a long-time Oakland
had in fact closed on the purchase of The Borough wants no more build- resident, pushed very hard for the pro-
this property. ing in the flood plain and believes that tection of this area. She has just
Oakland had asked both the county this would be an excellent area to recently passed away, but her dream
and Green Acres Program for money combine both passive and active of a tranquil area in the heart of town
to accomplish the purchase, but recreation. The potential to redevelop will be fulfilled.
stepped aside when the county asked the Pleasureland pool area appears
to partner solely with state. Since this viable, but more study will be done. OCC Update (Continued from page 1)
meant the county would take over The plans include a walking/jogging
Some Changes at Channel 77
maintenance and responsibility, the path around the entire site and in the
Residents have noticed the
Borough agreed that this was the best future connect it to the Recreation
updated look of the borough’s Public
way to handle. It also brought the $8 Complex.
Access Channel 77. We are now
million purchase to Oakland at no We are also thinking about a soc-
utilizing the state-of-the-art TelVue
Oakland expense. cer/football field, a baseball/softball
technology to not only air Bulletin
The county has begun a Master field and a skate park. A restroom/con-
Board notices, but also to offer
Plan for the Camp Todd/Camp cession stand would also be included.
weather and traffic reports, public
Tamarack area, which they hope to The passive area might also include
service announcements and,
accomplish this year. fishing areas and a boat launch.
perhaps most importantly,
For the 2005 Grant Year, the The Environmental Commission has
emergency notifications when
Borough, with the blessing of the also recommended an application to
various problems – flooding, school
Environmental Commission, has the Bergen County Municipal Parks
closings, etc. – arise.
applied for a matching grant from the Program for the development of the
You will begin seeing sponsorship
Bergen County Open Space Program Raymond property on Ramapo Valley
messages from local organizations
as well … and this service is being
Mayor’s Message originally approved for senior housing. offered at absolutely no cost to the
(Continued from page 1) residents of Oakland.
However, the site is subject to flooding
action against the contractor in order to and for that reason is not the best location
Volunteers Wanted … and Needed
enforce our contractual rights. I will always for our seniors to live.The good news is The OCC’s mandate is to provide
stand up to protect our community’s inter- that if we are successful in preserving the open, non-partisan communications
ests and in the end I am confident we will property we can discourage development to the residents of Oakland. There is
have a library we will all be proud of. that will make flooding conditions worse in more we are being asked to do – air
I am pleased to announce that the the area while also providing us an oppor- more public meetings, tape more
downtown improvement plan is ready for tunity to possibly develop a community events, produce original shows – that
public presentation and input. A special pool. Council President Betsy Stagg has we are always welcoming new
volunteers to bring their ideas and
public meeting will be the first of a series taken the lead on this important project
energy to one of our committees.
of meetings to get your thoughts on the and I personally thank her for her efforts.
Open communication is the key to
downtown improvement program so we It is hard to believe that yet another year an open government, and the
can bring the plan to completion this year has passed. I would like to take this oppor- independent Oakland
and begin the all-important task of finally tunity to wish everyone a very joyous and Communications Commission takes
redeveloping our downtown. happy holiday season. It is a time for fam- a lot of pride in providing access to
I am also pleased to announce that the ily, community spirit and a time to reflect the town and its leaders for our
Borough, in partnership with the Passaic on those blessings that have been residents. Plus, we have a lot of fun.
River Coalition, has filed an open space bestowed upon us. Oakland is a wonder- Come and be a part of it.
Email us at
grant application with the County of ful community and I look forward to a new
Bergen seeking funding to purchase the year filled with accomplishment.
Call us at 201-405-7590
old Pleasureland property. This site was — Mayor John Szabo www.oakland-nj.org
2 CROSSROADS • Winter 2005
Oakland Fire Department Excels In Competition
he North West Bergen Mutual Aid ond place team was one minute and 40
T Association held its annual Field
Day Competition at Crestwood
Lake in Allendale last spring. The Mutual
seconds slower and other teams ranged
up to well over 10 minutes.
Oakland also took first place in the
Aid Association is an organization com- Chief’s Bucket Brigade event and Ho-Ho-
prised of 17 Fire Departments and Kus took first place in the “nozzle battle”
Rescue Squads from 14 towns who Barrel Event. The evening ended with the
mutually assist each other in the handling Oakland Fire Department winning First
of larger scale emergencies. Place overall, for the first time in over 20
The purpose of Field Day was to years competing. Second Place overall
demonstrate and practice the skills of the went to the Ho-Ho-Kus Fire Department.
firefighters in an environment of friendly The Oakland firefighters who participat- Oakland Fire Department are demon-
competition. Events included games of ed were Chief Steven Milano, Asst. Chief strating. “They are serious about the fire-
skill and accuracy using fire hose and Peter Sondervan, and firefighters Jack fighting,” said Milano, “and they are work-
nozzles and ground ladders were used in Longa, Don Harvey, Doug Coningswood, ing together as a team and enjoying the
a timed, bucket brigade contest. Charlie Kelly, Mike Schwaner, John experience.”
When it was all done, the Oakland Fire Madden and George Kelly. The First Place trophy is on display at
Department had not only won first place Chief Milano attributed the win to the Oakland Fire House for one year and
in the event, but had completed the relay increased training and a new sense of then it will move on to next year’s winning
in six minutes and six seconds. The sec- enthusiasm that younger members of the team … hopefully, Oakland again.
The Revaluation Explained • By Don Burns, Councilman
efore discussing the revaluation of its full and fair market value.” This again dropped to under 75.3% and
B and its effect on property taxes, it’s
important to understand that the pri-
mary factor in determining individual
means it tries to ensure that all property
tax payers pay their “fair share” of proper-
ty taxes based on the “real” property val-
69.6%, respectively. By 2004, the aver-
age ratio had dropped again and was
property taxes is the total taxes to be ues for all properties in the Borough. Based on the revaluation and the
raised. The total taxes to be raised each Someone, who purchased a “brand amount of taxes to be raised for 2004, the
year consist of the apportionment for the new” house in the Borough is paying property taxes for approximately 14.6%
Municipal, County, District School, and property taxes based on approximately would have gone down. Likewise, the
Regional School tax levies combined with 100% of the true market value of that property taxes for 16.2% would have
the Municipal and County Open Space property. On the other hand, someone, increased $500 or less and for 36.5% the
tax levies. In both 2004 and 2005, the who purchased a used home will continue increase would have been between $501
municipal portion of the taxes levies to pay the taxes based on the previous to $1000. For 28.2% the increase would
accounted for approximately 22%. assessment, which may be quite out of have ranged from $1001-2000 and for
Once the total taxes to be raised is line with not only the current market value approximately 4.5% the increase would
determined, this amount is divided by the of the property, but also the actual pur- have been over $2000. Which category
total valuation of all the properties in the chase price of the property. Similarly, an individual property fell into is strictly a
Borough to determine the tax rate per someone who has lived in a house for an matter of how close or how far from 100%
$100 of assessed value for that year and extended period of time is probably pay- valuation the property was.
for that year only. You then multiply each ing taxes based on an assessment that is Now for the question of the actual
individual property’s valuation by that tax way out of line with the current market increase in property taxes from 2004 to
rate to determine the property taxes for value of the property. 2005. The total taxes to be raised for
each property for that year. This fact is Each year, the County develops an 2005 was $42,093,367, as compared to
important because some people had and equalized value, which is based on the the total taxes to be raised for 2004,
still have the impression that, just sale of properties in the Borough, for the which was $39,404,170. This was an
because the total valuation of all the prop- real property in the Borough relative to increase of approximately 6.8% in the
erty in the Borough went up, that in and of the total current assessment of the real total amount of taxes to be raised. So, this
itself would mean an increase in the property in the Borough. This equalized increase accounted for the same percent-
amount of money the Borough would col- value determines the average ratio of age increase in the portion of the proper-
lect. That is NOT the case. assessed value to equalized value. In ty taxes, which resulted from the increase
The basic purpose and intent of revalu- 1998, the average ratio of the assessed in the amount to be raise by taxes. Any
ation is tax equalization. As the Borough value of real property in the Borough other increase or decrease in property
Tax Assessor previously stated, was just under 94.2%. In 2001, this ratio taxes is the result of the revaluation rather
“Revaluation is a periodic program under- had dropped to slightly less than 81.7%, than the increase in the taxes to be
taken to appraise all real estate in terms and in 2002 and 2003, the ratio had raised.
CROSSROADS • Winter 2005 3
A Community Working Together To Strengthen Education
Dear Members of the School is planning to introduce a marching band Education Foundation each made a gift of tech-
Oakland Community: program for students – after an absence of more nology to the schools. Combined with Board
Recently, we were than 20 years. This opportunity will permit funding, our schools opened in September with
informed that Oakland’s Valley Middle School’s music students to con- 60 new desktop computers, which were needed
students, upon complet- tinue their band study at the high school level. to replace obsolete machines, and 39 new lap-
ing eighth grade, would We thank Mr. Saxton and Indian Hills Principal tops that became part of our new mobile labs. We
be able to choose which Mr. Evangelista for recognizing this need and for thank the Board, the Foundation, and the PTOs,
of the two regional high addressing it. as well as all who support these organizations,
schools they prefer to Last spring, our Oakland Board of Education for helping provide Oakland’s students with
attend for high school study. We are pleased and committed to upgrading the technology infra- technology hardware that will enhance chil-
thankful that the Ramapo-Indian Hills Regional structure of our four schools – Dogwood Hill, dren’s education.
Board of Education has changed its Attendance Heights, Manito and Valley Middle. This initia- When all members of the community work
Policy to allow this change. tive included the upgrade of the network elec- together toward common goals, Oakland’s
High school choice has been available to all tronics and the installation of wireless capability young people benefit. The efforts of all who have
eighth grade students in Wyckoff and Franklin in all schools. As a result, when the 2005-2006 contributed to these projects ensure that the qual-
Lakes for some time. For Oakland students, the school year began, schools were wireless, and ity of education provided to Oakland’s students
option to attend Ramapo High School was mobile labs began to provide children with learn- remains of high quality, and that Oakland truly is
reserved for those students who were participat- ing opportunities appropriate to 21st century … a learning community committed to excel-
ing in a University Program housed in that education. lence.
school. Beginning with the Valley Middle In addition, our parent and community educa- We wish all members of the community a
School Class of 2006, all of Oakland’s eighth tional partners joined with the Oakland Board of very happy holiday season.
graders will be able to choose between Indian Education to address the District's hardware Sincerely,
Hills High School and Ramapo. needs. Thus, the Dogwood Hill, Heights, Manito Dr. Richard G. Heflich
We are also pleased that Indian Hills High and Valley Middle PTO's and the Oakland Superintendent of Schools
VMS Devotes A Day To Health and Nutrition
n November 4, the Valley Middle School community celebrat- such as pedometers, which were donated by a private corporation.
ed aspects of health, fitness and nutrition in an effort to pro- Given the recent attention that has been paid to childhood obesity, our
mote awareness of these critical concepts. Unlike last year’s hope is to raise student awareness to the point where each child has the
Celebration of the Arts, which represented the culmination of a year- capacity to make informed choices that promote long, healthy lives.
long theme, this day was planned as the commencement of a celebra- —Adam I. Silverstein, VMS Vice Principal
tion of healthier lifestyles.
A committee of teachers, which was chaired
by Karen Purcella, was charged with planning
the day’s events. To help support the theme of
the day, teachers and other staff members pre-
Thanks To Our Residents
n behalf of Oakland’s Board of not disappear because the referendum was
pared dishes that were low in fat, sugar and
calories, and shared them with each other.
In addition, several bulletin boards depicting
O Education, I would like to thank the res- not approved.
idents of Oakland who took the time to vote At this time, the Board is reflecting, reeval-
teachers’ fitness habits were created throughout on the District’s Facilities Plan this past uating and reassessing different solutions for
the school in an effort to model healthy lifestyles September 27th. Although we are disap- the needs of our schools and school children.
for students. Teachers were also encouraged to pointed with the results, it was still good to Rest assured, in the near future the Board will
incorporate health, fitness and nutrition into their see so many of the voting public make their come up with a new plan that, hopefully, will
lessons whenever possible throughout the day. voices heard. unite our community in the common goal of
The centerpiece of the day, however, was the We, as a Board, understand that to add giving our children the best possible educa-
health fair. Thanks to the VMS P.T.O., students another expense to the Oakland taxpayer is a tion in the safest and most up-to-date schools,
were able to sample healthy snacks after their lot to ask at this time. We are all still feeling while keeping in line with the limitations of
lunch, which also included only healthy items the added tax burden placed on us by the Oakland's taxpayers.
that day. In addition to vegetable and fruit trays, town’s housing revaluation. However, the Thank you in advance for your support,
students were able to sample all natural snacks Board of Education still needs to come up and please always remember that education is
that were low in sugar, had no trans fat or hydro- with a plan that will address the inevitable an investment, not an expense.
overcrowding of our schools, together with Sincerely,
genated oils, and no artificial additives.
the updates that are needed to the schools’ James Gaffney
Students also had the opportunity to obtain
infrastructure systems. These problems did Oakland School Board President
pamphlets, brochures and fitness-related items
4 CROSSROADS • Winter 2005
BOE Passes Property Tax Resolution • By Trustee Marybeth Visconti
t the October 19 Board of Education ed through local taxes; and remedying the find it. By passing this resolution and send-
meeting the Board unanimously problems associated with high property taxes ing it to Oakland’s state legislators, we are
passed a resolution in support of three is a legislative responsibility; and the quickest hoping that our voices will be heard.
bills that are currently pending in our state leg- way for the Legislature to address the issue is We urge all residents to contact our legisla-
islature. SCR-20 and ACR-99/ACR-218 are to convene in a special session that is dedicat- tors; Senator Henry McNamara and Assembly
bills under consideration in the state senate and ed solely to property tax reform.” Representatives Kevin O’Toole and David
assembly. All of these bills call for our legisla- Funding public education through property Russo to voice support for this pending legis-
ture to convene a special session that is dedi- taxes is not an equitable system because it is lation and real property tax relief.
cated to addressing property tax reform. not based on an individual’s ability to pay.
Convening a special session is the most The net result of this inequity is a loss of com-
expedient way to address New Jersey’s proper- munity support for public education and is Schools Set Health
ty tax debacle. Our elected officials in Trenton slowly causing the degradation of our public
have the power to conduct a special session school system. New Jersey taxpayers pay the
immediately, and most importantly, the obliga-
tion to do so. A constitutional convention could
highest property taxes per capita in the nation.
New Jersey is also one of the few states that
W e have all heard recently that an
increasing number of children are
overweight or are obese. These reports are
take years to set up and would most likely end funds public education with more than 60% alarming because, if these conditions were
up including a number of other issues. of the cost from local property taxes. to persist, more children would grow to
Quoting from our resolution, the Board of While those of us on boards of education become adults suffering from high choles-
Education believes that: “New Jersey’s prop- don’t know what the answer is to the problem terol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and
erty taxes are among the highest in the nation, of funding New Jersey’s public schools, we heart disease. This also means that excess
and New Jersey ranks fourth among the 50 do know that there has to be a better way and weight during childhood may threaten not
states in the percentage of school costs fund- that our legislators have the responsibility to only the affected individual’s health, but
also the future public health of our nation.
These hazards to children’s health are
resulting from diminished physical activi-
Oakland Nurses Sponsor Family Asthma Night ties and less healthful eating habits. Still,
we are reminded that overweight condi-
he Oakland School District’s nurses • Asthma triggers tions can be addressed with education of
recently hosted a Family Asthma • Asthma/allergy-friendly school environment children and families.
Night for children with asthma, as • Relationship with school nurse and/or child In response to the growing need to
well as their parents and caregivers. The care provider teach children the importance of informed
workshops were sponsored by the County of While the adults participated in this work- decision-making to remain healthy,
Bergen Asthma Initiative Department of shop, the children attended an entertaining Oakland’s four school communities have
selected a health and wellness goal for the
Health Services. The presentations were program. The goal of the children’s workshop
2005/2006 school year. Our elementary
highly educational and helpful, and assisted was the empowerment of, knowledge about, schools are embarking on developing pro-
participants to learn more about this most and control of their asthma. grams that will help students to under-
common chronic childhood disease The highlights of the program were a pup- stand the importance of proper exercise,
Family Asthma Night was an educational pet show and a hands-on session with a respi- fitness, and nutrition and their impact on
event for parents/caregivers, children with ratory therapist. The respiratory therapist good health. Through multi-disciplinary
asthma, and the community-at-large. Adults engaged the children with age-appropriate activities, middle school students will also
attended a presentation by Michael R. Bye, dialogue that covered the same topics as the gain an increased understanding of sound
M.D., Acting Director of Pediatric presentation for the adults. practices relative to exercise and nutrition
and the role that each plays in maintaining
Pulmonary Medicine, at Morgan Stanley The children joined the adults following
a healthy lifestyle.
Children’s Hospital of New York- the concurrent sessions. A “goody bag” was Throughout this school year, the
Presbyterian, and by Ms. Ellen Keane, R.N. provided that included an interactive work- schools’ initiative will involve students,
Their Powerpoint presentation contained book. The presentation was well attended and parents, community members, and staff.
information about: enjoyed by all. Both the adults and the chil- With all working together, we seek to
• Asthma the disease dren left the sessions feeling more empow- make a difference in children’s long term
• The disease process ered with information that would help with health. Additional information about the
• Identification of asthma asthma management and treatment. Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s
• Treatment of asthma Additional information: Bergen County campaign is available www.american-
• Medications commonly used Dept. of Health Services Asthma Program
• Devices used in asthma management Coordinator at 201-634-2705.
CROSSROADS • Winter 2005 7
PUBLISHED BY THE OAKLAND COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION WINTER, 2005
SPONSORED BY THE BOROUGH OF OAKLAND AND THE OAKLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS VOL. 9, NO. 2
Water, Water Everywhere Allocation. The Water Allocation has been restored in full and
A report from Council President Betsy Stagg on The when we need additional water supply to meet our COAH obli-
Borough’s Surface/Groundwater Connection gations, NJDEP says it will have no problem granting the
The Oakland Water & Sewer Committee has worked diligent- increase. The problem that caused the possible lowering of our
ly this year to accomplish its goals for 2005. allocation was a misunderstanding on an application filed last
We are happy to report that the painting of the Andrew Avenue year by our engineers. The misunderstanding was cleared up.
water tank is completed and that the Committee is well into its Meanwhile, Oakland’s water quality continues to be excellent.
plans for the Spear Street tank. The latter is more complicated We would like our nitrates to be a bit lower, but with so many
because it is the only storage tank in that zone. We hope to be septic systems discharging to the groundwater, we really can’t
out to bid on this in early spring. anticipate the level dropping much. They are, however, well
The Committee has gone out to bid on the Long Hill water within state limits.
connection project, which connects the lower Long Hill main to We also approved the sale of the Ramapo River Reserve
the Thornton Road tank. The purpose of the connect is to elimi- Sewage Treatment Plant to the company that has been manag-
nate the iron sediment in the pipes along lower Long Hill Road ing it for its entire existence. They have consistently discharged
by allowing it to settle out in the tank. excellent quality wastewater, so this sale will benefit the
We have also begun the bidding process for a new water main Borough.
for lower Long Hill Road. The pipes under Long Hill Road and Finally, the Commission urges everyone to become familiar
along Franklin Avenue are 70 years old and will be replaced bit with the new statewide storm water regulations and to comply
by bit, as the Borough can afford it. with the Borough ordinances on these. Like it or not, storm water
Recently, the Mayor and I met with NJDEP to discuss Water and all that flows into it ends up in the Ramapo River.
OAKLAND BOROUGH COUNCIL
Mayor John Szabo U.S. POSTAGE PAID
Council President Betsy Stagg NON-PROFIT
Council Members Presort Standard
John A. Biale • Donald T. Burns Permit No. 7
James A. Geraghty Oakland, NJ
Matt Kazmierczak • Pat Pignatelli
OAKLAND BOARD OF EDUCATION
Superintendent Dr. Richard G. Heflich POSTAL PATRON
Business Administrator Louis J. Pepe
Board of Education Members OAKLAND, NEW JERSEY 07436
James Gaffney President
Jennifer Matts Vice President
James Mulcahy • John Scerbo
Michael Jacobsen Chairman
Fred Birks Vice Chairman
Peter Foley • Karen Marcalus
George Maturi • Seth Stansfield
Karen Marcalus • Michael Jacobsen