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Saturday, March 24, 2001
Municipal complex seen
ushering Heights rebirth
By YUNG KIM
HASBROUCK HEIGHTS -- Mayor
William Torre wants to see the Boulevard framed by brick sidewalks and lit by
antique-style streetlamps reminiscent of the 1890s.
And he wants to see the Boulevard
crowded with window shoppers or people sipping espresso in a coffee shop.
But before all that, he wants to
see the new municipal complex built.
"We're hoping the municipal
building will be the catalyst for redevelopment," Torre said. "We're going to
start from scratch."
Officials are still months away
from breaking ground on the $10.2 million municipal building on the Boulevard between
Central and Madison avenues, but as they continue the process of planning and constructing
it, they are also looking at what will surround it.
Next month, the Planning Board is
scheduled to review a report prepared by Burgis Associates Inc., which outlining possible
changes to the Boulevard, including bringing various types of stores into the area to
attract patrons day and night.
Instead of the place where people
take care of their errands, Torre wants the Boulevard to be a destination spot for casual
dining and shopping.
Thomas Meli, president of the
Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce, believes the borough is on the cusp of exciting
change. The Boulevard is without an anchor tenant -- a high volume business such as a
department store or movie theater -- that will bring people to the area.
However, as the area surrounding
the new municipal building is gradually upgraded, Boulevard will be a more desirable
destination for such an anchor, Meli said.
"This is really a question
of what comes first, the chicken or the egg," Meli said. "The whole tie-in to do
Boulevard improvements with the new municipal building seems natural. Stores should
benefit from people going in and out of the municipal building. We don't see it as an
anchor tenant, but we do view it as a primer."
The building is also expected to
set the architectural tone for the downtown area. Torre, Meli, and other officials have
discussed ideas to encourage the shop owners to remodel their buildings to fit in with the
"Some of those buildings
date back to the 1800s," Meli said. "What we want to recommend is to enhance the
existing architecture, to give the area a nice, unique, clean look."
The two-floor, 28,000-square-foot
municipal complex, which will house the public library, a senior center, and municipal
offices, is tentatively scheduled for groundbreaking in September.
According to the plans, the
complex will have 28 parking spaces, but Anthony Iovino, the project architect, said the
spaces were decided by factoring the size of the structure, the number of municipal
employees, and the number of regular gatherings.
A cul-de-sac will be built at the
intersection of Boulevard and Central Avenue, cutting off direct vehicle access between
the two streets. Madison Avenue will be the main driving route, but people will be able to
park on the Boulevard and walk into the building, Iovino said.
Officials plan to review traffic
and parking issues a year after construction is completed and make revisions if warranted.