North Bergen is preparing to join nearby cities like Hoboken and Jersey City in creating a program in which residents can pick up a bike on the street and rent it for a few minutes or more.
“The bike share program provides a benefit to the township residents and visitors.” – Township resolution
____________At their April 12 meeting, the Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to begin seeking a contractor.
“The bike share program provides a benefit to the township residents and visitors by providing access to bicycles that may be used for commuting or recreation,” the resolution reads. “Benefits may also include a reduced demand for parking and a reduction of vehicular traffic.”
The town could also earn some money from the program.
Jersey City and New York City use the CitiBike program, so people renting a bike can commute between both towns if they so desire. Hoboken received some criticism for choosing instead to use Hudson Bike Share, which allows people to rent and return bikes to Hoboken but only has a few docking stations outside of that city. People can pay to rent the bikes by the hour or for a year’s membership.
In February, Bayonne also announced plans to seek a contractor for a bike share program.
Town Administrator Chris Pianese said that West New York and Guttenberg are also seeking to launch their own bike shares as well, and hopefully to link with other cities’ systems.
“It makes perfect sense if we all do it,” Pianese said after the meeting. “And we share in the same system.”
If the program gets off the ground, North Bergen will seek a slow rollout, opening only three stations within the first year, Pianese. But he also said that a program could start by summer.
He said that theoretically, two months from now, the town could find a contractor, award the contract, and have them place in the bikes and racks. “We’re striving for the warm weather,” he shared.
One of the planned station areas is River Road, near the joint waterfront park between North Bergen and Guttenberg, directly across from the Galaxy Towers. Guttenberg has already agreed to that plan, Pianese said. The other two locations remain undetermined at this time.
Any agreement between the selected contractor and the town will be limited to five years.
The North Bergen Police Department will receive a little extra manpower, as the commissioners introduced an ordinance that expands the duties of the special law enforcement officer positions. These are part time officers who’ve been working in North Bergen for many years, but only as added security. This new ordinance expands their capabilities to include some of the same tasks as full-time officers. Nine new officers were hired recently, all of whom will have arrest authority within the township. They will work no more than 24 hours per week and can only be appointed to terms not exceeding one year. Due to their limited status, the officers will not receive any benefits, such as paid sick leave or vacations.
Normally, such officers are hired on a seasonal basis or to supplement full time patrolmen.
Police Chief Robert Dowd said he spoke to police chiefs in Union City and Hoboken, who told them about the success of their programs.
“I value their opinions,” Dowd said of the chiefs. “They’re top notch professionals in the field, and we started exploring the idea of adding some specials here. This has been going on for about a year, in the planning phase.”
Dowd swore in one of the new officers before the meeting officially began.
William Bori, 25, previously worked as a special officer for the North Wildwood Police Department for three years. His father, according to Dowd, is a recently retired New Jersey State Police lieutenant. “He presented very well in the interview,” Dowd said of Bori. “He’s got a great temperament. He’s going to be a great fit here. In his interview, he talked extensively about community policing, and that’s a philosophy we embrace in North Bergen.”
The remaining eight officers will have to graduate from the Essex County Police Academy before they get sworn in, Dowd said.
The officers will receive between $12 to $25 per hour. Special enforcement officers hired before the ordinance will continue to do security work only, according to Town Spokesperson Phil Swibinski.
Also at the Wednesday, April 12 meeting:
-The town’s 2017 $92 million budget was formally approved after being introduced on March 8. There were no changes since its introduction.
“We’ve very happy with it,” Pianese said. “Less use of surplus in the budget, and no reductions at all in services.”
-The commissioners issued a proclamation declaring town support for the statewide “Udrive, Utext, Upay” police campaign against distracted drivers. The town will participate in the statewide campaign to keep their eyes open for drivers who may be distracted by texting.
-New and upgraded street lights will be coming to certain town locations after the commissioners adopted a resolution for PSEG to install the lights. The locations include 4602 Grand Ave., 334 73rd St., 4619 Cottage Ave., Sixth St., 5208 Grand Ave., and Meadowview Avenue and 26th Street.
76th Street field improvements
Long-awaited upgrades to the 76th Street Little League Field are on track. The commissioners adopted a resolution awarding a contract for the improvements to Thomas & Sons Builders LLC, noting that they were the lowest responsible bidder.