9/5/2013 - Council Makes Many Improvements in First 60 Days

News Release
City of Hackensack
65 Central Avenue,
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 646-3901

Thom Ammirato
September 4, 2013


(Hackensack, NJ) After just two months in office the new governing body of Hackensack is making significant changes in city government and laying the groundwork for future improvements.

In just over 60 days in office the new city council, which won a stunning election victory in May, has expanded mid-day hours at the city clerk’s office, terminated a lease for police substation that was unneeded and ineffective; appointed the city’s first police commission in decades and the first ever African American public defender – and has begun offering video viewing of city council meetings.

The city also is continuing a pilot project for twice a week garbage collection and will announce its next step soon.

In addition has hired talented new professionals in a bipartisan manner, including a new city attorney and special redevelopment counsel, while also creating an economic redevelopment position to begin addressing the city’s short and long-term development issues.

“We have done a lot in a short period of time, but we realize there is a lot more to do,” said Mayor John Labrosse. “Coming in to government with five new council members, four of whom have never served in government before, presented an initial challenge, but we have successfully overcome that challenge and we have the pieces in place to tackle the long range issues for the city.”

Labrosse is the only council member who served previously in city government. Council member Kathleen Canestrino, Leo Battaglia, David Sims and Rose Greenman are all first time elected officials.

Among the long range issues under consideration by the council said Deputy Mayor Canestrino is the possible construction of a new community center.

“High on our agenda is a new community center that will double as a recreation complex that will serve both the children and the senior citizens of our community,” said Canestrino. She said the city is looking to offset the costs of a recreation complex with contributions from developers and existing business and organization that will support the project.

To work with developers, the city council hired Anthony Rottino as the city’s new economic development director. In that position, Rottino has begun meeting with prospective developers and working with outside agencies to establish a redevelopment baseline.

“There is no shortage of developers who want to meet with the new administration and discuss their proposals,” said Rottino. “With a new council has come a renewed interest in Hackensack by many reputable developers.”

Rottino says the city is being besieged by redevelopment requests but those proposals have to be put into a global redevelopment context. “My job and the council’s job is to set redevelopment priorities and make sure that the best projects get done; the projects that will have the best long-term value for the city,” said Rottino.

While redevelopment will occupy much of the city council time over the next few years, there is no shortage of daily nuts and bolt issues to contend with.

Councilman Sims as the police commissioner is embracing public safety issues and working on recreation matters. He is joined by Councilman Battaglia, who also has a strong interest in recreation and sports, as well as concerns about improving and streamlining the city’s public works department and addressing flooding and road paving issues.

Councilwoman Greenman is taking on the role of legal liaison, reviewing legal hiring practices and legal bills. She is also working on improving the city’s open public records request responses.