The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved a resolution supporting a pre-application to the state Green Acres Program to divert 1.1 acres of land for a North Bergen pre-school in James J. Braddock Park.
While a majority of the attendees who spoke during the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting yesterday were concerned with the future of the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre, another item on the agenda that caused a stir was the early stages of the construction of a North Bergen pre-school.
Specifically, the first item on yesterday’s agenda was a resolution supporting the State House Commission pre-application to the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program for the diversion of 1.1 acres within the James J. Braddock Park for the continuing occupation of the North Bergen pre-school.
Currently, the pre-school is operated out of trailers located next to Bruins Stadium. North Bergen resident Robert Walden was adamantly against the project, claiming that North Bergen already has enough amenities in the park and placing a school there sets a bad precedent for neighboring communities.
Walden also cited an online petition to “Save James Braddock Park,” which has over 1,500 signatures, as proof that the project is not as well-received as some officials would like us to believe.
District 8 Freeholder Anthony Vainieri wanted to know where a better location for the facility would be. Former West New York Board of Education/commissioner candidate Patrick Cullen also opposed the new pre-school, calling it “a naked power grab by North Bergen.”
Vainieri disagreed, stating that Braddock Park has always been, and continues to be, utilized by various municipalities – also questioning the validity of the aforementioned virtual signatures.
Esther Ortega, a supervisor for the North Bergen Early Childhood Program, noted the preschool is in a perfect scenic location for children and that assigning a new location may actually have negative long-term implications for the park.
When it was all said and done, the measure was unanimously approved by the board, with Vainieri thanking his colleagues for their support, as well as thanking the pre-school teachers who attended the meeting.