1/2/2014 - City's Project Pride Initiative

Anthony Rottino
Economic Development Director 
201 646-2018

November 26, 2013

(Hackensack, N.J. ) The City’s economic development director Anthony Rottino says a new initiative aimed at sprucing up the city and making it more inviting to visitors and investors is beginning to show results.

The initiative dubbed Project Pride is an enhanced effort to ask property owners to properly maintain their buildings and lots and for the city to do the same.

“If we want people to invest in creating a better, more economically robust Hackensack, we have to show that the city is willing to invest time, manpower and money in improving the city’s image,” said Rottino, who kicked off the project a few weeks ago without much fanfare.

The project is being undertaken with the help of Zoning officer Al Borelli Glenn Zabransky, a property maintenance inspector and Mark Keller, the senior housing inspector; as well as John Flanagan the city project manager, Jesse D’Amore , superintendent of Public Works and Michael Mordaga, the city’s police commissioner.

The property maintenance and zoning departments have stepped up inspections of properties and issued violations for plainly obvious deficiencies in property maintenance, including dilapidated fences, broken sidewalks and peeling paint on building exteriors.

Rottino said the objective is not to merely write citations against property owners, but to inject pride in the community – especially in the gateway neighborhoods to the city where visitor’s first impressions are made. “People coming to Hackensack for business or pleasure should be greeted by a city that is well kempt,” said Rottino.

“It doesn’t take much for a neighborhood to start to decline. A broken fence, an unpainted building, an empty lot strewn with garbage. All those things and more hasten the decline of an area and begin to impact property values and the willingness of people to invest in that neighborhood,” said Rottino, who has decades of experience in development.

“It makes it much harder to get people to invest in quality projects if the city looks run down. If we don’t care how the city looks, that sends a signal to investors that they should take their money elsewhere,” added the economic development director.

Rottino said the objective of Project Pride is not to be punitive, but to encourage people to voluntarily made improvements because it’s the right thing to do.

“Pride is contagious. If one person on a block takes the time to put new siding on his building or new steps, his neighbors see that and they react with their own improvements,” said Rottino.

Mayor John Labrosse supports the Project Pride initiative saying that “we must show the rest of the region that we have pride in our city and that we will not tolerate derelict buildings.

The mayor said that the Project Pride initiative does not exempt the city from efforts to clean up its properties. “The city has to examine its own buildings and properties and make sure we are setting an example for others,” said Labrosse.

As part of “Project Pride” the Hackensack Fire Department has been evaluating the appearance and condition of the fire hydrants and Gamewell boxes located throughout the City and compiling a list of any boxes or utility poles, where they are mounted, in need of painting, according to Fire Department Chief Thomas J. Freeman.

Labrosse said he wants all city departments to examine their own property and equipment and determine how to improve them. “Sometimes we get too used to seeing things how they are and not how t hey can be. Project Pride is just a new way of looking critically at the things that we see every day.”