Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Step toward Safety

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Step toward Safety

Article excerpt

CLIFTON - In the name of pedestrian safety, the City Council on Tuesday night paved the way for the installation of sidewalks on Dwas Line Road - an improvement that has been hotly debated for the past 15 years, pitting some residents who live on the street against the neighborhood's heavy Orthodox Jewish population.

In a 4-2 vote, the council agreed to apply about $240,000 left over from road resurfacing projects this year toward building sidewalks on Dwas Line, which until now has not had them. All four of the council members voting to support the measure were endorsed in the last two elections in letters signed by Orthodox Jewish residents.

Councilman Joe Kolodziej introduced the idea near the end of Tuesday's meeting, saying he worried about future pedestrian accidents on the narrow, heavily traveled street that stretches through the city's Rosemawr section.

"Municipal government exists for public health, safety and welfare," he said. "I can't imagine a more noble cause."

Sidewalks on the road were first proposed in 2000 by a group of Orthodox Jews who walk on Dwas Line to and from Passaic synagogues on the Sabbath. The debate heated up in 2003, when Dvora Malaky, 51, was struck and killed by a car while she walked her dog on that street.

But many of the residents who live on Dwas Line oppose sidewalks, arguing that they would alter the aesthetics of the neighborhood and encroach on their properties, and that they should be paid for by the individual residents who want them, not taxpayers. In a 2010 survey, 24 homeowners on Dwas Line were against sidewalks and just three were in favor.

Though Kolodziej's motion passed, it was not clear Wednesday if it would move forward. Mayor James Anzaldi, who opposed the motion, questioned whether the ordinance from which the money would be drawn permitted its use for "installation" of sidewalks. If the ordinance doesn't include installing sidewalks, Anzaldi said the city would need to approve a separate bond issue to fund the work, a measure that would require not four, but five votes on the council to succeed.

A bidding notice for this year's road resurfacing projects includes "replacement of sidewalks and curbing as directed." It did not specify the construction of new sidewalks. The bond ordinance was not immediately accessible.

It's also unclear whether $240,000 would cover the cost of the project. City Manager Nick Villano said Wednesday the price for sidewalks on the entire mile-long road could total up to $350,000. Aside from bonding for the additional money, which requires a fifth vote, the city might also receive state grant funds for the project, he said.

It would take the city about three months to design plans for the sidewalks, secure more bonds and go out to bid. The earliest sidewalks could be installed would be in the spring, Villano said. …

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