River Dell in 2012: Looking Back at July through December
Patch brings readers its annual Year in Review, a look back on some of the bigger news items from 2012 in two parts
Two former Paramus Catholic employees can be charged for allegedly having sex with students on a school trip to Germany, according to a Superior Court judge's ruling on July 10. Artur Sopel of River Edge and Michael Sumulikoski of Elmwood Park were arrested on April 5, 2011 after three teenage girls alleged that they had engaged in sexual conduct with the pair during a February trip that year. An additional girl, a former student at Paramus Catholic, came forward later stating she engaged in sexual activities with Sopel in spring of 2010. Sumulikoski has since filed to appeal Judge James Guida's decision.
With unanimous board approval and the approval of County Executive Superintendent Robert Gilmartin, River Edge Superintendent Dr. Tova Ben-Dov's contract with the K-6 district was approved to allow for a $3,000 base salary increase for the coming year. The raise, which brings her base salary to $177,000, is based on merit and the achievement of her 2011-12 school year goals.
After several years of legal wrangling and afailed public referendum, the River Dell Regional Funding fight has moved one step closer to a final resolution following two days of testimony last week before Administrative Law Judge Leslie Z. Celentano in Newark. Oradell argued to switch to an 80-20 mix formula of equalized taxes and a per-pupil charge to be implemented over a four-year span.
Since the 1960s, the River Edge McDonald's on Main and Elizabeth Streets has been a familiar site in the downtown area. It has undergone two renovations in its over 50-year history with the borough and after July 19's approval, the Golden Arches will be reincarnated for a third time following a unanimous approval by the Planning Board.
While River Dell Regional High School was listed in the top 100 schools in the state of New Jersey in 2010, it has since dropped 77 positions from 27 to 104 in 2011 according to the New Jersey Monthly’s biennial report.
According to the report, RDHS had 219.5 students enrolled with an average class size of 24.9. The school has a graduation rate of 93.25%, an average combined SAT score of 1591, and 18 AP classes offered.
The exact reasoning for the fall is yet to be determined as River Dell had actually imrpoved in four of the magazine's rankings since 2010. At this time, Superintendent Patrick Fletcher and the rest of the administration are seeking a cause for the change from New Jersey Monthly.
With a 329-page document by Brinkerhoof Environmental Services providing an inconclusive report for the River Edge American Legion Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, the governing body decided to move forward with seeking demolition estimates this week.
The environmental study was initially intended to determine if there is an underground oil tank on site along with any use of lead paint or asbestos inside the building. Brinkerhoof's research and their $2400 report resulted in finding no historical data to prove the existence of the three environmental concerns. Additional testing could be performed to determine the status of the three environmental concerns, although at this time it is not likely.
With unanimous approval, Subway franchise owner Sanjeet Patel was granted a hardship relief to open his new sandwich shop on Kinderkamack Road after being relocated from the Planning Board to Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Patel, who operates Subway franchises in Hoboken, Weehawken and Paramus, proposed to refit the vacant 957-square foot Boulevard Pro storefront into a Subway sandwich shop, with seats for 14 customers and an externally lit sign on the front of the building. His Kinderkamack Road location, between Panico and Mr. Cupcakes, would be open Monday through Saturday, 7am to 9pm and Sundays 7am to 8pm.
After falling 77 spots in NJ Monthly's list of Top High Schools in the state, the district is still waiting on a response from the magazine on what exactly caused the regional school district to drop from being ranked 27th to 104th.
After word spread that River Dell senior Rafael "Raf" Acosta died over the weekend, current and former students took to Twitter to remember a friend and peer who was known for his sense of humor.
Construction may still be months away for the former Huffman Koos site as the owners continue to await news from the state Economic Development Authority regarding financial support. In the meantime though, Route 4 - Main Street LLC has begun inking leases with Total Wine and CVS.
Eleven years have passed since the World Trade Center towers came down and River Edge lost five residents. It's been 11 months since a steel I-beam from one of the towers was brought to the borough for a First Responder's Memorial outside of borough hall - the Memorial was dedicated Tuesday afternoon as residents, friends, family and volunteers crowded together in memory.
With over 30 years of experience working in and helping create Special Improvement Districts (SID), Don Smart appeared in River Edge this week to tout the many benefits of a SID and improve the three business districts on Kinderkamack Road (Midland Avenue to River Edge Road; Madison Avenue to Windsor Road; and Main Street to Grand Avenue).
The SID is a model for managing the municipalities commercial corridor by providing business and property owners the ability to organize as a single entity, raise funds for activities that enhance or expand upon municipal services, and through a District Management Corporation, to manage themselves to become a more effective destination for commerce.
After two failed referendums, years of seeking donations, and delays in construction, the Certosimo Field House was officially opened for business before friends, family, and community members who wished to continue honoring Matty "Coach" Certosimo and his wife Angie.
The field house was dedicated in memory of Coach Certosimo who died in February 2008 and wife Angie who followed suite a year later. Coach was the Athletic Director of River Dell High School from 1960 to 1978, taught in the high school and coached both the football (1959-1969, with a 65-23-2 record) and baseball (1972-1978, with a record of (117-67-1) teams. Angie was considered a positive influence and inspiration for all those who shared many loving meals at her home.
For the past 11 years Herb Ouida of River Edge has continued to dedicate his life towards helping others. At the same time, New Jersey Monthly has been honoring men and women like Ouida who give back to the state for the past nine. Recently, Ouida was recognized by the magazine as a 2012 Seed of Hope honoree.
An angry ex-girlfriend allegedly murdered her former boyfriend and his current girlfriend just days before Halloween on Millbrook Road in River Edge. Monica Mogg, 49, has been charged with two counts of murder relating to the deaths of Arthur Noeldechen and Lillian Kim.
According to County Prosecutor John Molinelli, Mogg had been stalking the victims for several months after her relationship with Noeldechan ended. Law enforcement officials believe that Mogg drove to River Edge where she entered Kim's Millbrook Road home through an unlocked rear door and then confronted the victims, armed with a rifle and knife.
During the confrontation, Mogg allegedly shot Noeldechan and then stabbed Kim before fleeing the state to Connecticut. Neither weapon has been recovered at this time, although New York state police divers recently searched the Hudson River shoreline, according to the Times Herald-Record of Middletown.
Mogg who is being held on $3 million bail also faces two counts of felony murder, armed burglary, criminal weapons possession, destroying evidence, stalking and theft. If convincted, she could be sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
Hurricane Sandy slammed RiverDell, leaving thousands without power and trees down across town. While the area avoided heavy flooding, high winds took down numerous trees and power lines but the River Edge and Oradell DPW crews still moved their equipment north as both DPW yards are located not far from the Hackensack River and prone to flooding.
All public and parochial schools were closed for much of the week and even Halloween had to be postponed over safety concerns. For the most part, power was restored in both towns shortly after Election Day.
Following the storm, Oradell waived any permit fees so that residents could quickly repair their homes while River Edge considered future purchases to assist with better communications to its residents. River Dell High School students have also dedicated the rest of the school year to help Toms River residents who have been victimized by Sandy.
The Republican majority was disrupted as challenger Vito Acquafredda reclaimed a seat for the Democrats to create a three-three split as he ousted Council President Paul Cordts. River Edge voters also approved the Open Space Trust Fund referendum and Oradell voted in newcomer Patrick Gallagher to the River Dell Board of Education.
Gyuchang Sim, Colin Busteed and Wendy Walker all return to the River Edge Board of Education; Joe Manzelli and Claudia O'Neill retained their Regional Board of Education seats; Donna Alonso and James Koth were uncontested in their re-election bid to the Oradell council; and Katherine Norian, Christine Robertson and Andrew Oddo were appointed ot the Oradell Board of Education in an uncontested race.
With one year remaining in their three-year terms, River Dell Board of Education members Michael Chakansky and Dorothea Durand, both of Oradell, resigned from their respective posts on Monday evening within an hour of one another. Both trustees were elected in 2010.
All during the final week of classes in December, students and faculty members along with parents will see an increased police presence at the Regional High School as law enforcement investigates a potential threat that was discovered in a school restroom, one day before the Newtown, Ct., school shooting.
The alleged threat, indicated that a student would come to class on Friday, Dec. 21 with the intention of violence. Several parents contacted Patch stating that the alleged threat included the use of a firearm.
For the third time in two months, the Blauvelt Mansion's mortgage sale has yet again been postponed. The $3.7 million foreclosure sale was initially scheduled for this afternoon, but according to the Bergen County Sheriff's Office Foreclosure Sale Listings, the auction has now been rescheduled for January 4.