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2023 A Year in Review for Your Harrison Community

Dec 29, 2023
Your Harrison 2023 A Year In Review

Your Harrison had quite a year providing those who cherish the Town of Harrison with information on events occurring in and affecting the Town of Harrison.  The year started with news that West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company (WHAT Co) was making Harrison its home base at the former Holy Cross School which has a wonderful stage.  That wonderful news was followed by news of a resident, Rachel Safier, winning 76K on Wheel of Fortune.

The good news was overshadowed by the terrible news that a Harrison resident’s son had taken his mother’s life. This tragedy still feels like a bad dream but it is a very sad reality.

Library Hours Changed

Consistent public outcry at Harrison Mayor & Council meetings got the Harrison Public Library to expand its hours.

United Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade

The United Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicked off on its traditional second Sunday of March and brought a smile to the faces of those participating and those lining the parade route.  A West Hudson tradition that renews the spirit and warms the heart even if the weather is fridge.

Twenty-Sixth Anniversary of Mayor Raymond McDonough's Vision

This year marked the Twenty-Sixth Anniversary of Mayor Raymond McDonough and then Council members started their great plan to transform the southern part of the Town of Harrison from an Industrial Zone into a residential community. It can be said that Mayor McDonough’s and then Council’s vision was realized but is in danger of being upended by current Mayor James Fife's support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to use the former PSE&G gas works plant located across the street from the Steelworks, Vermella, Cobalt, and Wyldes apartment buildings for a dioxin laden cancer-causing Agent Orange sludge dewatering plant.

Low Voter Turnout

This year Primary and General Elections in the Town of Harrison had a very low voter turnout. The Mayor & Council gave themselves a 300%+ Pay Increase in July.

Peruvian Day Parade

The Peruvian American Civic Association held its West Hudson Peruvian Day Parade on a sunny July day to the cheers of residents and visitors lining North Frank E. Rodgers Blvd.

Harrison Police Junior Police Academy

The Harrison Police held a very successful and rewarding Junior Police Academy. Check out our story on a very nice community-building event.

Red Bull Arena Super Busy Year

The Red Bull Arena hosted over 50 events in 2023 including several sold-out International Games.  Residents of SOHA (SOuthern HArrison) were prohibited from getting back to their apartment buildings and complained and requested changes to be made.  Although promises were made that the traffic plan would be reviewed, there were no changes made to the existing traffic plan. The Red Bulls appear to have the upper hand as it relates to the Mayor & Council.  The Red Bulls, however, did back down when confronted by the United Irish Association changing the hour of their soccer game scheduled for the same time as the United Irish Association St. Patrick Day parade ultimately promising to not schedule an event at the Red Bulls Arena on the 2nd Sunday of March again (the long-standing date of the United Irish West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day parade).

Cookies Cannabis Store Opens

For those who like recreational cannabis, the Cookies store opened up across the street from the Path Station to much fanfare in August.

Messi Effect Hits Harrison

Lionel Mesi came to Harrison and Sold Out the Red Bull Arena in August 2023.

Tragic Bicycle Accident

A tragic accident happened in August when a Harrison resident, John Ogiela, riding his bicycle was struck by a car and passed due to the injuries sustained in the collision on the roadway off of Harrison Avenue leading to Route 280 East on ramp.  The New Jersey State Police and the Harrison Police Department conducted a joint investigation.

Mayor Fife's Legacy: No Green Space & Toxic Sludge

In September, Mayor James Fife tried to appease those, including Harrison’s Redevelopment Agency’s planning consultant who emphasized the dire need for additional green and open spaces in the Waterfront Redevelopment Area.  Mayor Fife moved a plan to use a privately owned block between Cape May Street and Crucible Drive as a pocket park and had an adjacent roadway used for vehicular traffic owned by the Town eliminated to add additional park space. Mayor Fife is aware that his legacy will be written as the Mayor who did not fulfill the promises made to ALL Harrison residents of Green Spaces in the Redevelopment Zone.  Worse than unfulfilled promises is his consent to the EPA using the former PSE&G Gas Works Plan as a toxic dioxin-laden sludge dewatering plant in what is now a residential community.

No Plan to Fix Lack of Parking / Shipping Out Police Dispatch

Recurring issues affecting the residents of Harrison were also covered in Your Harrison articles including the continued problem with lack of parking with no leadership from the Mayor & Council to alleviate the problem. The shipping out of the Harrison Police Department’s dispatchers to Bergen County was another surprise move by Mayor Fife. 

Limiting Public Comment At Meetings

The Mayor is now through the Harrison Town Clerk enforcing the 5-minute time limitation for an individual to ask a Question or make a Public Comment at Harrison’s Mayor & Council meetings.  Mayor Fife has now imposed a 5-minute time limitation for Public Comment at the Harrison Redevelopment Agency another public body that he Chairs.  Let us not forget that EPA’s plan to use the former PSE&G Gas Works plant was only made public when Mayor Fife attempted to shift blame from himself for the lack of Green Spaces in the Redevelopment Zone to PSE&G and EPA because they were going to use the property for at least 10 years for Passaic River “dredge”.  That comment was made during the Public Session of the Harrison Redevelopment Meeting.

Prestigious Award from the National Weather Service Awarded to Antony Mondaro

The year 2023 brought resident Anthony “Tony” Mondaro much-deserved recognition with the John Campanius Holm Award from the National Weather Service   Tony is known for his very precise weather forecasting and has been a contributor to the National Weather Service throughout the years. You have to read our article to understand that Tony truly brings honor to the meteorologist profession. It is uplifting that the National Weather Service recognized his dedication through the years and bestowed this award.  Tony’s Harrison Weather Station is only his side hustle.  Tony’s full-time job is as an EMT in neighboring North Arlington, NJ.

Kingsland Avenue Street Closure

One of our last stories for the year is about the Closure of Kingsland Avenue in Harrison NJ for 8 months.  It is a long street closure and will have a huge impact on the neighborhood.

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