At a recent Hackensack City Council meeting, council members placed considerable focus on noise pollution arising from flight paths over Teterboro airport, emphasizing the need to bring relief to the afflicted residents in Hackensack. The most notable initiative being the push for the underutilized alternative route over Route 17, an issue championed by Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino. Alongside discussions on the city’s evolution through several development projects, the council grappled with community concerns ranging from traffic woes to serious allegations of racism within the council ranks.
The spotlight centered on the noise levels Hackensack residents have been enduring due to aircrafts utilizing runway 19 of the Teterboro airport. Canestrino cited statistics — of 12,025 arrivals in the past quarter, a mere six pilots opted to use the alternative route during daytime hours, a figure she urged must climb to at least a 30% utilization to offer substantial noise relief. To support this, the council has spearheaded a petition aimed at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to endorse Route 17 as a preferred pathway, at least on Saturdays, with the backup of neighboring town councils and mayors, through the formation of the Taxpayers for Aircraft Noise Solution (TANS) committee.
To foster community engagement, the council is leveraging social platforms such as Facebook and Nixle alerts, targeting at least 10,000 signatures. Schools and library systems will also circulate the petition, as the council urges a united front to “give this a shot.”
Despite the council’s united front on this matter, it wasn’t devoid of critical voices. A resident expressed concerns during the public speaking segment, narrating the noise disruptions he experienced late at night since the initiation of the Quiet Skies over Hackensack initiative. He lamented the loss of tranquility in his home, pointing to a shifting of the noise problem rather than its resolution, resulting in “winners” and “losers.”
In a separate discussion, resident Bridget raised allegations of persistent racist behaviors by the council, specifically targeting the African-American community. She cited multiple alleged instances, including a perceived disregard by the council for African-American employees and an event where a council affiliate disrupted a meeting, seemingly uncomfortable with the number of African-Americans present. Bridget also referenced a 2018 incident when Mayor John Labrosse apologized for making a statement perceived as racist. She directly accused council member Stephanie Von Rudenborg of making racially biased statements on two occasions, implying racial dominance over the city. Bridget quoted Rudenborg as allegedly saying, “these [African-Americans] don’t run this city, we do.”
In response to the allegations, Rudenborg claimed that she has never used derogatory terms in her home and has educated her children about its inappropriateness. Expressing frustration over the accusations, the council member invited skeptics to witness her family values firsthand.
Additionally, a significant portion of the meeting was also dedicated to the public service segment where the council delineated the ill-effects of flushing “flushable” wet wipes, narrating incidents of sewer backups while encouraging the public to foster a healthier sewer system through proper disposal methods. This segment also brought to light the progress of ongoing renovations including City Hall offices, new traffic signals, and the city roofs with expectations leaning towards completion within three months.
Other community grievances broached topics such as the disturbance caused by heavy traffic and speeding on Spring Valley Avenue and concerns over heavy trucks not adhering to weight restrictions. These were met with assurances of a focused study to mitigate the adverse effects on residents.
Finally, Mayor Labrosse and other members recognized the success of community engagements like the 22nd annual Hackensack Youth Academy and the lively summer events. They articulated commitments to city improvement, underlining the endeavors to revitalize parks and foster new business opportunities while maintaining favorable tax levels.