What Should be Built on American Legion Drive?

High-rise apartments? Senior housing? Share your views in the comments.

Editor's Note: First published Oct. 10

Once home to a Dale and Thomas Popcorn retail store, a section of American Legion Drive has been vacant for years.

The American Legion Drive-area was floated as a possible site for senior citizen housing during the township council race, while some have called for more apartments in Teaneck’s business areas.

One area, near Water Street, is empty while the other holds the abandoned popcorn store.

What do you think should be built on American Legion Drive? Senior citizen housing? Luxury apartments? Retail? A park?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Jacob October 14, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Wow. All of a sudden, the likes of Kates, Ostrow & Ostroth have resurfaced. Ladies & Gents - Those are the same individuals who "led" this town in the 80's and the 90's and refused to allow exactly the discussion, never mind actual progress, towards new housing and tax relief for Teaneck residents. I wonder what got them going now?
zizi October 15, 2012 at 01:29 AM
@Jacob: I guess Teaneck is planning on spending millions more on another street scape project....... What a waste...... Let us just stop spending Tax money to benefit businesses...... If they want something let them spend something...... otherwise just stay the way they are....... Also... what is this talk about narrowing an already narrow cedar lane..... we should talk about making it easy to navigate around the town not difficult..... The problem with cedar lane is the kind of businesses we have... not the width of the sidewalks...... it is absurd to believe that crowds of people will show up to shop in stores that exist on cedar lane.... never gonna happen ......
Art Vatsky October 15, 2012 at 05:25 AM
zizi: Streetscapes have worked in other towns. Properly conceived and quality constructed streetscapes. Cedar Lane businesses invested plenty in the Streetscape but had little control. Residents had little control. Further, Cedar Lane now is six lanes wide!! I did recommend narrowing it to 5 lanes so people could walk. That is what you find in successful shopping areas - pedestrian traffic. I don't shop at other shopping areas. Perhaps I should but I spend what I can at Cedar Lane. My bank, my gas station, my cleaners, my bookstore, my shoe store, my pharmacy, my movie theater, my restaurants (Indian, Chinese, Italian, Kosher, Cuban, yogurt), are all there. Give pedestrians a pleasant shopping environment, well kept, friendly, with nice amenities like benches, trees, and bus shelters and people will come. I think traffic flow would be better without the bus bumpouts which turn Cedar Lane into a two lane road every time buses arrive at the same time.
zizi October 15, 2012 at 01:26 PM
@Art: Other towns don't have the kind of businesses we have..... We are unique...... I don't think any kind of streetscape will change the amount of people who shop at these businesses. Teaneck do need to give developers a chance to develop nice looking high rise buildings that can house people with a lot of disposable income. Once we will have consumers.. the market place will force out the weak stores and we will have plenty of tax generating activities on cedar lane.... but that will not happen with our current town administration and council which goes out of its way to try to stop developers develop in other towns..... We need a change of attitude in this town towards development..... We need high rise high class tax generating properties...... like other towns around us.....
Art Vatsky October 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM
zizi: We are going to have to agree to disagree. "Unique" is in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, we have some ethnic shopping. Ethnic shopping areas are not unique. Go to Queens, for instance, or many other towns/cities in NJ. I don't want to see Cedar Lane continue as it is nor do I want to see it changed beyond recognition. That is why mid-rise apartments appeal to me and others. Whether the Council and its Planning Board have the courage to allow that to happen is another story. Remember, some of the same Council members who supported the Streetscape back then are still on the Council. They may not be willing to concede that Streetscape 1 was not all that successful. That is why I fear what Streetscape project will be approved for Teaneck Rd.
bill isecke October 15, 2012 at 07:38 PM
More stores with mid priced apartments above will encourage foot traffic. Build multilevel parking structures like what Montclair has. Use parking meters to cover cost of structures and discourage long term parking there. Keep free parking further from Cedar lane.
zizi October 16, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Art: you probably are right..... the people who spent our tax money before in millions will spend some more of our money....... I guess they get a cut or profit from the spending somehow..... I don't see any other reason good enough to spend more money down the drain..... It was a waste of money on cedar lane and it will be a waste of money on Teaneck road...... The right thing to do is to allow high class development that will bring high class residents who will spend money locally..... we will end up having some nice main stream stores where people will like to shop in masses and we will see our taxes become stable..... Otherwise.... we will force out residents who are unable to pay the ever increasing taxes..... I guess that is the real plan...... cleansing based on the ability to pay ever increasing taxes........ I guess you can call it selective gentrification....
Teaneckite October 16, 2012 at 01:47 AM
No one addressed the issue of parking.....the municipal lot houses several residents on Chestnue Ave in the apartment buildings nearby as well as housing renters that utilize the parking lot after 6p.m. through the next day. There is no on the street parking on Chestnut Ave between 2am and 7am daily. The gym nearby takes up all the parking between 5-8pm daily, leaving little or no parking for other residents/visitors that shop on Cedar Lane in that area. A mid-rise luxury may not necessarily be the answer as it would more than likely increase the rental properties already in the area. For those inconsiderate commentators who state $1400 is not high you are very inconsiderate to those who don't command a salary such as yours to afford such a cost. Many employees, especially single parents or adults are trying to survive without pay raises, sending kids to college and meeting ever increasing expenses. Other viable options would be more businesses...remember the days of that shoe-store where Veggie heaven is now? the pay half clothing store? When we had four supermarkets instead of the one with two Glatt supermarkets we now have? Why we have three CVS stores is beyond comprehension. Attracting more businesses in the area seems to be the best soluton.
Teaneckite October 16, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Sorry.....there is the Bravo supermarket where the products are expensive and the parking lot is always empty. That's another location to look at for ventures. At least with stop and shop having another supermarket that services everyone could provide a healthy competition.
Keith Kaplan October 16, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Companies respond to incentives. If there's a market, they'll move there and partake in it. What incentives can lure that company in that don't currently exist is what the focus needs to be on. Obviously, we haven't been attracting the best businesses. Why? And what can be don't to change that trajectory? No, building a new anything isn't going to be a silver bullet to get businesses to relocate here, but what's stopping them right now? How can we remove that barrier. If, THAT costs some money - so be it.... the ROI will make for it.
Scott Harris October 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I have a question to those that support a high end high rise apartment building. What is it about these apartments that will magically bring these high-end spending residents to live in them? And if they do appear, why would their spending habits be different from all of the people that currently live in comparable high end homes within a mile of cedar lane? Just because a high rise is built, doesn't mean it then is filled with people. it could easily become a stalled non-starter like what has happened in Fort Lee.
bill isecke October 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I don't suggest high end apartments, I would like to see mid range, affordable apartments with stores beneath. We just need living space - no fancy amenities, no doormen, maybe not even elevators. They don't need to be subsidized, just basic living space for regular folks. They could be rentals or condos.
Tina Horowitz October 16, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I agree with bill isecke. Those of you who support luxury apartments, how will you feel when you retired and have to leave Teaneck because you won't be able to afford the rents?
Phyllis. G. EISENMAN October 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Luxury senior housing for those of us that would like to remain in Teaneck,rather than move to Fort Lee.
Barbara Ley Toffler October 16, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Mickey, The 2007 Master Plan DOES allow three stories on Cedar Lane which is now an MX (mixed use) Zone. It's been 5 years since we got that zoning change -- but nothing's been done! Parts of the Plaza have 5-story conditional use since 2007 -- again, nothing done. Much rezoning was done to no effect. As long as NIMBY prevails -- and the American Legion Drive/Cedar Lane landlords charge outrageous rents, nothing will be done.
Art Vatsky October 17, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Cedar Lane now at Garrison looking west looks exactly the same as it did in the 1950s. Same buildings. Different cars. That's about it. Chestnut Plaza was forced on the residents of Chestnut Ave and when the plaza was built it was built on a slant. Even it was level it is far too small! Based on the success of the Farmer's Market on Garrison Ave, I wish there was a Garrison Plaza and triple the size of Chestnut Plaza. Chestnut Plaza is about half the size of a basketball court! Maybe if we opened up Chestnut again, it would open up investment in that area to get those mid-rise apartments/condos? Teaneck has wonderful attributes: It has great neighborhoods, many parks, a great library. It is only 5 miles from NYC and it has both the Holy Name Med Center and FDU. Further it is located on two Interstate Highways: Rts 80 and 95. Kinda hard to figure out why Teaneck isn't thriving, isn't it? We also have a school district that strives to meet the challenge of a multi-ethnic school population. On the negative side, Teaneck has ridges. Breaks up our East - West shopping area. If it were flat, Cedar Lane would be a longer commercial district but it is too steep in places. The Teaneck Council discourages business by closing 10 township departments every Friday. Developers don't work four-day weeks. And we have old infrastructure. Teaneck needs to "get real" about our true strengths and weaknesses.
zizi October 17, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I am working and far from retirement and I find it hard to keep up with the taxes here....... I started out paying $5300 in taxes in 1999 and now I pay around $11000. I think I can say paying $1400 a month is a bargain... when you consider that some of these renters send their kids to public schools and creating a major tax dollar drain... meanwhile not contributing much in terms of tax dollars..... Teaneck has tons of low rent apartments and housing. Let us distribute this wealth to the rest of the towns...... This is why I support high end establishments.... I am sick of paying the taxes in Teaneck.....
zizi October 18, 2012 at 03:05 AM
@Art: I don't think our school system is anything to talk about.... take a look at our results and compare them to our neighbors who pay less in taxes and you will see that we are ranked at almost at the bottom in almost every category there is in terms of achievement. We are big spenders though and there not many school districts in northern NJ that can compete with us....... So there is something that we can say about our school district that sets us apart from the competition.... we spend on our school system but without getting the results that our kids deserve......
Art Vatsky October 18, 2012 at 04:23 AM
@zizi: I don't think that our school system is as bad as you say. I tutor students at the Teaneck Public Library. I see their textbooks. I see their homework. I speak with some of their teachers. Those students are smart and hungry to learn. The textbooks are modern and challenging. The teachers I see are dedicated and enthusiastic. For the students I've come to know, I think the system is working for them.
Keith Kaplan October 18, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Sorry hit the wrong link there. As a product of public school education and watching my father and brother teaching in the schools, I have come to the conclusion that it's not the teachers (who are doing their best to teach) or the students (who, by and large are hungry to learn), but it's the textbooks. They may seem "modern", but they are the same old things dressed up with modern flourishes. Read this: http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf And watch this video: http://www.ted.com/talks/conrad_wolfram_teaching_kids_real_math_with_computers.html Then let me know what you feel about the state of our education. It might just give you an idea about why we are scoring so low globally in mathematics and science.
Art Vatsky October 18, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Keith: Good point. Most teachers earn their salaries but perhaps some make bad examples. Parents with kids in school care more about how their kids are doing than global scores. But those scores and word of mouth discourage families from coming to Teaneck. There is the rub. I don't like the fact that our population is dropping. We are an older, inner suburb, well located and fully developed. We should still be growing slowly but we are not. How do we fix that?
zizi October 18, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Art and Keith: I was only talking about the results...... I know most kids and most teachers are good every where... not just in Teaneck...... What matters is if our students are getting the most from our tax dollars...... Are they scoring high enough to compete with others and get into great schools and perhaps obtain merit scholarships........ All kids who attend our school system deserve a great shot at the American dream specially given the amount of money we spend on them.... It is our duty to make sure that they get what we pay for...... I know most kids are hungry for knowledge and most teachers are working hard but that is NOT enough.... is it?
Keith Kaplan October 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Scores and other measurements are only good if you measure the right thing. If you measure the height of a person, you can be extremely accurate, but it tells you nothing if you were trying to figure out their weight. My POINT is that we are teaching the wrong thing and therefore making our measurements pointless. Read the paper and watch the video and come back with honest views on why we should or shouldn't continue with an educational model that is based on 19th century factories (complete with bells to signal when the line workers should move to a new location) instead of a 21st century model using advanced concepts and computers to AID, not replace learning. At THAT point, our tax money will be used much more effectively. Greater scores to get into college don't mean much if we don't change the system.
zizi October 18, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Keith: Are you trying to tell me that school systems that spends less than us and get better results are using some other form of teaching/text books/AIDs? Are we teaching something other than the neighboring towns? Why are we not doing what other towns do and get better results...... It is ridiculous that you say "greater scores to get into college don't mean much"... Please go ask kids who are not able to get into good schools or get merit scholarships if the results matter....... perhaps seeing your father and brother teach school has clouded your judgment to the point where you can't see what matters and what don't...... I know education is not my primary field but I know when people are playing around.... Why Teaneck schools are so low on results and so high on cost? that is the question........ We all know the answer.... it is just matter of where your interests are..... If you want what is best for kids.... than you would demand more for the money we spend.... the answer is not throwing more money... the answer is getting the most of the money we already spend.......
Keith Kaplan October 18, 2012 at 03:20 PM
If the other schools are measuring how tall you are and get a better answer than you, does it matter if the question was "How much does he weigh?" My point is that - EVEN IF - we managed to get better scores by spending less money, it wouldn't mean much because we are doing it wrong. You are looking at the situation and saying that everyone is doing something, and if someone else is spending less and getting a higher score, they must be doing it better. But you are taking as a given, that they are measuring the "right" thing to begin with. I'm disputing that basic assumption. Study the metrics that they use for college admission and you'll find that tests like the SAT conform very closely to freshmen type exams in large "weed-out" courses. It's a circular argument. If the exams were more like Senior level essays, that correlation would disappear and the SAT would be pretty meaningless. So no, I'm not saying they are using some other form of teaching/text books/AIDS and by the metrics they are using, the other schools are doing a "better" job. But my point is that, IF those metrics are wrong, it doesn't matter if we beat them.
zizi October 18, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Keith: It does matter...... It matters to students that will get in schools they will not otherwise.... it matters because our students deserves a fair shot at the American dream...... I agree that we need to change the system but that is a noble goal for the state or for the federal government..... Teaneck can do very little if any... what we can do and should do is to do what others do well.... send our kids to great colleges and with scholarships..... We need to worry about what is in our control and is doable.... Our kids deserve a school system that can prepare them well and can get them INTO great colleges so they can do well after they get in.......... but they need to get IN first...... that should be the goal of our school system.... by hook or by crook... by any means necessary... We are near the top of the list for money spent/student in the state of NJ and it is time for us to be near the top of the list in terms of results..... that is not too much to ask for... is it?
Keith Kaplan October 18, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I disagree with your premise, so I see no reason to detail the rest of my problems with your line of reasoning. You think that gaming the current system so they get higher scores, and consequently, higher ratings which get them into better schools will be BETTER for them overall. I think that a better education will be better for US overall. They are different goals (but they don't HAVE to be). "but they need to get IN first...... that should be the goal of our school system.... by hook or by crook" We currently spend way too much energy sending kids to college that should have other options open to them. It's a cost / benefit issue and college doesn't benefit everyone enough to be worth the cost. Read Peter Theil's issue on why the education crisis is going to make the housing bubble look tame. http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/10/peter-thiel-were-in-a-bubble-and-its-not-the-internet-its-higher-education/ I'll tell you one thing though - I read a TON of material and listen to all kinds of experts. I'm not saying that you don't (I don't know you at all). But, unless you tell me that you're actually looking at the material I've mentioned (especially Lockhart and Wolfram above), it's just you say I'm wrong over and over and I have better things that I could be doing with my time.
zizi October 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Keith: With all due respect..... We have to agree to disagree...... on this one... You go on trying to do what should be done at a much higher level than on the township level... meanwhile.... our kids will suffer..... I think we need to live in the world we live in and obviously you think we should live in an ideal world.... Our priorities are different..... our goals are different... and our interests are different......
Keith Kaplan October 18, 2012 at 06:32 PM
The difference of course is that your goal is for them to have higher grades and mine is for them to have a better education. One will help them get into colleges, but the other will help them advance in their careers. Which one do you think is more beneficial? FYI - can't we just give everyone an A and call it a better education?
zizi October 19, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Keith: I don't want anyone to give the students good grades..... I want them to earn their grades and earn very high scores on college entrance exams (obviously not controlled by the teachers). This is not possible until we make our teachers responsible for preparing the students. The economic incentives can work magic..... since the results are not up to someone's judgement..... the results will show who is preparing the students to succeed within the current system.... and who is not..... you can say that I don't want them to get a good education because I want teachers to concentrate on test scores... but unless we change the rules...we should play by them..... I agree with you that we should change the system... it is just that I want the best for our students in the meantime... this is where we disagree..... I do agree with you that our educational systems needs fundamental changes so we can as a nation better prepare our next generations but until that new system is in place we need to play by the book and ensure that our current students do benefit from the resources available to them. I want all kids to succeed if they work hard and play by the book (as the book is currently written and not as it should be).


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