Shop Rite Manager Can't Produce

Hekemian called Shop Rite's produce manager as a witness in Thursday's special hearing of the Zoning Board. The question the audience was asking is "Why?"

Joseph Pagano, Director of Produce for Inserra Shop Rite, testified as a factual witness on behalf of Hekemian at Thursday's special meeting of the Zoning Board devoted entirely to the hearing of the proposed development of the United Water property.

Why did Hekemian call a produce manager as a witness? The people sitting in the audience are still scratching their heads trying to figure that out.

Attorney for the applicant, Antimo "Andy" DelVecchio spent an hour establishing Pagano as an expert in the produce/refrigeration aspect of Inserra's Shop Rite, New Milford which is one of the stores that Pagano oversees. However, DelVecchio objected at almost every turn when the public attempted to question Pagano about traffic, parking, and emergency service calls to Shop Rite because it was outside of the scope of his expertise.

As one member of SOD exclaimed out loud, "What a tremendous waste of our time and resources."

There was one moment in the testimony that Zoning Board attorney Scott Sproviero intervened with indignation. With regard to underground parking at Inserra's Bayonne and Fairlawn Shop Rites, Pagano said that it is not a parking plan that they favor because people do not like to go underground and the cart conveyor can pose a danger.

Sproviero interjected,"I'm approaching being offended because when it was the only game in town, it was fabulous. Now, not so much."

Sproviero was referring to Inserra's original plan for renovating and expanding the current Shop Rite on its present site that was approved by the New Milford Planning Board. During that hearing before the Zoning Board, underground parking was hailed as being great. Sproviero asked how it is that their position changed so dramatically.

Pagano replied that unlike Bayonne and Fair Lawn, New Milford is an upscale community that needs this type of parking structure (outdoor). According to Pagano, the earlier application before the Planning Board gave Inserra no other choice than to consider below ground parking.

"Now we have options," Pagano said.

However, out of all the witnesses that Hekemian has had testify thus far, Pagano was the first one to go on record acknowledging that the area of the proposed development floods. When asked about flooding in the area of the proposed Shop Rite, he said that he was at the Lodi Shop Rite during a flood, "This (New Milford) flooding will be no way worse than the Lodi flooding."

Pagano did testify that there would be approximately 34 trucks visiting the new Shop Rite per day.These trucks include trailer deliveries, garbage, recycling and vans that take food donations from Shop Rite.

At one point during his testimony, Pagano asked out loud, "Why am I here?" followed by his response, "Because I would do anything Mr. Inserra asks."

jimmy October 19, 2012 at 03:14 PM
@Karen-from what I have read, the Mayor has visions of putting our fire department(s) on the current Shop Rite property. Seems a little ridiculous.
james October 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Okay this gave me a much needed laugh on this rainy day. Danielle I must say your are very accurate with your description of the produce department.
Tara October 19, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I'm with Danielle on this one. Our Shop Rite is one of the worst. The produce is terrible and the butcher is not much better. It also takes forever to check out. I don't think making it bigger will solve any of those problems. I prefer quality to quantity.
Ulises October 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
This factual witness, like all the expert witness associated with this application will say whatever to make this happen. It's a shame our Mayor never pursued the option to purchase this land, it would have saved us a lot of long nights trying to make things right for the sake of our town's future.
james October 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
You mean the butcher that puts other cuts of the meat in the package especially when it is a sale item?
David Bednarcik October 19, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Why can't we purchase the land now?
Darlene October 19, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I stopped shopping at ShopRite many years ago after I stopped an employee in the Produce Department, picked up one of the many limp, wilted bundles of parsley and asked "Why don't you take better care of your produce?" and he just kind of shrugged at me.
Darlene October 19, 2012 at 05:49 PM
What I have heard is that the mayor wants to move the Fire Department to the site where "ShopRite" is now.
Mary McElroy October 19, 2012 at 08:02 PM
You can't put this debacle all on the mayor- while decisions & steps could have been taken to purchase the land within the 4 month window, the better approach would have been to get in there while it was being remediated & a number of elected officials could have done that. Even within that 4 mt. window others could have stepped up & pushed in the direction of buying the land-Mr. Berner says he was for it & I believe Ms. Duffy was too, what did they do? In 2008 the master plan was ammended regarding this property while at the same time, I think our former mayor was head of parks & recreation for bergen county, wow, couldn't we have tapped into that expertise? We've been flooding badly since 1999 & needed a field for that long as well but we look for answers in a crisis situation? Where's the leadership? It's been lacking across the board Ulises. Wasn't Mr. Putrino on the council in 2009 or 2010? For over a decade, groups have tried to work on a field for our town. If anyone had considered a solution it would have first pointed to the UW property. Mr. Polizzi, as an newcomer & outsider, met with UW to get that land, so why couldn't those on the M&C? No doubt, people would have been outraged at buying the land back then & I'm equall sure they would have tried to run them out of town. It's easy to have all the answers now, but I see many recycled players & I don't have a lot of hope that things will be different. It's both misleading & inaccurate to solely blame the mayor
tony g2010 October 19, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Mary, you are correct so many missed opportunities and finger pointing. The time to do it was when the Democratic Mayor and Council were running the show. The whole Democratically run County was spending money like drunken sailors, especially on that $70,000,000 park on top of a garbage dump. What would have been a couple of million dollars more. I was at the councilman meet and greet the other night and what really was sad was that they were all talking (except Rebsch, he will make a statement after the election) like all we need to do is just buy the land. It is delusional to think that it is that simple, as it is under contract. If we cannot buy the land, the residents must demand to keep it zoned single family homes, nothing more, nothing less. Let Inserra rebuild his shoprite where is sits or let him close it down, there are literally dozens of other supermarkets in this area.
Ulises October 19, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Mary, let me be blunt. The mayor and the grant writer don't get along, this has been expressed to me by many in NM's Republican Party. Berner presented the M&C with his thoughts, brought the grant writer in and Mr. Madio, the M&C's attorney, who's really the 7th council member, showed her the door because the Mayor was not informed before hand about this plan. This occurred while we had a chance to buy it, the four month window, and she didn't want to pursue it. The Mayor wants the darn ShopRite there instead of the field of dreams. That's the truth, live with it, and that's the reason why I'm voting no on the referendum and I'm fighting to fix the miss she's created by our high school.
Mary McElroy October 19, 2012 at 10:58 PM
No, Ulises, that's what you've been told & how you choose to see it. I see empty promises; I also see that we've had a council who spent more time talking about sign & fire hydrant ordiances than they have about the UW property- has there not been more plans issued on the Patch then there has in council meetings? Even when they've been asked to dialogue it where they should-at the council meetings-most have been reluctant. Now the grants writer is going to save us because those up for reelection say so. You're kidding me right? The grants writer may in fact be great, but Garfield & Passaic county are quite different than NM & until I personally hear Ms. Casey make a presentation, detail amounts & timeframes, it's a great sales pitch. Our town got a matching grant this year for lights behind Borough-they were supposed to be in at the beginning of the fall season & you'd think someone would have executed on that given the desperate conditions of our fields. Guess what, no lights. In the meantime, the temporary lights that we'd been using from the county for the past years, the ones with the noise & noxious fumes used on construction sites, disappeared half way through the season because the county needed them back, so you have a practice field w/ no lights but we got the grant! Thanks for trying to fix the mess, but you should also realize that telling people to vote no, may very well have the opposite outcome to what you're hoping.
Lori Barton October 19, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Mary, I have to agree with Ulises on this. Our Mayor has said that she wants the ShopRite on the UW property to be her legacy. That is a fact. As Mr. Polizzi said, "Do you know of any community whose leaders celebrate the legacy of a strip mall?" Other leaders may have had the opportunity to do something but Mayor Subrizi was in charge when the 4 month window of opportunity was presented. The minutes bear out the fact that there was a complete lack of leadership and the fact that our borough attorney acts much more like a seventh councilman than as a borough attorney. This election is far more important than most residents realize. The stark truth is that it is vitally important to prevent Mayor Subrizi from having a majority on the Council and equally important to not have equal representation because then the Mayor will cast a tie breaking vote. She is the one who is so dead set against letting the application run its course. She is the one who wants to "compromise" with Hekemian. We simply cannot allow that to happen. If there is any chance at keeping green, open space in New Milford, then Mayor Subrizi needs to be neutralized.
Lori Barton October 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Karen, that has been a concern from the very beginning. That's another reason that the "increase in ratables" argument goes down the drain. Especially knowing that the Mayor wants to put the firehouse at that site, then we totally lose the ratables from the existing ShopRite property. With the available retail properties going unrented, I have doubts that anything else would move to that property. Additionally, the existing building is in such poor condition that it will almost certainly need to be demolished, not renovated. And speculating that something like Marshall's would want to move there is just wishful thinking. All of the newer Marshall's stores are part of other retail operations. They no longer open single standing stores because they are not profitable. Keep ShopRite at that site. They have the approvals to tear down and rebuild the store. Do it and let's move on. Maybe then I can return to shop there. That store is so disgusting that I stopped shopping there close to a year ago. I go out of my way to go to Paramus, one reason being that it is not owned by Inserra. I refuse to spend my money in an Inserra ShopRite until they abandon plans to relocate and pledge to rebuild where they are.
Lori Barton October 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I'm sure Fair Lawn will be delighted to know that Mr. Pagano considers them to be "beneath" New Milford. What an asinine comment to make.
Ulises October 20, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Mary, when someone tells me something, who's not a politician, and the facts add up I choose to believe they are speaking the truth. If you choose to believe the Mayor, a politician, that there was no grants to purchase this land, she's technically not lying because she never pursued them to begin with. When I say I'm voting no for this referendum, I'm speaking for myself. The turf field has a lot of negatives, in my opinion, and the major one for me is its contribution to the flooding problems this town has. It's going to funnel water, that's currently being absorbed by sod, right to the Hackensack River and during major storms that's going to hurt our low lying neighborhoods.
THOMAS SCHRECK October 20, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Ms. Barton, with all do respect ma'am, you need to come back to reality
Mary McElroy October 20, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Lori, I disagree which rarely happens between us but on this I'm holding my ground. You guys can all endorse & side with any party you want while giving all the other non-performers a pass, but I'm not drinking that kool-aide. I've been to just as many if not more M&C council meetings than all of you in the last 2 years so there's not going to be any free rides. Do you really expect me to endorse people who haven't measured up? This isn't Mike Polizzi we're talking about here, if someone of that caliber were running, they'd get my support because they would have EARNED it. That would mean that I would have needed to see actions and words that match - integrity, vision, leadership, cooperation, fairness, selflessness - things I believe in and can stand by. Please don't expect me to sell out and keep quiet for the system because it's never going to happen. Unless people actually take the time & come out to meeting, it's impossible to judge what's fact or fiction. Right now, there's an awful lot of fiction in town & few good choices. Too bad you're not running, you'd get my vote in a second & that would be based upon your performance on the BOE & with SOD. You have to earn it Lori so I'm sorry, no free passes.
Mary McElroy October 20, 2012 at 01:39 AM
No Ulises, I called you out on the constant pounding of the mayor while giving others a pass. I never said anything about who I believe in so let's not put words in my mouth, I'm quite capable of deciding for myself & calling my own shots. You're calling the mayor a politician Ulises? The last I looked, they were all politicians & that's my point. If you want to hone in on the mayor than do it, but you may not get off with it when many of us can see that there's been plenty of incompetence on both sides. As for the field, I wouldn't put one penny into a new field for this town that wasn't turf. Not only are you wrong about contributing to any flooding, turf meets the needs of the town from multi-sport/multi-age level. If you are so worried about negative environmental impacts perhaps you could push the politicians in town to get those lights behind Borough for next season so the kids don't have to keep breathing in the noxious and dangerous fumes from the county lights. The low lying neighborhood are also the places where our fields are and our children play so perhaps you could consider that as well.
Ulises October 20, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Mary, I guess you have it in for me and you don't like me for my honesty. I still admire your passion for the town even if we don't agree on these issues. Here are the facts; in the pass, I've pounded on Debari for many different reasons, I've pounded on Duffie for her recent vote to rezone, I've pounded on Colucci because he tells everyone in town the ShopRite is a done deal, I've pounded on Robalino because he favors developing the UW property, and I've pounded Berner for flip-flopping months ago when he told the Bergen Record we need to compromise with the developers. I even pounded on Ashley because he wanted to touch the town's reserves. I've pounded on Grant for not being able to get the Democrats to return UW's contributions. So, now you don't want me to voice the truth about our inept Mayor? She controls the agenda and refused to hear the grant writer yet you don't want me to call her out? She's the reason we're divided in town and your attacks on the Patch to anyone that disagrees with you only hurts FoD. You said you wouldn't put a dime into nothing else but turf, I finding that a bet controlling and not reasonable. I interpret that comment as you could careless about the flooding a turf field would cause to the low lying neighborhoods, yet you'd like their support for "your" FoD. I live on Columbia Street and I've seen my neighbors leave their homes and homes will be knocked down in the coming months and this hurts the town's revenue, which hurts us all.
miriam pickett October 20, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Mary, you make good points about everyone dropping the ball. However, it was the mayor who would not allow Marlene to present the information regarding what grants were available during the 4 month window of opportunity. And it's true, Howard Berner did suggest buying the property and was answered with complete silence. But the council was not allowed to hear about what grants were available. SWAN contacted the mayor and she let time run out before she answered their email suggesting they might be able to help with the purchase. She only met with them a few weeks ago because of pressure exerted by SOD. Austin hired a lawyer because of his opposition. It took Howard months to recuse himself before finally stepping up to the plate. And I wonder if he ever would have done so had I not requested an OPRA for the closed minutes of the Council meetings. At the very first SOD meeting he stated that everyone in his neighborhood supported the development. We can all point fingers. There are plenty of culprits. But now its time to work together to stop the development and make this property a show place and an an example of what can be accomplished by people working together. The grants will be available again next year. If UW pulls out if the deal, we have a good chance of keeping this property a part of New Milford's heritage.
Mary McElroy October 20, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Ulises, please stop trying to twist my words. If you understood the field conditions & requirements of rec & school, the flooding & overcrowding then you'd know that a turf field is the answer & a turf field does not increase flooding. You continue to put that out there & I know some groups like the Sierra Club may not give grants when a turf field is involved, so if that's the intention at the UW property with grant funding then we need to be aware of that. A turf field meets the needs of the town's sports programs on many levels & it's the answer at either the UW site or at the MS given the number of kids that need to use our fields & the kind of conditions that present themselves at both locations. Further, I was part of the group that originally asked questions about the UW sale & we paid for and distributed 1,000 flyers to alert people to Heikeman's plan for the UW property. I've been constant in my efforts for almost 2 years so stop trying to twist my comments. Maybe it's you who doesn't like my honesty; I disagree with you, the mayor is not the sole reason the town is divided, that's an oversimplification of a very complicated problem. You can interpret that as me having it in for you but that's not the case. I'm going to let the "your" FOD comment pass & chalk it up to your being annoyed at me. Have a good night, I'm done on this topic & I hope you are as well.
Ulises October 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Mary, please read what Miriam wrote. It explains what happened and proves the Mayor did very little. Btw, I've been in every park in town, on every field, I've coached, I love gardening, had my own business where parts of it did landscaping and our fields can easyly be a lot better with better management. I live in the same area as these fields in town and my lawn & my neighbors' lawns look great. I'm not twisting your words or your comments and I've even praised you for your efforts and I've told you we're fIghting for the samething in town. I'll continue to point out how I feel about the Mayor, so please lets agree to disagree. We may started SOD after FoD but I've been fighting this for just as long, click on the link and see for yourself. http://newmilford-nj.patch.com/articles/what-do-you-think-should-be-done-with-the-united-water-property
Pat October 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I wish you would do better research into turf fields and designs before you continue to spread more misinformation.
Ulises October 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Pat, I read your comment the other day and do you know if we're going to use the TurfField product like the NFL uses because that's never been mentioned until you said it here.. I agree with the environmental Pro's such as no need for fertilizer, pesticides, etc... But I've been on our fields and there's no way our fields are treated with chemicals. I go back to the same point I've made - where does all that water go?
Pat October 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Uli, I can't say for sure yet, but they are a very popular company in NJ. They are a GSA vendor which makes it easy to purchase without the costly bid process. I am researching the storm water designs of these fields in other locations. It appears there are storm water "tank" systems that are used often. Just so everyone understands, it is NOT an impervious surface, the drainage systems removes excess water from the area.
Barbara October 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I saw Pagano in SR and asked him about the produce being so crappy. He said it is due to travel time. I wonder why other stores like whole foods ans stop n shop don't have that problem?
lynnegad October 21, 2012 at 10:42 PM
INTERESTING READ: "Four million to save and turn into something, somebody should step up to the plate," New Milford Mayor Ann Subrizi said. "I wish this was my project to save." (River Dell Patch) These are the words of our Mayor regarding the saving of the Blauvelt Mansion in Oradell. Well, Mayor Subrizi and Council, you do have a project to save and that is the United Water Property!!!! STEP UP TO THE PLATE!
Denise Vollmar October 22, 2012 at 05:01 PM
New Milford upscale? I think not...Alpine, Upper Saddle River, Franklin Lakes. If NM was upscale maybe I should have tried harder to keep my house from a short sale, although God knows I did everything I could.
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