Township of North Bergen, New Jersey
Affordable Quality of Life, Just Across the River
With a stunning view of the New York skyline, the Township of North Bergen is really the place to be
With the New York skyline within reach and living costs a fraction of its iconic neighbor, the Township of North Bergen has a lot to feel good about.
Located on the Hudson Palisades, the Township of North Bergen is a community of close to 63,000 residents, and one of the most populous municipalities in Hudson County, New Jersey. Known for its steep hills and panoramic views of New York City, the township offers residents excellent parks and recreation facilities, a variety of convenient transportation options, and a unique blend of urban and natural landscapes.
North Bergen runs parallel to Manhattan along the Hudson River and is a narrow plateau that measures five and a half miles in length and one mile in width. Describing the unique topography, Janet Castro, Township Administrator, boasts, “We are known as the second hilliest municipality in the country after San Francisco, and we have the best Department of Public Works in the country because while it doesn’t typically snow in San Francisco, it’s quite the challenge to plow our hills–but we’ve got it down to a science.” Art Schwartz, Public Information Officer adds, “People in neighboring towns say they know when they get to North Bergen because the streets are clear in the winter.”
Castro describes the advantages of North Bergen’s geographical position, relaying, “We are close to the George Washington Bridge. We are a convenient commute by bus, light rail, shuttles, and ferry. We’ve got superb views of Manhattan along the Hudson River without the prices of New York City. We’ve got numerous parks, businesses, and residences facing the city. We also have easy access to Newark Airport and the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 3, and other major transportation hubs.” She maintains that all of these advantages, combined with a lower cost of living, brought an influx of people across the river and into the Township of North Bergen during the pandemic, drawn to the quality of life that the community offers.
On the subject of economic development, Schwartz reports, “There’s a tremendous amount going on right now. We have developed all throughout the township, but there are specific pockets that are really very active at the moment.” River Road is one such area, with the Solaia development, a 14-story condominium building that is one of many properties newly completed or under construction in this sought-after area of the community. “River Road runs along the Hudson, at the base of the Palisade cliffs, and it’s facing Manhattan, it’s got great views. It’s very convenient to get in and out of the city, and there continues to be a lot of development along there,” he says.
Although predominantly residential, there are also some commercial projects in the works along River Road, including Iron Culture, a state-of-the-art gym that underwent a $3 million building rehab.
Another area experiencing both residential and commercial growth is Bergenline Avenue, which is adjacent to Braddock Park, the township equivalent to Central Park. “It’s a big county park, located inside North Bergen, with 167 acres of lush greenery, athletic facilities, and a 16-acre lake for fishing and boating,” Schwartz shares.“Along the west side of that runs Bergenline Avenue.” He notes that the southern section of Bergenline Ave is heavily commercial, while the area alongside Braddock Park is undergoing both residential and commercial development in various stages.
Tonnelle Avenue, a state road on the west side of North Bergen, is also bustling with commercial activity. This area has been home to big box stores since the 1990s, providing all the popular options including Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Since 2020, the community has welcomed Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Wawa, Chipotle, Skechers, Jersey Mike’s, and Five and Below, exemplifying the tremendous growth in this thriving commercial district.
To support the ongoing development and manage existing challenges in the township, North Bergen continues to invest in infrastructure, taking advantage of grant opportunities where possible. “Recently, we applied for, and were awarded, a congressional grant to improve infrastructure on Tonnelle Avenue, where we have some areas that need sewer infrastructure improvements,” acknowledges Castro.
“Hurricane Ida really made an impact and brought some challenges to the municipality. So, we’re working to improve certain areas. We’ve got Tonnelle Avenue, Hudson Avenue, and Broadway, where we’ve got some sewer infrastructure improvements presently underway. We also have West Side Avenue, one of our heavily trafficked roads, where we received some state funding as well. They are mobilizing, as we speak, to improve infrastructure in that area because that’s an area that can experience issues when we have heavy rains.”
In addition to these improvements, there has been a focus on park facilities within North Bergen, where grant money has been awarded to upgrade these valuable community spaces. The township added a brand-new park in 2019, with numerous other parks completely renovated and upgraded over the past few years, including adding a community garden.
Education Infrastructure is also a priority, and North Bergen has purchased a retired high school building from the county with the intention of refurbishing it into a junior high school, resulting in smaller class sizes and better student-teacher ratios. All schools in the township will also be part of a $65 million project to update ventilation systems and implement other structural and academic improvements.
To keep residents engaged, the township offers a Community Help Desk, an online space where individuals can submit questions, comments, or concerns, and receive a response within 24 to 48 hours. This program has been very successful for the community, and Schwartz reports over 1000 interactions in 2022. In addition, North Bergen promotes an open-door policy, with the mayor and other city officials responding directly to constituents or referring their concerns to the appropriate department. “We have a tremendous number of events in town, through the library and the rec department, and the mayor, the administrators, the commissioners, are often at these events and interacting with individuals. There’s plenty of opportunity for people to interact and share their thoughts,” Schwartz asserts. The township’s highly accredited police department also holds meetings at various locations throughout North Bergen, inviting the public to come and share their thoughts and concerns directly. “Thanks to their focus on community policing, cutting-edge technology, and other innovative strategies, we have been listed as among the safest municipalities in the state,” he remarks.
“We have got a great chief, a great department, with 130 sworn personnel and 30 more civilian personnel. The mayor implemented a resident-only hiring policy, and what that means is that not just the police officers, but everybody working for the town lives here, so the demographics reflect the community and everyone is fully invested in the township’s progress and success.”
Other crucial community partners include the North Bergen School District, North Bergen Free Public Library, and the municipal parking and utilities authorities. “Without those partnerships, I don’t think that we’d be able to function as smoothly as we currently do, and that is because we all share the same vision. Each is an independent entity, they have their own directors and their own boards, but in the end, we all come together, and we share the same vision to improve our community,” Castro conveys. An example of the strength of these collaborations is in the newest branch of the library, a large facility in North Bergen’s downtown, with an attached rec center. “That was a $20 million project. It’s beautiful, it’s a great facility, it has a turf roof, there’s a running track inside, it’s really got everything you could want,” portrays Schwartz. Castro continues, “We collaborate so well with our library that we literally have merged programming. We work amazingly well together, serving and engaging our community.”
Looking to the future, the development and revitalization of downtown is an ongoing focus, with the new library just the beginning. Schwartz explains, “Over the past few years, we had a very large development constructed in downtown called Hudson Mews. As part of the development agreement we required them to build a park. So, there’s a new public park there, in addition to two new hotels in the area, and there’s a lot more focus on that part of town.” Asserting that this type of development is needed to keep North Bergen moving forward, Castro emphasizes the importance of maintaining a balance between redevelopment and the impact on traffic, services, schools, and the community.
She concludes, “We have to maintain a balancing act in that regard, developing rateables, while continuing to keep that community feel to the township. That is very important to us.”
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AT A GLANCE
Township Of North Bergen
What: A community of 63,000 parallel to Manhattan across the Hudson River
Where: Hudson County, New Jersey
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Hackensack Meridian Palisades Medical Center is a not-for-profit 197-bed hospital offering a range of services, and is one of seventeen hospitals in the Hackensack Meridian network that serves Hudson County’s 450,000 residents.
In recent years, the hospital has been going through an exciting revitalization, attracting additional expert, fellowship-trained surgeons who specialize in minimally invasive surgery. The hospital’s interior spaces have been reimagined to enhance the patient experience. Renovations include, new flooring, remodeling of the main hospital lobby, and renovated maternity and rehabilitation spaces that promote comfort, quality, and clinical excellence. Hackensack Meridian Palisades Medical Center also plans to begin construction on a new state of the art Emergency Department.
As a result of the hospital’s capital, clinical and personnel investments, Palisades Medical Center has received numerous recognitions and awards, including:
●The only hospital in Hudson County with 3 consecutive As’ in hospital safety
from The Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization.
●Best Hospital for Maternity Care by Money and the Leapfrog Group – 2022
●Best Hospital for Maternity Care by U.S. News & World Report – 2022-2023
●Top Teaching Hospital by Money and Leapfrog – 2022
To exceed and enhance the standard of care across the region, Hackensack Meridian Palisades Medical Center will continue to partner with Hackensack University Medical Center – Hackensack Meridian’s flagship hospital – to offer increased access to specialists and specialty programs designed to improve health outcomes across Hudson County’s communities.