The lie that launched a thousand fears (updated with maps)

Fear has gripped the areas of Mahwah and surrounding towns in Northern Bergen county.  As was mentioned in my previous post on the unconstitutional actions taken by Council President Robert Hermansen, the township has restricted public comments in their meetings (in violation of statute) on topics of public concern, they have attempted to ban certain groups from public parks and they have taken the extraordinary step of even subordinating their top police official (to the ire of the law enforcement community as can be seen in a post by the local PBA here) when he refused to put nefarious political moves ahead of public safety.

Comments at the local town council meetings referenced “invasions” and harassment of residents (although Open Public Record requests indicate no complaints were lodged with township police or officials). Allegations of “blockbusting” (and worse) permeated Facebook posts and online forums, as residents scrambled for answers and all the while, “leaders” such as Robert Hermansen, the Council Preisdent of Mahwah, stoked fears and resentment.

This isn’t the first time such a problem has arisen here in northern Bergen County.  Forty-five years ago, the New York Times declared: “Mahwah Under Attack on Zoning Rules” when Ford workers, whose plant was sought by the township were priced out of being able to actually live within its borders.  The Times wrote: “The fact that 2,000 of Ford’s workers are black or of Hispanic origin lends credibility to the charge that the zoning is discriminatory.”

The more things change….

Sadly, this time the town is attempting to prevent people who lack any desire to even move there.

Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, who runs the Rockland eruv and oversaw its expansion into Bergen County, said the expansion should not be seen as an attempt to claim the area for the Jewish community. “There’s no connection between the place you put the eruv to where people use it,” he said.

Rabbi Steinmetz, also spoke with the Bergen Record regarding this installation.  He said: “The boundary is simply meant to help New York Jews living near the New Jersey border practice their religion. The eruv had to stretch into Bergen County because there were no other contiguous telephone poles in New York. There was no other way to connect.”

If that were true, one would expect that the Eruv would cover a rather small area of the towns on the NJ side, adjacent to the area left uncovered by the current NY Eruv.

So let’s take a look:

NY The area in yellow is where the Plaintiffs suing Upper Saddle River reside outside the existing Eruv.
NY The area in green is the pre-existing NY Eruv
NJ The areas in blue are the areas the Eruv would cover on the NJ side
NJ The areas in red will not be within any Eruv.

They want the yellow area to be within the Eruv.  That’s it.  There aren’t telephone poles on the New York side to accomplish that, so they went over to the NJ side utilizing the minimum amount necessary.  Take a look at where the roads are.  How would you cover the Yellow area in New York?

The fears are as unfounded as they are ugly.  The elected leaders of Mahwah and the surrounding towns need to start the process of healing divisions, instead of sowing them.

Are you listening Mr. Hermansen?

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