THE COMMUNITY FACILITIES PLAN
Aging of the Teaneck population, coupled with a decline in the birth rate in past years, has resulted in a gradually stabilizing effect upon the school enrollment. Recent studies undertaken independently by both the consultant and the Board of Education bear out this observation. Total public school enrollment is expected to stabilize at about 7,500 to 8,000 students within the next five years. The high school enrollment, presently at 2,100, is expected to remain at about this level until 1966, and declining to a lower plateau of about 2,000 students thereafter. Elementary and junior high school enrollments are already beginning to taper off and are expected to stabilize within the next few years at about 5,500 to 6,000 students.
The impact on school facilities, as a result of the proposed apartment areas in the future Land Use Plan, is expected to be insignificant. Surveys of apartments in Bergen County as well as Teaneck itself, point to an average school-age child per apartment of .24, and reflective of the whole range of multi-family housing types. At ultimate development levels of all of the apartment areas proposed--which is not expected for at least ten years or more--an additional 1,400 families, with little more than 300 school-age children, could result.
Despite the general over-all adequacy of the number of classrooms in the system, and the number of schools, to serve the present and future school enrollment, the school plant has problems which will require remedial action. These problems are generally attributable to the following areas:
- Need for expansion and revision of the curriculum, due to changing educational program requirements.
- Reduction of the present average pupils per classroom ratio to optimum levels.
- Elimination or renovation of the several or more substandard classrooms in use.
- All or part of the original building at four schools are presently forty years old, functioning with inadequate auditoriums and without gymnasiums.
- Inadequate outside play areas.
Relating these general school plant problems to individual schools, the following observations and recommendations are made to serve as a guide for construction needs over the next twenty years. Although those schools warranting replacement are recommended for reconstruction on the same site, it is felt that careful site planning would result in the presently deficient play areas being enlarged, and at the same time, made more functional.
- Longfellow Elementary--Over fifty years old; auditorium inadequate; no gymnasium, seriously deficient outdoor physical education facilities. SHOULD BE REPLACED.
- Washington Irving Elementary--Adjacent properties should be acquired in order to enlarge the play area; abandonment of the Town House in the long-range future would also permit this expansion, as well as additional off-street parking facilities.
- Emerson Elementary--Approaching fifty years in age, small class-rooms; auditorium on second floor limits activities; no gymnasium; deficient play area. SHOULD BE REPLACED.
- Whittier Elementary--Original portion of building is forty years old; auditorium inadequate; no gymnasium; deficient play area. PARTIAL RENOVATION: VACATE PART OF OGDEN AVE.
- Hawthorne Elementary--Original portion of building approaching forty years of age. PARTIAL RENOVATION: POSSIBLE EXPANSION TO MEET NEW NEEDS.
- Jefferson Junior School--Deficient play area. Part of the County-owned parkland and the vacant land abutting Fycke Lane should be acquired by the Township for the purposes of developing a playfield.
- High School--Changing educational requirements and expansion of the present curriculum point the way to the need for physical improvements in this facility; the corrective rooms are being used as classrooms; an indoor swimming pool should be considered as a highly desirable facility. PARTIAL EXPANSION AND RENOVATION TO MEET NEW NEEDS.
School enrollments for each school, of course, change according to the population change in the school's particular district, and this is difficult to project in an exacting manner. In certain instances, redistricting may result in one larger elementary school replacing two existing smaller schools in the future. It may also result in one school requiring several or more additional classrooms in order to allow for more optimum balancing of the total elementary school enrollment throughout the system. Similarly, a nominal amount of annual maintenance must be expected on all schools, including those that someday might be completely replaced.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Teaneck has a sizable recreation system centered upon 115 acres of developed park land and 33 acres of a playground associated with the school buildings. In addition, there exists about 117 acres of Township owned but undeveloped land and about 400 acres of County land, all destined for park use.
When all this land is developed, Teaneck will exceed the minimum standards developed by the National Recreation Association which call for 10 acres of recreation land for every 1,000 persons.
In general there is a uniform distribution of developed park land throughout the Township. Although many of the parks are small, they function effectively as neighborhood facilities. Generally, there is a nice balance between the school playgrounds and the passive parks. The park system was largely organized in the 1930's in the period after the great wave of development which took place in the 1920's. As a result, the parks generally are located on the periphery of the neighborhoods they serve. However, the schools usually occupy a central location albeit on small sites.
Although areas of the Township are within one-half mile of the neighborhood parks and playgrounds, when traffic barriers to children are considered, not all areas are served to such an ideal degree. Due to the arterial and collector street system, the North Forest Drive area, the Country Club Drive area, the Larch Avenue area and the Palmer Avenue area remain partially isolated and served by no parks, or ones that are too small or not developed. The Country Club area, for example, will be adequately served when the Overpeck Creek Park is finally developed. Due to the built-up nature of all of these areas, the provision of any additional park or play space will be expensive.
In previous studies, Teaneck was districted into five areas; southwest, northwest, northeast, southeast and south central. Each of these areas should have a playfield, preferably up to ten acres in size. With the exception of Terhune Park and Playfield serving the southwest section of the Township and with Milton Park serving the northeast section, there is no other playfield in the Township adequate either in size or development. Argonne Park, also in the northeast section of the Township, is substantially undeveloped; the northwest area is inadequately served by the Benjamin Franklin Junior School playfield; the south central area is inadequately served by the high school athletic field; and the Thomas Jefferson Junior School playfield is inadequate for both the school and the neighborhood.
- Playfield facilities should be expanded at Argonne Park to better serve the neighborhood.
- Several privately owned parcels, together with lands owned by the Bergen County Park Commission, should be assembled to provide a new playfield facility to better serve the Thomas Jefferson School as well as the Glenwood Avenue neighborhood.
- A new playfield should be provided on the site of the existing Public Works Garage on River Road to serve the northwest section of the Township. This facility is proposed for relocation and discussed more fully in the following section.
Although many of the parks-large and small-need improvement, especially in landscape development, two parks should remain essentially undeveloped for anything but passive recreational uses. Tokoloka and Windsor, having remained in their naturalistic state this long can be of greater benefit to the community if they remain so.
Over the years the opportunity has gradually diminished for Teaneck to establish a linear park along the entire shoreline of the Hackensack River. It was difficult, perhaps, in those preceding years, to envision any over-all development of the River for park or recreational purposes. Older residents, of course, can recall when the Hackensack was a genuine recreation facility. Until recently sewerage problems have prevented the reclamation of the Hackensack for recreation.
There are still many problems to resolve in regard to reclaiming the Hackensack River, including the firm establishment of the dam and its construction in order to maintain the River at a high level and the need for a north-south regional highway in Bergen County which has been discussed in terms of a River alignment. In the direction of producing a satisfactory solution, the Planning Board stands ready to cooperate fully on an inter-municipal basis.
- Acquisition of several parcels of land along the River at its north-western extremity in the Township is recommended. It is also recommended that Fairleigh Dickenson University be requested to dedicate a pedestrian easement along the shoreline immediately south of the Route 4/River Road interchange. It would then be feasible for Teaneck to extend a pedestrian walkway from this point uninterrupted to a point opposite the Old Steuben House in Hackensack.
There is no regional park serving the southeastern portion of Bergen County in which Teaneck lies. One is sorely needed. Recognizing this the Bergen County Park Commission has in the past years assembled a large amount of land in the Overpeck Creek marshes with a view towards creating a large regional park. A number of factors have prevented the immediate accomplishment of this. The land is generally low. As a result, a program of landfill has been necessary. The park site has been crossed by Interstate Routes 95 and 80, resulting in a fragmentation of the original site. Finally, the conjectural north-south connection from Route 4 to FAI 80 has only recently entered into more detailed discussions. As far as can be ascertained, the Bergen County Park Commission intends to fully use the major portion of its lands in Teaneck for park purposes. In the interests of Teaneck and the County, it is urged that development of these lands commence in the near future.
MUNICIPAL SWIMMING FACILITIES
The desirability of municipal swimming facilities has been a topic of discussion in the Teaneck community for the past several years. The Planning Board has made the matter the subject of a preliminary study. In light of the increasing reliance upon municipal recreation facilities and the expressed community support, the desirability of a municipally owned swimming facility is endorsed by the Planning Board. Continuing study on the part of the Board will be directed to the determination of the type, location and financing of such a facility.
One ladder, a rescue and three engine companies are in service in three stations.
In 1959 the National Board of Fire Underwriters recommended an additional engine company to be established in the vicinity of Essex Road and Ogden Avenue to serve the northwest section of the Township. There is, however, no available vacant land for such a facility in this area.
The Fire Department of Teaneck recommends the replacement of the inadequate quarters at the Morningside Terrace Fire Station.
- It is recommended that a new fire station be constructed on part of Windsor Park fronting on Windsor Road.
- It is recommended that a new station be constructed on the municipally owned property at the corner of Degraw Avenue and Teaneck Road.
Several factors are pertinent to the need for one or two branch libraries; (1) There is a lack of reading rooms, reading tables and book shelf space in the main library and the building does not lend itself to expansion; (2) A lack of direct bus service from several neighborhoods in Teaneck to the main library making it difficult for the segment of the residents without cars; (3) The extremely high rate of annual circulation, over 8 volumes per capita (7 is a recommended standard when circulating the need for additional volumes) indicates a "book-conscious" community.
Two locations are suggested for either the temporary or permanent establishment of two branch libraries:
- The Morningside Terrace fire station which is being recommended for replacement at another location.
- The vacant Recreation Department building in West Englewood Park.
PUBLIC WORKS GARAGE
The existing facilities on River Road need to be replaced and expanded. The remote location in a corner of the Township results in extended travel time to and from the various sections of the Township for the road crews. This land bordering upon the Hackensack River could be better utilized as parkland in the direction of creating a riverfront park.
- It is recommended that a new facility be constructed at the northern end of Windsor Park with access provided from Windsor Road. The heavily wooded character of Windsor Park will result in a natural screening of various materials which by necessity must be stored outside.
Although the Town House, together with the various group civic centers throughout the Township have served well the needs of the citizens for such facilities in the past, a new Township Community Center should be considered a highly desirable facility. It is recognized that recent improvements in the Town House suggest that its useful life will extend at least ten years into the future. Nevertheless, more efficient and more functional space is needed for both the School Board and the Recreation Department, which are presently housed in the building. At the same time, there is an ever-increasing need for community group meeting rooms and multi-purpose space for such groups as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
- It is recommended that a Community Center be constructed in the future at such time as when the improvements in the existing Town House have been equitably amortized. The ideal location would be at the north end of Milton Votee Park.