Although each part of the Master Plan presented herewith is closely correlated with every other part and the basis for each proposed change is the same, the Board feels that it is impossible for the mind to, grasp a project of such magnitude in its entirety. For this reason the major phases of the Plan have been broken down into subdivisions and are presented in sequential order as individual units that they may be studied apart from their relation to the whole.
It has also been deemed advisable to include short descriptions of conditions as they now exist so that the reasons for the proposed changes or improvements may be more clearly understood. No attempt should be made to study the Plan or any of its parts without constant reference to the maps which are appended hereto, and which are a part of this report.
If a municipality may be compared to a human being, then its streets must be compared with the human skeleton. The major thoroughfares are the backbone, the ribs, and the long arm and leg bones. The minor streets are the bones in the fingers, the toes, and other parts of the body. A town with an irregular, poorly laid out street system is as helpless as a person whose bones, once broken, have been mended in a misshapen, malformed fashion.
Teaneck's street system was not laid out in accordance with any general plan, but rather through subdivision platting, and the result is an expression of the diverse ideas of many individual subdividers. Consequently the existing street pattern shows many variations in street directions, and widths, as well as innumerable dead-end streets, jogs, and missing connections. Lack of proper control of land subdivision in the past by the municipal government and the absence of proper regulations and maps for the guidance of developers are mainly responsible for these defects, which even a superficial study of the Existing Conditions Map will make apparent.
At the beginning of the current year the Township map showed about ninety-two miles of streets (not including the State Highway), of which about fifty per cent are improved. The remainder are either unimproved dirt roads or "paper" streets not open for vehicular traffic. Of the forty-six miles of improved streets all but about five miles have permanent pavements. The Existing Conditions Map shows the various classifications of streets, street and pavement widths, character of pavement, and those streets which are unimproved, not open, etc.
There are, however, certain good features of the existing pattern. Several of the more important thoroughfares are sixty feet wide and the great majority of the streets are fifty feet or more in width. It is also possible to create a number of additional major thoroughfares by extending existing streets or supplying missing links. In general, sidewalk and curb construction has closely followed street improvement, especially in the newer and better subdivisions, and the majority of these sidewalks are well constructed. There are still many gaps to be filled in, however, some of them extending for several blocks.
Another excellent feature is the small percentage of sidewalk and street encroachments. There are relatively few cases in which vending stands, gasoline pumps, displays, or street signs interfere with the use of the streets and sidewalks or offend the eye. Street tree planting has also followed the proper lines and Teaneck as a whole may feel proud of its trees. There are some stretches where trees are missing and others where the trees need attention, but these are not a majority.
The Plan provides for the entire street system in almost minute detail. In only a few cases are the minor streets not provided for, and in these cases the nature of the terrain is such as to permit wide variations in laying out streets when development begins. The Master Plan map, a part of this report, clearly delineates all of the suggested additions and changes in the street system, and for that reason only the treatment of the most important thoroughfares and proposed new routes will be described in detail in this report.
Teaneck Road. This is a County highway and is the longest through artery in the Township. It is at the present time, and probably always will be, the most important north-south thoroughfare.
Its width now varies greatly as to right-of-way, roadway, and paving. Steps have already been initiated to establish a new right-of-way width of eighty feet throughout. The Master Plan Map indicates the stretches along which the right-of-way must be widened. The County government should be urged to start the physical improvement of this important thoroughfare as soon as financial conditions will permit. The work should be planned on the basis that the ultimate paved roadway width shall be at least fifty-four feet; meanwhile a permanent pavement thirty-six feet wide should be provided.
Queen Anne Road. The Master Plan Map shows the easy conversion of this street into a through thoroughfare extending from Bogota to Englewood by the addition of Irving Street and Tryon Avenue. Much of this route already has a street width of sixty feet and a roadway width of thirty-six feet. The Plan shows those sections of the three streets which should be widened to sixty feet, all of which can readily be done without touching any buildings. The short stretch between Court Street and Market Street cannot be widened except at the expense of existing buildings, but a roadway width of thirty-six feet can be provided from Grove Street north to Tryon Avenue and thence to the Englewood line.
From a point about fifty feet north of Grove Street, south to Highwood Street, the street width is fifty feet and the roadway width is thirty-two feet. The street width should be increased to sixty feet and the roadway width to thirty-six feet. This can be done without encroaching on any existing buildings.
In the business district lying between Highwood Street and Fort Lee Road, where there already is a serious congestion of traffic, the street width is fifty feet and the roadway width is thirty-two feet. The desirable widening of this stretch can be accomplished only at considerable expense, as it would involve moving back, or cutting off the fronts of, buildings on the west side of the street to procure a street width of sixty feet and a roadway width of thirty-six feet. Although this widening is not shown on the Master Plan, it is recommended that the Township Council give the fullest consideration to this important matter.
It is important, also, that new street lines should be established along this route without delay and before any more buildings are erected on the present street frontages.
Palisade Avenue. Although this street is mapped from the Bogota line north to West Englewood Avenue, it does not actually exist north of Grayson Place as an improved street. An additional needed north-south thoroughfare can be established by completing this important avenue all the way through and adding as logical extensions Dame and Sackville streets. By widening the short stretch from Cedar Lane to Cherry Lane this route will have a street width of not less than sixty feet as far north as State Street and thence a width of fifty feet, with a roadway width of thirty-six feet throughout. This improvement will relieve Queen Anne Road, now a residential thoroughfare, where heavy traffic is undesirable.
Cedar Lane. This is another County road and is, in part, the most heavily traveled of the crosstown thoroughfares excepting State Highway Route No. 4. Unfortunately it has not been improved east of Teaneck Road.
The present right-of-way and roadway widths and the width of the permanent pavement vary greatly. Between the Hackensack River and Teaneck Road, however, there is a minimum existing right-of-way of sixty feet and Broadway width of forty feet. It is understood that the County authorities have considered the improvement of Cedar Lane east of Teaneck Road, crossing Overpeck Creek and eventually connecting with Sheffield and Grand avenues in Englewood. This is a most desirable improvement and one which the Township authorities should urge upon the County government. This extension should have a width of not less than sixty feet and a paved roadway width of not less than forty feet.
Vandelinda Avenue. The Master Plan Map shows that by supplying certain missing links and another bridge over the West Shore Railroad, a new crosstown route could be supplied by connecting Kipp Street, Vandelinda Avenue, and Letter Avenue. This route could readily extend from the Hackensack River to Overpeck Creek and eventually be carried over those two streams by means of bridges into Hackensack and Leonia respectively. This route would have a fifty-foot right-of-way and a thirty-six foot roadway. The connection with Hackensack would be over an easy route to Passaic Street. The topographic conditions are such that bridges over the railroad and the streams could readily be constructed at such heights as not to impede rail or water transportation.
Even though this route connected only with River Road instead of crossing the Hackensack River, and even though it extended no further east than the proposed Lafayette Avenue extension, it would be most desirable in connecting the southeast and southwest corners of the town and relieving Cedar Lane. If the connection is carried across the river into Hackensack, the bridges should be built by the County and the road taken over by the County.
A New North-End Route. Another extremely desirable through thoroughfare could and should be provided by connecting Tryon Avenue, Winthrop Road, Edgewood Road, and Riverview Avenue. The widening of Tryon Avenue has already been discussed, but Riverview Avenue should be widened to sixty feet, with a thirty-six foot roadway; then in no place would the route be less than sixty feet wide with a thirty-six foot roadway.
The establishment of this route would require the building of a bridge over the West Shore Railroad and Palisade Avenue. In this case also the topography is such that this bridge could be constructed very easily.
Sagamore Avenue. The Master Plan discloses how few missing connections along the lines of Grayson Place and Sagamore Avenue are necessary to establish another crosstown thoroughfare extending from River Road to Glenwood Avenue and the ramp of the State Highway. The present streets composing this route are all fifty feet or more in width, with roadways of not less than thirty feet. The bridge now over the railroad is narrow, weak, and antiquated; it makes a crooked and dangerous connection with Sagamore Avenue. It should be replaced by a new bridge having a roadway width of thirty-six feet and two six-foot walks, because of its extensive use by high school students.
Lafayette Avenue Extension. The Master Plan shows also the best route between the Englewood line and Fort Lee Road for the southerly extension of Lafayette Avenue as proposed by outside groups. The extension south of Fort Lee Road is not shown, for its proper alignment would depend upon several undetermined factors. If this extension is carried through Teaneck, it should be as a regional or County project, for the improvement and development of the Overpeck Creek marsh area should be for park purposes and this route should be a link in the parkway system.
Under ordinary conditions Teaneck streets are not overcrowded with motor vehicles. Only during the period of maximum traffic flow on weekends and holidays is there any serious congestion, and even that has been greatly relieved by the opening of State Highway Route No. 4. Fort Lee Road and Teaneck Road are the two routes which are particularly in need of early relief on this score.
Such over-burden of vehicular traffic as Teaneck now has to contend with results almost entirely from out-of-town vehicles. During the rush hours of commuters and local shoppers, however, there is frequently congestion of cars at the two railroad stations and in the business districts centering about Queen Anne Road and West Englewood Avenue, Teaneck Road and Forest Avenue, Cedar Lane and Palisade Avenue, and at the south end of Queen Anne Road. These latter congestions are generally the result of motorists exceeding the parking time limits at these points. This condition could be much improved by reducing the allowable parking time and enforcing this regulation more strictly.
Considering the small number of policemen assigned to traffic duty and that there are but eight automatic traffic signals, installed at the more important thoroughfare intersections, vehicular traffic flow throughout the town is unusually well handled. As the enlarged through thoroughfare system is completed, however, additional automatic signals will be necessary.
Most of the automobile parking about the two railroad stations is in the public streets, and while generally fairly adequate for present conditions, except during the heaviest rush hours, there is need for anticipating future needs and providing for them. The Master Plan shows how about one and a half acres of additional parking space may readily be provided at these places.
Few comparable suburban towns are so well supplied with transportation facilities as Teaneck. The West Shore Railroad with its two stations supplies good and presently adequate transportation to a great number of New York businessmen who have made their homes in Teaneck; while the Public Service electric line running between the Fort Lee ferry and Paterson supplies from ten- to twenty-minute service especially convenient to residents of the south end of town.
At least seven bus lines pass through Teaneck, giving frequent and comfortable service not only to all the abutting communities but to New York. The present bus routes generally follow the existing through thoroughfares and in general the best available routes. As the enlarged thoroughfare system, as shown on the Official Map, is completed and improved, however, the Planning Board will from time to time make recommendations concerning revised and additional bus routes.
If the street system of a community may be likened to its bone structure, then park and playground areas are certainly its flesh, imparting beauty and sustaining the life which exists within. And it is in this department that Teaneck is woefully lacking. With a generally accepted standard of one acre of park area to each one hundred inhabitants, Teaneck now has one acre to about four thousand population. The only thing resembling a park which the Township owns is the planted area and triangle at the intersection of State Street and Windsor Road, containing an area of about four acres. The only municipal playground, other than school yards, is the small corner on the Municipal Building property which has been set aside and partially equipped for children's play.
It is a striking indication of the need for playgrounds that the small space at the Town Hall is constantly crowded during the summer, and that all of its limited facilities are so evidently enjoyed by the children using them. Even this area is not ideally located, since there is no extensive residential development in the near vicinity.
Thus it may be seen that it is most desirable, in view of the expected population increase, to provide many such additional areas, and when all of those shown on the Official Map are completed there will be a total park and playground area of about seventy-four acres--about enough for 7,200 persons. Additional space should come through donations of additional areas by subdividers and County and regional parks within the Township.
The Master Plan shows eleven parks (nine containing playgrounds), four children's playgrounds, two long park strips, and nine small plots in the shape of circles, triangles, or planting strips. All of these are to be acquired by the Township and developed and maintained for public use as recreational areas. These parcels (numbered S-1 to S-24C on the plan) have an area of approximately 75.20 acres. and at present carry an assessed valuation of approximately $245,285. The selected sites are at present unoccupied and are scattered throughout the Township in accordance with expected growth and future needs. Practically all of the park sites are well wooded.
The Plan contemplates that the central park area (S-6), lying between Palisade Avenue and Queen Anne Road and containing about 16.6 acres, shall be developed as a combined athletic field, park, and playground. It will have a large field for baseball and football, tennis courts, and areas for other games and sports; picnic grounds; the usual children's playground equipment; and a shallow pond for wading in summer and skating in winter. This site is not at all desirable for residential development, but it could readily be converted into a most attractive recreational center. Considerable drainage and filling will be required in certain parts, while other parts could easily be developed and placed in use at once. The work of drainage and filling could be spread over several years, during which period the many fine trees on the site should be carefully tended.
The two narrow strips of land lying between Palisade Avenue and the West Shore Railroad and between Windsor Road and the railroad, both in immediate proximity to the previously mentioned central park area, are also unsuited to residential development, as they are too near to the railroad. These strips (S-7 and S-9) have an area of approximately 13.1 acres. The Master Plan contemplates that these strips, in addition to being laid out as local parks and planted with shrubbery and flowers, shall be provided in part with playgrounds for small children, with tennis courts (and perhaps bowling greens), and various other facilities for games and recreation.
The Township should also acquire the remaining area left within the block now occupied by the municipal building for additional space for public buildings as indicated on the map of the municipal grounds. This site (S-16) has an area of approximately .84 acre and is the logical extension of the municipal property. This lot also contains a great many fine trees, which should not be disturbed.
One of the most attractive of the park areas should be that lying immediately west of the Strand on the slope near the westerly end of Forest Avenue (S-23). This area contains about 3.2 acres and is ideally located with an attractive view toward the west and the mountains. It is not intended that this park shall be used as a playground, but that it shall contain a branch public library which is badly needed in the west side of town. (See section on Public Buildings.)
The Hackensack River offers little temptation at the present time for bathers and since there are no bathing places within Teaneck's area and no convenient brook to dam and create a swimming pool, the only feasible way to supply the need is through the construction of a municipal pool, preferably in a central location as shown on the Master Plan. This pool, equipped with appropriate bath houses, could be made self-supporting through the charging of nominal fees.
An ideal location for this facility is that shown on the Master Plan lying between Colonial Court and Ferndale Avenue, east of Palisade Avenue. This site is ample in area to accommodate a pool as large as 90x200 feet and two adequate bath houses, with room left for the parking of several scores of automobiles. This site immediately adjoins the proposed central park and athletic field to the north and has the further advantage of being located near the geographical center of town. It is designated as S-17 on the Master Plan and contains seven acres.
It is not inconceivable that the swimming pool could be used in the winter as a skating rink.
The actual laying out of the parks and playgrounds in harmony with the topography and surroundings, and in accordance with the needs of the neighborhood and the purposes for which each is intended, should be done by a landscape architect employed by the Township. As many as possible of the existing trees should be preserved and safeguarded during this work and each combined park and playground should be attractively landscaped and planted with flowers and shrubs. The various small triangles, circles, corners, and narrow strips embraced in the park system should be in the form of grass plots with flowers.
Four small planting strips on the north side of the State Highway between Arlington and Madison avenues are remnants of lots left from the highway takings which are not suitable for building purposes. These plots are all at the level of the highway and if suitably planted with shrubbery and flowers would give travelers from the east a most favorable first impression of Teaneck.
Each playground, and each park having an area of one acre or more, should be provided with public comfort facilities, and in each playground there should be a wading pool and spray as well as the usual play equipment.
Although not shown on the Master Plan, there are certain other areas which may become available for park purposes within the next twenty years. It appears almost certain that some time within that period the several municipalities along the Hackensack River and Overpeck Creek must join (perhaps with County aid) in the construction of a trunk sewer system comparable to that built by the Passaic Valley Sewer Commission. When this occurs it will be possible to abandon the existing sewer disposal plants and convert these areas into parks. Teaneck now has four such plants, two on the east side and two on the west side, having a total area of about 27.34 acres.
The Township may also count upon various County, State, and Federal developments to increase its park areas in future years. One instance of this is that property lying along both sides of the State Highway at Belle Avenue as indicated on the Master Plan. This tract contains about 2.3 acres and is now in the possession of the State of New Jersey, having been left over from the highway improvement. It is most desirable that the Township officials shall endeavor to procure from the State a gift of this property with the understanding that it will be developed and maintained for park purposes by the Township.
The Master Plan indicates also the approximate maximum areas which would probably be taken over for park purposes in the future were County or regional park systems established and developed along the Teaneck sides of the Hackensack River and Overpeck Creek.
Steps have already been taken by the Federal government for the improvement of the Hackensack River and various State, County, or regional commissions or organizations have initiated steps toward the improvement of the Overpeck Creek marsh area and the development of parks or parkways along both streams. Although such steps are at present in a rather nebulous state, it is reasonably certain that within the next decade these improvement projects will assume definite shape. Teaneck alone cannot be expected to establish park areas along the two streams, but the Township government should certainly co-operate fully in any State, regional, or County movement toward such an improvement. The benefits to the community would be great.
The need for additional facilities to house the various governmental functions of the Township is already evident and additions to the existing structures will be practically obligatory within a few more years. Fortunately, the Town Hall and its setting are something which the Township may well feel pride in, and the architectural features should remain unchanged. It will be a simple matter to add flanking wings to the present Town Hall in harmony with the present architecture, providing needed space for departmental suites, enlargement of the Council Chamber, and a municipal court room.
The Police Department should be removed from the present building and located in a separate building at the north end of the municipal grounds, on plat S-16. The Plan provides also for three precinct stations, one in the park on site S-22, another in the park on site S-20, and the third in the present volunteer firehouse on Morningside Terrace, adjacent to park site S-14. The department is badly hampered even now by having to carry on its activities from one station at the Town Hall, and one precinct station, preferably on the west side, should be established as soon as possible.
The nucleus of a paid fire department has already been established in its headquarters on Teaneck Road, but this building is unsuitable and inadequate and should soon be abandoned. This property could be sold at a profit for business purposes, as it lies in a business zone. A new central fire station should be located adjoining the Town Hall and fronting on Cedar Lane, balancing the Library in its present location and thus creating a symmetrical group of buildings. This central location will afford better protection to all portions of the Township.
A great part of the Township's fire protection is dependent at the present time on three poorly distributed volunteer fire stations. The rapidly developing northwest quarter of the municipality is unsupplied with apparatus of any kind. The removal of fire headquarters to the new location will make it possible for this apparatus to serve the entire east side of town in ordinary circumstances, but additional protection is vitally necessary to the west.
For this reason the Plan proposes the erection of two sub-stations on the west side. One of these will be on site S-25, containing about .46 acre, and the other will be located on site S-26, containing about .28 acre. The latter site provides also for a fourth police precinct station in addition to the three mentioned above.
The present Library building, adjacent to the Town Hall, is already inadequate for its purposes, although it has been open for less than five years. About twenty-five per cent of the population of Teaneck are active patrons of the Library, although the area immediately around this location is sparsely populated and the great majority of those using the Library live more than a mile away. The building is also badly congested with the large stock of books despite attempts to relieve this congestion by maintaining book collections in all of the public schools.
There has been some suggestion that the present Library be used for some other municipal purpose and a new and larger building constructed nearby. This is believed to be a mistake, as study discloses that additions can be made to this building making it entirely adequate for the purpose intended.
As a means of providing additional library facilities, particularly for the residents of the west side of town, the Plan contemplates the ultimate construction of a branch library in Strand Park. (See section of this chapter on Parks, etc.)
A study of the municipal grounds discloses that sufficient space exists for the future erection of a community building containing a small auditorium and separate rooms for the use of patriotic and civic organizations. It is suggested that a desirable site for a war memorial might be found on the axis of the present Town Hall, close to the street, where there will be an unobstructed view from Teaneck Road and Cedar Lane.
If Teaneck is not already entitled to a new government-owned main post office of sufficient size to take care of the probable future needs of the Township, it surely will be in the near future. The two rented buildings now in use are scarcely adequate to take care of the present needs of the community and they are most unattractive from an architectural standpoint.
The government's requirements concerning the location of post office buildings are exacting and definite, however, and there are few vacant sites left in Teaneck which will exactly meet these requirements. The Board feels, therefore, that as soon as conditions are more propitious the Township Council and strong local organizations should forcefully make known to the federal government Teaneck's desires in this direction. (It is understood that some steps have already been taken.)
The logical location for a main post office would be in the immediate vicinity of the intersection of Palisade Avenue and Cedar Lane. This section appears destined to become the principal business center of the town, a tendency in that direction being already evident. Another factor is that there are several lots now vacant which, it is believed, would meet with all of the requirements of the Post Office Department.
Should the government decide to build its own branch post office in the West Englewood district, an excellent location would be at or about the intersection of Palisade Avenue and State Street. (See Chapter 3.)
Teaneck is fortunate in having an excellent water supply, even though it is not owned by the Township. Almost the entire supply comes from the Hackensack Water Company and the service rendered by this company is satisfactory. A small portion of the lower end of the Township is supplied by the Bogota Water Company and the pressure in this system is inadequate at times. This latter system should be improved.
The recent completion of a large new water main in Teaneck Road and Cedar Lane, together with other fairly recent constructions, supplies all present needs, however, and assures the Township of an adequate supply of potable water for many years to come.
Not only is the water supply available in all improved and unimproved streets, but the gas supply is likewise up-to-date. All of the improved streets are likewise exceptionally well lighted by means of incandescent electric lamps, and telephone service is available throughout the entire Township. (See Chapter 3.)
Teaneck has about ninety-five miles of sanitary sewers which dispose of their effluent into the Hackensack River and Overpeck Creek through four disposal plants, aided by two pump stations and one re-lift station, all of which are well operated. Until a regional or County trunk sewer system is provided Teaneck must continue to operate these disposal plants. (See section of this chapter on Parks, etc.)
The laying of sanitary sewers has followed closely the actual developments in the different parts of town and in many cases has very properly preceded development, so that at present all built-up areas are served by sanitary sewers. Storm sewer development has closely paralleled that of the sanitary sewers, but there are still a number of more or less built-up areas which are without storm sewers.
A special map has been prepared and presented to the Township Engineer which shows all the existing storm and sanitary sewers and the various drainage areas. It is expected that this map will be kept up-to-date by adding new construction as it is completed.
Teaneck cannot afford to continue much longer its present antiquated and unsanitary methods of disposing of its garbage and combustible rubbish. Garbage, ashes, and other wastes are now collected and disposed of, in the major part, by nearly a score of different licensed operators through private contracts with the householders. Between sixty and seventy per cent of the householders are thus served, the remainder disposing of their own wastes by various means. The garbage collected by the contractors is presumed to be taken to pig farms and the remaining waste is dumped within the Township and in many cases set afire. This method is sometimes of a nuisance character.
All of these wastes should be disposed of by incineration, now generally recognized as the most sanitary and efficient method of disposal. The Master Plan shows the location for an incinerator plant between Glenwood Avenue and Overpeck Creek. This is considered the best location available. (See Chapter 3.)