Article in Bergen Record about Rt 46 strip:

Discussion in 'Northern New Jersey' started by njpuzzles, Jan 8, 2006.

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  1. DaveNJ


    I wonder if it was 33 pounds before she found it. :D

    By the time the cops got it back to the station, it mysteriously shrank to an even 31. Imagine that.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2006
  2. Molitor


    part 4

    "I'm so angry," she says. "Why don't they build the area up?"

    Outside, the roar of another private jet drowns out the traffic.

    Eddie Goldberg, the longtime owner of Tri-Way Kars, says the strip is unfairly portrayed. Its problems are no more than can be found in other places with transient motels, he says.

    "It's a vibrant area that employs many, many people," said Goldberg, the former head of the Business Alliance of South Hackensack. "There are no vacancies in any of the stores and there is no blight."

    A lot of arrests are a good thing, Goldberg said. It shows effective police work, not rampant crime.

    "How many police cars patrol this area at any given time? Two," he said. "If this was farmland, how many would we need? Two. ... The police are here at night and I can go home and sleep at night."

    It's clearly not as quiet as farmland. But make one turn off Route 46 and the seediness disappears. Kinzley Street and Milo Court are regular middle-class neighborhoods, with well-kept houses and green lawns. On East Grove Street and Hegner Court - where the owner of the Pleasure Lounge lives - crime is virtually non-existent.

    The town conducted a redevelopment study in 1996, said Councilman James Anzevino.

    "In 1997, hearings were held, but the [zoning] board never really ruled it was in need of change," Anzevino said. "Then there was a change of political control in 1998 and it was decided to try to let the businesses redevelop on their own. But that never really worked out."

    Trees were planted, among other cosmetic changes, he said. The trees, planted through asphalt, died.

    As a kid, Anzevino walked to Route 46 with his friends for a bite to eat. They'd snake through the motel lots and warehouse alleys. Today, he says, he'd never let his children walk those same paths.

    "We have to make it a healthy atmosphere for families," Anzevino said.

    Keeping watch

    On an early December night, two patrol cars cover the town while members of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Narcotics Unit conduct motel surveillance. It's bitterly cold, and they make a couple of minor drug arrests.

    "It's a small stretch, but with the motels and everything on it, it gives you a lot of activity," said Capt. Steve Cucciniello. "I don't know many stretches that has this many motels The Prosecutor's Office regularly helps conduct investigations on the strip. Sometimes local police develop leads and ask for assistance. Other times, county detectives find something going down.

    Local manpower has remained fairly consistent since 1980, when 17 officers patrolled the town with no full-time dispatchers. The department reached a high of 20 officers and four full-time dispatchers in the mid-'90s. Today, one dispatcher staffs the radio for the town's 18 officers.

    "We're short, we're definitely short, and it's impossible for us to run a one-man shift," Frew said. "During the day, the 3-to-11 tour is when I try to concentrate on having the most men working."

    After 11 p.m., the department can be down to only a few officers. And Frew says he has been under pressure to significantly reduce overtime.

    "We would love to say we could get more," he said. "I would love to get more men. But the town doesn't have the money."

    At the Congress Inn, there are lots of closed curtains. Plenty of dark rooms.

    But the motel parking lot is full.

    A detective on patrol laughs.

    "Maybe they noticed the sign 'newly renovated rooms,'Ÿ" he says.


    * * *
    Police calls in South Hackensack on Route 46
    (Jan. 1, 2003 - Dec. 1, 2005)

    Disputes - 171

    Disturbances - 97

    Fights - 16

    Rapes - 5

    Medical emergencies - 126

    Motor vehicle accidents - 185

    Suspicious people - 63

    Warrant arrests - 53

    Prostitution - 35

    Liquor law violations - 196

    Other - 1,181

    Total - 2,128

    * * *

    A sampling of crimes on Route 46, South Hackensack:

    November 2005 - Police charge three dancers at the Pleasure Lounge with prostitution and the owner with maintaining a nuisance.

    September 2005 - A hit-and-run driver kills a Leonia man who apparently was heading from one motel to another.

    April 2005 - A Paterson man is charged with supplying drugs at five motels.

    October 2004 - A Bergen County prosecutor's detective shoots and kills a gun-toting parolee at the Airport Motel.

    October 2004 - A man with a fake badge rapes and robs a prostitute in a Stagecoach Motel room.

    October 2004 - Two men charged with promoting prostitution try to elude police by leaping from a window at the Horizon Motel.

    August 2004 - A 27-year-old man is charged with having sex at the Airport Motel with a 13-year-old girl he met online.

    June 2004 - Bandits rob a man of $700 at gunpoint at the Super 8 Motel and drive off with his wife, leaving her stranded on the highway.

    May 2004 - Undercover police arrest 17 johns and six other men on crack possession or distribution charges.

    August 2003 - A man abducts his ex-girlfriend and ties her to a chair in the Stagecoach Motel.

    April 2002 - A Congress Inn maid finds 32 pounds of marijuana in two guests' luggage while they are out getting their hair done.

    April 2001 - Police confiscate 8,000 Ecstasy tabs worth $300,000 at an unidentified hotel.

    January 1999 - Two men are charged with having homemade bombs in their Horizon Motel room, where they allegedly were running a small-scale drug operation.
  3. Molitor



    At the nearby Congress Inn, the sweet aroma of marijuana is easily recognizable outside several rooms.

    A man in a leather biker jacket walks out of a room at the Airport Motel and into the parking lot. Within 10 minutes, another man is let into the same room. He knocks, then talks through the door. A half-hour later, he tucks in his shirt as he walks back to his car.

    The Airport Motel has an enduring reputation as the "in" place for marital indiscretions. Its parking lot is not visible from the street. Its entrance is tucked away on Huyler Street. A large red sign with a big arrow points the way. But on this night, part of the arrow is missing.

    "Basically, it's cheating spouses who come in here," Frew said. "Those are the people that try not to have any problems."

    Others have come to the strip looking for cover, as well.

    On a July night in 2001, Officer David Agar radioed in the license plate number of a 1988 Toyota parked outside the Jade East Motel, now the Super 8. The car came back registered to a man named Nawaf Alhazmi. Since Alhazmi had no outstanding warrants, Agar continued on his patrol.

    But the CIA was looking for Alhazmi, whom the FBI later named as one of the hijackers on the American Airlines flight that slammed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Another hijacker, Khalid Almihdhar, spent the same week at the Congress Inn.

    "We drive around and run plates at the hotels," Frew said. "We want to see if it is stolen, if there are any warrants. That's how we got to know that one of the hijackers stayed here."

    No motel owners or their desk clerks would talk about their businesses. A clerk at the Airport Motel, where the lineup of XXX channels is posted on the front desk, pushed back a reporter's business card and walked away.

    Across the highway, wire racks at World Video are adorned with section titles. But unlike "Drama" or "Comedy," typical to mainstream video stores, the categories here are Digital Sin, Anabolic, Evil Empire, Interracial and B&D.

    "We are not part of the sleazy aspects of across the street," said store manager Mark Iarkowski. "We go out of our way to be discreet. ... We're trying to keep a very professional, nondescript atmosphere."

    When the business moved in during 2001, ownership made a decision not to advertise that it was an adult-oriented store on the facade of the old movie theater it occupies, said Iarkowski, who later asked that World Video not be included in this story. Even the company's newspaper ads feature only its name and not images of women or sex toys, he said.

    Trouble and money

    Although the strip has been trouble for the town, in some ways it's also been a blessing. Seizures have brought needed money to the Police Department, which has used the money to purchase four patrol cars, a communications system, new handguns and rifles, and new bicycles the past few years.

    Crime in South Hackensack has been steadily declining over the past 25 years. In 1980, the town had a crime rate of 94.4 crimes per 1,000 people. By 2004, though, the rate had steadily dropped to 34.6.

    "I have no problems here," said Susana Choi, owner of the Plaza 46 Diner. "No problems."

    Choi nonetheless counts herself among the business owners who favor a large-scale redevelopment of the area. There's no place left to build on Route 4, so why not develop Route 46?

    Rich and famous people stop in her diner after flying into Teterboro, she says, but they don't stay nearby. To Choi, this is a waste of a prime location.
  4. Molitor


    artcile part 2

    A night on the strip

    It's a Friday night in the Pleasure Lounge, tucked off Route 46, and a Brazilian dancer named "Erica" flirts with a patron. She rests her elbows on the bar and her belly on a metal beer cooler.

    Patrons offer her dollar bills and Erica, 32, freely pulls aside the thin fabric of her pink bikini top to expose her breasts. The practice is illegal in New Jersey, where dancers are required to wear tops and bottoms, but that's not stopping Erica. She has a 12-year-old daughter to support.

    Another dancer, Angela, discreetly exposes a nipple. She asks one visitor why she's never seen him there before. Angela is Brazilian, too. "All of the girls here are," she says.

    After a Record reporter questioned police last month about activities at the Pleasure Lounge, undercover officers arrested three of the dancers - all in their mid-40s - for prostitution and charged the owner with maintaining a nuisance. Neither Erica nor Angela was among those charged.

    "I couldn't believe it," said the owner, 72-year-old township resident Norma Phillips.

    She demonstrates how the girls in her bar are supposed to take tips, pushing her own breasts together with her biceps and pulling a non-existent bra strap to the side.

    "I try to run the cleanest place here," Phillips said. "I have no lap dances, no VIP room. It's a struggle to just make ends meet."

    Phillips has run the Pleasure Lounge for 36 years. She said her recent brush with the law has her reconsidering whether she wants to keep it up at her age.

    "I can't afford to hire a manager or a bouncer like other places," she says. "We're just a neighborhood place."

    The scene changes dramatically as you wind through the crisscrossing alleyways from the Pleasure Lounge toward Route 46 and Club Flamingo.

    In the 1960s, top lounge acts crooned at Cal Weedo's club. In the 1970s, he converted it into a disco. But when polyester shirts and mirror balls became passe, Club Flamingo became a go-go bar.

    Dancers swarm the plush room, outnumbering customers about 5-to-1. They gyrate on three stages to a persistent thumping bass, as the men who've come to see them sink into oversized velvety chairs.

    Marianne, a tall, 24-year-old blonde with a thick accent, says she was a law student in Ukraine before coming to the U.S. three years ago. She lived for a while in Brooklyn, paying an agency $50 a night to handle her go-go career. She lives in Verona now and says she hopes to someday get her law degree.

    For now, she gives $20 lap dances.

    Weedo has been a staple on the strip for 44 years, as both an ally and a foe to local officials. At their urging, he bought the Pan Am Pub, a rough and tumble go-go bar known more for fights than strippers.

    Weedo turned the property into a car wash featured in industry publications. It's an imposing building, futuristic in a late-1980s sort of way, with a liquor store inside.

    When the redevelopment idea was first floated a decade ago, Weedo helped lead the opposition. The business owners hired a lawyer, spending $125,000 of their own money.

    Weedo fears longtime thriving businesses could be forced out along with the rundown properties to make way for redevelopment.

    "I'm with the town: I think the motels should clean themselves up," he said. "But the rest of us shouldn't have to suffer for it."

    Business is brisk

    Outside the Stagecoach Motel, a red neon sign casts a glow through the night fog. From inside a room, a woman's moans can be heard, as well as the faint squeaking of a bed.

    The one-story motel, like others on the strip, rents rooms by the hour. It's $20 for one hour. A half-hour more costs $5. Five more dollars gets you three hours.
  5. Molitor


    article part1

    Highway of cheap thrills

    Sunday, January 8, 2006


    The early-30s man emerges from the motel room with the late-40s prostitute.

    He's dressed in a hooded designer sweatshirt, windbreaker pants and a Yankees cap pulled over his eyes.

    His "date" pulls on a cigarette, runs a hand through her scraggly hair and scans the parking lot. A stained sweatshirt hangs from her rail-thin body.

    In most places, they'd make an odd pair. But not here, not in the welfare motel that the private jets skim as they deliver millionaires to Teterboro Airport across the street.

    The Airport Motel is a lifetime away from that world. So is the go-go joint hidden among the warehouses behind it, just down the street from the South Hackensack police station.

    Drugs and booze. Hookers and porn. Dancers and cheating spouses.

    If it's possible for North Jersey to have a red-light district, this half-mile strip of Route 46 is it.

    It's not Times Square circa the 1970s, or Amsterdam circa 2006. There are no open-air drug markets like those in Paterson or Newark - although their users often come here to get high in $39 motel rooms.

    The hookers who once trolled the highway were cleared out some years ago, but dozens of prostitution arrests in the past two years show the world's oldest profession continues to be a moneymaker - behind closed doors.

    "They got two cop cars in this whole town at night," a maid at one of the motels said as she pushed a shopping cart filled with towels across the blacktop. "These people can do whatever - drugs, ladies - whatever they want."

    Township police say they don't have the necessary manpower to get behind drawn curtains.

    "Say someone is doing cocaine or heroin," said Police Chief Michael Frew. "We could walk up and down that hallway, and if our attention is not brought to that specific room, there's nothing we can do about it."

    Since Jan. 1, 2003, police have responded to nearly 2,200 calls for service along the strip between Huyler and Liberty streets. That's a lot for an 18-member department.

    "We have a lot of aid calls," Frew said. "People are put up in these hotels, maybe they're having a problem with either drugs or alcohol ... and their families have given up on them."

    Redevelopment has never materialized in this town of 2,300. The last time anyone tried, dozens of business owners staved off the move.

    Town officials once again are talking about redevelopment, with visions of upscale hotels and family-friendly entertainment. A $40,000 state grant will be used to hire a planner.

    "Oh, they're starting that again," said strip club and car wash owner Cal Weedo. "Every few years, that comes up."
  6. jp1064


    Business will probably pick up now that they got free "advertising".
  7. aceofclubs26


    I found it pretty pathetic that Pleasure Lounge was being picked on. I'm guessing maybe it was a complaint from someone's wife who found her husband spending too much time in there.
  8. dell197902


    nice one. . .

    was wondering if anyone was going to discuss this. i saw it in the record this morning. wonder what this will do to "business" in that area?
  9. njpuzzles