Confirming what had been rumored for months, Robert “Red” Kubert formally announced his retirement as Chief of Police before the May 16 City Council meeting.
Kubert, who served as chief since 2004 and acting chief in September 2003 replacing retiring Chief Frank Pawlowski, is retiring after 43 years in the department.
“Chief Kubert has given 43 years of his life to the residents of this city,” said Council President Terrence Ruane, who issued Kubert a proclamation in his honor. “That is an incredible amount of time.”
Born in Alexandria, Va., Kubert has spent most of his life in Bayonne. Kubert joined the police department on March 3, 1969, as a patrolman and later served as a detective assigned to the juvenile division. He was promoted to sergeant in June 1980, then to lieutenant in January 1986. In December 1994, he was promoted to captain and became deputy chief less than three years later in August 1997. His duties included overseeing the detective bureau, the patrol division and the community relations unit.
He formally took over as chief in November 2004. But in his first year as acting chief, Kubert had already left his mark in moving to modernize the department.
Some of the initiatives he put into place since becoming acting chief included assigning regular police patrols to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail; developing strategies to combat vandalism; and implementing a new system to rotate officers. Since then, he has been instrumental in upgrading communications system, such as developing improvements for security of possible terrorist targets, including the installation of cameras throughout the city.
Under his watch, records systems were improved, radio systems were upgraded, and plans to upgrade and remodel the police station – not done since its construction in the mid-1970s – have begun.
Kubert told the council that it was “a distinct pleasure” serving the City of Bayonne.
“Things have only gotten better, and I feel privileged that I had 43 years here,” he said.
Kubert, now 65, faced mandatory retirement under state law.
Officials say that Kubert’s efforts went well beyond his role as a police officer, but also included helping people behind the scenes, whether it was by raising funds for a good cause or playing Santa Claus for needy kids.
During the course of his career, Chief Kubert has been the recipient of five Excellent Police Service Awards and three Commendations.
Banning large vehicles from parking near bridges, tunnels
In a plan worked out among the Bayonne Police Department and various state and federal enforcement agencies, the City Council voted to ban the parking of truck tractors and other vehicles in excess of 12,000 pounds from near tunnels, bridges, and overpasses.
Ruane said that this was something developed to help prevent possible terrorist attacks on infrastructure, and he encouraged the public to keep vigilant about anything suspicious.
“If you see something abnormal, call the police,” he said
“I feel privileged that I had 43 years here.” – Robert Kubert
The City Council approved the agreement for payment in lieu of taxes for redevelopment of the Maidenform property. The four- and five-story brick former Maidenform complex takes up more than three blocks along the eastern side of Avenue E, including a massive parking lot.
The Maidenform Company bought the site in 1931 and operated there until 2007, when it moved to Woodbridge, leaving its vast Bayonne facility virtually vacant.
Located within two blocks of the 22nd Street station of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, the former Maidenform site is ideal for commuters traveling out of town to jobs.
The developer plans to preserve the exterior brickwork and large windows of the existing four stories of the building at 142-180 Avenue E and crown it with two modern-looking floors to make an “affordable luxury” building with three retail units on the ground floor.
Councilwoman Debra Czerwienski said that this development holds the key to the future of Bayonne, while Councilman Ray Greaves said that this is why he ran for office, to bring jobs to Bayonne. Greaves said that he sees this is a giant step forward, noting that this could be the turn around for the city’s economy.
Also hailing the project, Councilman Joseph Hurley said the area is unusual, since it is not commercial or residential, yet it is ideal for residential use because of its location near the light rail. Hurley noted that it will bring jobs and new people to Bayonne, with the ripple effect of invigorating Broadway.
“This is what the abatements are all about,” he said.
Town Center Board modified
Responding to concerns of business owners along Broadway, the city council voted to change the makeup of the UEZ Board that oversees the Special Improvement District.
Last month, the council voted to have the UEZ take over SID operations as a budget cutting measure, but heard concerns from business owners that they were not represented on the UEZ board as they were under the SID.
“One of my concerns was that business owners were not represented on the board,” Greaves said. Hurley said he was also concerned about this.