NUTLEY – The 43-year old owner of a Nutley deli, first time candidate Al Petraccoalso has a number of real estate investments in his home town.
His parents were born in Newark and moved to Nutley to give their family what they believed would be a better life. But after the most recent property revaluation, the elder Petraccos are now paying $10,000 annually in property taxes.
Petracco said he is concerned that seniors like his mother and his father – a career cement finisher – are being priced out of their homes. Meanwhile, he doesn’t see Nutley making full use of its downtown, a diamond in the rough, in his words, and revenue generator waiting to happen.
“I want to consolidate services and bring revenue to the town to ease the burden on the taxpayers,” said Petracco. “I’m the new guy to politics. I have no agenda. I just want to create a business district on Franklin and East Centre.”
In the months leading up to the campaign season, Petracco traveled to other area towns and tried to understand both the shortcomings and bonuses of their particular downtowns. What is functional, what isn’t? What would work in Nutley, and what wouldn’t?
“There are towns that have nicer centers than we do you, do you know what I mean?” said Petracco, who also wouldn’t live anywhere else but Nutley.
The town at the very least needs an anchor store. Morristown, for example, has Century 21, a “drop dead gorgeous” business in Petracco’s view.
“When I was a kid, my parents did the birthday shopping in Nutley, but mall they built on Route 3 in Clifton around eight years ago took business away from here,” said Petracco. “That mall didn’t create tax revenue for Nutley, and yet our police are burdened by it whenever there’s a stolen car or an incident where they’re required. And it’s weakened our business district.
“Part of the problem in Nutley is parking,” Petracco added. “I’m in favor of a parking garage – if it’s tastefully done. Morristown has a parking garage which incorporates townhouses and retail. What it does, it creates a captive audience.”
Although new to politics, Petracco has had his deli in town for almost 20 years, a gathering place for residents. The father of three, including two young boys, he also coaches baseball and has been heavily involved in Nutley sports his whole life.