New Image Depicts the True Scale of Second River Station

Concept drawing of Second River Station, "Option 3"

A new photo submission came to us recently that puts a new visual perspective on the incredible scale of the Second River Station proposals.

For the new readers joining us, we’ve spent the last 6 months raising awareness of a massive one billion dollar residential highrise project called “Second River Station” that was in the works since at least 2012, and headed directly for Belleville.

That is, until enough public pressure was applied by a now very engaged community. This week, the Town Council roundly rejected the development proposal in a stunning unanimous 7-0 vote.

The buildings in this artist’s rendering above range in height, up to and including twin 50-story towers toward the left side of the image (second row vertically from the left). Mind you, there are no buildings anywhere in the state of New Jersey that are 50 stories tall.

The tallest building in New Jersey is currently the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, which is “only” 42 stories tall. If you’ve never seen this building before in person, it is gigantic. It even looks a little out of scale for Jersey City, and that’s saying quite a lot.

The Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City
The Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City

Now imagine 8-10 such buildings dropped in the middle of suburban Belleville, and you can probably start to appreciate what all the teeth-gnashing has been about lately. Once people finally started to catch onto the idea and understand its implications (and it did take awhile), the backlash was not the least bit surprising.

By the developer’s own projections, the Second River Station highrise development would have brought approximately 4500-6000 new families into Belleville. This could translate to a sharp population surge of about 25% for the whole town, without breaking a sweat.

Let’s not get started on the potential impact this residential surge might have had on the town’s existing infrastructure and services, or on the student population of the school district. I think that point has been belabored sufficiently enough.

Make no mistake, Nutley and surrounding neighbors….there’s little doubt that your quality of life would have been impacted by this enormous development as well, if for no other reason than conceivably 5000 or more extra cars being put on the local roads near the Nutley/Lyndhurst Bridge over the Passaic River (which is two blocks north), and a nightmarishly busy intersection of main roads.

As with many things that come across our desk at The Watch, the illustration above is an anonymous contribution. I cross-referenced it with other material we have and it’s definitely the same artist, and closely matches the footprint plans we have from the proposal. Not to mention that this rendering is almost an exact replica of the smaller-scale watercolor drawing shown below that was publicized, in both perspective and detail.

Earlier concept drawing, courtesy of
Earlier concept drawing, courtesy of

So, did anyone see the much more grand concept photo at the top of the page made available to the Belleville Times? Or anywhere else, for that matter? Of course not. Was that because residents might have gone berserk if they saw the ultimate design?

Regardless, this new image of “Option 3” in its completed form is in fact what the developer was pitching to the Council the entire time.

Just think about that for a moment; the community of Belleville, just ordinary citizens, banded together to help stop a one billion dollar land development project. In New Jersey, of all places. Something of this scale likely had a great deal of political backing behind it.

There is a strong underlying message here, folks. First, the people of this community have some serious passion and heart, and are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for their town. Belleville is not for sale.

But that aside, the more important message here is that community advocacy works. Every voice counts, and everyone can make a difference.

We’ve been proving it here in Belleville over the last year with Phase One of our civic engagement project (The Nutley Watch). We’ve had 12 successful issue campaigns completed in just 13 months. Almost all of our issue campaigns are fairly substantial in scope, so they’re not exactly “low hanging fruit”, so to speak. Our group and this community have been hard at work together.

For 2015, we’ll be networking and joining with other advocates and community groups in this area. We’ll also be sharing our model that we’ve been working on and refining this past year, and teaching others to do the same in neighboring Essex County townships.

If you’re interested in being a part of this grassroots movement for good governance and effecting a measurable, positive change in local politics, or you’re looking to start something similar to The Watch in your own town, feel free to get in touch with us via the Contact page on the main menu.

We’ll have more information available soon when we launch our new website and the second phase of our project, “The Essex Watch”. The Essex Watch will make it easier for citizens to replicate what we’re doing in Belleville for their own town, and will help provide the tools and the platform to do so.

Until then, I encourage you to link arms in your township. Go to public meetings, and start talking to the people you see there. The people who show up for public meetings will be some of the most passionate and engaged individuals in your town. Get involved, to whatever extent your schedule and your commitments allow. Not only is there strength in numbers, but there is significant strength in people standing behind a single noble-minded purpose, whatever that may be.

History has shown us time and time again that when good people stand united behind a good cause, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved.

If you’re not registered to vote in NJ, go online and fill out the available form. Tell everyone you know just how easy it is to do, then share the link on social media. When the time comes once or twice a year for an election, for the hour it may take you to run over to your local polling station and cast a vote, this is ultimately how you will bring about a lasting social change.

Your vote is your voice….use it!

It only takes a few strong voices to organize and unite an army of people who care. Then together, you can truly make a difference in your community. If we can do it here, anyone in the state or even the country can do it.

The ballot is mightier than the sword.

~ Griff

About Griff 319 Articles
Lee "Griff" Dorry - Founder, watchdog, and public advocate. They've got strings, But you can see, There are no strings on me.


  1. Sounds better and better, Griff!

    Again, congratulations for passing the one year mark with flying colors. The ‘alleged corruption’ in Belleville has been and will continue to be fairly well exposed and dealt with and ‘The Watch’ has certainly led the way in putting our good town back on the straight and narrow. NutleyWatch (BellevilleWatch) has been instrumental and, in fact, the first and only one to bring sunlight to these issues which are most critical to the survival of Belleville; and it was through you and the contributions of your supporters by reporting, documenting and, very importantly, archiving all matters relating to these incidents. Your dedication to stick with the facts and report the truth to the people is what, in the end, caught the attention of other news outlets, some of which did give NutleyWatch proper attribution. This is the beginning!

    This has been very exciting to watch develop and, if I understand what you’re saying above, we might soon be seeing sites in EssexWatch such as MontclairWatch, BloomfieldWatch, GlenRidgeWatch,, etc. Is this right? Is that correct? If so, this could become a tremendous tool in reporting- not only in Nutley, Belleville and other Essex County towns, but ultimately statewide and nationally! WOW!!! And good luck to NutleyWatch and its creator Lee Dorry who deserves a tremendous amount of credit for what it (they) are and will be doing for the citizens of these communities. God bless you.

    • Hi curiousme,

      Yes that’s right. We intend to slowly grow the EssexWatch to include coverage of more and more towns as time goes on. Some of the news will be user-driven contributions similar to what we’ve had here already, and most of it will be from dedicated advocates or community groups in their respective towns.

      It’s certainly not going to happen overnight, but that’s what we’re working toward. This year my goal is to have coverage for Belleville, Nutley, Bloomfield, and possibly Montclair. If time allows, of course. The first 3 months of this year have been unbelievably hectic for me, and we’re spending a great deal of time making the next transitional leap for this project.

      The first few growth steps are always the hardest. As word spreads of what we’re trying to do (and I make our mission much more clear on the new website), I think it will become much easier to network with other like-minded people, and help attract various community advocates under one roof to pool their resources, and share a growing audience for the issues they champion. The whole idea is to empower others to make a change, and help provide the tools to do it, so it’s a mutually beneficial partnership.

      Belleville was the prototype and a very difficult and challenging environment to begin this project, but we’ve evolved tremendously from the experience. The model works….now it’s time to share it with others, and start working toward making a major difference in Essex County.

      The rest I will reveal over time, but this is a basic overview of the next phase of my project at the moment.

      As always, thank you so much for your very kind words and loyal support, curiousme.

      Stay tuned!

      ~ Griff

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