Wyckoff, N.J.: A Peaceful Suburb With a Sense of Community


Daniela Panetta is from Westchester County and her fiancé, Rob Cappadora, is from Long Island, but when they decided to buy a home they chose Wyckoff, a leafy township in northwest Bergen County, N.J., that they discovered after visiting a friend nearby.

“Wyckoff had such a neighborhood feel and just felt so peaceful,” said Mr. Cappadora, 28, a financial adviser who works on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Ms. Panetta, 30, a paralegal, said that seeing children at the petting zoo at Abma’s Farm made it easy to envision raising a family in this township of 17,000, about 27 miles northwest of Times Square. The couple, who plan to marry in October 2020, recently paid $900,000 for a 1969 colonial with four bedrooms in the Sicomac section of Wyckoff.

These days, many Wyckoff buyers are young couples moving from other parts of the metropolitan area, said Adam DeFino, the broker and owner of DeFino Realtors, in Wyckoff.

“People like the schools, and taxes are on the fair side compared to some other towns,” Mr. DeFino said. “The local government has always done a good job of keeping costs in check.”

Melissa D. Rubenstein, a member of the Wyckoff Township Committee and a real estate agent with Keller Williams, said the government keeps tax rates manageable by holding down debt levels. It also helps that the township shares a regional high school district with two neighboring boroughs, Franklin Lakes and Oakland.

Wyckoff is the kind of place where children bicycle around the neighborhood and residents get to know business owners, said David Cantinieri, 39, who works in law enforcement.

“We shop local in town,” said his wife, Taryn Cantinieri, 34, a nurse, who grew up there. “It’s nice to see a friendly face.”

The couple, who met as students working part-time in a Wyckoff supermarket, bought their first house there in 2011, then spent $620,000 last August to trade up to a four-bedroom colonial after their third child was born.

Joey and Patrick O’Connell recently moved to Wyckoff from Montgomery County, Md., after Mr. O’Connell, 34, a sales manager for an orthopedics company, was transferred. They paid $895,000 for their new home.

Their older son, who is 8, attended a regional Catholic school in Maryland, but the family chose public schools in Wyckoff because of their good reputation. Now, their two sons’ classmates live nearby instead of in other towns, said Ms. O’Connell, 38, who runs a crafts business: “It really helps them create these new friendships.”

There is little room for development in the township, but the Christian Health Care Center, which offers nursing care and rehabilitation services, is building 199 senior independent-living apartments on its campus, which straddles Wyckoff and Hawthorne. The project was proposed a decade ago, and faced opposition over concerns about traffic and the loss of wooded areas on the site. After changes were made to the plan, the building was approved, and it is expected to open at the end of 2020.

“It’s allowing our residents to retire within our community,” Ms. Rubenstein said.

Wyckoff, which covers 6.5 square miles, has housing stock that was mostly built in the decades after World War II, with a lot of ranches, split-levels, colonials and other 1960s and 1970s styles. Sales are steady in the under-$1 million market, but slower at the high end, real estate agents said.

Wyckoff is largely a single-family market, with few condos or rentals, said Sergio Sciortino, an agent with Keller Williams, who lives in town.

And while it has a small-town atmosphere, Wyckoff offers easy access to highways, including Route 17 and Route 208. “You can be at the mall in a few minutes,” said Maryanne Elsaesser, an agent with Christie’s International Real Estate in Franklin Lakes and a longtime resident of Wyckoff.

The most active part of the market is between $600,000 and $800,000, Mr. DeFino said.

Prices of single-family homes rose 7.6 percent last year, to a median of $726,000, according to the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, and 185 single-family homes sold in 2019, down from 205 in 2018.

A recent check of the multiple listing service and Zillow found about 70 homes on the market, from a Cape Cod listed for $450,000 to a newly built ranch with a pool and tennis court on over an acre of land, listed for $2.2 million.

Wyckoff offers quiet, shady neighborhoods and a downtown that centers on Wyckoff Avenue and Franklin Avenue, and includes the recently expanded Boulder Run shopping center.

Dining options include the Brick House, Blue Moon Mexican Cafe, Aldo’s and the Barn, a rustic restaurant in an 1876 dairy barn.

Although there is no municipal pool, the Wyckoff Family YMCA offers Spring Lake, a sandy pond just off Wyckoff Avenue, as well as two indoor pools.

For a walk in the woods, there is the James A. McFaul Environmental Center, an 81-acre Bergen County park on a former pig farm.

Bargain hunters like the Wyckoff PTO Economy Shop, a resale and consignment store founded in 1947 and run by Wyckoff’s parent-teacher organizations. The shop is in a historic train station in the heart of the township and donates all its profits to the local schools.

The shop has created a sense of community that keeps many volunteers coming in even after their children have graduated, said Sarah Renner, a co-president of the Economy Shop. “Once you start, you keep coming back,” Ms. Renner said.

The Wyckoff school district serves about 2,000 children in prekindergarten through eighth grade, in four elementary schools and one middle school.

Ninth- through 12th-graders are served by the Ramapo Indian Hills school district, which has about 2,300 students and also serves nearby Franklin Lakes and Oakland.

High school students can attend Indian Hills High School in Oakland or Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes. On the SAT tests in 2017-18, students at the two schools scored an average of 585 in reading and writing and 578 in math, compared with statewide averages of 542 and 543. About 92 percent of graduates continued to college.

The rush-hour commute from Wyckoff to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan takes about 50 minutes on Coach USA buses. The fare is $9.75 one way, or $244.35 for 40 trips.

The township is not on the commuter rail line, but residents can drive to nearby Ridgewood to catch New Jersey Transit trains into New York. The trip from Ridgewood to Penn Station takes about 50 to 60 minutes and costs $9.75 each way, or $298 a month.

For those who prefer to drive, Wyckoff is on Route 208, a state highway that slices through the township and connects to Route 4 (for those heading to New York) or Interstate 287 (for suburban destinations). The drive to New York at rush hour can take an hour or two, depending on traffic.

Constance Kopp, who lived on a Wyckoff farm with her sisters in the early 20th century, was Bergen County’s first female sheriff’s deputy. Ms. Kopp was drawn to crime-fighting after a car driven by a Paterson industrialist rammed her buggy; when she tried to collect damages, the factory owner and his associates sent threatening letters and sprayed the sisters’ home with bullets. The Bergen County sheriff armed the Kopps for self-protection and later appointed Ms. Kopp a deputy. The story is the basis for a series of novels by Amy Stewart, including “Girl Waits With Gun.”

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