Thursday, September 29, 2016

Q&A With Developer Mario Camino

Mario Camino's vision for Park & Seventh

Developer Mario Camino agreed to do a Q&A on plans for his project at Park & Seventh as well as some thoughts on the city he has now made his home and headquarters for his company, Arkad Group. We hope to follow up with a longer interview soon.

Q. Besides the Planning Board approval you received in April 2015, what other approvals have you had to get?
A. The approval I got from the board was conditional. The biggest challenge from that point until now was to get an easement from the church next door.

Q. Your building largely covers the lot. Have you made any arrangements with the church next door for scaffolding, etc.?
A. Yes, mostly updating them on when things will happen so it doesn't interfere with their sessions. No weekend work. The site will also be fenced in and protected from debris. 

Q. Are you still planning 14 apartments and commercial on the ground floor?
A. Yes, we have also come to an agreement with PPD to have a substation in the far right side of the East 7th side.

Q. When do you expect construction/rehabilitation to begin?
A. We are hoping to have building permits within 90 days. 

Q. What is your general timeline for the project?
A. Nine months to one year.

Q. You now have your office and home in Plainfield. What are some of your thoughts about living in Plainfield (people, places, things)?
A. My family feels safe and happy. My daughter is excelling in QCA and we are happy to have our headquarters in town. Most of my tenants are my neighbors and slowly but surely we feel right at home. That being said, there is a lot of work to be done for the future, but I’m fully vested and committed. Being a local allows me to see and feel this city for its true value and potential. 

Q. Any thoughts/concerns about the neighborhood at Park & Seventh?

A. Lots. It’s a very visible and busy corner. We want to make sure that this project serves as a means to bringing a new light to that section of town.. A more modern and vibrant feel. I believe eventually, the combination of upgraded living and proximity to a supermarket, train and restaurants, will help revitalize this area.  We plan on doing exactly what we did with 107 Park. Reviving  a “overlooked" corner of town. The way we see it, (it’s) one of the most important points of access into the city, on both streets. We want to make sure this project represents the new Plainfield. 

'Tis Autumn!

Milkweed pods are opening and their seeds are sailing away on silky fluff! We had a bumper crop this year, though I saw very few Monarch butterflies. I just saw an article about saving Milkweed seeds to plant for Monarchs, so maybe I will add them to my seed harvest and give them away.
The pods split and all the seeds emerge. We used to call the floating things "money catchers" when we were children. 

This Praying Mantis in the Miscanthus grass seems to be asking in a Jersey tone, "Whaddaya lookin' at?" I'm hoping to see a lot of egg cases on the shrubbery when the leaves drop. They favor the Forsythia bush, maybe because the early blooms attract little bugs for the Mantis nymphs to feed on.
Another Fall activity is crocheting hats. This batch is going to Crescent Presbyterian Church for their holiday distribution.
It's fun to create textures from just a strand of yarn. Fourteen hats donated so far, aiming for at least 25.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grace Church Animal Blessing Saturday

FOSH Celebrates Animals Sunday

This is a press release

Plainfield Celebration of Animals Sunday October 2 at 1:30 PM

The Friends of Sleepy Hollow (FOSH) Animal Initiative Committee is holding the seventeenth annual Celebration of Animals on Sunday October 2, 2016 at 1:30 PM at Leland Avenue Park, (next to Cook Elementary School739 Leland Ave.PlainfieldNew Jersey.  The event is free of charge and open to everyone, with or without pets, to celebrate the importance of animals in the lives of human beings.  “Anatole France’s quote ‘Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened,’ says it best,” said MaryEllen Chanda, Animal Initiative Celebration event chairwoman. Held in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, representatives of local religious and spiritual traditions will offer blessings for all animals. All are welcome to bring their pets to receive a blessing,” said Mrs. Chanda. Birds must be caged, cats must be in carriers, and dogs must be on a leash or in a carrier. Pets that are uncomfortable around other animals should be left at home. A photo can be brought to represent them for a blessing. Water will be available for the animals and light refreshments will be served after the blessing. For more information about the Celebration please call 908.256-3858 or visit

The Animal Initiative Committee (AIC) is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to increasing people’s awareness of their responsibility for the well-being of all animals. The Committee was formed in March 2000 after Plainfield’s contracted animal control kennel was closed due to over 600 counts of animal cruelty. “Wildlife and companion animals are being needlessly killed due to inadequate facilities and lack of education programs,” said Mrs. Chanda.  The AIC has always focused on the problem of overpopulation of dogs and cats, especially community cats. It implemented a very successful trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program for the latter. “We continue to emphasize the importance of the use of available spay/neuter programs in controlling dog and cat populations, but we can only succeed with the active support of both the community and City Administration,” Mrs. Chanda stressed. “We welcome volunteers to help with this important effort”, she concluded. For more information about the Animal Initiative Committee, please call 908.256-3858.

The Friends of Sleepy Hollow (FOSH) is a neighborhood association created by and for all citizens and taxpayers of Sleepy Hollow and surrounding neighborhoods in the City of Plainfield, New Jersey. FOSH was founded to
  • foster neighborhood awareness, camaraderie, participation and image
  • create and maintain secure neighborhoods
  • promote neighborhood issues and concerns to city officials
  • organize neighborhood activities for the benefit of the citizens of our community and Plainfield.
There are no membership requirements, dues or formal joining process for The Friends of Sleepy Hollow.  The group believes that all the neighbors in Sleepy Hollow are its "members". Having the support, participation and suggestions of our members is critical to FOSH's success.  Anyone is welcome and encouraged to join any planned activity that we host.  For more information about FOSH, please visit:

Be Prepared to Vote on Nov. 8!

If you missed the Plainfield League of Women Voters' presentation last night on how to judge a political candidate, here is a link;

How To Judge A Political Candidate

The evening also included presentations by city officials on their various responsibilities and tables staffed by local organizations.

The LWV information may help voters sort out their impressions of presidential candidates. There will also be candidates for Congress, the Union County Freeholder Board and the Citywide at-large and Third Ward seats on the City Council.

Plainfield LWV member Joylette Mills-Ransome gave the presentation last night on how to judge candidates. If you want to get involved in the Plainfield LWV, the group meets on the first Wednesday of each month in one of the Plainfield Public Library's meeting rooms on the lower level. To see more about the local chapter, visit the Plainfield LWV web site.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Mapp Administration's Steps to Engage Latinos

Regarding my repost on engaging Latinos, I do want to give credit to the Mapp administration for taking many steps to do so.

It is now the norm to see city fliers in English and Spanish. The Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs has been revived and honors the diverse communities within the Latino population of Plainfield. I believe there has been more of an effort to employ bilingual individuals in police, fire, and other divisions that interact heavily with the public. A directory of city services was printed in English and Spanish.

There are probably more examples, but these are the ones that come to mind right now. They bode well for achieving even greater engagement of Latinos by 2021.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Queen City Pride Campaign Expands

Plainfield Station from North Avenue.jpg
Plainfielders heard the call to clean up the main train station, with participation growing from an initial four volunteers to "30 hands" on Sunday.
Displaying North Street.jpg
The group reported a total of "42 bags of broken bottles, plastic bags and plain old trash," all collected within two hours on two Sunday mornings.

"One of the highlights of yesterday was a father that brought his three children out to help," an organizer noted, citing it as an example of teaching the youngsters respect and civic awareness.

Councilman Cory Storch stopped by correction - I didn't stop by.  I was there from beginning to end cleaning up with the rest of the group.and saw for himself the need for more trash cans and greater attention to the state of the train station. Members of the Shade Tree Commission pitched in by trimming overgrown trees and shrubs around the station.

At 8 a.m. on Oct. 2, Queen City Pride welcomes volunteers again the the main train station on North Avenue for another cleanup.

Queen City Pride calls attention to another effort, Councilman Barry Goode's Oct. 1 "Clean the Queen" event, from 9 a.m. to noon, starting at West Front Street and Clinton Avenue.

The group also suggests helping elderly and or handicapped neighbors who may not be able to trim their shrubs or cut their grass.

"We will help our neighbors as a community in all wards, all you have to do is ask or if you know someone that does not have access, we will be there for you as good neighbors. Many hands make the work easy," a spokesman said.

There are laws on the books against allowing property to become overrun with weeds and trash. City inspectors can issue notices with a given time for remediation. If an owner refuses or neglects to comply, the city will clean up and place a lien on the property for the cost. Queen City Pride urges compliance to make the city a place of which all can be proud.