Saturday, May 28, 2016

PMUA Schedules Special Meeting on Personnel

According to a legal notice today, the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m.on Wednesday, June 1 at 127 Roosevelt Avenue. The agenda includes a closed session to discuss personnel matters and possible action in open session.

With talk of layoffs, and inquiries yielding only a "nothing to report" response, it might be worth attending the meeting to see if any light will be shed.

I had to hold some anonymous comments that included allegations against the management in addition to someone taking umbrage over the unconfirmed lay-offs. One anonymous person sputtered that 50 people had been laid off  "and the rates have not dropped one cent." No matter how many people get laid off, rates just don't drop overnight. There is a whole process for setting rates, including notice and a hearing, as I recall.

The news will out eventually, so stay tuned.


Roses, Seeds and Garden Tours

 A late neighbor planted this rosebush in memory of his wife about 30 years ago and despite many challenges to its growth, it came through again this year.
Ready for its close-up!. The velvety texture of the petals and the way they capture light cannot be rendered in a photo, or at least not with my tiny camera.

Rose petals can be gathered and made into beads that retain the scent. I made some once and enjoyed them for a long time. See one method of making rose beads here.

Seed-saving has begun, with the shiny, jet-black seeds of Forget-Me-Nots. I listened to some of my favorite radio shows on WNYC and WFMU while reducing a bunch of seed-bearing stalks to a neat small envelope of seeds. The easier way is to cut off the stalks and just throw the whole mess where you want a patch of Forget-Me-Nots. It all depends on your OCD needs and how much time you have to spare.

This is the weekend that traditionally launches the summer season, although the summer solstice does not occur until June 20. Happy growing season to all my fellow gardeners, and don't forget to visit the Shakespeare Garden on June 5 for Shakespeare-in-Bloom and the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library Garden Tour on June 12.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Remember Those Who Served and Sacrificed

Memorial Day will be observed with ceremonies at 10 a.m. Monday, May 30 at City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave. and at the War Memorial at Crescent and East Seventh.

Below are images from past posts about veterans.

Gun Violence Claims More Victims

Condolences to all the family and friends of shooting victims. This month three fatal shootings took place, including one of an innocent bystander.

The Union County Prosecutor's Office is asking the public for any information that might aid the investigations.

Here is the most recent press release, on the Wednesday evening shooting:

Plainfield homicide under investigation

A homicide that took place in Plainfield Wednesday evening is under investigation, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.

The victim has been identified as 37-year- old Willie Lee Major of Plainfield.

Plainfield Police Division patrol units responding to a report of gunshots being fired rushed to the 400 block of West 4 th Street shortly after 6:45 p.m. Wednesday and found Major, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

It appears at this time that Major was not the intended target of the shooting.

This matter remains under active joint investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, the Plainfield Police Division, the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and the Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit.

Anyone with information about Major’s death is being urged to contact Homicide Task Force Sgt. Johnny Ho at 908-403-8271 or Detective Danika Ramos at 908-451- 7739.

The Union County Crime Stoppers also are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case; tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654- TIPS (8477), via text message by texting “UCTIP” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES), or online at

Thursday, May 26, 2016

City Establishes Internet Purchase Exchange Zone

Plainfield launched an "Internet Purchase Exchange Zone" Wednesday, joining law enforcement  efforts nationwide to take potential danger out of transactions with strangers.

Buyers of items advertised online are encouraged to meet up with sellers in or in front of police stations where transactions can be monitored and help is at hand in case of illegal activity.

I could not attend the event, but here is a press statement:

"Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is pleased to announce the City of Plainfield ' s newest public safety initiative, an Internet Purchase Exchange Zone.

The City's initiative will afford Internet buyers and sellers to complete their Internet exchanges in front of Plainfield Police Division Headquarters, located at 200 East Fourth Street, Plainfield, NJ.

Two parking spots have been designated in front of headquarters for the initiative which will be monitored by police officers.

Mayor Mapp hopes the program will give residents who conduct transactions on the Internet a safe place to facilitate their Internet  purchases/sales."

In general, such programs urge participants to exercise caution in carrying cash or accepting checks. Police will not get involved in buyer-seller disputes over terms of transactions, but meeting at a police station is deemed safer than carrying out a deal in public places such as shopping center parking lots. A website called SafeTrade has more suggestions for ensuring personal safety in completing online deals.


BOE Special Meeting Tonight

In a special meeting tonight, the Plainfield Board of Education is expected to take action toward roof repairs at Evergreen Elementary School and others.

The board will open the meeting at 6:30 p.m. and then go into closed session. The special meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Amy Brown, an Evergreen teacher and head of a new School Health & Safety committee of the Plainfield Education Association, pressed for action at a May 17 school board meeting and had previously urged action in February. Schools Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles said on May 17 it should be noted that the administration was "working closely with Evergreen" to address leaks and provide pest control.

Tonight's meeting was listed in a newspaper legal notice Tuesday, but was not on the district website until yesterday afternoon. See the May 26 BOE agenda here.

The resolution is to seek state funding for a new roof at Evergreen School as well as partial repairs at Cook School and Maxson Middle School. Repairs to the Plainfield High School roof will not require state funding but the project needs to be included in the district's Long Range Facilities Plan, if I read the resolution correctly.

A second resolution has to do with board members' out-of-district travel for conferences.

The board's next scheduled meetings are a work-and-study meeting on June 7 and a business meeting on June 21.

In other news, a district employee admitted Wednesday taking part in a plan to defraud the Plainfield Board of Education over an eight-year span beginning in 2007.See the U.S. Attorney's Office press release here.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Time Running Out for Dolbeer-Ware House

Options for saving the historic Dolbeer-Ware house on Terrill Road have dwindled to the point where demolition is likely.

Members of the Historic Preservation Commission, preservationist Barton Ross and Scott Bauman of the Planning Division discussed the structure Tuesday and came to the conclusion that it may have passed the point of restoration. Ross said the house is falling down and the city is close to foreclosing on it. The commission is ready to drop the goal of getting it on the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservation New Jersey
The house was on Preservation New Jersey's 2009 "10 Most Endangered Historic Sites" and in 2011 was part of a proposal to create a historic museum/nature center at a projected cost of about $1 million. 

Attempts to find a non-profit group to take on the building's restoration have failed. On Tuesday, commission members discussed trying to interest an architectural school in saving the core of the structure, if only to dismantle it for forensic purposes. HPC member John Favazzo recalled such a case and said it would be "horrendous" to see the building bulldozed without at least yielding its architectural secrets. He called the prior forensic study "an autopsy."

About a year ago, preservation consultant Dennis Bertland said the house could  provide insight into early architectural styles and construction methods. He said the structure reflected Dutch and English building traditions and might be an example of an historic "East Jersey Cottage."

Ross said a porch and two wings were added to a core building that is the only part still intact. In response to a suggestion that the original structure could be moved for study, Bauman said to do so would mean never getting grant money. HPC member Gary Schneider suggested getting an investor to fund a forensic study and then being allowed to build a one-family home on the site.

Meanwhile, many just consider the building an eyesore and a hazardous attraction to trespassers.

The commission members also discussed the status of another historic structure, the pre-Civil War Titsworth-Sutphen house on West Second Street. It is supposed to be relocated when developer Frank Cretella builds 148 apartments on the site. Cretella won approvals in 2010 for the project, but has not yet begun work on it.

Due to the city's railroad bridges, the building cannot be moved south. HPC Chairman Bill Michelson said he favors a nearby vacant lot at Madison Avenue and West Second Street (lower right on block 247 in image) as the site for relocation. However, in January the entire block bounded by Madison, West Second, West Front Street and Central Avenue was recommended for an "in need of redevelopment" study. It remains to be seen whether the historic house can still be moved to the corner lot.