Friday, June 16, 2017

End of the Blog

Thanks to all my readers, followers, donors and critics who have made my twelve years of blogging so interesting. The blog began in partnership with Barbara Todd Kerr in 2005 and later became a solo operation. My main topics were municipal government and land use, meaning I attended many meetings, some as long as five hours, before sitting down to compose a post. It was not unusual for me to hit the "Publish" button at 1, 2 or 3 a.m. and my average of more than 500 posts a year indicates I sometimes posted more than one a day.

As some may recall, I had hoped to sign off in 2015, at the 10-year mark. I kept blogging through the next anniversary, on June 17, 2016. But now I must move on to other things that have kept falling off my to-do list. Knowing I will turn 80 on my next birthday has given me a sense of urgency to get on with those other things.
Both Plainfield Plaintalker (2005-2010) and Plaintalker II (2010-2017) will remain online as archives. Feel free to look up topics or just take a spin through Plainfield's recent past by reading older posts. Some of the photos have gone missing for technical reasons that I don't understand, but there are still quite a few.

Today there are many new ways to find out what's going on in Plainfield, from social media to TAPintoPlainfield to the mayor's weekly newsletter. Queen City Pride and Downtown Plainfield Alliance are among the newest sources.

As you may know, those born under the sign of Taurus tend to hate change, and I am no exception. I have joked that it used to take me eight years to make up my mind to leave a job. I have lived in the same apartment for 25 years. Marie Kondo would smack me if she saw some of the possessions that still "spark joy" for me after decades. But now I have to admit it's time to step away from the blog. So thanks again for everything, Plainfield!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Plainfield Celebrates Pride

After a welcome by City Council President Rebecca Williams, an invocation by Rev. Damaris Ortega of United Church of Christ Congregational and remarks by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, a rainbow flag was raised in celebration of LGBT Pride Month.

More images:

Here is the City Council resolution designating LGBT Pride Month 2017:

Introduced by Council President Rebecca L. Williams:

WHEREAS, LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society; and
WHEREAS, as long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit; and
WHEREAS, with each passing year the American people become more receptive to diversity and more open to those who are different from themselves. Our Nation is at last realizing that gays and lesbians must no longer be "strangers among friends," and that we must finally recognize these Americans for what they are: our colleagues, neighbors, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers, friends and partners, and
WHEREAS, many challenges still lie before us. As we have witnessed from recent acts of “ugly free speech” within this Plainfield Community, prejudice against gays and lesbians can still erupt into acts of hatred and violence; and
WHEREAS, this June, recognizing the joys and sorrows that the gay and lesbian movement has witnessed and the work that remains to be done, we observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and celebrate the progress we have made in creating a community more inclusive and accepting of gays and lesbians; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield stands committed and united to help break down the walls of fear and prejudice and will work to build a bridge to understanding and tolerance, until gays and lesbians are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield does hereby call upon its residents, employees and elected officials to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and does further encourage all to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life. Scheduled by the City Council June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Muhlenberg Plan Raises Questions

Tuesday's City Council meeting was brief, with only a couple of public comments on the Muhlenberg redevelopment plan.

"This has been going on since 2012," resident Robin Bright said, alluding to a meeting where a real estate expert said the best use of the property where Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center closed in 2008 would be a 600-unit residential complex.

Ever since, housing and who would occupy it have loomed large as worries for nearby residents such as Bright. She questioned the 140 dwelling units in the current plan, saying there might be more.

"It could be any amount," she said

Carlos Sanchez, the deputy city administrator for Economic Development, explained that the redevelopment plan is a guide and the 140 units represent the maximum allowed. The main purpose of any development there, he said, is for medical uses. Sanchez said after the redevelopment plan receives City Council approval on second reading, the city will have the ability to negotiate a redevelopment agreement with specific terms..

The final redevelopment plan (click link to view) will be up for first reading at the regular meeting, 8 p.m. Monday, June 19, in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. Second reading is expected at a joint agenda-fixing and regular meeting on July 10.

Resident Nancy Piwowar, an activist for the restoration of a hospital at the site since 2008, questioned whether cell phone towers were in the plan. Bright, who has closely compared iterations of the plan, commented from the sidelines that it was included. Piwowar said she heard the towers were for the reverse 9-1-1 that the city uses for notifications, but no officials confirmed that Tuesday. T-Mobile representatives appeared before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on May 3 regarding upgrades to the existing towers. Language regarding cell towers as a permitted use is in the final plan referenced above.

In another comment on the Muhlenberg site, Councilwoman Diane Toliver asked whether a municipal complex had been considered for the site.

"Numerous of our buildings are old," she said, citing the expense of maintaining them.

But even though Toliver insisted a municipal complex "should and could" be put on the site, City Administrator Rick Smiley said it was not being considered.

Toliver has been suggesting a municipal complex at the site since January 2016 and Councilwoman Bridget Rivers endorsed the idea when Toliver brought it up then. (Click link above to read Plaintalker's post.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Mapp Wins PDCC Chairmanship Again

Members of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee re-elected Mayor Adrian O. Mapp Monday to serve as chairman for the next two years and selected other officers at their biennial reorganization.

Assemblyman Jerry Green, chairman of the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County, expects to be re-elected tomorrow, when municipal committees gather at the Gran Centurion in Clark for the county reorganization.

In comments to the group, Green declared a new political day by saying "the power is not in Elizabeth, it is right here in Plainfield." He said Charlotte (DeFilippo) and (Ray) Lesniak "do not run this city, I will run this city." 

Correction: I am told that Green said he would run the county and Mapp would run the city. My apologies to all.

DeFilippo, a Union County political broker for decades, died in February. Lesniak lost a bid for governor on June 6 in the final election of a four-decade political career.

Although in the past Green has not always supported Mapp and even attacked him, they ran and won on the same slate in the primary. Green told the committee, "Sometimes you have to put your differences on the side." and urged the city committee members, largely Mapp supporters, to "get behind your mayor."

The city committee also elected a roster of officers and ward leaders before adjourning.

Official Primary Results Now Posted

Official results show the winners of the June 6 primary to be Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, seeking re-election for four years; Councilwoman Joylette Mills-Ransome for a one-year unexpired Second & Third Wards at-large term in the seat she now holds as an appointee; and Steve Hockaday for the four-year Fourth Ward term.

Mills-Ransome and Hockaday are unopposed for the Nov. 7 general election, as no Republicans or independents filed to run for those seats. No Republicans filed for the mayoral seat, but Mustapha Muhammad filed June 6 as an independent challenger to Mapp.

Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi posted the official primary results today. In the mayoral race, Mapp received 2,970 votes, followed by Rev. Tracey Brown with 2,331. Councilwoman Bridget Rivers got 470 votes and Dr. Henrilynn Davis Ibezim trailed with 148.

In the Second & Third Wards at-large race, Councilwoman Mills- Ransome led strongly with 1,795 to 570 for Cameron Cox and 333 for Alma Blanco.

Just as Muhammad urged voters prior to the primary to vote for Brown for mayor, Brown is now calling on all who voted for her to back Muhammad on Nov. 7.

Blanco's defeat is her second in two years. She ran on a ticket with Brown in the June 2016 primary and both lost.

Hockaday ran last year on a slate opposing Mapp-backed candidates, but this year Democrats formerly at odds joined forces to run on a slate with Phil Murphy for governor at the top. Column A featured Regular Democrats all the way, while the ballot format lumped all splinter Democrats together on Column G.
Here are all the slates and their totals (in red)

Mayor, Four-year term: Adrian O. Mapp 2,970
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired One-year Term: Joylette E. Mills-Ransome 1,795
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Steve Hockaday 307

Mayor, Four-year term: Dr. Henrilynn Davis Ibezim 148
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired One-year Term: Cameron E. Cox 570
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Elliott Simmons 89

Mayor, Four-year term: Bridget Rivers 470
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired One-year Term: Alma Blanco 333
(no Fourth Ward candidate filed)

Mayor, Four-year term: Tracey L. Brown 2,331
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Terri Briggs 290
(Second & Third Ward candidate filing was ruled invalid)

Youth Commission Nominees Announced

Congratulations to the seven young people who have applied to serve on the Youth Commission!

It has been somewhat of a hard sell to fill seats on the commission with so many other activities and interests competing for their interest. Kudos to Alexis Henderson, Dante Porter, Kayla Harris, Janay Porter, Thom Taylor, Jade Williams and Peixe Williams for applying. The terms are concurrent with that of the mayor, which expires at the end of 2017, so the initial commitment is relatively short.

Former Councilwoman Linda Carter, now a freeholder, championed the Youth Commission when she was on the council, but it went fallow after all the initial appointments expired.

See Plaintalker's previous post on the Youth Commission here.

The new members' nominations will be considered Tuesday and if moved to the agenda, will be voted on at the June 19 meeting. We look forward to their involvement!

$1.4 Million For Seidler Field Reconstruction

A $1.1 million Green Acres grant will cover most of a $1.4 million reconstruction of Seidler Field.

The City Council previously approved a contract for Pennoni Associates to provide engineering services for the project. A contract with Your Way Construction of Irvington is now up for council consideration Tuesday and, if moved to the agenda, approval at the June 19 regular meeting.

Tuesday's meeting is 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. The regular meeting is 8 p.m. June 19 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

 According to the resolution, the upgrades will include a synthetic turf, new LED lighting, bleachers, scoreboard and interior fencing. The City received a grant award of $1,100,000.00 from Green Acres for the project. Two city accounts of $63,000.00 and $217,628.79 will provide the balance of the $1,380,628.79 cost of the project.

The Seidler Field site in the city's East End includes a pool and fields used by Pop Warner football teams.