Friday, April 25, 2014

Residents at Second Muhlenberg Community Meeting: No Apartments

Dottie Gutenkauf gives comments to Heyer, Gruel & Associates
About 90 residents turned out for the second of three sessions gathering comments on the future of the Muhlenberg site, with the consensus for a medical use and against JFK Health System's proposed 600 apartments.

Many of the speakers were activists who protested the closing of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in 2008 and continue to challenge any use other than a full-service hospital. Muhlenberg served 100,000 people in Union, Somerset and Middlesex counties, they argue, and other medical facilities are dangerously distant for Plainfield residents in life-threatening circumstances.

Resident Siddeeq El-Amin said the need to transport patients to other locations ties up ambulances for hours.

"Solaris and JFK basic abandoned us medically," he said, referring to parent organizations of the shuttered hospital.
Claire Tucker
Resident Claire Tucker said she has worked in health care all her life and most recently did volunteer work for Obamacare. She called health care "a moral imperative."

 Saying she has witnessed so much violence, including drug overdoses, knifings and shootings, she said, "We need a trauma center - it takes just minutes to lose life."

"This is only a handful of people," she said of Thursday's turnout. "We need to be galvanized."

She urged attendees to knock on doors and get their neighbors out to such meetings.

Her personal reason for wanting a medical facility on the site is that she has a step-son with Down Syndrome who is prone to choking and who needs immediate care when that happens.

"It only takes a minute to die," she said. "We need a hospital, we need a trauma center. No one is going to buy a luxury apartment in Plainfield."

Among other speakers, former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs gave a lengthy account of efforts she said her administration made to secure a buyer who would keep a medical use at the site. She also cited a condo complex above the new senior center where units are not selling.
Assembly Jerry Green spoke "as a citizen" but also delved into politics as resident Robin Bright, one of the most outspoken opponent of apartments at the site, confronted him.

"Read my lips," he said. "No units."

JFK Health Systems pushed last year for the governing body to accept zoning changes and the apartment proposal, and Rev. Gerald Lamont Thomas told the council the plan had widespread community backing. When the council declined to accept the plan, JFK yanked a web site called "Muhlenberg Moving Forward" that promoted the residential project. It did not close the satellite emergency department as Thomas hinted would happen if the plan was rejected, but now Muhlenberg has an application before the Planning Board to move it to the Kenyon Building. The board will continue hearing the application at its meeting 7 p.m. on Thursday (May 1) in City Hall Library.

Heyer, Gruel & Associates were hired last year by the city to perform a planning study on best uses for the site. The comment sessions are part of a process that will culminate in a report to be issued this summer. The last comment session is 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 29) at Emerson School, 305 Emerson Ave.



  1. Notice Green never said "residential" - he never said "no housing period", he said "units.

    The guy is slimy.

  2. The geriatric population came out and spoke for their interest again. Nobody is thinking about the up and coming young people of plainfield. These old folks made plainfield what it is today. None of them ever support the school because they have the money to sent them to private school. Did you all ask yourself why people from surrounding towns never show up because you all bunch of jokes. All you 60's babies your time numbered. Plainfield will survive.

    1. the young people need the hospital and ER just as much with all their shootings and gang violence. Learn to respect your elders

    2. Trouble is not enough young people really want to live in Plainfield so it doesn't matter to them whether there are modern market rate apartments or not. But you're right on about the geriatric NIMBYs. Except the schools were going to hell whether the folks "on the hill" sent their kids to the catholic and private schools or not. Though some (read DG and HY) will tell you about their kids going to PHS nobody from their neighborhoods have sent their kids there in the last 25 years. I didn't.

      Plainfield will survive as a semi-unique Afro-Latino suburban enclave, isolated from its more mainstream neighbors but much nicer than the denser and crummier eastern urban centers. What it is now only more so. But the horrible ratings of the school system will hold it back from ever becoming more than just an interesting experiment in diverse living.

    3. I guess if the up and coming was more responsible, owning homes, paying taxes, holding our elected officials responsible us elder would sit back and relax. but don't worry young'ens we got this.

  3. I don't know who was more pathetic Green or Robinson-Briggs, Nothing but excuses. The both of them are BS and neither are to be trusted.

  4. I'm glad so many voiced what most residents feel. I work at night and wish I could be there. Isn't it interesting the Sharon shows up so much to try to rewrite the history of her poorly run administration. She didn't care before, but wants us to think she cares now. She is still a joke.

  5. What arrogance to be opposed to safe, legal needed low income apartments. Years ago when the Elmwood Gardens and Myrtle Ave housing was offered the community came out in support of it so as to help the struggling working people. Now that those have reached a better financial status, forget the poor people seems to be the motto

    1. ? If you're talking about the apartments where Muhlenberg is now, they are luxury apartments and many people in Plainfield could not afford to live in them or deal with the congestion 600 to 1200 extra cars would cause on Park Ave..

    2. This is the main reason blacks can't progress as a people, we have way too many people with the welfare mentality looking for a handout (not hand-up) too lazy to work for what you want. Plainfield has more than our fair share of low income housing and section 8 tenants. No one is opposed to safe affordable housing but why does it always have to be on the back of the working class? affordable housing is absolutely not suitable for the area in question and you sound like jerry green or someone he put up to writing this post. 660 units on the Muhlenberg site is not the best use, not what is wanted and not what the coumminty will accept.

    3. yes and just look at the end results at those complexes. Sad sad and more sad. we will not allow that to happen to our neighborhood.

    4. You can't be talking about Muhlenberg, where the minimum rents for luxury apartments would begin at $1600/mo according to JFK. Elmwood Gardens is shuttered and will be demolished. Liberty Village, another low income development offering subsidized housing, opened to much fanfare in 1984, but after years of Housing Authority mismanagement was run into the ground. So much for 'community support' for the 'struggling working people'. When the hospital closed Plainfield lost its largest employer. Some support indeed.

  6. Can we believe Jerry Green? As soon as it came out of Jerry Greens mouth I knew it was worth spit. Although Jerry Green, by his own admission “runs this town”, the decision to grant JFK a variance most likely will be left up to the city council. This is how Jerry will claim it wasn’t him that made the decision. That is why he choose who would run for city council without so much of a discussion from the democratic committed. Is this a democracy or a dictatorship? His plan is to get his slate elected and allow them to do his bidding. We must stop Jerry and his decision to put up 660 units on the Muhlenberg site. I said it before and I’ll say it again, if Green is successful at carrying out JFK’s proposal, it would make very little difference to him that he went back on his word and ruin his chances to be re-elected. I’m sure his plan is to retire after that. Why do you think he mention his health??? All leading up to a legitimate reason. Is this all speculation? Yes, it is but, even a blind man can see the writing on the wall. 2nd and 3rd ward we must work hard to him and his efforts to ruin our neighborhood.

    Robin Bright