Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Study Team Holds Third Muhlenberg Forum

Activist Nancy Piwowar wears a Candy Striper uniform at the third Muhlenberg forum.

Nancy Piwowar envisioned a medical museum as a "cultural tourism" draw to Plainfield.

Claire Tucker called for a trauma center to deal with drug overdoses, shootings and stabbings.

Citing extreme health and social services needs here, Jeff Scheckner said of all places in Union County, "Plainfield needs a hospital."

No one spoke in favor of putting hundreds of luxury apartments on the site of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, which closed in 2008.
Planners Susan Gruel and Fred Heyer conducted their third community meeting Tuesday to gather comments from residents. Their charge in a study funded by the city is to gain consensus on what people want to see on the site.

"Our final product will be a change in zoning," Heyer said.

The initial concept will be posted on the city web site and it will be discussed at another community forum before a final report.
Dottie Gutenkauf
Activist Dottie Gutenkauf, who organized rallies to save the hospital and later to restore it, told Heyer and Gruel Tuesday, "I think you two have heard more than adequately from the Plainfield community what is wanted."

Many in the crowd of about 50 had attended all three community meetings and some had special concerns about the shuttered hospital. Deborah Dowe said she and Piwowar have been investigating the hospital's finances. Other speakers sought to dispel the notion that the hospital closed due to burdens of charity care. Dowe, who previously spoke about the stress and possible dangers to women having to travel to Elizabeth to give birth, said a protest is planned with a baby carriage being pushed from the Plainfield Health Center to Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth. Dowe said the protest will be "live-streamed internationally."

Heyer and Gruel had to remind the audience of the scope of their study. Heyer said developers look for the "highest and best use" for a site, but they were looking for consensus from the neighborhood and the result might not be the the same.

Gutenkauf reminded the audience that Muhlenberg has an application before the Planning Board to relocate the satellite emergency department from the hospital to Kenyon House at the corner of Park Avenue and Randolph Road. Although the board is dealing just with plans for a new SED there and not with what will become of the hospital site, Gutenkauf urged all to attend the Planning Board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Hall Library.

P.S. Plainfield View has video of Assemblyman Jerry Green's comments.



  1. "Heyer and Gruel had to remind the audience of the scope of their study. Heyer said developers look for the "highest and best use" for a site, but they were looking for consensus from the neighborhood and the result might not be the the same."

    Translation: As consultants, we are not going to be creative - 600 units it is!

    1. Anon 7:58 - that is actually not what they said at all. What they said is that the JFK proposal for apartments was based on a "highest and best use" approach (planning/developer terminology) that looks at the best way to maximize profit (or minimize loss) and that their study, as clients of the planning board and city, is based on the best use for the property that fits within the city master plan, needs, traffic flow and available municipal services such as sewer, water etc. and that the "result might NOT be the same" - meaning they aren't approaching it from a profit maximizing point of view as a property owner/developer would do.

    2. Thank you. I was not at the meeting and was reacting to the statement I read.

      Your explanation is greatly appreciated.

    3. I think the translation is: As Consultants on JFK's payroll (wink, wink) we will give the results that JFK is paying us to give.

    4. Heyer, Gruel & Associates was hired by the city and will give their report in the summer.. Jeffrey Otteau was hired by JFK and found the apartments to be the best use.

  2. "Claire Tucker called for a trauma center to deal with drug overdoses, shootings and stabbings."

    Seriously? Is that what she thinks the medical needs of an Afro-Latino town boils down to? Bring on the "units".

    1. I believe her concern was with the need for immediate care as opposed to being flown or driven to a trauma center far away. I do not think she is characterizing the population, but there has been a high incidence of such trauma among young people here over the years.

  3. I viewed the video on Plainfield View. The audio was very difficult to hear. But what was audible was Green's BS and lip service. SO typical of the Man. I hope all his backed candidates loose their bid for reelection and this city can begin to move forward. How does he look himself in the mirror everyday. Perhaps his true name is Dorian Gray.

  4. It was such a pleasure to once again have Jerry Green show up and ramble on about how he has been working so hard to get the right thing for the city on the Muhlenberg site. He was good enough, again, to point out that the city has been shorted with funds and state support when compared to other cities - at the same time he reminded all in attendance that he is the head of everything - which makes me wonder 1) if he is the head of everything why does his own city keep getting the short end of the stick and 2) why isn't he aware of how nonsensical his comments are when they are coming out of his mouth.

    His appearance was further proof that he needs to retire - he is either starting to lose his mind or he is about the most ineffective assemblyman a district could have - or maybe both.

    1. "...he is either starting to lose his mind or he is about the most ineffective assemblyman a district could have - or maybe both."

      I vote for both

    2. He is a legend in this own mind!

  5. Bernice,

    I remain committed to restoring more medical services and opposed to the JFK scheme to place 660 apartments there.

    You must pardon my cynicism regarding the commentary by Assemblyman Jerry Green, who spoke toward the end of the meeting about his "commitment" to Plainfield. We all know that Jerry Green has maintained a conspicuous silence for the past few years on Muhlenberg, and we also know that Green received $50,000 a year as a "VP" for the Alman Group, a lobbying firm for JFK. It was not a good look for someone supposedly "committed" to restoring the hospital. When he was called out publicly on it, he resigned under pressure and bad public relations.

    In his comments last night, Green mentioned that he has served on the legislature's Health Committee for ten (10) years--what did he DO in all that time to save Muhlenberg? He is suggesting that he will do something now?? Pardon my cynicism!

    Green also stated last night that he wanted "to sit with people" to talk about the uses of the campus. The hospital CLOSED in 2008--now, in 2014, he wants to SIT DOWN to talk about it--after the third community meeting?? Pardon my cynicism!

    Jerry Green's "epiphany" regarding the 660 units is laughable. 35 days before a critical election, he all of a sudden wants to try to convince voters in this city that he is against the JFK proposal. I guarantee that on Wednesday, June 4 (the day after the primary election), Green will have another epiphany and reverse himself once again. The people cannot be fooled.

    I have put additional commentary about this on my own blog--thanks.


  6. About the last two community meetings on the future of the Muhlenberg site, JFK’s proposal and our elected officials, I would say Greens’ concern of losing his control over the city council in June has made him come out and speak out – but is he speaking the truth or just what needs to be said to keep control over the city?

    Why would Jerry Green need Dottie to verify his appearance at community meetings concerning Muhlenberg - I have been to every single meeting since March 2012. I even organized a couple of meetings and Green was a no show. Could he be referring to the meetings where JFK was presenting their proposal to some local ministers for buy-in on the 660 units? Those are the only meetings that was not publicize and that I didn’t attend. I don’t want anyone to be under the assumption that this is not political, it most certainly is and whether or not 660 units goes up on that property will be determine by people we elect to represent us.

    1. Why did Green tell his democratic committee members who HE choose to run for city council without any input or discussion from the members? My guess, he needs to be assured that he has the votes needed when JFK’s proposal goes before the city council, so he hand-picked who will run.

    2. JFK’s proposal for 660 units was first presented to the administration and public in March 2012. There was numerous meetings (that Green was a no show, with the exception of one) but in 2013 we heard very little from JFK (with the exception of the clandestine meetings with some local clergy).

    3. In 2013 most people I spoke with in the community believed that JFK decided not to move forward with the proposal for 660 units because no one heard anything. Take note, in 2013 Jerry Green was up for re-election and my guess would be he didn’t want any controversy associated with him and JFK this is in an attempt to avoid the public from raising any doubts or questions on where he stood on JFK’s proposal for 660 units.

    4. Jerry has been in office for over 20 years and he ‘runs this city’, no one should have that much power or control and it’s time people wake up, stop being fearful and realize that the wheels will still turn once Green is out of office or at the very least have a city council that he does not control. We need to force change and enact a term limit for elected offices. I hope everyone was listing to the gentleman last night that read the statistics for Plainfield, which was very scary. Since Green “runs this city” we should hold him accountable for everything, good and bad. How much more abuse do we have to endure before we wise up and see that Green is not for the good of Plainfield?

    Clair Tucker, views of Plainfield as a four year resident is discouraging but has an air of truth. What a sad observations of our city because we are so much more than the stabbings, shooting and drug overdoses and the need for a hospital or trauma center goes way beyond that. While we work on getting a hospitable back, we should be working on getting the right people in office. Can we please take the first step in the right direction by saying no to Jerry Greens choice for city council??


    Robin Bright

    1. Robin, the "Save Muhlenberg Coalition" began holding meetings and rallies as soon as JFK announced they were going to close Muhlenberg. This was about six or seven years ago. Sorry you weren't there!

    2. Neither was Jerry Green for most of them

  7. Dottie, I'm also sorry I wasn’t either. However, as I said before, your fight was to keep the hospital open, you put your trust in Jerry Green and the hospital closed. It appears your fight now is to get the hospital back or at the very least to have some suitable form of medical services at any cost. Are you willing to sacrifice the community with 660 units in exchange for some subpar medical services? Let me make it perfectly clear to you and everyone else. My fight is to keep JFK and Jerry Green from putting up an apartment complex of any size on the Muhlenberg site. So please stop the nonsense and trying to confuse people with the two. Your loyalty to Green has not gone unnoticed by the community and the community has spoken no apartment complex of any size. You have to admit, Green and his choice for 2nd and 3rd ward council is a disgrace.


    Robin Bright