Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Community Groups Seek City Help

Community concerns brought a crowd of mostly young people to Monday's City Council meeting, along with a reprise of pleas for revitalization of an East Second Street neighborhood.

The governing body had alloted time to hear from The CURE Group.Leader Terry O. Muhammad said the acronym stands for "Creating Universal Righteous Establishments."  Naming a long list of backers, he asked the council to help the group launch a community center that would feature everything from etiquette lessons to substance abuse counseling.

"We would like to have a bowling alley," Muhammad said, and also asked for music studios and office space.

He envisioned a center surrounded by businesses where young people could be employed and free themselves from an environment of crime and violence.

"I hope the council would hear our plea," he said. "Our children are dying today."

Rev. Paul Dean, organizer of the East Second Street Revitalization group, questioned why it was taking so long for city officials to commit $1.2 million in Urban Enterprise Zone funds to a streetscape program that was announced in 2010. The group had asked last week for a resolution to be on Monday's agenda to convey the funds, but as was explained last week, the state UEZ funds that were turned back to the city are still being reconciled.

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp pointed out some practicalities involved in meeting the groups' desires. Muhammad had asked about having his center in the Armory, but Mapp said it did not belong to the city. The HOPES Headstart program purchased the building from the state in 2012.

Mapp said the city has two "community centers" in Emerson and Washington schools that were built with community use in mind.

On the UEZ funding, Mapp said, "We don't know how much money we have," citing "mismanagement over the years." Mapp took office on Jan. 1, but as a councilman he had asked in 2012 for an accounting of funds and projects from the previous administration. His finance director, Ron West, is still sorting it out.

Mapp said the city only owns one building in the East Second Street Neighborhood Commercial District, and it is not the former market that Dean's group wants to acquire. He said the district really needs to have an "in need of redevelopment" study that is a first step in attracting developers.

"The city is not in the business of putting up buildings," he said.

Mapp said he will ask City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh to look up any legislation related to a billboard that Dean's group wants removed.

Among other items, Mapp said in a ride around the city he noticed how dark it is, and his administration will reach out to PSE&G to determine costs for more lights. He also announced a "shadow mentoring program" in which young people will be matched with city officials to learn more about how government works. He will also have a youth "mayor for a day" each month, he said.

Having come in for some gibes from council members Monday and at other recent meetings, Mapp said, "Stop tearing me down - let's work together."



  1. Regarding lights around the city... Post Sandy, I reached out to PSEG multiple times regarding 2 lights on 2 adjacent blocks on West 8th that were knocked down, one being on one of the many dangerous intersections of the Speedway AKA West 8th Street... and on multiple occasions I was told there was a work order in for it and it would be handled ASAP( much like the live wire that lay across the sidewalk for 10 days post Sandy ). Those lights were handled by PSE&G with the same urgency as that live wire... THEY WEREN'T. The lights are still down having not been replaced and I no longer call. Per lights being out... I'm not sure how it is here, but in NYS.. the cities and towns pay for all the lights in the town / city as if they were on... I recommended someone drive around town at dusk looking for lights that don't work and cataloging them so that the City could hand the list to PSEG to repair, replace or refurbish missing and blown out lights. I was hoping Eric Jackson would get the task as he would have gotten it done....deaf ears SRB administration... more money down the drain.

  2. It is unfortunate that Councilman Reid and appointed Councilwoman Taylor have decided to be deliberately obtuse about the goings-on in the city over the past several years--the absolute neglect, the waste, and the corruption that festered over the last eight years of the past administration. Instead, they decide to attack an administration that has been in office only eight months, with Taylor even talking "recall" in an attempt to set the stage for a comeback by the former mayor--ridiculous. Each month, the Robinson-Briggs peanut gallery goes on at length at all the imagined ills of the new administration--where have they been in the past 8 years? Did the neglect they speak of at Milt Campbell Field happen just within the past 8 months? Is the rust on the park bench there new? No, of course it isn't. This speaks to the extremely poor representation of the 1st Ward by those elected to serve.

    Regarding the Ward she was appointed to represent, Councilwoman Taylor's lack of understanding and her willful obtuseness illustrate the type of representative she plans to be: one who does nothing for her constituents, but rather just wants to attack the new administration. Every time she opens her mouth, appointed Councilwoman Taylor drones on at length, repetitiously, and even contradicting herself at several points. Last night's meeting was no exception--she and Bill Reid were playing "tag team," and the result was simply embarassing. Bill Reid's spelling out the word "s-h-i-t" in his commentary about the workings of this 8 month old administration was reprehensible--I am glad we will not have to put up with his pointless ramblings anymore. He was never so adamant about revitalizing the First Ward in his two terms on the city council. As I pointed out to Rev. Dean and those in the audience, the ENTIRE council is in favor of the East Second Street revitalization project--we all said so last week as well as this week. However, Rev. Dean and the group fully understand the need to find out exactly how much money is available to the city--the mismanagement of funds over the past 8 years by the last administration has led to a need for the reconciliation of all funds. Reid and Taylor both know that--this is why we passed a resolution (which they also voted in favor of!) last month about all those funds. They would prefer to ignore the truth in favor of cheap politics, and to tear down a brand new administration that is seeking to find money for all the projects we need to have done. All those who have derided the administration about the "residency" waiver for our health officer said nothing for 8 years when the past administration had no cabinet members who lived in town, and whose health officers did not live in town. Charles McRae rightly spoke about how ridiculous Councilwoman Taylor sounded with her blather about blurring the lines of the separation of powers--I guess she wants to run the administration--it's unconscionable that she has no interest in actually reading the city charter, reading our code of ordinances, or doing anything but cheesy political grandstanding. I wonder if she has ever watched or listened to herself speak. Perhaps she should--maybe that's the only way for her to see how silly she sounds, with her continued talk of "elitism" and of such nonsense. .


  3. It's been a few years since the City Council refused to renew the contract with CBS Outdoor for the billboards on East 2nd Street at Netherwood, yet their messages are changed with regularity. Why is that? Did the former city administration renew the contract anyway?
    It's time to take them down. That would be a start. So would be beginning the process to determine the area as in need of redevelopment, which is a function of the City Council. Will it pick up the ball in time for the October meeting?

    The idea of a Community Center is a good one, and the City does own the building under the billboards, as well as the empty lot on the corner of Netherwood. Can it be rehabilitated and re-purposed as one, with meeting rooms and a common area with computer access, or is it too far gone, or not large enough? I'm not sure. But the vacant derelict market at 2nd and Garfield is owned by Loancare, LLC of Virginia Beach according to City tax records, and the parking lot running down Garfield by Crusader Lien Services of Jenkintown, PA. It's hard to imagine they have any long-term interest in either property, so maybe a redevelopment designation should consider eminent domain as a means to acquiring the properties at a fair price.

    But obviously all this will cost money, so it's imperative this stretch be designated for redevelopment and a comprehensive redevelopment plan is adopted. Revitalization will add immensely to the neighborhood, but streetscaping and the planned repaving of 2nd St. will not by themselves do the trick or open the door to the required investment. The city's current crop of developers, including Landmark, JMF (the South Ave. concept group) and Arkad have a decided interest in turning Plainfield around. They might be able to work on this as a group in conjunction with other investors. Larger companies that have a presence in the city, like Verizon, PSE&G, Chase, PNC, and B of A, probably all have arms that do real estate investing. A joint venture partnership, working hand in hand with the City and vested community groups might have the wherewithal to bring the dream to fruition.

    The best response at the moment is for the City Council to get the Planning Board involved and move towards the redevelopment designation.

  4. Ask not what you can do for your country ... Ask what your country can do for you.

  5. Was Taylor a theatrical teacher? She sure acts it and doesn't do much to help this city. I also find that so many on the Council have amnesia when it comes to what Sharon did to run this city into the ground. Man does she have to go! The voters won't forget soon.

  6. I want to hear the third ward's glowing approval of council woman Taylor. They voted her in.

    If the third ward wants her out, someone should organize a write in and put in Charles McRae.

    This city is full of indifferent people. That's why Gloria, Bridget, Vera, and Bill are on the council.

  7. Alan Goldstein are you meeting secretly with the Mayor and Cory Storch?" You seem to use the same phrases verbatim that they do. Phrases like "comprehensive redevelopment plan, revitalization will add immensely but streetscaping will not do the trick, get the Planning Board involved." What do you have to gain from this? You don't live in the 1st ward but my do you have a real vested interest. The devil is truly in the details and rearing his ugly head. In fact, you were not at last night's council meeting but I see you had so much to say.

    1. The answer to your first question is NO. The answer to your second question is NOTHING, though I do frequent Derry's Jamaican Cuisine, and have pushed the City to improve this stretch for the past five years or so. If that counts as a 'vested' interest, so be it, though I do think everyone who lives in Plainfield has a vested interest in improving all corners of the city. You don't have to live in this or that Ward to give a damn, but your presumption that that must be the case is what's really ugly (your word), not the other way around. I didn't write that streetscaping will not do the trick, but that streetscaping and repaving alone will not. Do you have something against a comprehensive plan? It's obvious Rev. Dean's group wants more than cosmetics. Do you? Lastly, I wasn't at this week's meeting. Are you keeping tabs on me? I was at last week's however. Not much has changed between then and now, just as not much has been done since the streetscaping first came up to the Council nearly four year's ago. That's a problem, and it could be that it's just that too many in the seat of power want the authority to hand out crumbs. They want people to need crumbs because that's how they derive their power. It's not in their political interest to promote the circumstances where people don't need crumbs any longer.

  8. Anonymous 7:06PM,

    It's called being invested in your city. We all live here. Why would we only be concerned about the ward in which we live? If only everyone in the city could think of the greater good and not just individuals.

  9. Anon, 7:06, Don't let Alan Stress you, he kisses Mapp's butt every chance he gets. I know for a fact that Mapp tells the people who have given him a mandate to rule what to say, what to think, and what to do.