Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ringing in the New Year


image from Grace Church carillon
However you mark the New Year - whether by partying, watching the ball drop in Times Square, going to church or just quietly contemplating the coming year - we wish you the best for 2016.

It will be a year of many choices. The nation will choose a new president. Locally, residents may choose to get more involved in the civic processes that affect life in Plainfield. There are always many personal choices for a New Year. The first step is to gather information, and Plaintalker hopes to be part of that process again in 2016 on the local level.

We join Dr. Yood in wishing everyone a happy, healthy, sane and safe New Year!

--Bernice

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

South Avenue PILOT Was 2015's Top Story

The top story of 2015, as indicated by the number of page views and comments, was the controversy over the "payment in lieu of taxes" agreement for the $50 million, 212-unit proposal for new construction on South Avenue.

The City Council rebuffed developer Joseph Forgione three times, before eventually approving the PILOT agreement this month. In August, this occurred:
Despite having passed legislation related to South Avenue development for a year and now having a 28-page proposed "payment in lieu of taxes" plan in the meeting packet, a council majority Monday claimed to be left out of the loop and refused to put the tax matter on the Aug. 17 agenda.


A pitch by the developer himself failed to sway a council majority at the Aug. 17 meeting.  The blog post drew 80 comments, a record for Plaintalker.

The Planning Board had already given approval for the project and the developer was preparing to acquire about a dozen properties to clear for the project. 

At a special meeting on Aug. 31, the council rejected the proposal in a 3-2 vote. It looked like the end of the story, but just this month the PILOT was finally approved unanimously by all but Gloria Taylor, who was absent. Only two residents spoke in public comment, one against the PILOT and one in favor of the project.

The late passage may throw off the construction schedule. There are still many chapters to go in this story, including site acquisition and financing. A major concern of city officials and some residents is how Plainfield comes across to other developers who are contemplating projects here. Development always seems to have a lot of moving parts that have to mesh if the project is to succeed. Entrepreneurs need to hire experts to get through the land use board approvals. No matter how welcoming the administration may be, the governing body (or at least a majority of members) can make or break a deal after all the preliminaries. The window for construction may now have closed until spring.

Click to read more about the South Avenue Gateway Redevelopment Plan.

Overall, the roster of projects is growing. Senior housing is under construction on Roosevelt Avenue, Art Lofts I is rising five stories high by the main train station, new development is promised on a large tract in the West End. When you lift a glass to toast the New Year, give a thought to these and many more in 2016.

--Bernice


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Preservation Award Deadline is NOW!






There are only two days left to make nominations for the 2015 City of Plainfield Historic Preservation Awards.  ALL nominations must be submitted to Scott Bauman in the Planning Division office as indicated on the nomination form.  

Click here for the Historic Preservation Award Nominations Form.
Print it out, and send it in!

Nominations are being sought in two categories 1) ‘Preservation Project’ award for a physical improvement, and 2) ‘Preservation Service’ – for an individual or group.  Awards will be presented to the winners in 2016.  With all of the historic preservation undertaken in our city, we know that you will have many, many possible nominations.  The Commission looks forward to reviewing and awarding them all!.  Please spread the word! 

Monitoring the Action in 2016

My hopes of tracking Board of Education activity in 2016 are somewhat dashed in January by conflicts with other meetings.

The Board of Education will organize on Jan. 5, welcoming the winners of the November election, choosing a president for the year and making numerous appointments and decisions. See the 2015 organization agenda for examples of action to be taken.

The next meeting is a work and study session on Jan. 12. It is at 8 p.m. in the Plainfield High School conference room. The Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority is scheduled to hold a meeting at 6 p.m. the same night, which might work out unless the commissioners go into closed session and the audience has to wait. It is about a 20-minute walk from PMUA headquarters on Roosevelt Avenue to the high school, which is also a factor in trying to cover both meetings. I believe the PMUA will be holding its rate hearing meeting that night, which is something of interest to all city property owners. So this is not just a coin-toss decision.

On Jan. 19, the board is scheduled to hold its business meeting. Due to the federal holiday on Jan. 18, the City Council will also be meeting that night. Both meetings are at 8 p.m. My commitment will be to the City Council meeting.

See the Board of Education meeting calendar for the balance of the 2014-15 school year at the link.

The rest of the 2016 schedule is better, though adding another set of meetings to council and land use boards is a bit much for me.

The main reason to try to add in these BOE meetings is to discern the board's direction, in light of their vote to move school board elections back to April and what appears to be open antagonism between the district and city administrations. The good news of district accreditation after 30 years is offset by the recent skirmishes over meeting places and other matters. I'm told the city has something for the district in January over the election switch. We shall see whether the decision can be undone or not, and whether legal expenses will be incurred.

Of course, any interested citizen can attend public meetings and witness what elected and appointed officials are up to. If there is hanky-panky, one cure is exposure and punishment at the polls. Another is public censure and finally, if warranted, removal by the relevant authorities.

--Bernice

Monday, December 28, 2015

How Are Those 4-Way Stops Working Out?

In 2015, the City Council approved eleven new 4-way stops at intersections deemed to be dangerous.

The success of this legislation depends on driver attention and compliance, so having seen many a vehicle breeze through lights at Park & Seventh after they turn red, we're wondering how drivers are handling the decision-making at the 4-ways.

Residents asked for the signage in hopes of reducing speeding and accidents. The first ones were on Hillside Avenue where it crosses Evergreen Avenue and Prospect Avenue. After a tragic accident in October, concerned residents called for more 4-way stops.

At the Dec. 14 meeting, the City Council approved final passage of an ordinance designating nine more 4-way stops. The intersections are:
Belvidere Avenue and Ravine Road
Grant Avenue and Sherman Avenue
Watchung Avenue and Kensington Avenue
West Third Street and Monroe Avenue
West Fourth Street and Monroe Avenue
West Eighth Street and Field Avenue
West Eighth Street and Hobert Avenue
West Eighth Street and Spooner Avenue
West Ninth Street and Arlington Avenue

The last one is the site of the accident in which a driver failed to stop and struck a van, causing the death of a girl, 10, and injuries to several other children.

The rules call for drivers arriving at 4-way stops to yield to cars on the right. If you live near one of these intersections where signs are up, please share your impressions of driver compliance.

--Bernice

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy Kwanzaa
to all
who observe
Dec. 26 - Jan. 1

Note Dates for April School Board Election

As the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking a lot about the school board and the ramifications of moving Board of Education elections back to April.

I am not talking about the cost of the election, just about dates right now. Sometime in November the BOE voted to move the school board election back to April, as reported by David Rutherford on his blog. For the past four years, the election has been held in tandem with the general election in November. The board had the right to move it back at this time and must inform the county clerk of the decision by January 25, 2016, 85 days prior to the election on the third Tuesday in April.

This means the filing deadline for school board candidates will be February 29, not July 25.
The election will be April 19, not Nov. 8.
School board candidates must file petitions with the school board secretary, not the county clerk.

Every year, three three-year terms on the nine-member board come up for election. (There may also be unexpired terms on the ballot if vacancies occur.) Just as candidates elected in years prior to the change to November had to serve an extra eight months, the terms of incumbents may be shortened by several months.

The board's reorganization is scheduled for Jan. 5, when November winners Richard Wyatt Jr., John Campbell and Emily Morgan will take office for what would have been 3-year terms, but what may turn out to be less time if future reorganizations take place in May.

Although the change supposedly took place in November, no resolution to make the change appears on November agendas. The resolution was apparently a "walk-in," which added a surprise factor to the change. In 2012, the City Council had to inform the board of its intention to vote on changing the election to November, but there does not seem to be any requirement for the board to inform the governing body ahead of the vote.

Anyone who wants to serve on the Board of Education should check the Election Dates posted on the county clerk's website or on the state Election Division's website.

See more on moving November school election back to April.

Whatever the merits or problems of April vs. November school board elections, prospective candidates have to inform themselves of the timetable.

--Bernice

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS
TO ALL
(especially those doing the Christmas Bird Count)

Mau's Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Eve, 75 Degrees?

Wondering about this weather?


Read what some experts at
have to say about it.

An Invitation From Rev. Tracey


Hello Ms.Bernice,This is Rev.Tracey.Not sure if you print this info., but for the last five years our church Ruth Fellowship Ministries in partnership with St.John's Baptist of Scotch Plains.Serve dinner and give out presents to those in need. Our vans will pick our guest up from the YMCA, and Park Hotel. It will be held at 601 west 7th street, Plfd, Christmas Day,from 12noon until 3 p.m. All ages and gifts for men, women, and children.Volunteers are welcome, and gifts for those in need are welcomed

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Downtown Diversions

Walking home from the PMUA meeting on Dec. 15, I came across this sight in a Front Street store window. The store was crammed with merchandise, some of which appeared to be second-hand. Made me think of the old "must be a pony" joke.

Another noticeable thing was the number of vacant stores with Paramount "for rent" signs. Several years ago I was freelancing for the Courier News after retiring, and covered Paramount's acquisition of about 45 storefronts. There was quite a turnover when Paramount raised rents, Some rents were tripled. A couple years later, Paramount filed successful tax appeals resulting in a $1.3 million reduction in property values. Tax appeals are legitimate, but lower the very important figure representing the total value of all property, which has been declining for many years.

I did notice what appeared to be more adherence to a local law against excessive signage in store windows. One new bakery had hardly any signage, letting the view of its scrumptious treats do the work of drawing in customers.

Yesterday after going to the PNC Bank, I kept walking around the block, stopping at Dollar General just for a look. I went up and down every aisle and found some things I really wanted to buy.

Circling back to Park Avenue, I visited a new store, Obscure Arts Co., and found some interesting items, including frankincense and myrhh incense and charcoal on which to burn it. A lovely fragrance!

The mild weather was so agreeable for walking that for the first time in weeks I got past the target of 10,000 steps, reaching more than 12,000 total at this hour. It was a great day for walkability and exploring the downtown before the days of ice and snow arrive.

--Bernice

Monday, December 21, 2015

Look Again at Ethics Pledge

Is it time for a review of the Code of Ethics for school board members?

18A:12-24.1 Code of Ethics for School Board Members

A school board member shall abide by the following Code of Ethics for School Board Members:

a. I will uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools.  Desired changes shall be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures.

b. I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their ability, race, creed, sex, or social standing.

c. I will confine my board action to policy making, planning, and appraisal, and I will help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.

d. I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer the schools, but, together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.

e. I will recognize that authority rests with the board of education and will make no personal promises nor take any private action that may compromise the board.

f. I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups or to use the schools for personal gain or for the gain of friends.

g. I will hold confidential all matters pertaining to the schools which, if disclosed, would needlessly injure individuals or the schools.  In all other matters, I will provide accurate information and, in concert with my fellow board members, interpret to the staff the aspirations of the community for its school.

h. I will vote to appoint the best qualified personnel available after consideration of the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.

i. I will support and protect school personnel in proper performance of their duties.

j. I will refer all complaints to the chief administrative officer and will act on the complaints at public meetings only after failure of an administrative solution.

L.2001,c.178,s.5.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Happy Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice
to all our
Pagan Friends

What Were Plainfield's Top Stories in 2015?

I am looking for suggestions on Top Stories of 2015.

The list will no doubt include the North Avenue demolition fiasco, changes at PMUA, development including the 212-unit Sleepy Hollow Developers deal and the YMCA project for young people aging out of foster care, the canceled outsourcing of the Planning Division ... and what else?

This blog began in June 2005 as Plainfield Plaintalker and in 2010 became Plaintalker II, together reaching a 10-year milestone this year, a personal top story for me..

If you have a minute to spare between shopping and other holiday preparations, please share your opinion on the year's top stories.

--Bernice

Friday, December 18, 2015

Regarding Gentrification

One of the worries about new development is what it will do to Plainfield as we know it now. I came across this February 2014 post on gentrification while looking around my archives and thought it might be worth a second look.

Who Are The Gentrifiers in Plainfield?

Green Sponsors Law Against Pyramid Schemes

Interesting to see that Assemblyman Jerry Green has a blog post about new legislation outlawing pyramid schemes. In the late 1990s, a lot of Plainfielders were drawn into such a scheme, known here as Amigos Associates Social Club. Do you remember this "gifting" program? Any comments?

The Climes, They Are A-Changin'

Yarrow, Sweet Alyssum, Pink Daisy Fleabane
With the first day of Winter just days away, it was still possible to gather a few sprigs in the garden to fill a tiny vase. The Yarrow outside is lush with feathery leaves and the Sweet Alyssum, a favorite of the late Barbara Sandford, shows no signs of giving up. The Daisy Fleabane was just a surprise, though some white Snakeroot is still in bloom. The pot is one of the late Mary Vic Griswold's creations.


Office of the N.J. State Climatologist

The extended summery weather is indicated on this chart from the Office of the State Climatologist. Click to enlarge.

When the results for December 2015 are posted, they may be the warmest in a long time. We still have not had the "killing frost" that used to happen around mid-October.

--Bernice

State Report Has Guidance for City on PILOTs

A 2010 state report on municipal tax abatements supports a city resident's call Monday for a cost-benefit analysis before any "payment in lieu of taxes" plan is approved.

Among other recommendations, the report said "abatements should be granted only when necessary to attract development that would not otherwise occur," which was exactly why another resident spoke in favor of the PILOT approved Monday for Sleepy Hollow Developers Urban Renewal LLC

Richard Loosli spoke against the 30-year PILOT agreement, calling it "inadequate and unfair to current residents," but Alan Goldstein challenged Loosli's estimation of revenues and said chances of getting more were "very slim."

Loosli and Goldstein were the only speakers at a public hearing before final approval of the agreement, which was stalled last summer despite the developer's plea for action so the site could be cleared before winter.

The neighborhood to be developed currently has about a dozen homes and businesses, some vacant, that would be acquired and cleared to make one big lot for a 212-unit apartment complex with many amenities, close to the Netherwood train station. The developer estimated $3.8 million in revenues from the existing properties over 30 years, in contrast with a $10 million yield to the city from the PILOT plan. The deal is regarded by some as almost a test case for more developers choosing Plainfield, which has not yet met with as much favor for development as other municipalities along the Raritan Valley Line.

As more development comes in, more financial agreements are sure to follow. The City Council approved another one Monday for Plainfield Genesis Affordable Housing LLC, which with the YMCA is converting 60 single-room occupancy units to 30 studio apartments for young people aging out of foster care. The housing will come with many kinds of support to  help the residents become self-supporting.

The city previously had 10 PILOT agreements. ( This link also has a pitch for the state report.)

An agreement made about 30 years ago has now become the subject of a lawsuit over alleged payment miscalculations, as reported in the Courier News earlier this month. In 2008, a typo on a PILOT amount had officials scrambling for ways to avoid a $1.7 million tax deficit.

All of the above points to the need for closer attention to PILOTs, whether old or new.

--Bernice

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Get Involved in 2016

Right on the front page of the city's new website is an invitation to "get involved."

Click and see how to look at boards and commissions to find one for which you might like to apply.
The page even includes.a link to the application form.

Most boards and commissions reorganize in January. A few are different. The PMUA reorganizes in February, so appointments start then. The Plainfield Public Library board terms usually start in September, though that does not apply when filling vacancies.

Some of the boards and commissions are defunct. The most active ones tend to be those involved with land use, such as Planning, Zoning, Historic Preservation and Shade Tree.

Take a look if you want to get involved in public service. Citizen attendance and comment at City Council meetings is another way to get involved, as is running for elective office.

The City Council annual reorganization is 7 p.m., Jan. 4, 2016 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. In past years, people dressed up for the event and some activists would give their own "state of the city" remarks. It has been less formal in recent years, but is still a portentous occasion that sets a tone for the year.

--Bernice

City Hires Real Estate/Redevelopment Consultant for Muhlenberg

Hiring a consultant "to prepare recommendations to advance the redevelopment of the Muhlenberg Hospital site" drew many questions Monday before the City Council gave approval.

The city advertised for a real estate and redevelopment consultant in September following a Planning Board recommendation to use a "non-condemnation" approach to redevelopment of the site.by Muhlenberg. Attorney Steven J. Tripp said Muhlenberg preferred non-condemnation to use of eminent domain.

Councilwoman Vera Greaves led Monday by saying the city already had "a lot of recommendations" for the site and questioning the $65,000 expense to hire Real Estate Solutions Group of Princeton.

"This is in order for us to move to the next phase," Economic Development Director Carlos Sanchez said, noting previous suggestions had come from a study. The new effort was to develop a request for proposals "to take to the market," he said, with the goal of developing a health care facility.

"A health care facility?" Greaves asked.

"Yes," Sanchez said, "not a hospital."

He said the group would put together specifications and get feedback from developers.

"Are we going to have another study?" Greaves asked, citing expense to taxpayers and saying, "It's crazy."

Sanchez said if no developers came forward, another study might be needed. As he tried to explain the nuances of the process, Greaves and Councilwoman Diane Toliver demanded specifics. Toliver asked whether any developers were looking at the site now and whether the city looked at other closed hospitals. Sanchez said "interested parties" had looked at the site, but had not recommended any "hard concept" for redevelopment. He said the city had reviewed a hospital closing in Paterson, but "no solid concept" emerged.

Toliver asked whether a concept had been submitted to the council. Sanchez said the study had been given to the council, but he could give it to them again.

In further questioning, Toliver asked how many developers would be brought in "for that amount of money," meaning the $65,000, and Greaves made a similar query.

Sanchez said there were no guarantees and they might only get one.

Toliver asked, "How much time will you spend looking for a developer before you look for another developer?

Sanchez pegged the timeline at about six months and said the city was still negotiating with (JFK Health), the owner of the Muhlenberg campus.

"So you haven't thought about it," Toliver said.

Despite the pressure for guarantees, the resolution passed unanimously.

To learn more about the redevelopment process including recent changes, see this New Jersey League of Municipalities 2014 presentation.

--Bernice

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

PPL Plans Oral History of 1967 Riots

Important news from the Plainfield Public Library


Plainfield Public Library Receives Union County History Grant
 
The Plainfield Public Library recently received a $2,000 History Grant from the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs. An additional $1,000 will be provided as a financial match from the Friends of Plainfield Public Library (FOPPL).  This grant will help fund the transcription of oral history recordings made by residents recalling the 1967 riots.  With the fiftieth anniversary of the riots approaching, the transcriptions will provide researchers with searchable access to important primary source material.  Entitled “Plainfield Voices: 1967 Plainfield Uprising,” twenty-five new oral histories will be recorded by a Library volunteer and outsourced to an experienced audio transcription service.
 
The goal of this project is to enhance the accessibility of the information found in the personal interviews (the audio files) to local historians, students, researchers, and the general public.  The transcriptions will increase the research capacity of the audio files by allowing for name and subject indexing, word and phrase search capability, as well as provide access to the hearing impaired.  This project will create an audio archive with clear transcriptions of residents’ memories of the civic upheaval that took place in Plainfield during July 1967. 
The Library will outsource the audio transcription to the Audio Transcription Center (ATC) in Boston, Mass. ATC is an experienced audio transcription service and we have worked with them on three previous oral history projects.
 
Interviewer Melinda Allen-Grote, who is volunteering her services, is a 35 year resident of the city of Plainfield and has 22 years of professional experience in the non-profit sector, also in Plainfield.  She has extensive experience networking and partnering with community-based organizations on the local, state and federal level.  Much of her career involved working with individuals, listening to their stories and helping them access services and helping them create opportunities for themselves. 
 
For more information about the project, or to be registered as a possible interviewee, please contact the Local History Department at908-757-1111 ext. 136.  The Plainfield Public Library is located at 800 Park Avenue.  For hours of operation, call 908-757-1111 or check the website at plainfieldlibrary.info 
 

Tuesday's Ups and Downs

This is my somewhat disjointed account of yesterday and why I have no blog post.

Tuesday proved to be a very  unusual day.

I normally post overnight, but word of Dottie Gutenkauf's passing led me to write a short memorial in the morning. (Be sure to read Sergio Bichao's piece about Dottie in the Courier News today.)

A large donation landed in my PayPal account.

Looking around the basement, I noticed a lot of debris left by the workers that have been doing repairs since mid-September, but decided it was not my problem -yet.

Back upstairs. The letter-carrier rang the bell, which made me jump and made the cat run under the bed, indicative of our mutual state of nerves over all the recent disruption. Some letter carrier lost a lot of keys, she said, so she will be ringing the bell to get in to our building. (The workers have been doing the same for a few weeks now.) I asked how this problem could be solved and she said the property manager had to provide a key. The property manager said the letter carrier had to initiate the process. The USPS telephone robot lady was no help.

I got a call about a gas leak and evacuation downtown but could not do any reporting. Later someone sent photos, but I still could not do any reporting, as my press credentials expired when I retired in 2003. Maybe there was a way, but brain fog took over and I couldn't figure it out. My caller said babies in cribs had to be wheeled out of a day care center into the chilly wind and she got nearby merchants to let the cribs in their stores.

I heard a commotion downstairs and found out a worker had to go into a first floor apartment through the window. The tenant had apparently moved out without notice.

My usual walking route to the PMUA was detoured by the ongoing gas leak response. Had to take a slightly scary alternative in the dark.

I got home after the meeting to find the power out on our block. The elastic on my headband light from Hurricane Sandy was worn out and the lamp flopped over uselessly. No sooner had I pinned it up than the power came back.

Feeling I needed a break, I sat down to listen to the radio and crochet for a while. Later I saw that I had dropped some stitches and made a foot-length of a scarf all wrong. Ripped it out. When I went to blog around midnight, the FiOS was out - no internet or phone.

In bed, I fixed the scarf but couldn't sleep. Got up to try the computer and it worked. Drank coffee at 2:30 a.m. but still couldn't concentrate enough to do my leftover council story or a PMUA story.

Now it's 3 a.m. Giving up on blogging and hoping for a less unusual day when I get up in the morning.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dottie Gutenkauf, A Fighter to the End

Dan reports that Dottie Gutenkauf has passed.

If by chance you didn't know her, read about Dottie Gutenkauf's life in her own words here

After being diagnosed with ocular melanoma several years ago, Dottie expressed her feelings in poetry about now having to relinquish her "universal donor" status.

She went on to become an activist for awareness of the disease, often wearing her Ocular Melanoma Foundation T-shirt to public meetings as she continued her civic involvement in Plainfield.
Here she is wearing her "EYE AM NOT ALONE" T-shirt while receiving recognition from Mayor Adrian O. Mapp as an outstanding citizen of the Third Ward at the May 2015 Town Meeting.
She took part in her last Democratic City Committee reorganization in June, pictured here with the incoming chairman, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, and the outgoing chairman, Assemblyman Jerry Green. She served as an official of the committee for many years and Green acknowledged her value to the organization.

Her value to Plainfield is immeasurable. Strong in her views and powerful in action, she will be long remembered by all who knew her.

--Bernice

Enjoy the Season!

City Hall Tree, Menorah, Kinara

Happy Holidays to all!

Council Approves Sleepy Hollow PILOT

The City Council approved a financial agreement Monday that is crucial to a $50 million 212-unit residential development on South Avenue and also designated Sleepy Hollow Developers Urban Renewal LLC as redeveloper of the site.

Before the vote on the "payment in lieu of taxes" ordinance, resident Richard Loosli called the agreement "inadequate and unfair" and not a penny different from terms the council rejected last summer. Alan Goldstein, a resident who closely follows city government, agreed with the developer's premise that the PILOT would yield $10 million while tax revenues on the existing properties would only be $3.8 million over 30 years.

"We should go along with the proposal," he said, before the unanimous approval.

Vera Greaves, Cory Storch, Diane Toliver, Tracey Brown, Rebecca Williams and Council President Bridget Rivers voted "yes." Gloria Taylor, a staunch opponent of the project, was absent.

The concept for the amenity-laden development was unveiled in a July 2014 meeting with South Avenue merchants, as reported on the Plainfield Today blog. Many more steps had to be accomplished, including designating the site "in need of redevelopment" and preparing a redevelopment plan. The South Avenue plans progressed until the PILOT agreement was rejected twice in August.

The council also approved a related resolution on vacating part of Old South Avenue, which abuts the site.

Approval of the PILOT means developer Joseph M. Forgione can now move forward with financing and acquisition of eleven properties that will comprise the project site. As part of the redevelopment agreement, the developer pledged to make improvements to the Plainwood Square Park between Old South Avenue and South Avenue and to perform all ongoing park maintenance. In addition, the developer will donate 100 tablets to the school district or carry out an alternative request by the city costing up to $10,000.

Forgione was present Monday, but declined comment for the blog.

--Bernice 

Monday, December 14, 2015

CFO Ad Posted

The League of Municipalities classified ads include one seeking a chief financial officer for Plainfield.

The city had been without a CFO for several years after former CFO Peter Sepelya left in 2007. When Ulrich "Al" Steinberg was named in January 2014 to serve concurrently with the four-year term of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, residents broke into applause. If he is now leaving, we wish him well but will miss his expertise.

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER – PLAINFIELD CITY. $98,076  - $159,182 The City of Plainfield is seeking a Chief Financial Officer. A New Jersey CMFO certification and five years of local government financial management experience which includes at least two years of supervisory experience is required. Please note that the municipality has a residency ordinance which may require that the successful candidate establish residency however, the Ordinance does allow for a waiver of residency requirement by the governing body.  EOE     Email resume to jobs@plainfieldnj.govAd Posted December 11, 2015 Ad Removed January 11, 2016

Special Meeting Plus Reorg Agenda-Fixing Tonight

My June photo

The image above is prominently featured on the new city website, but you saw it here first. Another City Hall image from Plaintalker is also used. Interesting.

On to the big City Council meeting. The Dec. 7 agenda session has been combined with the Dec. 14 regular meeting and a separate agenda session for the January reorganization will also be considered Monday. The "special meeting" starts at 7 p.m..

Things to watch out for:

--Two "financial arrangements" aka payment in lieu of taxes or PILOT agreements are up for votes. One is with Sleepy Hollow Developers Urban renewal for the 212-unit amenity-laden project on South Avenue, in an ordinance up for second reading and final passage. It was passed unanimously on first reading on Nov. 23, although Councilwoman Gloria Taylor hesitated before voting and later reminded everyone, "It's not over yet," alluding to the final vote.

--The second agreement has to do with the conversion of upper floors of the YMCA to 30 studio apartments for young people aging out of foster care. The PILOT agreement is with Plainfield Genesis Affordable Housing LLC, which will have 50/50 ownership of the apartments with the YMCA. It is in the form of a resolution.

--Other business includes five resolutions for legal fees, totaling $100,000. On the other agenda there is a resolution authorizing three-month 2016 temporary budget appropriations for city operations, listing $97,000 in salary & wages and $150,000 for other expenses in the Corporation Counsel's office. The total appropriations in the adopted 2015 budget were $370,075 for salary & wages and $382,600 for other expenses. The January agenda also includes a resolution for an agreement with David Minchello of DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole, LLP of Teaneck to serve as corporation counsel for 2016. This seems at odds somewhat with the notion of an in-house corporation counsel, although Minchello has served the city well for many years now. 

--Another item of interest is a resolution authorizing the Planning Board to investigate whether two South Avenue buildings are in need of redevelopment. The buildings span a whole block between Berckman and Richmond streets. One, identified in the resolution as the Royal Apex building, but also known as the Rushmore Building, has just won Board of Adjustment approval for an ambitious makeover. Usually the "in need" investigation launches a process that ultimately results in a redevelopment plan, but it seems that will be taking place anyway. If the designation means any breaks for the developer, all the better.
 
Reminder: Special Meeting (combining December agenda and regular meeting) 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave., followed by an agenda-fixing session for the annual reorganization to be held in January.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Brown Launches Re-Election Campaign


Tracey Brown

Rev. Tracey Brown is combining a birthday celebration with the launch of her re-election campaign for the citywide at-large council seat.

A fundraiser event at the Gumbo House & Grill is scheduled for Dec. 20, according to a flyer on Facebook.

The filing date for the June 7 primary is April 4, as noted on the state Division of Elections 2016 timetable.

Many of us are already tired of the presidential campaigns, but even for a municipal campaign, an early start on fundraising and organizing is warranted.

In 2016, two City Council seats are up for election, the citywide at-large seat representing all four wards and the Third Ward seat currently held by Councilwoman Gloria Taylor.

The 2016 election season will be the first for Mayor Adrian O. Mapp as Plainfield Democratic City Committee Chairman to back candidates in the June primary. The chairman usually announces the party's choice for the Democratic line about a week before the filing date.

In Plainfield, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 16 to 1, a primary win is considered tantamount to victory in November. Turnout is expected to be much higher in 2016, a presidential election year, than the the 18 percent turnout in November 2015.

Independents can also file on June 7 for the November election, but they better have also been raising funds and organizing for many months earlier in order the stand a chance on Nov. 8. See the General Election timeline here.

Good luck to all who decide to run for office in 2016. It is a weighty decision and the City Council winners will be committing to four years of service.

Looking ahead, in 2017 the Fourth Ward and Mayoral seat will be up for election and then the cycle is Ward One and the Second & Third Ward at-large seat in 2018, Ward Two and the First & Fourth Ward seat in 2019, Third Ward and Citywide at-large in 2020 and so on. Council candidates must reside in the wards they want to represent, which means any voter living here at least one year can run for the citywide seat in 2016.

--Bernice

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Look! Public Art!

 The downtown mural I have been watching for is finally in progress in the Queen's Courtyard, a passage from Municipal Parking Lot 6 to East Front Street. This alley is a favorite target of taggers, as one can see by the blocks of cover-up paint behind the mural, but I hope this art work will be appreciated and not marred.
Here is a detail. The theme seems to be different downtown activities, with some emphasis on one of my favorite Plainfield attributes, walkability.
Heading to the stores at Park & Seventh, I was thrilled to see this signal box all covered with flower images. I had some of these flowers in my own garden this summer.
 
 The artwork is part of a Union County initiative called "Art Outside the Box."
Click the link to read more and also click the "Traffic Control Boxes" link and scroll down to see other locations of decorated signal boxes in Plainfield.


I think these images are very uplifting and I hope they will also be respected and not covered by ads for nightclubs and such.
I know not everyone is a full-time pedestrian like me, but sometimes a stroll around is much more interesting than a quick view through a windshield. This artwork even has the garden bumblebees and butterflies when you look closely.

As the article notes, this project is an initiative of the Union County Board of Freeholders, chaired by Mohamed Jalloh, brother of City Clerk Abubakar "Ajay" Jalloh. Two handsome guys, both devoted to public service!

My other favorite city, Seattle, is full of public art.

Jimi Hendrix statue, Capitol Hill, Seattle
The sculptures, sidewalk features and murals demonstrate an appreciation for creativity that enlivens the city. Plainfield has artists of all kinds and could benefit from publicly acknowledging that facet of the community. The late Ray Blanco, a documentarian and social activist as well as a city councilman, advocated for the arts in Plainfield by supporting a $50,000 budget for the Cultural & Heritage Commission - roughly a dollar per resident. (Seattle allots 1 percent of its capital budget for art projects, as do some other major cities.)

Keep an eye out in your travels for the new public art and if you agree that it enhances the city, ask your elected officials to keep that thought in mind at budget time.

--Bernice

Friday, December 11, 2015

Where to Report Errors on City Website

Chief of Staff John Stewart has provided the following:

If there are any suggestions regarding the City of Plainfield's website – you can contact John Stewart at:




Any Comments on Thursday Meetings?

Something came up last night and I could not attend any of the scheduled meetings.

If you went to the Planning Board, Listening Session for Youth Summit or Third Ward meeting, tell us what you thought.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

City Has New Website

Here is a city press release on the updated Plainfield website:


City of Plainfield launches new website

Plainfield, NJ - December 7, 2015 - As users become increasingly frustrated with clunky websites, with dated information, which are difficult to navigate, the City of Plainfield has launched an updated, easy to use, intuitive and informative website.
Although most people acknowledge that the easiest way to get information about an organization is through it's website, there has been growing frustration as websites become bogged down with old or useless information. Adding to this frustration are sometimes clunky navigation tools that have links leading to nowhere and inadequate site maps.

The new City of Plainfield website offers a different kind of experience, with clean lines, intuitive navigational tools and concise information, it keeps pace with the way people process information today. The website seamlessly captures the rich history of Plainfield while showcasing it's diversity and pointing to the future.

Improved utility allows users to interact with the website in a number of ways including; ability to post press releases, announcements etc to their social media, and giving residents and organizations the ability to post events to the new and improved calendar

A "How Do I" feature answers the most frequently asked questions or users can choose to utilize the search bar.

Regarding the redesign, The Mayor of Plainfield, Adrian Mapp had this to say; "A website is only effective if it is properly utilized as a vehicle for passing information. This new and improved website does this in the most efficient and intuitive way possible. With improved navigation, concise layout of information and meaningful content we are ensuring that each visit to our website will be fruitful and informative for all users."

The website was re-designed to address the needs of diverse users from residents to, potential residents, entrepreneurs, developers, and investors.

Integral to the development of the site was Chief of Staff John Stewart who said "As the information architect of the new website, I am excited that the City of Plainfield has a new website that is a convergence of, design, built-in social media tools, and utility for our current residents, potential residents, entrepreneurs, developers and investors. This new website provides a real experience, that gives the end user a look into our proud history and glimpse of the future."



Third Ward Meeting-O-Rama Tonight

Three City Council Town Hall Meetings have been simple affairs, with members of the governing body making themselves available to hear citizen concerns. The final one is breaking the mold with a theme - "Partnering to Build Community" - four topics, nine "Collaborative Community Partners" to provide information and eleven "community co-sponsors" including a Scotch Plains restaurant.

Click here to see the flyer for the Third Ward Community Meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight (Dec. 10) at Hubbard Middle School, 551 West Eighth Street. It is hosted by Rev. Gloria Taylor, who represents the Third Ward on the City Council.

While the administration of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is currently somewhat at odds with the school district over cancellation of a long-planned Youth Summit, Taylor's flyer lists the Plainfield Public Schools as a co-sponsor of the Third Ward event.

As reported here and on David Rutherford's blog, Plainfield View, the Youth Summit cancellation led to charges and counter-charges between the mayor and Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles. The friction had actually started on Oct. 31, when a picnic for Second Ward Independent candidate John Campbell at a park on Cook School grounds was shut down for lack of a city permit. The Halloween hassle may or may not have led to the Friday the 13th bad-luck brouhaha, although Belin-Pyles said she merely asked for the event to be held the next day. Her argument weakened a bit when she identified the "next day" as the 13th.

After Belin-Pyles condemned Mapp's use of a citywide messaging service to say she shut down the summit by "executive decision," Taylor, a retired school administrator, stuck up for the superintendent and chastised Mapp on camera at the Nov. 23 council meeting.

Those who read tea leaves or entrails may see a new challenge in the scheduling of a "listening session" on planning a 2016 Youth Summit at 6 p.m.tonight at the Plainfield Public Library. Blogger Dan Damon, a sometime Mapp operative, listed the Youth Summit session and a Planning Board meeting as happening tonight, ignoring the Third Ward meeting. There had already been a "listening session" scheduled at the library this past Saturday. I was ill last week and I don't know whether it happened or not.

Anyway, the "Community Meeting" promises to be an event on the scale of former Mayor Sharon Robinson's Briggs' Aug. 1, 2010 forum that had a wide array of topics and panelists. The grand format of Taylor's meeting may portend a 2016 run for re-election, as her term expires next year. Listen carefully for the sound of a hat being tossed into the ring.

Click on the links below to read about the City Council's three prior Town Hall Meetings.

Fourth Ward on Sept. 29

Second Ward on Oct. 14

First Ward on Oct. 26

--Bernice

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Revive the Youth Commission

Does anyone remember the Youth Commission established in 2006? Many of its goals are even more relevant today for engaging young people in civic life, but only four of a possible 15 members were appointed initially and all their terms expired years ago.

Now that the new city website makes it easier to access information on boards and commissions, one hopes that more people will volunteer to serve. Thursday's Listening Session for a Youth Summit might be a good place to start recruiting applicants to serve on the Youth Commission.

From the Plainfield Plaintalker archive, here is a post on the Youth Commission.

Here's an excerpt from the new city website explaining more about the Youth Commission:

A.        It shall be the duty of the Commission to advise the Mayor and City Council on the needs, concerns, accomplishments and contributions of the Plainfield Youth community as well as the impact of legislation or the lack thereof and its effect on the Plainfield Youth community.

B.        The Commission shall elicit input from the youth community by, among other things, visiting community centers, meeting with community leaders, attending and sponsoring community meetings and taking any other actions it deems necessary to carry out its purposes.  The Commission shall annually report its findings and recommendations to the Mayor and City Council in a form agreeable to the Mayor and City Council.

C.        In addition, the Commission shall:
           
1.                  Provide a direct communication vehicle between the youth of the City and City administration.
2.                  Provide Youth Commission members with the experience of working with City government and to install a sense of civic responsibility.
3.                  Provide leadership opportunities for teenage citizens of Plainfield.
4.                  Create projects that relate to the Youth Commission purpose and objectives.
5.                  Provide a vehicle for dialogue with youth on pertinent issues that may exist from time to time and which impact upon the youth population of the City of Plainfield and/or youth population at large.
6.                  Educate the youth residents about opportunities to serve the community, recruit and support the youth residents to become actively involved in the City’s boards, commissions and political bodies.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Youth Summit Thursday Night

Inline image 1

Job, Title Changes Need Explanation

Yesterday a press release arrived regarding the revised city website, and crediting Chief of Staff John Stewart with its creation. There is a lot to like about the new web site and I recommend taking a spin through it if you have not done so already.

The innovation coincides with something I have been trying to report on, namely the return of IT Director Chris Payne to the school district. Mayor Adrian O. Mapp confirmed by email on Nov. 30 that Payne was no longer with the city. I had also emailed BOE President Wilma Campbell to ask about Payne's title and salary with the school district, having been unable to find a resolution on board agendas, but I received no response.

Payne came to the city in 2010 after nine years with the district, in the wake of numerous title changes under former Superintendent Steve Gallon III. His advent was preceded by speculation that the city job was being created with a specific person in mind.

Payne set forth an ambitious program for IT but concerns arose over costs and staffing.

Initially, former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs assigned Payne to report directly to her, a move later corrected to place IT under one of the three departments mandated in the city's special charter.

The current situation is hard to decipher, as Payne is listed under district "Cabinet Staff" on one page of the district website, while former director Eugene Campbell Jr. is still listed as heading the Department of School Safety and Security.

The agenda for the Sept. 15 business meeting notes Campbell's resignation, effective as of Sept. 18.

My request for information on Payne's hiring remains unanswered. I asked to whom I should direct an OPRA request if the board president could not respond. Obviously, more inquiry is needed.

On the city side, the "chief of staff" title was approved by the City Council in November 2013, after first rejecting it. But a council majority cut funding for the post. Mapp used his administrative power to assign Stewart to a title of "assistant municipal clerk," although in communications Stewart still uses the title of chief of staff. Note: Mayor Mapp says the job was funded by title in the 2015 budget

More details on both the city and district rosters need to be gleaned for these personnel changes to be understood by the public. The shortcut would be for leaders to just say what's going on.

--Bernice

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dunkin' Donuts Hearing To Be Continued In January

A presentation for a new Dunkin' Donuts on Terrill Road was well underway last week when officials realized that nearby property owners in Fanwood and Scotch Plains had not been notified.

Those within 200 feet of the site will receive notice and the Board of Adjustment will take up the hearing again in January.

As described on Dec. 2 by attorney James Turteltaub and engineer John Palus, the proposal also includes a 24-hour gas station. The applicant, Plainfield Gas Realty LLC, also wants the Dunkin' Donuts to be open 24 hours, though the schedule may be modified. There would be two employees per shift at the restaurant and one gas station attendant. Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said 24-hour service is "neither permitted nor prohibited" in Plainfield.

The applicant met with the Planning Division's Technical Review Committee to refine the application. A vacant one-story structure on the site will be demolished and all sidewalks and curbs will be replaced. In addition, the applicant agreed to mill and overlay East Third Street, which borders the site along with McCrea Place. A 6-foot fence is proposed on the residential McCrea Place side, and LED lights will rise only to 14 feet. No light will shine onto the residential side.

Plans call for planting of 153 trees and shrubs. Board member Jim Spear suggested "doing something for the community" such as donating excess food to a local soup kitchen.

The application includes a pylon sign at the northeast corner of the lot to display gas prices. A Shell logo would be on a canopy over the gas pumps. Another Dunkin' Donuts on Terrill Road is nearing the end of its lease, so the proposed restaurant may become the only one at the east end of Plainfield. There are two others, at Clinton & West Front and downtown on the Park-Madison block.

The issue of proper notice came up around 9 p.m. Board attorney Peter Vignuolo said testimony would be finished at the Jan. 20 meeting and if no one came forward then in public comment, there would be no need to reiterate the Dec. 2 testimony (before a board decision).

--Bernice

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah
to all our
Jewish friends
 and neighbors

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Meetings in Motion

It's hard for people to attend public meetings in December, with so much holiday preparation and celebration going on. Now there are a number of meeting changes and additions to track.

- The Dec. 8 PMUA meeting has been rescheduled to 6 p.m. Dec. 15 at 127 Roosevelt Ave.

- The Dec. 3 Planning Board meeting was rescheduled to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall Library on Dec. 10, which puts it in conflict with the Third Ward Town Hall Meeting. That meeting was originally set for Oct. 27, then Nov. 12 before being moved tentatively to 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at Hubbard Middle School, with an alternate date of Dec. 17 in case of inclement weather. However, there is also a Planning Board meeting on Dec.17.

- Two liquor license hearings have been scheduled for Dec.  16. One is to discuss "possible charges and penalties" against the plenary retail consumption license identified as Chandri Inc., trading as The Latin Bar located at 664 South Avenue. The second hearing is to discuss a person-to-person transfer of a plenary retail consumption license identified as Jedeca Inc. trading as JC's Lounge to Liliana Lau LLC trading as La Reina Bar, which has been recommended for denial by the Police Division. According to the notice, the license was purchased at the state Division of Taxation Auction.

The changes, plus the previously noted special City Council meeting combining the Dec. 7, 14 and 21 meetings, will produce this schedule for the week before Christmas:

Dec. 14: 7 p.m. Special City Council Meeting in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

Dec. 15: PMUA meeting, 6 p.m. at 127 Roosevelt Ave.

Dec. 16: Liquor License Hearings, 7 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

Dec. 17; Planning Board meeting, 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library

Dec. 18: Keith Richards' birthday never mind



Regarding December's Triple-Header Council Meeting

Last month, the City Council held one combined agenda-fixing and regular meeting. This month, three meetings formerly scheduled for Dec. 7, 14 and 23 will be combined.into one on Dec. 14.

Is this a trend? Is the governing body aiming for only one public meeting a month? If so, it would meet the letter of the law in the city's special charter, but perhaps not the spirit. As one who has attended council meetings regularly since the mid-1980s, I believe a marathon meeting once a month is likely to chill civic engagement at a time when it is needed more than ever.

While other municipalities combine agenda and voting meetings, Plainfield's agendas run to several dozen resolutions and ordinances per meeting (65 and five respectively in September), so even the most important pieces of legislation may be glossed over without adequate discussion.

For many decades, the council schedule called for regular meetings on the first and third Mondays, with agenda-fixing sessions on preceding Mondays. Changes took place in 2006 (Monday-Wednesday schedule), 2008 (back to Mondays) and in 2009, when the once-a-month regular meetings started. Each change took place after a different annual schedule had been approved and published, causing much confusion. See details on council calendar change here.

Public notice continues to be a challenge, even with a brand-new website that still lists three council meetings this month instead of one.

The City Council will be adopting the 2016 annual calendar at the January reorganization. A change will require amending an ordinance on two readings, so if the council does wish to condense the schedule to one combined agenda-fixing and regular meeting per month, it technically can't happen until February or March. They could get around it by putting a legal notice in the paper perhaps, although the use of "Special Meeting" for these bundled ones does not exactly fit the definition of a special meeting.

Lately the actual business of the council has been dispatched in record time, with little explanation or discussion of items. Public comment and council comment, often on politics, takes quite a bit of time. One meeting a month would reduce public comment by half, as there is a time limit.

If the council decides on a new format, one hopes each council member who votes in favor of it will say why it is needed. Any change must be widely publicized, not just with a small legal notice in the newspaper. Otherwise, how can Plainfield citizens participate?

--Bernice

More Apartments Proposed

Three applications to be heard at the rescheduled Dec. 10 Planning Board meeting all involve new apartments. The meeting is 7:30 p.m. in City hall Library.

A notice published Friday includes the proposed conversion of third and fourth floors above a nightclub at 111  Front Street to six apartments. The bar and nightclub on the first and second floors will remain. See Plaintalker's post on Edison Garcia's proposal here.

At 210-214 West Front Street, an application dating back to 2013 involves a three-story mixed-use building with a restaurant and store on the ground floor and four apartments and an office unit above. The applicant wants to convert the office unit to an apartment.

At 1136 South Avenue, the applicant wants to build a two-story addition to a one-story liquor store along with a separate three-story addition at the rear of the building. The ground floor of the three-story addition would be used to expand the liquor store (Rick's Wine & Liquors) and the upper floors would become six two-bedroom apartments. Twenty-one surface parking spaces are proposed.

The Planning Board meeting had been originally scheduled for Dec. 3. The board will also consider on Dec. 10 Union County's application to install synthetic turf fields at Cedar Brook Park.

--Bernice

Friday, December 4, 2015

Missed the Mayor's Town Hall Meeting

Random cat photo

Sorry to say I was unable to attend the Mayor's Town Hall Meeting Thursday due to a bad cold.

I made it through the four-hour Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting Wednesday, but the sneezing and coughing got worse on Thursday. Maybe another blogger attended and will report, or if it was recorded, those who did not attend can see it later on the local channels.

--Bernice

Who Will Be 2016 Council President?

If it's December, it's time for the annual lobbying for the seat of City Council president.

A president will be selected at the January reorganization, to serve for one year. The role is important for several reasons. It is the president who, with the city clerk, decides what goes on the agenda. The president can decide not to include an item, in a kind of pre-emptive veto The president can shut down speakers in public comment. With a bang of the gavel, the president can even have a speaker removed by police.

As noted in the council's Rules of Order, the president is also supposed to bar "personal reflections" by other members during debate and must immediately call to order any speaker who makes "offensive, derogatory or abusive remarks" in public comment.

Past presidents include Annie McWilliams, who served in 2010 and 2011; Adrian Mapp (now the mayor) in 2012; and for 2013, 2014 and 2015, Bridget Rivers.

Bridget Rivers, 2013

The council for 2016 will consist of Rivers, Tracey Brown, Rebecca Williams, Gloria Taylor, Diane Toliver, Cory Storch (starting his fourth four-year term) and new member Barry Goode.

Meanwhile, as previously noted, the Dec. 7 agenda-fixing session, Dec.14 regular meeting and Dec. 23 agenda-fixing for the January annual reorganization have been combined into one "special meeting" starting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. The reorganization takes place in early January.

--Bernice

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rushmore Building Will Become Self-Storage Facility

A century-old South Avenue building will be re-purposed to meet the storage needs of an estimated 1,000 nearby renters and to bring a new look to the neighborhood.

Built in 1908 to house the Rushmore Dynamo Works for entrepreneur and inventor Samuel Rushmore, the building is now marred by broken windows and overgrown, misshapen Plane trees out front. The trees will be removed and the Rushmore building's facade will be restored, according to plans presented to the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday. A related building on Berckman Street will also be improved and another on the site will be demolished to make way for a modern one. In all, 850 self-storage units will be created.

Frederick Lackland, whose firm has built over 40 self-storage facilities, said the new operation will hire two or three office employees and one maintenance person. Board Chairman D. Scott Belin questioned whether the use would prevent creation of manufacturing jobs at the site, a concern shared by board member Frank Johnson until he decided a decline in manufacturing made it unlikely. Johnson said the new use would eliminate blight and the improvements would enhance the area.
Architect Gregory Waga said the windows now covered with corrugated plastic would be filled in with masonry having a colored veneer. The South Avenue building will be cleaned and restored to its original color. 

Other members praised the presentation that also included testimony from engineer Anthony Galleramo and planner Kevin O'Brien, who called self-storage "a much-needed service" in a city where 8,576 rental properties make up more than half of all households.

The facility will have normal office hours in addition to access to units by code from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Economic Director Carlos Sanchez thanked Lackland and his team and said he supports it 100 percent.

"It will definitely change that block," Sanchez said.

--Bernice

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Three Meetings Rolled Into One

Monday's agenda-fixing session, the regular meeting of Dec. 14 and the agenda-fixing session for the January 2016 reorganization will be combined into one session on Dec. 14, according to a notice today from City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh.

CORPORATION NOTICE
CITY OF PLAINFIELD


PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 2, SECTION 2:2-10(A) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD, 1971, A SPECIAL MEETING IS HEREBY CALLED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD AT 7 O’CLOCK P.M.ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2015 IN THE MUNICIPAL COURT-COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 325 WATCHUNG AVENUE, CITY OF PLAINFIELD.

THIS SPECIAL MEETING SHALL BE HELD IN PLACE OF THE DECEMBER 7, 2015 AGENDA FIXING SESSION AND THE DECEMBER 14, 2015 REGULAR MEETING.

CONSISTENT WITH THE OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT A PUBLIC NOTICE CONTAINING ALL MATTERS BEING CONSIDERED AT THE SPECIAL MEETING SHALL BE FORTHCOMING.  

BE FURTHER ADVISED THAT THE DECEMBER 21, 2015 AGENDA FIXING SESSION HAS ALSO BEEN RESCHEDULEDTO TAKE PLACE ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2015 AT 8:00 P.M. OR AS SOON THEREAFTER AS THE SPECIAL MEETING HAS CONCLUDED.  


BY ORDER OF THE PLAINFIELD
MUNICIPAL COUNCIL
BRIDGET B. RIVERS, PRESIDENT