Monday, February 22, 2016

Just the Facts, Ma'am

So this afternoon I was just drinking coffee and perusing Facebook posts when I came across a blog post so full of inaccuracies and hair-on-fire fear-mongering that I decided I had to respond with some facts.

The writer apparently did not check with anyone before tossing out this load of stuff. One target is Horizons at Plainfield, for which the writer could have checked with Regan Development Corporation regarding the so-called "basement apartments." The other target is the City of Plainfield, and officials in Inspections (908 753-3386) could have answered the general questions about renters, such as "So if there is a fire, how would a tenant escape?" All apartments must have a second means of egress, that is, another way out in case of fire or other emergencies.Illegal uses may be reported anonymously at the number above.

As for the deteriorating masonry being unsafe for tenants, there are no tenants in the basement.City officials might be interested in how the photos in the blog post came to be taken. Was someone trespassing?

The answer to "Whatever happened to the planned senior center?" Seniors did not want to be in the basement. It was a failed scheme from the beginning for the city to accept the space as a condo, and to use a large grant to fix it up for an unknown use.

As for other uses, the Robinson-Briggs administration made plans for the space which never came to fruition. One issue was the lack of separate entrances and exits to the city-owned portion of the building.

Perhaps the most troubling part of this post is the missed opportunity to offer help. Tenants' rights will become increasingly important as hundreds of new apartments are created. Tenants need to know both their rights and responsibilities. The Department of Community Affairs used to publish the "Truth in Renting" booklet in English and Spanish, but the last time I tried to buy copies I was informed that it is now only online. See the Spanish version here.

The Plainfield Municipal Code also has good information for tenants, such as the heating requirements. Some landlords play a cat-and-mouse game with tenants, turning heat off on weekends to save money and hoping tenants don't know the heating rules.

For all the uproar over blogs, surely a new blogger should aspire to high standards of accuracy, especially if one of the goals is to be of service to the community. I'm looking forward to a step up for this blog.


1 comment:

  1. Bernice,

    I wrote about the Tepper's project back in 2013--posts on May 30 and June 7, respectively. I personally toured the basement and took photos--it was a wasteland, as I reported:

    "My personal tour of the space showed an unfinished, junked-up mess in the basement of the Tepper's building, with some sheet-rocked areas, a great deal of discarded construction materials and furniture, rough, unfinished office space enclosed behind glass doors, locked bathrooms (a key was not provided to inspect the bathrooms) and a water fountain. If there were plumbing, electrical, and other inspections, they would not pass muster. The basement is simply not habitable--how could $459,000 result in an uninhabitable space?"

    If, since my visit two and a half years ago, the space has suddenly become illegal apartments, when did this happen? Who rented these apartments? The rental receipts would provide the answer. Unless, of course, this is all made up.