Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shiloh Community Forum Tonight

From the Shiloh Baptist Church calendar:

Shiloh Community Forum

When: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Where: Sanctuary

The church is located at 515 West Fourth Street. According to Dan, this forum is for mayoral and council candidates.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

LWV Posts Candidates' Bios, Responses

The Plainfield League of Women Voters is holding a forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on May 31 at Emerson Community School, 305 Emerson Ave. Candidates were asked to submit brief bios and responses to LWV questions. (At the forum, a moderator will also ask candidates to respond to written questions from the audience.)

See Candidate Bios and Responses to LWV Questions

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Image of Plainfield

A chance comment on Facebook led me to a web series filmed in Plainfield. In the genre known on IMDb as "hood" movies, it included drug dealing, gun violence, murder, jail, poverty and general social dysfunction.

I had two reactions (well, three) after seeing this production. It depicted Plainfield as a dangerous place, with crime part and parcel of the residents' lives, a shooting in a downtown alley, and a cameo appearance by one of Park & Seventh's prime disrupters - in other words, just the image that people say outsiders wrongly pin on the city. As a  Plainfielder since 1983, I was horrified.

Another reaction was to wonder how the series was filmed. Was it all freelance, without any city permissions or knowledge? I know nowadays practically anyone with a camera is their own auteur, but I remembered how "The Messenger," "Basket Case" and "Kinsey" all required approvals for use of city locales.

I will reserve my other reaction for a later date, but let's just say the series had an unexpected (to me) political coda.

Comments on YouTube showed the series had a lot of fans, and I guess overall it was no worse than some thriller filmed on the streets of New York City. It was just disconcerting to see someone "shot" just a few steps from a downtown bank I use, among other juxtapositions of the familiar with the unthinkable.

I know some will say it is not my place to say anything on this topic. It recalled to me a time when as a reporter I stopped at Clinton School on election day to get a comment on turnout, and a woman said, "What are you doing here?" There are divides and lines in the sand here. But I am a Plainfielder too, and this is just how I feel today.

--Bernice

Voter Numbers Down As Of May 1

The number of registered voters in Plainfield dropped by 864 from October 23 to May 1, with Democrats showing the greatest loss.

All the primary candidates for mayor or City Council are Democrats.

In contrast to a drop of 282 for Democrats, the small Conservative, Green and Libertarian parties all gained members since the 2016 general election.  The numbers of Republicans and unaffiliated voters, already puny compared to Democrats in Plainfield, saw further reductions.

The last day to register for the June 6 primary was May 16, so numbers may change in the Union County Election Board's next tally. Several groups held voter registration drives and City Clerk AJ Jalloh opened his office from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for registration on May 16.

Moving can affect one's eligibility to vote. See a FAQ on New Jersey voting rules for various circumstances, including moves. There is also a section on challengers and one on electioneering that voters should check. We have all heard stories of people trying to interfere with voters at the polls or going into the booth with a voter to "help" them. Be forewarned - know your rights!

It's probably too late for the primary, but before the Nov. 7 general election a person with a criminal conviction should follow ACLU guidelines for registering to vote.

After the Democratic primary, only one mayoral candidate, one Fourth Ward candidate and one choice for the unexpired Second & Third Ward at-large seat will have the party line on the November ballot. Independents who file on June 6 for any of those seats will also be on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

--Bernice

Monday, May 22, 2017

Two More Forums To Go

With everything else on my mind, I totally forgot about yesterday's candidates' forum.

If you missed it too, you can see at least the mayoral portion on Facebook. Three of the four candidates took part. I found myself yelling at the netbook over some non-factual items.

If I attend the other ones, I will have to take notes, mind my manners and never mind the whoppers that may crop up.

Dan reports that there will be a forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (May 25 23) at Shiloh Baptist Church, 515 West Fourth Street. I thought it was somewhat unusual to have a candidates' forum in a church, but while searching online I found there had been a mayoral candidates' forum  at Shiloh in 2009, when six people were competing for the line in the June primary. This year, it's a four-way race.

The Plainfield League of Women Voters will hold a candidates' forum on May 31 at Emerson School. The mayoral candidates will give statements and answer written questions from the audience between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. City Council candidates will do the same from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The primary is June 6. Winners will be on the November 7 general election ballot, along with any independent candidates who file on June 6.

As a reminder, here are the four slates with their slogans:

REGULAR DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION OF UNION COUNTY
Mayor, Four-year term: Adrian O. Mapp
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Joylette E. Mills-Ransome
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Steve Hockaday

DEMOCRATIC PARTY UNITY CANDIDATES
Mayor, Four-year term: Dr. Henrilynn Davis Ibezim
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Cameron E. Cox
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Elliott Simmons

DEMOCRATS OF PLAINFIELD 
Mayor, Four-year term: Bridget Rivers
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Alma Blanco
(no Fourth Ward candidate filed)


PLAINFIELD DEMOCRATS FOR CHANGE
Mayor, Four-year term: Tracey L. Brown
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Terri Briggs
(Second & Third Ward candidate filing was ruled invalid)


Please, No "Jake Brakes"

Day or night, trucks pull up to the traffic light at Park & Seventh with a loud stuttering roar that drowns out my radio. This noise is due to a form of braking that some drivers use. It's called "Jake braking" and is banned in some places, although the company that makes the mechanism has sued municipalities for putting up signs that link it to the racket.

I have mentioned it before, but it has become so frequent lately that it is beyond annoying. The most recent blast was at 1:30 a.m,

I know other people on major roads in Plainfield must be hearing that horrible noise. I have wished for police to ticket drivers for this excessive noise, although :it might be too hard to catch them in action. Hear an example here.

My building is set back 100 feet from the street and the corner is about another 100 feet. Anyone living at an intersection with a smaller setback must be even more affected by this noise. Have you heard it? What do you think would help?
.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stressed Out

A few too many recent challenges have just worn me out and impaired my ability to come up with blog posts.

Luckily for Plainfield, there are many more news sources than when the blog started in 2005. Jennifer Popper is doing an excellent job as the new editor of Tap into Plainfield and Timothy Priano has lots of information on his Queen City Pride website.

Every week, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp publishes a newsletter with events, updates and news about Plainfield, which residents can sign up for.through the city website at the "Stay Connected" link.  The website itself has City Council and land use board agendas, links to departments and divisions (including a roster of Recreation programs), and much more.

Most of the resources above are also on Facebook, and there is also a link to The Buzz In and Around Plainfield. As always, Dan publishes event notices and links to news articles on his blogs.

In my expanding menagerie of devices, laptop repairs took a month but something failed and another month is elapsing for more repairs. Meanwhile I am making do with the little netbook. I have to go back to PNC Bank for more help in setting up online banking on the iPhone and I am trying to learn how to operate a new tablet device. Even the Kindle demands attention for an update that so far I can't attain. It's harder for me to read small letters and numbers nowadays, which adds to the stress.

My measures to reduce stress have included getting some ylang ylang oil for an aromatherapy locket and fixing a little step counter to encourage more walking. Intrigued by a notice for a kora harp concert at the Plainfield Public Library, I looked up kora music and I must say it has a beautiful, calming sound. Hoping to make the May 30 concert by Sean Gaskell at 7 p.m. in the library. See more about the kora here.

The garden is also a stress reliever, except when landscapers denude it with weed whackers. We have a new landscaper who seems to be more attuned to gardens.

Love in a Mist
There is always something new coming up in the garden and this week it is a delicate flower called Love in a Mist, with blossoms in shades of blue surrounded by feathery foliage. So pretty!



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New ABC Board Organizes on May 31

A legal notice Tuesday heralds the organizational meeting of the new three-person Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

The meeting is 7 p.m. May 31 in City Hall Library and the two items of business are selecting a chairman and designating meeting dates.

Plainfield has about 38 places where liquor is dispensed, including social clubs, bars and restaurants and liquor stores. All the liquor license establishments are subject to review by the Police, Fire, Health and Inspections divisions. License holders must also meet state requirements before municipal approval. All licenses must be renewed annually and were formerly approved or denied by the seven-member City Council.

Earlier this year, the governing body approved a change to a three-member ABC board, as allowed by state law. In 2014, the change was blocked by then-Council President Bridget Rivers, who wanted the council to retain control. In 2015, she voted approval of a controversial night club which has since gone out of business.

This year, she joined in unanimous votes on two readings to pass the ordinance for the three-person board.

The three ABC board members were approved unanimously in April. Initial nominees have staggered terms. Successors will all have three-year terms. The ordinance also requires one of the three to be of the opposite political party. They are:

- James Perry, who cites extensive board service on his resume in addition to being the founding Chief Financial Officer of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, serving from 1996 to 2013. His board affiliations include 23 years with Union County College,and 28 years with King's Daughters Day School. He was former chair of the Plainfield Redevelopment Authority and a founding member of the Plainfield Business Development Corp. A Democrat, he is nominated for the initial three-year term.

- David Graves, a repairer with the State of New Jersey, having previous managerial and technical positions in entertainment and manufacturing. Though not noted on his resume, Graves is well-known for community activities as well. He is a Democrat and is nominated for the two-year term.

- Oscar Riba, who is now vice president of Two Sigma Investments, LLC but who gained knowledge of ABC regulations as owner/operator of a New York bar for a decade ending in 2012. According to the resolution, he is a Republican and is nominated for a one-year initial term.

License renewals are supposed to take place by June 30, but a few license holders miss the deadline every year. The board may also have to schedule hearings past the deadline in case of denials.

(I will not be able to attend the May 31 meeting, as it coincides with the League of Women Voters' Primary Candidates Forum at Emerson School, but will post a follow-up on the chairman and meeting schedule.) 

--Bernice

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Three Weeks To Primary, Please Curb Insults

I made the mistake yesterday of posting a response on my blog to something that Dan posted.

Dan does not post comments, so people brought their reactions over here. I held most of them, but I regret initially putting up one.

With three weeks to go, we are now in the ugly phase of primary campaigning. Call me a tender blossom, but even after 30 years I feel very queasy when the stink bombs are tossed just before an election.

I have seen some extreme tricks in the past. One year, someone paid a quarter to open a newspaper box in front of City Hall, then inserted a scurrilous flyer in each of the newspapers inside. Anyone who legitimately bought a paper saw the flyer. It caused much gossip and also made it seem that the newspaper company was complicit.

Another very bad incident occurred when a local politician took out an ad in the daily newspaper warning of a huge tax increase. A woman who came to a City Council meeting to complain became so distraught that she collapsed and later died. The projected increase later proved to be falsely exaggerated.

I hope people will stick to the issues and not make personal attacks or false claims between now and June 6. Comments along those lines will not be posted. If you agree or disagree with Dan, you can send him your questions or suggestions at plaindan@gmail.com

The primary race will be over soon and so will the decision on chairman of the Democratic City Committee. We may then be free to enjoy the summer before people take up the cudgels for the Nov. 7 general election and school board contest (yes, it was moved from April to November, then back to April and once again back to November).

--Bernice

Monday, May 15, 2017

Be Ready To Vote on June 6!

Tuesday, May 16 is the last day to register for the June 6 primary!


Make sure you are registered. If you haven't voted for a while or have changed your address, you need to check your status. The City Clerk's office in City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave. will be open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday for voter registration.

See unioncountyvotes.com for more information.

This primary is very important! Four Democrats want your vote for a four-year mayoral term, One will go on the ballot for the November 7 general election. See mayoral and City Council candidates at the NAACP forum on May 21 or the LWV forum on May 31.

People have died for your right to vote - don't waste it! Take part! We all see what happens when a large number of voters fail to exercise their franchise. Don't let it happen here.

--Bernice

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Mother's Day Remembrance

Sometimes when feminists gathered in the 1980s, a meeting would start with naming. A woman would say her own name, then name her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so on, Some could go back five generations, but after I said, "I am Bernice, daughter of Jean," I was pretty much out of luck.

My mother was only 9 when her mother died, one of millions who did not survive the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Her father married another woman and gave his own four children to a childless relative to raise. As the oldest, my mother was expected to do household chores, The youngest child was only nine months old and knew no other home, but my mother was bitter over her losses for the rest of her life.

She escaped from the small coal-mining town in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania by running away to Philadelphia as a young woman. Much later, she returned as a wife and mother. Her baby sister grew up in the house and in turn took care of the woman who raised her. She married and lived in the same house for the rest of her life. We children loved our summer visits to that house after my mother and her sister reunited.

Maybe because she was taken in as a baby and knew no past life, Aunt Kay was very nurturing, in contrast to my mother's toughness. While my mother tossed my notebooks and artwork when housecleaning, my aunt subscribed to my high school newspaper as a gesture of support for my writing.

Although they enjoyed telling tales about the neighbors and mimicking them, the sisters had little to say about their own family history. In the 1940s and '50s, children went out to play and did not inquire about family secrets. I did know they had recreated themselves, Catherine becoming Kay and Mary Teresa becoming Jean.

My mother saw a parallel in her four children to her siblings. As the oldest, like her, I was expected to do everything right. My sister Jane equated to my mother's less capable sister Helen and got a dollar for every "A" on her report card. My brother Robert and my mother's brother John both escaped the family, Robert joining the Navy and John moving to California, both dying early. My sister Ellen and Aunt Kay were the babies, enough said.

Motherless, growing up in forbearance in a relative's household, my mother developed a cynicism and a sarcastic attitude as an adult. She was a demon shopper, intimidating salesladies into giving her discounts and defying the rules when rationing was in effect. Near the end of her life, when asked in a hospital if she knew where she was, she snapped, "Yeah, Folsom Prison!"

She did her best for the four of us, despite her hard childhood. I think she enjoyed having grandchildren more than raising the lot of us. My son and daughter revere her memory. I also fondly remember Aunt Kay for her encouragement and have to respect Great-Aunt Ellen for raising my mother and her siblings.

On Mothers' Day 2017, let us remember and pay respect to all who raise and nurture children.









Friday, May 12, 2017

Ramadan Starts This Month

While some Plainfielders will be launching the picnic and grilling season at the end of May, observant Muslims will start a month-long period of fasting.

Ramadan coincides with the Memorial Day weekend in 2017. The date is based on a lunar calendar, not the solar one in general use in United States.

Ramadan begins on the evening of May 26 or as soon as an imam sights the crescent moon, and ends a month later with large gatherings to mark Eid ul-Fitr, Click the links for more information.

--Bernice

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Update On PMUA Concerns

Lack of a particular designation for the Rock Avenue transfer station should not affect the PMUA's outside contracts, CFO Duane Young said Tuesday.

Young confirmed that the authority does not have a Class C designation to accept grass clippings, but said most of its contracts with other municipalities are for brush and debris that is rated as Class B.

The issue came up at Monday's City Council meeting when Councilwoman Diane Toliver questioned City Administrator Rick Smiley. She said a landscaper told her the PMUA was not accepting grass clippings. When told grass should be cut and the clippings left, she said they would "end up in the street."

Oren K. Dabney, director of the Department of Public Works & Urban Development, said the city may be able to provide bags for the clippings.

Although the city and the authority are separate entities, Councilman Cory Storch commented that he was glad that the city was looking for a solution.

(Having covered the PMUA since its inception, my concern was over the authority's possible loss of revenues from outside contracts with nearby communities, a longtime goal that was only realized in recent years. I am glad to report that it will not affect the contracts.)

The council will also seek a joint meeting with the PMUA to discuss mutual concerns. Click to see a report on the May 2016 joint  City Council/PMUA meeting.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

City Clerk's Office Extends Hours on May 16

The last day to register to vote in the June 6 primary will be a long day for the City Clerk's office. To accommodate last-minute registrants, the office will be open on May 16 from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh's office is on the first floor of City Hall at 515 Watchung Avenue. You can get a voter registration form or absentee ballot from the city website, just make sure you fill it out and submit it by the deadline.

Another great resource for voters is Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi's "Union County Votes" page with many useful links.

The June 6 primary is just four weeks away, so inform yourself on the candidates. Locally, candidates for mayor and City Council are on the ballot. There is a race for governor and also some freeholder seats to fill, as well as 68 Democratic City Committee seats.

Regarding the latter, one voting district (Ward 2, District 6) ended up with no one on the ballot. If you live in the 2-6, you can write in Peter Price if you wish. Or Jerry Green, if you wish. Hey, just trying to be nonpartisan even though both are Democrats. You can look up the backstory on the blog.
Here's my candidate for official flower of the campaign season. It's called "Honesty."

--Bernice

See the CBAC Report

The 2017 Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee report
is online. Click the link to view.

Toliver, Rivers Denounce Budget

I sat up last night for hours pondering the City Council meeting and finally went to bed without posting. Here's my attempt to report on it:

The 2017 budget passed 5-2, with Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver voting "no." Each one later made harsh comments, Rivers saying the budget was full of "slush" and "fluff." She objected to a $10,000 reserve item in the $83.4 million budget, saying it should "go toward the seniors." Toliver railed against an $11,000 raise "someone" was getting, also saying it should go to the seniors.

The senior issue was about a shift in responsibilities. City Administrator Rick Smiley explained that the administration made a "change in reporting," but Toliver and Rivers drilled away at who reported to whom at the Senior Center. Although rules forbid naming personnel in discussing the budget, the comments made it obvious that the titles involved were Superintendent of Recreation and Senior Center Director. Smiley told Toliver it was the administration's decision, but she retorted, "I'll speak to you after the meeting."

Later, two members of the Senior Center spoke in public comment. Mafalda James said programs were not better over the past six to eight months, describing delays in getting supplies for millinery and jewelry-making. She said members had been contributing toward the cost of supplies, but were told not to do so any more. The senior lunch program declined from 100 per day to 60, she said, calling other changes in the program "a smack in the face for all of us" and "unconscionable."

"Someone said, 'We know what you need.' You don't know what we need - don't try it," she said.

Senior Center member Carolyn Johnson said she did not understand the "restructuring" of the program.

"It's been in existence a long time," she said. "How come we need overseers?"

Toliver next pivoted to why landscapers can't take grass clippings to the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority. Public Works Director Oren K. Dabney said the PMUA is not a "Class C" facility that can take vegetative waste.

(I looked on the PMUA website for more information on whether vegetative waste can be accepted at the Rock  Avenue transfer station/Plainfield Environmental Resource Center and I am hoping to get to the 6 p.m. meeting tonight to ask whether the NJDEP still rates the facility as Class C. The Authority in recent years has contracted with other municipalities to accept vegetative waste and could lose a revenue stream if its status has changed.)

Toliver's inquiry reminded council members that they have not held a joint meeting with the PMUA for a while, and they will now look into scheduling one.

Although Rivers took up a lot of time with accusations such as "money hidden in pockets everywhere," she said "I am not up here campaigning."

Monday's council meeting was the last before the June 6 primary, where Rivers is one of four mayoral candidates. Two council seats are also on the ballot. At least two candidate forums have been announced (NAACP on May 21, League of Women Voters on May 31) at which voters can weigh the options.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Do Plainfield Avenue Sites Need Redevelopment?

click to enlarge
A large lot formerly used by Shiloh Baptist Church for parking, along with other properties on the next block south, will be studied for redevelopment, if the City Council adopts a resolution Monday directing the Planning Board to do so.

The large single lot has frontages on Plainfield Avenue, South Second Street and West Third Street. It is directly across Plainfield Avenue from Hannah Atkins Playground. The other area to be investigated fronts on Plainfield Avenue, with three lots facing West Third and three others opening onto West Fourth. In all, 10 lots comprise the proposed investigation area.
Correction: Properties on the south west corner of Plainfield Avenue and West Fourth are also included.  


From the agenda packet:
Background information on the resolution

BACKGROUND
Block 111, lot 18.01 has existed as a partially completed parking lot for Shiloh Baptist Church since 2005 as part of a Zoning Board of Adjustment use variance decision requiring the church to purchase other surrounding lots for additional parking. Now that the church has purchased and received approval for parking lot improvements on those lots, the city is encouraging the redevelopment of this property, as well as adjacent properties to the south along Plainfield Avenue for redevelopment. This resolution directs the Planning Board to undertake the research necessary to make a determination, to conduct a public hearing, and to forward their recommendation to Council.

FISCAL IMPACT
All costs associated with this redevelopment- both the study and the plan process- will be charged to the designated redeveloper upon City Council designation. 

 As followers of redevelopment know, the process involves both the governing body and the Planning Board through all steps. It is a long and thorough process, moving from an investigation to a possible declaration that a site is in need of redevelopment, and then to a redevelopment plan. The public has opportunities to speak at each juncture.

The best way for interested parties to follow the action is to have representatives, maybe from a block or neighborhood association, monitor the steps and report back to the group. Often I am the only member of the public at some of these land use meetings, but they are open to all.

In 2008, redevelopment projects overflowed my big red folder, but not all came to fruition. Since then, Plainfield's Transit Village designation and rezoning for transit-oriented development has helped to attract new developers, and there is talk of revisiting the roster of past proposals.

Plainfield is changing, and residents need to gather information and weigh in on redevelopment as it occurs.

Tonight's regular City Council meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. See the full agenda here.
(As Dan has mentioned, the 2017 Budget is also on this agenda for passage.)


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Having Computer Troubles

The laptop is not working. We are left with just the wee netbook. We just had the laptop repaired, so we will ask them for some help.

Is  Mercury still in retrograde???




Friday, May 5, 2017

Woodland/Cook School Saga Goes Way Back

As Dan wrote on his blog, the Planning Board briefly discussed the proposed new Woodland School Thursday. Chairman Ron Scott Bey said no one appeared for the Capital Project Review.  The applicant was listed as New Jersey Schools Development Authority and the subject was "demolition of the Woodland Elementary School and the construction of a new elementary school with site improvements."

Plaintalker has had occasional posts on the subject for a while. See this 2014 post on Woodland School with links to other information. I used to report on school board meetings in addition to land use and municipal government, but can no longer do it.

In 2009, Woodland was only due for renovations, as mentioned in this post on Steve Gallon III's first meeting. The post provoked this reaction from our Assemblyman.

The NJSDA page on school projects for Plainfield still lists repairs for Woodland, but there is also a link for "new school" that says "Construct new K-5 elementary school on district site for 756 students to replace the existing Woodland ES and Cook ES, the existing Woodland ES will be demolished upon completion of the new school while Cook ES will be used for district"

Interested residents can check the NJSDA link for updates in addition to inquiring at school board meetings. Scott Bey mentioned that the Planning Board needs a long-range facilities plan from the district.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Image result for mexican national colors
Happy
Cinco de Mayo
to all our
friends of 
Mexican heritage!

Redevelopment Plan Includes A Whole Downtown Block

The Planning Board painstakingly reviewed a draft redevelopment plan for Block 247 Thursday and members hope to have it to the City Council for approval in June.

While parts of the block were previously discussed for redevelopment, the plan includes the entire 11-lot block bounded by Madison Avenue, West Front Street, Central Avenue and West Second Street.

It currently includes a large mixed-use building on Madison Avenue.

West Front Street has businesses with apartments upstairs and one very large commercial building at the Central Avenue side.

A rather dilapidated city parking lot opens on both the West Front Street and West Second Street sides.

Rather than try to report on the somewhat tedious page-by-page  review which included fixing typos and spelling errors (supercede? supersede!), I am offering links to past stories on the block. The possibility of a brew pub was mentioned Thursday, as it was in December 2013, and that post includes a definition.

August 2016 - City Block Attracts Developers

January 2016 - Is Downtown Block In Need of Redevelopment?

July 2014 - HAP-py, The Council Rendition

February 2014 - HAP Wants City Lots, Council to Discuss

December 2013 - Landmark Eyes Lot 9 For New Project

November 2013 - City Land Sought for Development

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Zoners Approve PNC Bank Project

The historic Sutphen House will have a makeover and PNC Bank customers will drive up to new ATMs when a project approved Wednesday is complete.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment approved conversion of three lots on the large parking lot behind the Park Avenue bank building into two lots, one for future development and the other for the ATMs and Sutphen House. The ornate bank, with classic architectural features, will be shuttered and operations will shift to a new office nearby on West Front Street.

PNC representatives first had to obtain a "certificate of appropriateness" from the Historic Preservation Commission before presenting the application to the Zoning Board. HPC Chairman Bill Michelson spoke to the board Wednesday, describing that process. He explained that because the Sutphen House was a locally designated landmark, the proposed new lot 3.01 containing it needed HPC review, including the new ATMs.

Michelson said the application presented an "opportunity to get some attention" for the pre-Civil War building. It will be painted, receive new carriage lights and landscaping and gain other amenities. The new lot will also have brick pavers, four shade trees, 75 shrubs and 63 perennials and ornamental grasses.

Attorney Diane Hickey of Riker Danzig, engineer David Witkowsky and planner Keenan Hughes presented the application. Zoning Board members asked whether pedestrians could use the ATMs, but were told the devices were meant to replace drive-up windows at the bank building that will be closed. There will be a walk-up ATM at the new West Front Street bank office, Hickey said.

A couple of board members grumbled that the drive-up ATMs went against the goal of having a pedestrian-friendly downtown, but Hughes pointed out that surrounding uses include a parking garage and a PSE&G substation, less likely to attract walkers than downtown streets with stores.

Security was another concern. Hickey said the bank will have security measures, but does not discuss such things publicly. Bank representatives will consult with Plainfield police on specific strategies for that location..
The board also discussed signage to direct drivers to the new ATMs on West Second Street. Witkowsky showed a "perspective" sign indicating what drivers will see as they approach. The bank team agreed to alter the placement of greenery for better visibility, and also to install a noisy "rumble strip" to alert passersby to the presence of cars exiting the lot.

Hickey and others first met with the HPC inconclusively on March 29 and canceled a planned appearance at the April 5 Zoning Board meeting as a result. Having received .HPC approval on April 26, Hickey and her expert witnesses were ready for Wednesday's Zoning Board meeting.

--Bernice

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Price Launches Write-in Campaign

Within its four wards, Plainfield has 34 voting districts. On alternate years, Republicans or Democrats choose male and female representatives for two-year terms serving in these most grass-roots of all elected offices. This year, it's the Democrats' turn to fill those 68 seats.

As some may recall, the male seat in Ward 2, District 6 was the subject of a controversy. Petitions were signed for Peter Price, but then petitions for Jerry Green were filed. Price said he was asked by  local Democratic chairman Adrian Mapp to step aside in favor of Green.

Green, the District 22 Assemblyman and chairman of the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County, then withdrew for whatever reason, leaving no one on the ballot for the 2-6 committee seat.

I wrote a commentary on the 2-6 and today Peter Price alluded to it in announcing a write-in campaign for the committee seat:



"In regards to your article of April 18, Commentary on 2-6, I wanted to provide and answer to your question "What is the status of the original filer now?" Answer - I am running as a write-in candidate on June 6, and welcome the support of my neighbors and friends in the 2-6. I along with my surrogates will be visiting homes in the 2-6 with instructions on how to cast their vote for me. Folks should also check their sample ballot for instructions on how to make a personal choice. If they still have questions on Primary Day, June 6, they should ask assistance from the District Election Board Worker before entering the voting booth."

CBAC: Keep Us All Year

Among takeaways from the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee report Monday, the city is figuratively rifling the sofa cushions for money (finding unspent bond ordinance balances) to fund long-desired road repairs, supporting development deals that amplify tax income and using other people's money (aka grants) to get stuff done.

CBAC Chairman Sean McKenna put it much more formally, stating the end result as "tremendous results in stabilizing and managing" the city's finances.

The full report will soon be online at the city's website. Meanwhile, CBAC findings included a recommendation that the committee should be formed early and serve all year in an advisory capacity.

The committee made specific recommendations for each of the city's three departments. For Administration & Finance, CBAC urged full implementation of Mitchell Humphrey, a software system that improves operations, and suggested using upcoming union negotiations to seek more control over long-term pension costs and sick-pay liability.

For Public Works & Urban Development, CBAC recommended completion of a road improvement program, updates to city recreation facilities and continued improvement in Parks & Recreation management.

Public Affairs & Safety covers the 24/7 Police and Fire divisions, which are prone to overtime costs. CBAC hailed the proposed hiring of twelve additional recruits for each division as a way to rein in overtime costs, noting the two divisions account for about 60 percent of city expenditures.

Economic Development is not a department, it is the job of the Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development. Besides having the most cumbersome title in the cabinet, Carlos Sanchez inherited the challenge of changing the city's reputation with developers. CBAC's comment was to "continue with excellent management" which has resulted in over $230,000,000 in active development projects.

Plaintalker will put up a link to the full report once it is up on the city website.

The City Council's Finance Committee will meet this week to discuss possible amendments to the 2017 budget. There will be a reserved space on the May 8 agenda for passage of the budget if no amendments are needed. If there are any amendments, they will have to be published in a legal notice and final passage will then take place at a special meeting.

A special member of the audience was Daionna Taylor, a nominee for the Plainfield Youth Commission, which is in the process of being reactivated. Mayoral nominations for Taylor and Khahriyyah Muhammad will be up for a vote on May 8. Taylor is already involved in public service as a cadet for the Plainfield Rescue Squad.

So far, the commission has two adult members as required, Nancy Jordan and Kelly Shaw. In addition to the two mayoral nominees, the commission can have two City Council members and nine more young people. See a link to Boards & Commission and an application form here.

The first members of the Youth Commission in 2006 were four members of the same family. When their terms expired no new members were appointed.

The regular City Council meeting is 8 p.m. Monday, May 8 at Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Council Meets on May Day


Monday is May Day! Do your Maypole dancing, marching for workers' and immigrants' rights and anti-war demonstrations early, so you can come to the City Council meeting.

A May Basket for you!
Among items of interest at the council meeting, the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee will present recommendations for the 2017 municipal budget,

The agenda-fixing session starts at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. (according to the first page - inside pages list Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. as the address). The regular meeting, at which agenda items will be voted on, is 8 p.m. May 8 in Municipal Court.

I was pleased to see that two young people, Daionna Taylor and Khahriyyah Muhammad, have applied to serve on the Plainfield Youth Commission. There are two youth commissions established when Linda Carter was on the City Council, but they have lacked members for a long time. The city needs a youth perspective, so we wish them the best and hope they get some others to join.

There are numerous applications for events, late Spring through Fall, promising fun and education for all.

Under Administration & Finance, one item concerns a proposed feasibility study "for the preservation and rehabilitation of the historic Firehouse No. 4.

The Department of Public Works & Urban Development section includes resolutions for roadwork, a contractor for the long-awaited skate park on Madison Avenue, continuation of the Sign & Facade Program, three resolutions to accept grants for hazardous discharge remediation, a new redevelopment investigation in the West End and a resolution regarding possible redevelopment of the Enterprise Zone.

See the entire agenda here.

Happy May Eve!

Happy May Eve
to all our 
Pagan friends!

Primary Forums Coming in May

The Plainfield League of Women Voters usually holds a forum before the November general election, but this year will also hold one in advance of the June 6 primary.

The date will be Wednesday, May 31, at Emerson School, 305 Emerson Ave. There are four mayoral candidates and six City Council candidates. Plans call for the mayoral segment to run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with the council candidates following from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The nonpartisan forum is conducted by an out-of-town LWV-trained moderator and usually has opening statements, written questions collected from the audience and presented by the moderator, followed by closing statements. The Plainfield LWV also prepares candidate information sheets. Each candidate is asked to submit brief background information, along with answers to three questions from the Plainfield LWV. The candidate sheets will be available at the forum and will be posted online at the Plainfield LWV website.

The website will also be updated with the information above regarding the forum location and format.

The Plainfield Area NAACP has also announced a forum on May 21 on its website. The forum will be held at 5 p.m. at the Plainfield Elks, 1357 W. Third St. Check the website (at NAACP link above) for any updates.

Once again, here is the roster of candidates, with their slogans:

REGULAR DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION OF UNION COUNTY
Mayor, Four-year term: Adrian O. Mapp
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Joylette E. Mills-Ransome
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Steve Hockaday

DEMOCRATIC PARTY UNITY CANDIDATES
Mayor, Four-year term: Dr. Henrilynn Davis Ibezim
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Cameron E. Cox
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Elliott Simmons

DEMOCRATS OF PLAINFIELD
Mayor, Four-year term: Bridget Rivers
City Council, Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Alma Blanco
(no Fourth Ward candidate filed)

PLAINFIELD DEMOCRATS FOR CHANGE
Mayor, Four-year term: Tracey L. Brown
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Terri Briggs
(Second & Third Ward candidate filing was ruled invalid)

No Republicans filed for the primary.

Tuesday, May 16 is the last day to register to vote in the primary and Tuesday, May 30 is the last day to apply by mail for a Mail-In Ballot for the Primary Election, according to Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi.


The Union County Board of Elections publishes updated affiliation statistics in May. As of April 3, 14,754 of Plainfield's 23,643 registered voters were Democrats. The Second & Third Wards had a total of 8,570 and the Fourth Ward had 2,641.  To check in May, click UC Affiliation Statistics and scroll down to page 14 for Plainfield.

--Bernice

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Taking A Day Off


No blog post today, maybe I will catch up tomorrow.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Downtown Plainfield Alliance Cleans Up

A note from Ron Johnson of the Downtown Plainfield Alliance:

 I just wanted to let you know that Downtown Plainfield Alliance's first cleanup event was very successful! On Saturday we got around 25 people to come out and help clean up the Train Station area. We also planted ornamental grasses on Roosevelt Avenue and E. 3rd Street.

This was a team effort between the Downtown Plainfield Alliance, PMUA, City of Plainfield DPW, Community Development Office, Planning Office, Queen City Pride, the Plainfield Seventh Day Adventist Church, The Great Swamp Nursery and Angels of Action. Also, all the plants were paid for directly from donations. We actually doubled our donation goal in less than 4 days on GoFundMe. We thank everyone who donated tremendously! We all united together, at one point in the rain, and did Plainfield's part for Earth Day this year. We hope to keep the beautification efforts going by starting another GoFundMe soon.

He sent along some photos:

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See more about the Downtown Plainfield Alliance

Arbor Day At The YMCA Today

In my travels this week, I noticed these beautiful plants outside the YMCA.
It turns out they are harbingers of an Arbor Day planting today (Friday, April 28) at 11 a.m. The large planting beds were created several weeks ago. Can't wait to see the finished project! Public Works and the Shade Tree Commission always put together a very nice Arbor Day program. Stop by if you are able.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Coriell Mansion Fate Raised At HPC Meeting

In an "after-the-fact" application Tuesday, the Historic Preservation Commission attempted a probe of changes to the Coriell Mansion, but after some testy exchanges decided to try again in May.

The application listed the owner as "Joshwa Money School. LLC" and the items at issue included front double wooden doors, hanging light fixtures on the porch, removal of second story French doors and outdoor floodlights.

Jon Steingraber, who posted a video about the mansion he bought four years ago for $85,000, told the commissioners he replaced the doors after several break-ins, and gave his rationales for the other items. The discussion quickly became contentious, with Steingraber insisting he gave proper notice of the meeting to neighbors, though some in the audience said they never got notice.

HPC Chairman Bill Michelson asked Steingraber about rumors that he intends to lease the mansion for some sort of rooming or boarding house and said, "A great many people in the neighborhood are very unhappy with you."

Steingraber said the lease was for single-family use, but Michelson said, "We have been concerned that the tenant is going to move a bunch of people in there."

Michelson said the city will "seek an injunction" if so.

The mansion at 957 Central Avenue is said to be the largest residence in Plainfield. In the video, Steingraber says it has 26 rooms, including 10 bedrooms and 10 baths. As mentioned in the link, it was once on the way to becoming a bed and breakfast before Steingraber acquired it. On Tuesday, he said he had spent $500,000 on the house already.

Commissioners gave Steingraber advice on correcting the work he did without consulting the HPC, but in public comment resident Rowand Clark returned to the issue of the mansion's future. Steingraber said he didn't want a new tenant to do anything against the law, but also made some off-topic comments such as saying he had been in three relationships but was now getting married. Although the discussion had mellowed a bit as commissioners gave helpful advice, Michelson said there was probably no action to be taken that night.

Steingraber soon swung back to defensiveness, saying it was a "gossipy neighborhood" where someone alleged the mansion would become "a whorehouse."

Commissioner Larry Quirk told Steingraber to "tell the truth," but he replied, "I have so many haters."

He said he was approached by the unnamed company and added, "At the end of the day, I don't have a choice."

Quirk called him a speculator and a flipper before the commission voted to carry the application to the May meeting.

--Bernice

HPC Clears Plan For Pre-Civil War Building

PNC Bank and the Historic Preservation Commission agreed Tuesday on what must be done to a pre-Civil War structure known as Sutphen House to gain a "certificate of appropriateness."

Among its duties, the commission advises the Planning and Zoning boards on applications involving historic sites.

The company wants to subdivide a parking lot behind the bank, but was subject to HPC review for the portion containing the historic building and two proposed ATMs.. The subdivision application itself will be heard by the Zoning Board of Adjustment on May 3.

The small building will be re-painted white, with "PNC Blue" shutters. A damaged stoop will be repaired and brick pavers matching the adjacent streetscape will be installed, along with two carriage lights. If PSE&G allows, a modern "cobra" street lamp will be replaced with a decorative one to match those on the Park Madison complex across West Second Street. The commission had wanted the ATMs to look historic, but were told the proposed canopies cannot be fabricated because they would not withstand high wind.

It was the company's second session with the HPC. A March meeting was inconclusive and the company rescheduled its Zoning Board date from April to May in order to meet again with the commission.

As noted in Plaintalker's previous post (at the link above), the bank plans to vacate its ornate building at Park & Second and relocate the branch to West Front Street on the Park Madison block. The proposed subdivision would merge three lots into two, one for the Sutphen House and the ATMS and the other for an undisclosed development. The bank building and several lots at the rear had been the proposed Landmark Developers site for 148 residential units and commercial space, but the "West Second Street Commons Urban Renewal" plan dating back to 2010 has apparently expired.

--Bernice

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Sign of Past Times

After last night's long Historic Preservation Commission meeting, I went off on a tangent regarding a sign I saw on the Titsworth-Sutphen House, the pre-Civil War structure on the PNC parking lot off West Second Street. In public comment during the hearing on the bank's plans to subdivide the parking lot, I asked about disposition of the sign. At first the bank people drew a blank, but the project manager called up an image on his smartphone and saw it.

Here's how it looked before apparently being vandalized. I looked online for Brunson S. McCutchen and found out his sister Margaret had donated her residence in North Plainfield to be a home for the elderly. Brunson donated $10,000 toward the cause, a large amount in those days. See a history of "The McCutchen." 

Brunson S. McCutchen was educated at Princeton University and lived in Princeton. He was an engineer and held several patents, one for a washing machine. His office at 209 West Front Street was for his work as an investment dealer, according to a 1967 city directory.
Sign is loose, door boarded up.
Can this sign be saved?

A fragment from the 1967 city directory

INVESTMENT SECURITIES
DEALERS
 FAMILY INVESTORS COMPANY, 266 North av cor Martine (Fanwood), Tel 322-1800 Hammond Wm J 209 W 2d Investors Diversified Services Inc 120 W 7th McCutchen Brunson S 209 W 2d Mergott Rappa & Co Inc 240 W Front

(I will be doing a blog post later on the meeting, which HPC members called the longest one ever. )

--Bernice

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Residents React to Muhlenberg Plan

After the Planning Board methodically reviewed the updated Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan Monday, residents let loose with their fears and feelings about the 10-acre former hospital site's future.

Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey emphasized the fact that many steps remain before anything rises on the site, but in public comment resident Rowand Clark launched into a diatribe against group homes, especially subsidized ones for veterans.

"Plainfield is inundated by homes for persons who are incapable of independent living," Clark said, claiming there are currently 44 such homes now, mostly tax-exempt. He said "50 years of wars" are the reason why there is "no shortage of veterans" for whom landlords can get $3,000 a month in VA and HUD money. Clark differentiated between a vet wounded in action and one with minimal service but having alcohol or drug abuse or "mental problems."

"Is that what we want for Plainfield?" he asked.

Clark described a process that he said would invite an "endless stream of homeless veterans" and was followed by Robin Bright, who insisted "vets with PTSD" were anticipated for the redevelopment site.

Scott Bey rejected the notion as having "no hard relationship to the plan that was written."

Bright, perhaps the most outspoken challenger to redevelopment of the Muhlenberg site, earlier probed the proposed number of residential units, which Scott Bey said was 120 market rate apartments.

"Do you have a developer?" she asked.

Scott Bey said the owner has the right to say whether there is a developer. Plainfield Economic Development Director Carlos Sanchez said the property is under contract, but there are a "multitude of conditions" to be worked out before approvals.

Other concerns Monday  included placement of driveways to avoid opening onto Hillside Avenue, environmental remediation, preservation of historic medical implements left at the site, how development would affect property values in the neighborhood, whether Planned Parenthood might locate there in light of the city's pre-natal and HIV issues and how to save an auditorium still inside the shuttered hospital. Board members and residents also corrected typos and unclear language in the redevelopment plan.

Historian Nancy Piwowar suggested establishing a medical museum on the site, noting Philadelphia's Mutter Museum draws 130,000 visitors a year.

Scott Bey said the public will have a chance to comment when the City Council holds a hearing on the Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan.

The redevelopment process has many steps, starting with an "in need of redevelopment" study which may eventually lead to establishing a plan. The Planning Board and governing body work in tandem through the steps. After a relatively fallow period, the city now has dozens of projects in various stages of approvals. See the highly detailed final redevelopment plan for the largest development so far, a 212-unit, $50 million development on South Avenue that is now under construction.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom Hashoah
A time to remember
the 6 million Jews
who perished

How Did Candidates Do The Last Time?

Five of the June 6 primary candidates ran for office previously within the past four years. So how did they do the last time? Let's take a look.

Among the mayoral candidates, then-Councilman Adrian O. Mapp ran in the 2013 primary for a four-year mayoral term. He won with 2,793 votes over incumbent Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who received 1,756 votes. Preceding the primary on May 17, the Union County Board of Elections noted 12,617 registered Democrats eligible to vote. Mapp faced unaffiliated candidates Mustapha Muhammad and D. Scott Belin and Republican Sandy Spector in the November 2013 general election, receiving 5,234 votes to 1,061 for Muhammad, 765 for Spector and 392 for Belin. He took office on Jan.1, 2014.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Bridget Rivers is running for mayor. In 2013, she was unopposed in the June Democratic primary and received 384 votes of a possible 2,346 ward total as of May 17, 2013. She received 806 votes in the general election, defeating Republican Barbara Johnson, who had 133 votes.

Former Citywide at-large Councilwoman Tracey Brown is running for mayor. In 2016, she sought re-election to the Citywide at-large seat but lost the June Democratic primary to Councilwoman Rebecca Williams in a 2,993 to 3,127 vote. Williams went on to run unopposed in the general election, receiving 11,224 votes. She took office as the Citywide at-large representative on Jan.1, having vacated her former Second & Third Wards at-large seat.

(The fourth mayoral candidate, Dr. Henrilynn Davis Ibezim, has not previously run for office, but according to his Facebook page ran for governor of Nigeria's Imo State in 2015.)

Among City Council candidates, Alma Blanco was Brown's Third Ward running mate in 2016 but lost the Democratic primary to Charles McRae with 718 votes to his 1,016. The total number of registered Democrats in the Third Ward before the June 2016 primary was 3,785. This year, Blanco is running for the unexpired Second & Third Ward at-large seat vacated by Williams and is running with Rivers.

Steve G. Hockaday ran in the June 2015 Democratic primary for the First & Fourth Ward at-large City Council seat. He lost, 522-548, to Barry N. Goode. The total number of registered Democrats in the First and Fourth Wards for 2015 was 5,278. In the November 2015 general election, Goode defeated unaffiliated candidate Norman Ortega, 1,072 to 320, and took office on Jan. 1, 2016. This year, Hockaday faces primary challenges from Elliott Simmons, who served as the Fourth Ward councilman several years ago, and from first-time candidate Terri Briggs.

Here are the local slates with slogans:

REGULAR DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION OF UNION COUNTY
Mayor, Four-year term: Adrian O. Mapp
Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Joylette E. Mills-Ransome
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Steve Hockaday

DEMOCRATIC PARTY UNITY CANDIDATES
Mayor, Four-year term: Dr. Henrilynn Davis Ibezim
Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Cameron E. Cox
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Elliott Simmons

DEMOCRATS OF PLAINFIELD 
Mayor, Four-year term: Bridget Rivers
Second & Third Wards Unexpired Term: Alma Blanco

PLAINFIELD DEMOCRATS FOR CHANGE
Mayor, Four-year term: Tracey L. Brown
Fourth Ward, Four-year term: Terri Briggs

--Bernice

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A New Chapter for the Arts?

In the early 1980s, it was not uncommon for New York Times art critic Vivien Raynor to travel to Plainfield for an exhibit at Tweed Gallery, an ambitious enterprise of artists Kim Blackburn and Maria Mijares.

In this 1983 review, Raynor also delves into a controversial (and ultimately failed) plan to move the gallery from its Front Street location to the main train station building on North Avenue. Its final location before disbanding was a second-story space on Watchung Avenue.

My daughter, her roommate and my future son-in-law were all involved in Tweed Gallery. It was exciting when a new show opened, but behind the scenes there was the ongoing challenge to raise money, schedule gallery sitters, garner publicity and broaden support from the community.

My entry into local reporting began with art reviews in Plainfield Today, a weekly newspaper created by Jan and Henry Johnson. It had offices on North Avenue in two storefronts, one of which later became an art gallery. I think it was the same location as the pop-up gallery at 144 North Avenue that just opened Friday and will continue through May 19.
Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and indoor
Another new gallery is Obras Art Gallery at 107 Park Avenue, a venture of developer Mario Camino.

These are all good signs for Plainfield's cultural life.

Through all the changes, Swain Galleries has been a constant, now at Watchung Avenue and East Seventh Street but also with beginnings downtown. Its history dates back to 1868 and spans four generations. Newcomers especially should get to know it.

Creativity has always been a prime family value in our household, and Plainfield abounds with creators of art, music, literature, design and more. Those who lovingly restore its architectural treasures pay homage to the original creators. It's heartening to see new support for artistic creation emerging now.

Both Union County's Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs and Plainfield's own Cultural And Heritage Commission are resources for those involved in creative work. Partner up!

--Bernice

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quick Take on Revised Muhlenberg Plan

Picture this: My printer needs ink, so I can't print out the draft and revised copies of the Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan. So I set up the netbook alongside the laptop to compare them. Mouse problems cause me to use the trackpad on the laptop and the screens are two different sizes. I keep reaching for the missing mouse and I have to take notes with a pencil on changes I see.

For all those reasons and more (exhaustion and exasperation in general) I did not make a comprehensive list of changes. I invite anyone who did a page-by-page examination to send over findings on changes.

The redevelopment plan was to have been discussed at last week's Planning Board meeting, but the meeting has been moved to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 24 at duCret School of Arts, 1030 Central Ave.

Because the most vocal public comment has centered on housing, I looked for changes in that category but did not find many.  One item seemed unusual to me:
.
"Any structure, or portion of a structure containing dwelling units (as defined in this plan) shall not be connected to any other structure or portion of a structure containing a non-residential principal use by an internal passageway that enables movement of people or goods."

An addition in permitted uses stood out:

"Building Mounted Wireless Communication Facility - A building mounted installation that facilitates personal wireless services as defined in the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 which includes FCC licensed commercial wireless telecommunications services such as cellular, personal communications services (PCS), specialized mobile radio (SMR), enhanced specialized mobile radio (ESMR), paging, and similar services that currently exist or may be developed in the future. Such installations may include, but are not limited to antennae and satellite dishes."

This reminded me that on April 5, T-Mobile Northeast LLC was listed on the Zoning Board of Adjustment agenda as "requesting an interpretation" of a section of the Plainfield Land Use Ordinance. The location was Park Avenue and Randolph Road and the ordinance cited has to do with parking. As I recall, the agenda item was not discussed. Here's a possibly related paragraph in the new Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan:

"Parking on the site shall be designed to maximize efficiency and promote shared parking between uses. A parking management plan shall be submitted as part of any application for site plan approval that describes the mix of uses on site, their respective parking needs, hours of operation, number of employees, and any other information that may be requested by the Planning Board and its professionals"

Two other interesting items in the revised document:

"Any portions of the building with historic significance that cannot be retained as part of the redevelopment of the site shall be documented in a report prepared by an architect or other qualified professional specializing in historic preservation. This report shall be provided to the City and kept in the collection of the Plainfield Public Library. 5. A plaque or similar installation commemorating the history of Muhlenberg Hospital shall be provided onsite in a location deemed appropriate by the Planning Board."

"A traffic impact assessment report shall be submitted as part of an application for site plan approval. This report shall include existing conditions assessment, projected traffic generation, a level of service assessment for streets and intersections in the vicinity of the Area, and any other information requested by the Planning Board or its professionals"

This is such a busy weekend that I doubt many people will sit down and delve through 34 pages of the draft plan and 37 pages of the revised plan, but if you do and form any opinions, please share.

--Bernice

Famous Plainfielders!

Thanks to Tim O'Connor for viewing the George Clinton/Killer Mike post and reminding us that famed photographer Irving Penn, the subject of a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit starting Monday, is also from Plainfield.

If you have not seen the post with that other famous Plainfielder, George Clinton, please take a look. It has a video and some music as well as a transcript of the NPR segment. It's pretty funny when George Clinton talks about some coffee-stained currency that helped him launch his career.

Plainfield has many notables in diverse fields (click the link to see)..

Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy 420

Happy 420
... if you know what I mean

George Clinton & Killer Mike

Listen 
to
George Clinton
and
Killer Mike
on NPR
(click the link)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Commentary On The 2-6

As an observer of Plainfield politics since 1983, I can attest that things can get as wild and woolly here as in any major city across the state. The size of the prize doesn't even matter sometimes, as witness the recent kerfuffle over a single voting district containing less than 3 percent of the city's registered Democrats.

A resident who agreed to fill in a vacancy on the Democratic City Committee duly filed petitions to be elected this year for a full two-year term. Cue the theme from Jaws here as a state official who lives in the district (one of 68 citywide) decided he wanted the seat and put the strong-arm on the local chairman to make it happen.

The incumbent resident was asked to step aside. He agreed, but then felt aggrieved. After all, he was quite active on the local level, so much so that he and his wife were being honored this month for their support of a major cultural institution.

He asked this blogger for space to tell his story. No sooner did it hit the blogosphere than it got more page views than the total of registered Democrats in the voting district in question. It went on to garner nearly triple that number of page views.

For whatever reason, the state official withdrew himself from running for the district seat. Maybe he thought the reaction over his move would reflect badly on his run for re-election to state office this year. Maybe his action made the slate, with a gubernatorial candidate at the top, look bad. Perhaps the threat of a write-in landslide by the wronged person's friends played a role.

As in most political brouhahas, it's not over until it's over. What is the status of the original filer now? Will his friends write him in to show their distaste, or skip voting for re-election of the state official in his own hometown?

I conclude with the words of the person who was asked to step aside, yet forgave the local chairman and even pledged support to his re-election campaign:

"I am convinced that side deals will only continue to erode our already fractured and fragile system. I am taking the opportunity of what has transpired with me these past few weeks, to once again ask for a more civil political discourse where we honor and respect differences as a bridge to a better future for all of our citizens."