Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mayor Mapp Delivers State of the City Address

In a wide-ranging State of the City Address Wednesday, perhaps the best news was that Mayor Adrian O. Mapp had to share was the surge in development, with over 60 potential projects representing a more than $230 million dollar investment in the city.

When he took office in January 2014,  he said, the word on the street was that "Plainfield is a difficult place to do business." Mapp filled a vacant cabinet-level post for economic development and examined how developers fared as they moved through the process. Now, he said, the city has a reputation for welcoming serious business partners and investors have taken note.

Mapp listed a 212-unit, $59 million luxury apartment project on South Avenue and two major projects in the city's West End as examples of the change.

He also announced an agreement with a developer for the vacant Muhlenberg site where a medical center closed in 2008 and said it will have "a major health care component."

In all, the address took over an hour. Click the link to see the full 2017 State of the City Address.

Mapp also reported improvements in public safety, fiscal controls, community health and recreation. In addition, an outstanding resident from each of the city's four wards was honored and given a plaque. The recipients were First Ward resident Nelson Santana, a businessman and commissioner with the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs; Second Ward resident Mary Burgwinkle, an advocate for the arts and member of the Plainfield Charter Study Commission; Third Ward resident Bob Wilson, not present but described as a civic leader and mentor to youth; and Fourth Ward resident Stacey Welch, an entrepreneur and owner of LiVay Sweet Shop who also organizes charity drives.

Council members Barry Goode, Joylette Mills-Ransome, Cory Storch, Charles McRae and Council President Rebecca Williams attended the event, along with many cabinet members.

Looking ahead, Mapp announced proposed improvements at Hannah Atkins Center to produce "a compelling community space with updated recreational and community revitalizing features" that will make it a hub for community services. The future also holds improvements at Rushmore Playground and Seidler Field, as well as a new skate park in Madison Avenue Park, he said.

"It's going to be an exciting year, but we're not done yet," he said, going on to describe goals including a permanent "One-Seat Ride" to New York City, road improvements, an on-time budget and technology training for students.

On a personal note, before describing a new educational campaign Mapp traced his beginnings in Barbados, where his grandmother cared for him while his mother worked on Long island, N.Y.

""We were very poor, and we knew it," he said, noting how he often went hungry and poorly clothed. Through it all, his grandmother drilled into him the need to gain an education. After migrating to America, he said, "I worked my way from Union County College to Rutgers University, from Rutgers to Fairleigh Dickinson .." persevering despite many challenges.

Believing education and early financial literacy are keys to success, Mapp now wants to establish "Plainfield Promise," a program to provide a bank account of up to $500 for every child starting school in Plainfield and a challenge for students to complete high school and qualify  for college and, if they can't afford it, a promise to pay for them to attend Union County College. See more on Plainfield Promise here.

As the crowd at the Senior Center began to disperse after hearing the address, Plaintalker asked a couple of people for their impressions. Shirley Dean said she was most impressed by the Plainfield Promise concept, while Elizabeth Lee said she was amazed at Mapp's recounting of his early struggle to succeed.

"It made me feel kind of sad," she said, though admiring his determination.



  1. How does the good Mayor propose to pay $500 for every child entering kindergarten? How does he propose to pay for every student that decides to take him up on his offer for 2 years of tuition? This one may be more doable with the assistance of UCCC.
    But the $500 per child in a Welcoming City...humm..

  2. Not sure I'm happy with the partnership that was announced with National Action Network Tech World to provide IT training that in this day and age should be a core focus for the school district. Is this just money being thrown at Al Sharpton so he can be rolled out when needed to "address" street violence and provide a few photo-ops? And really, shouldn't the details of how the city will open $500 bank accounts for every kid entering kindergarten, and pay for tuition to UCC, be hashed out before such an ambitious program is announced?

  3. National Action Network? Bad news.

  4. "We will pay for them to attend Union County College, because no child should be denied an education because of economic challenges." - Isn't this what Pell grants and state assistance is for? That alone in most cases, covers a full tuition for a community college. Or are they targeting middle to high income brackets that don't qualify for traditional financial aid?

    Or could it be they are targeting the undocumented? I don't think the hidden Plainfield Trump supporters would be happy with that.

  5. As a finance expert, Mayor Mapp should know minors cannot have a bank account. This would have to be set up as a trust with an adult as trustee. Far from teaching financial literacy it would just impress upon them to expect things to be given to them. Very strange.

  6. I'm so tired of politicians raising our taxes with their "progressive" ideas. First "Fair and Welcoming" now my tax dollars are being used as a charity for kids no matter what their grade point average or behavioral record is? This consolation prize generation is being raised entitled and not being taught to work hard. What madness. Next we'll be buying every senior citizen a snow blower and every crackhead a rock.

    The only Plainfield Promise I see is a new mayor this year! If you have the money to give everyone under the Plainfield sun a scholarship, then you have the money to lower my $14,000 property tax bill and blatantly choosing not to.

    1. Can you spell entitlement! Pay to Play on a grant scale! Vote for me it's all free!

    2. Well said! What a poorly thought out election year gimmick.

      In grammar school in the 70's the school system partnered with a local bank to encourage families to open up student bank accounts. Each week, those who participated, would bring in the savings passbook along with a deposit to be collected by the teacher, picked up by the bank and so on. My deposit was usually no more than $2 a week, sometimes a little more depending on what my parents could afford to give me; in a few years I had a couple hundred dollars in my account. I'm sure something similar could be worked out now.

      What's with giving $500 to each child and from where does Mapp intend to get the funds?

      Let's leave the responsibility of parenting and child welfare to mom and dad who chose to start a family -- don't put the onus on the tax payer. Enough already.

      If Mapp wants to be so charitable with other people's money, he should consider forming a foundation and making a permanent move into the fundraising business.

  7. The Muhlenberg announcement has been relegated to insignificant as a consequence of the "free money" for everybody proposal purportedly relating to education. What are the details regarding Muhlenberg? While it is true that the developer must make a large investment with no certitude as to the return, the Developer nevertheless is getting 9 acres and a building whose remodeling costs, while substantial, must be significantly les than the cost of new obstruction. What is the quid pro quo for Plainfield? Will the development contain residences? If so, who will be the occupants? Bill Kruse

    1. Yes it will contain more than 300 units for vets with PTS. You are correct, they will be making apartments within the existing structure. I thought for sure the Mayor promised no apartments and additional meetings with the community before the deal was signed.