Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Brief Recap of the Town Meeting

Two dozen speakers at Tuesday's Third Ward town meeting rejected and even derided a real estate expert's assertion that a 600-unit luxury apartment project would be the best use of the shuttered Muhlenberg hospital campus.

Instead, residents and officials alike insisted that nothing less than restoration of full medical care will do for the site where Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center closed in August 2008. A satellite emergency room at the site is due to close next year.

Appraiser Jeffrey Otteau's hour-long presentation was based on a report he prepared for  JFK Health System, which launched a "Moving Muhlenberg Forward" web site dealing with all aspects of the proposed development. Otteau's report includes a determination by the United Health Institute that there is "no viable future for a new hospital in Plainfield." Tracing trends in housing and employment, he offered rationales for the apartment proposal and a retail strip across Park Avenue.

The hospital site is surrounded by one- and two-family homes in the Third Ward and resistance to the proposal began as soon as it was unveiled with the web site. On Tuesday, residents came armed with their own data to counter Otteau's findings, such as a burgeoning Latino school enrollment in contrast to his claim that families are getting smaller. Many of the residents had lived in their homes for decades and did not want a projected 1,125 new neighbors in a four-story building on the former hospital site.

One resident said she had already collected 200 signatures on a petition against rental units on the site and she collected more at the meeting. (There is no development application filed with the city as yet, nor has any developer been named.)

Dr. Harold Yood called Otteau's report a "45-minute scam" and said JFK took advantage of its merger with Muhlenberg to get rid of competition and to acquire all its financial resources. Dottie Gutenkauf, a leader of the Save Muhlenberg movement, urged residents to get on the advocacy group's list serve to receive updates on efforts to restore a hospital at the site. Councilman William Reid called his health care at JFK Medical Center "horrible" and said he would only vote to restore Muhlenberg. Activist Nancy Piwowar deplored the distance to JFK in Edison, which she characterized as life-threatening for stroke or heart attack victims.

Council President Adrian Mapp called all the comments "very compelling" and spoke of veiled threats of litigation if officials did not go along with the proposal. A copy of his January 2011 letter had been passed out to attendees at the beginning of the meeting and as he did in the letter, he urged residents to reach out to elected officials at all levels to bring back a medical facility.

"I stand with you and what you want is what I want," he said.



  1. "Stop the Politic {sic} Grand Standing. It's Time for Real Solutions."

    So writes Jerry Green on his blog as he plays everything against the middle, belittling the vast efforts and concerns of everyone who attended either the PMUA Task Force presentation Monday, or the Muhlenberg-oriented Town Hall on Tuesday.

    He suggests that Plainfielders have shown what's singularly important- basketball.

    Assemblyman Everywhere But Nowhere wants us to know he participated in the meetings that led to Muhlenberg's closure. He's reaching out to professionals now about PMUA, even calling his own task force. While prepping for that championship season, he was obviously moved by Monday's meeting, even rambling to the mic to warn of the evil that will befall us if Christie comes into town to take a look.

    Ah yes, everything against the middle, and a hand in every pocket waiting to be picked.

    We should be thinking about basketball while he works his magic.

    Justin Sears, welcome back to Plainfield.

  2. TAX BABY, TAX. . .

    JFK Health Systems made a colossal mistake when they did not include the community's input in their studies. The community will overwhelmingly come out against this proposal, it is dead on arrival.

    The development requests are not permitted uses of the properties as currently defined in the Land Use Ordinances. The Land Use boards and the City Council would be within their rights to turn down JFK's 'dream'.

    What I am afraid will happen is that the buildings will be boarded up and the property fenced in as JFK has stated that they will not continue to pay to maintain the campus. I would personally hate to see this happen as this boarded up dinosaur would be around for many years to come. Though, I must admit that some of the neighboring residents stated they preferred this to a development.

    What then? The City should IMMEDIATELY begin the process to start assessing REAL ESTATE TAXES. The campus no longer has a license to operate as an acute care facility so it is no longer eligible for a tax waiver. The nominal square footage used for the Emergency Room could be deducted.

    What would happen then? This will immediately put pressure on JFK to work with the City. I am sure they will sue, but let them,(more pressure). So mail them their tax bill today and make it retroactive to the day they gave up their license. MAIL THE BILL!

    I don't feel we as a City should fear redevelopment of the campus, whether it is composed of medical facilities, residents, retail or a big green park. But the development should be done on a scale that fits within it surroundings, it should be sustainable, and the process must include the stakeholders.


    jim spear

  3. Thank God for all the people who showed up to Monday and Tuesday's meetings.

    In his blog, Jerry Green tries to downplay the meetings and the concerns of the Plainfield residents regarding PMUA and Muhlenberg.

    Green is only dismissive of the people that showed up at these meetings because those people don't support his ridiculous politics or his toxic, self-serving and greedy ways.

    I'm not a fan of Christie, but someone needs to come into Plainfield and clean up the garbage.

    If Christie starts pokin' around Plainfield, Green knows that he, along with the rest of this pitiful administration, will be hauled out of here on a PMUA dumpster along with the rest of Plainfield's trash -- let's just hope they're not in the recyclables!

  4. Of course Assemblyman Green would think that the city cared more about a basketball game than the possible destruction of a vibrant community, that’s just the kind of leader he is. Wow, he knows for a fact there were 5000 Plainfielders at the game. Did he personal take a bus load of “5000 Plainfielders” or did he purchase 5000 tickets to give out? I personally am offended by his comment “While 5,000 Plainfielders were working together to support something positive in our community 100 were participating in another kind of event” could the assemblyman be implying that the concerns of a community that is opposed to having a 600 unit housing project in our low density , single family neighborhood is not important or worthy of his attention? I could see why he may feel that way, if JFK’s deal goes through I’m sure he won’t be concerned about being re-elected or even running, he may think it’s time to retire. I like everyone else is very proud of our high school basketball team, however, with all the major issues going on in our city at this time, our esteem assemblyman shouldn’t make light of the 100 community members that are working hard to keep our community intact and he should know that we will continue to fight and we will not back-down on this issue!
    Maybe Mr. Green could share with us, exactly what “misinformation from Tuesday’s meeting” was shared and by whom. Judging by his statement on his blog it appears that he himself has a clear picture of what needs to be done to move forward, Mr. Green how about sharing that picture with your voting public sooner than later so we can all have clarity.

    PS – I stayed at the meeting for a least 15 minutes pass the close and since I was there you can take my word that 5 minutes before the close most attendees were still in attendance. We the stakeholders want to hear from ALL of our elected officials.

    Robin Bright

  5. Green wasn't at the meeting so he doesn't know anything except what his spies tell him.

  6. Sounds like Park Madison all over again.

    Dr Yoods comment that it is a scame to acquire all its financial resources.....does not seem to make sense when you look back at the tens of millions that was being lost.

    Everyone seems to forge the states role in not paying them regarding indigent care.

  7. Plainfield Peace CoalitionMarch 23, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    Assem. Green is now the acting Speaker of the House in Trenton...Give him a break PLEASE!!!

    Ok I understand that the cost associated w living in Plainfield is getting higher...

    I do thank all of the bloggers whom are committed to keeping Muhlenburg Hopital
    active...I was born there and recently I met a Doctor who worked there...The stories Dr Jimenez MD has about her experiences are so wonderful. She explained hat she had great mentors, who took time to nurture her as aWoman of color (Cuban)...She explained that it was tremendously difficult to be accepted as a peer but theother Jewish Doctors were the most involved in her grooming...What a great testimony for an even greater Institution
    Why is it so Great???
    Because I was born there!!!!
    Seeing this Institution fade is like my past being erased, Please do not get me wrong do not mind the issue of Progress, but some things are to be treasured and honored like the Wedding dress or Baby shoes... Or the first caught fish at Cederbrook pond.
    We are at a time in history when all things have become commodities unfortunately.
    If I am nostalgic and sappy forgive me

    1. PPC, I am not posting any more comments from you. Your last four comments on the PMUA dissolution tell me you are just rambling. Use your own web site for your musings.

      All readers who are interested in PPC (Davy Morales) should go to his meetup site:

  8. Plainfield Peace CoalitionMarch 23, 2012 at 7:10 AM

    In a town which is starving for positives why not show a little support ot our Children whom continue to keep pressing on and winning...

    We can learn alot about loyalty from watching our younsters exhibit team effort to WIN..

    Think about this seriously

  9. Jerry Green should be ignored, and at the very least, Plainifield should not ever vote for him and let him win Plainfield.

    To JFK - Look guys. We in Plainfield have nothing to lose. We don't have a great school system, and we have no downtown. Our city government is ruled by thugs so developers don't want to build here. And we should be afraid that you are going to pull the plug on Muhlenburg? GO AHEAD.

    First, I have been reading where hospitals are buying up emergency rooms so that the overflow can be sent to the hospital. I wondered why JFK not only will leave the emergency room, but will expand it. Perhaps, they also are taking part in this new industry standard?

    In any event, if JFK gives up Muhlenburg then they will not have any say in what happens to the property.

    If they have no say in what happens to the property then perhaps a medical facility will have a chance (Why would JFK knowingly sell to the completition?). And that would be bad?

    One last thing - Otteau, in giving their opinion about the new law (where the state would give money to people to stay in their homes) stated that there is a surplus of homes in NJ, and the state would only be able to pay for about 5K homes and there are over 700K homes that are abandoned or in foreclosure.

    Simply put, Otteau themselves said there were too many homes in this state already but they suggest that we should build MORE housing in Plainfield. Oh yea, I trust their opinion.