Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Council Reorganizes on Jan. 9

The City Council will holds its annual reorganization on Jan. 9, 2017 at 7 p.m. in Municipal Court. 325 Watchung Ave.

The governing body will select a president and chairman of the whole for the year and winners of the Nov. 8 general election will be sworn in for four-year terms. The winners were Rebecca Williams for the Citywide at-large seat and Charles McRae for the Third Ward seat.

Williams currently serves as the Second & Third Wards at-large representative. An appointee must be selected to serve until the next general election in that seat, which Williams will vacate upon assuming the citywide seat.

The reorganization usually includes adoption of a calendar of City Council meetings for 2017, numerous appointments and the mayor's State of the City address. Mayor Adrian O. Mapp gave his State of the City address at the reorganization in 2014 and 2015, but delivered it at a separate meeting in 2016.

See Plaintalker's post on the 2016 reorg here.  

MLK Jr. Memorial Breakfast Jan. 16

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Kwanzaa

Habari Gani
on the first day of
 the principle of

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Happy Hanukah 
to all our Jewish friends!

Merry Christmas
to all our Christian friends!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

File in March for April School Board Election

UPDATE: If you are one of the 37 people who read this story so far, please note the state Department of Education has moved the date of the school board election to April 25, as the prior date conflicts with a religious observance.

While some are having visions of sugar plums right now, school board member David Rutherford had an upcoming election date dancing in his head.

"BOE election in under four months," he reminded FB friends.

Each year, voters pick three board members for thee-year terms. Rutherford was the top vote-getter in November 2014, but because the board changed back to April elections in a controversial November 2015 vote, Rutherford and other 2014 winners Terrence Bellamy Sr. and Carletta Jeffers will have to file on Feb. 27 if they want to seek re-election on April 18
.Filing is March 6, election is April 25
Most school boards formerly  held April elections, but in 2012 new legislation allowed either the governing body or the school board to combine them with the November general election. In Plainfield, the City Council moved the BOE election despite outcry from the school board.

No sooner had the Nov. 3, 2015 election taken place than the BOE quietly voted to move the date back to April. The Nov. 10 vote was on a "walk-on" item that was not on the posted agenda, and the general public's first news of it appeared on Rutherford's blog in December 2015. While the council had to notify the board of intent to change the school board election from April to November, the board did not have to inform the council when moving it back to April.

Just as the move from April to November added about eight months to 2012 incumbents' tenure, reversing it reduced terms of the 2014 and 2015 winners by a similar amount.

So if you want to run for the school board or support an incumbent from 2014, enjoy the holidays and then get those`campaigns going!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Yule

Happy Yule
to all who celebrate the Winter Solstice

Wheel of the Year

A Couple of Cat Tales

For lack of a better topic tonight, click the link for a post on Mau, our adopted feral cat, from back when he was called "Mousie"

Here's Mau on the Holiday Rush

Monday, December 19, 2016

Frontiers Breakfast on Jan. 16

The Frontiers International Plainfield Area Club presents their 41th Annual Dr. Martin

Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast. The Breakfast, the longest running tribute to

Dr. King in New Jersey, will be Monday, January 16, 2017 at the Plainfield High

School cafeteria and auditorium starting at 8:30 am.

Guest speaker for the Breakfast will be Lawrence Hamm,

founder and Chairman of the People’s Organization for

Progress (POP) a premiere grassroots independent political

organization. Larry will speak on the theme “"We must

accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”

The Breakfast, an annual commemoration of the life of Dr.

King, highlights student groups, awards scholarships, and

recognizes those in the community who have made

outstanding contributions.

This year’s honorees will receive the Westry Horne “Excellence in Education” award

for their contribution to the Plainfield School System, the Community Service Award

and the Service to Youth. Westry Horne, one of the founders of the Frontiers

International Plainfield Area Club, was an avid tennis player and master educator.

The auditorium at Plainfield High School bears his name.

The Breakfast will be a truly special event where the entire community can enjoy a

delicious breakfast with entertainment, honor Plainfield’s finest and pay tribute to

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information, contact Andrea Kee at 908-327-8002 or via email or John Brinkley at 908-868-8704.

Storch: "No Need" for Dec. 19 Meeting

City Council President Cory Storch replied to Plaintalker's request for a comment on the cancellation of Monday's agenda-fixing session for the annual reorganization:

"The 3rd December Council meeting has traditionally been held to set the agenda for the new years reorganization meeting. The administration preferred to let the new years Council do that in January which I find to be appropriate. Additionally none of the 2016 Council members sent me resolutions or other items of business after the second December meeting. So, with no items of business, there was no need for a 3rd December meeting."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mapp: Outgoing Council Should Not Set Agenda

Asked whether he had a comment on reasons for the cancellation of Monday's agenda fixing session for the 2017 City Council reorganization, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp responded:

"I have long been of the view that an outgoing council should not be setting the reorg agenda for an incoming council, that should be the responsibility of the Clerk working with the administration. As such, we opted not to submit agenda items for an outgoing council to decide what should or should not be on the reorg agenda, it doesn't make sense. In the same way that the Clerk is responsible for presiding at the beginning of the reorg meeting, the Clerk should be the one responsible for the reorg agenda."

(The two outgoing council members are Citywide at-large Councilwoman Tracey Brown and Third Ward Councilwoman Gloria Taylor. In a larger context, Brown and Taylor along with Fourth Ward Councilwoman Bridget Rivers and First Ward Councilwoman Diane Toliver currently constitute a majority that will shift in January to one more favorable to the mayor.)

Plainfield's Tangled Political Webs

Monday's agenda-fixing session for the annual reorganization in January has been canceled, according to a notice from City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh. No new date was mentioned, nor was any reason given.

I hope this is does not portend more animosity between the city's political factions. People already have the jitters over national politics. But there are some worrisome signs.

--On Dec. 5, correspondence requesting the reappointment of Dollie Hamlin to the Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners was noted on the agenda, but no action ensued.  It would have been a direct appointment by the council, had it been moved to the Dec. 12 regular meeting agenda for a vote. Hamlin was appointed in 2013 to an unexpired term ending July 1, 2016. Besides being the purchasing agent for the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, Hamlin is also on the ministerial staff of Ruth Fellowship Ministries, where Councilwoman Tracey Brown is pastor. Brown lost the June primary and her council term ends this month, but it appears likely that she will challenge Mayor Adrian O. Mapp  when he runs for a second term in 2017. Brown is also pastor to former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who lost to Mapp in 2013.

--Since taking office in January 2014, Mapp has faced opposition from a council majority for some important initiatives.But because Councilwoman Rebecca Williams won Brown's Citywide at-large seat in November and Charles McRae crushed Robinson-Briggs 2,544 to 995 for the Third Ward seat. Mapp will soon enjoy a majority. The Plainfield Democratic City Committee, which Mapp chairs, must offer the council three names for the Second & Third Ward seat Williams will vacate for her new seat..It is the council's duty to choose one to serve until the next general election. When that will happen is unclear.

--Much is at stake in 2017. Besides the mayoral race, the Fourth Ward council seat is up and Assemblyman Jerry Green, who is chairman of the Union County Democratic Party, must run for re-election. Democrats reorganize in 2017, with 68 city committee seats up for election. Right after the primary, the committee must l choose a chairman for two years. Green had previously held both city and county chairmanships. In November, both Green and Mapp opened Democratic headquarters in Plainfield, with Green pointedly omitting signage for City Council races at his location. Clarification: Green says he did tell Democrats to support Democratic candidates for president, Congress and county freeholder as well as "all of Column A," meaning local Democratic candidates in all municipalities in Union County.

The political animosities run deep in Plainfield, but in 2017 the city's diverse populations may face larger threats from the national level. No matter who wins locally in 2017, the city will lose unless the antagonism lessens.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fewer, Quicker Meetings Cut Civic Engagement

Message from City Clerk AJ Jalloh: Monday's meeting has been canceled

On Monday, the City Council meets to set the agenda for the annual reorganization in January.

Old-timers will recall the reorganization meeting as an important occasion, well-attended by citizens dressed in their best, many of whom came to the microphone to give their own "state of the city" speeches after that given by the mayor.

Among actions taken at the reorganization, the governing body sets a calendar for the year, approves numerous appointments to boards and commissions, names attorneys and judges and adopts its own rules of conduct.

Regarding the annual calendar, changes over the past decade resulted (in my opinion) in a drop-off of citizen participation except when very controversial items are up for a vote. When I first began reporting on the council, regular meetings took place on the first and third Mondays and agenda-fixing sessions were held on preceding Mondays.

In 2006, a switch to a Monday-Wednesday schedule caused a drop-off in attendance by the regulars, some of whom no doubt chose Wednesday night Bible study over council meetings. Further changes in 2008, after the annual calendar had been published, may have made it too hard to keep track of meeting dates.(See Plaintalker's 2009 commentary on calendar change here) 

Gradually the calendar got whittled down some months in 2016 to one combined agenda-fixing and regular meeting. Meetings are televised, but the home audience has no clue what the governing body is voting on when items are only identified by numbers or letters without any explanation or context. Example: "Everybody good with A? B? C?"

My hope for municipal government in 2017 is for greater civic engagement, fostered by both the administrative and legislative branches, with a special emphasis on getting more young people involved. And please, let no council member follow in the footsteps of one who missed six of the 12 voting meetings. Unless there was a very valid reason to be absent, that was just an insult to constituents and colleagues alike.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Skate Park Construction Bids Sought

A city skateboarding park is edging toward realization with a notice to bidders for its construction.

The work includes, but is not limited to, the construction of a 7,350 square feet cast-in-place concrete skate park, the notice says. The location is the Madison Avenue playground off West Second Street. Contract documents and plans are available through the city' s Purchasing Division in City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave.Bids will be opened on January 11.

Skateboarders campaigned for their own space in 2013 with a video online and public comment at City Council meetings. The initial proposed location had been a municipal lot on East Fourth Street, but when the city hired Hood Skateparks of Gladstone in July 2016 to design the skate park, the location shifted to the Madison Avenue site. Videographer Lamar Mackson, father of a skateboarder, told the City Council the site was too small. (See Plaintalker II post including video link here.)

Mackson's 2013 video featured skateboarders from Plainfield, North Plainfield and Scotch Plains. They were using the plaza in front of the office building at Park & Front and also the building's parking garage ramps for practice, without permission. The young men explained what skateboarding meant to them and how they risked tickets or arrest to perfect their skills.

To see the complete Notice to Bidders, go to and key skatepark into the search box.

The Madison Avenue park, bounded by Madison Avenue, West Second Street, Central Avenue and the Raritan Valley Line train tracks, recently received an upgrade with a prefabricated set of restrooms. See photos of the installation here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Goodbye or Toodle-oo?

At the end of Monday's City Council meeting where Councilwoman Tracey Brown was honored for her service, she had a few things to say.

"I have lived in Plainfield for over forty years," she began.

Brown commended the Police Division, but added, "The reality is, our city is not safe.

"I think it's an insult to say our city is very, very safe," she said, perhaps referring to Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's quoted comment in the Courier News after the city's tenth homicide.

"Sometimes our city is divided," Brown said, adding all residents are important, "not just some who live in certain wards."

Saying she prays for violence to stop, Brown alluded to social media threats against her and said, "So far, nothing has been done. I had to speak out before something horrible happened."

Brown is pastor of Ruth Fellowship Ministries and noted she had eulogized several of the homicide victims.

With her term ending on Dec. 31, how come some of her remarks sounded like campaign talk? Councilwoman Bridget Rivers gave a clue when she said to Brown, "We'll see you next year."

That's when the the mayoral and Fourth Ward seats will be up for election. Mapp has already launched his re-election campaign. His longtime nemesis, former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, showed up Monday to praise Brown, who is her pastor. Rivers must also run if she wants to keep her Fourth Ward seat.

In retrospect, the "no" votes on the taxi towing penalty by Brown and Rivers certainly endeared them to the many Soria Taxi employees and supporters who live - and maybe vote - in Plainfield.

One good thing about Plainfield politics is that the battles are often settled in the June primary. The 2017 filing date for the June primary is April 3 and the primary election is on June 6. See all 2017 election timelines here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Taxi Towing Penalty Fails

Legislation allowing police to order out-of-town taxis towed failed Monday, sparking a chorus of thanks from staff and family of the targeted North Plainfield taxi firm.

The council vote was 3-3, with Barry Goode, Rebecca Williams and Cory Storch saying "yes" and Tracey Brown, Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver saying "no." Gloria Taylor was absent. After the crowd left the building, Soria Taxi supporters cheered and honked horns outside to celebrate.

Soria Taxi is already subject to fines for picking up fares in Plainfield, but the harsher penalty was intended to add more clout. In public comment before the vote, numerous Soria supporters insisted that Plainfielders favored Soria over city-licensed taxi companies because service is more timely and efficient. Many also said Soria was their sole source of income and they needed the work to put food on the family table.

But representatives of Plainfield taxi owners and drivers said they must be trained, insured and licensed, suggesting that Soria drivers may not be as qualified. Nonetheless, a Soria driver claimed 90 percent of the company's customers are from Plainfield and others alleged Plainfield police call Soria to pick up customer from city bars at closing.

Flor Gonzalez, president of the Latin American Coalition and chairwoman of the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs, vouched for city taxi companies as having "the best service ever" and said, "We want the residents to be safe."

Her supportive remarks for city taxi owners and drivers drew some groans from the Soria crowd. In all, fifteen speakers weighed in before the roll call vote, which fell short of the four needed to pass.  City Administrator Rick Smiley said the administration intends to bring the amendment to the taxi ordinance back in 2017.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Brown, Taylor to be Honored for Service

Tonight's City Council agenda includes resolutions honoring two members of the governing body for their "dedicated service."

Terms of Councilwomen Tracey Brown and Gloria Taylor end on Dec. 31, but the meeting is the last regular one for 2016. The resolutions were not available in advance, but custom calls for such resolutions to be read aloud at the meeting.

Councilwoman Tracey Brown holds the Citywide at-large seat. She previously served on the Board of Education and the PMUA. She is the founder and pastor of Ruth Fellowship Ministries.

Councilwoman Gloria Taylor is the widow of the late Mayor Richard L. Taylor and represents the Third Ward. She is a retired educator.

Thanks to both for their service!

In January, Rebecca Williams will become the Citywide at-large council representative and Charles McRae will become the Third Ward representative, both for four-year terms. Both won in the June primary. Williams was unopposed in the general election and McRae overcame a challenge from former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who ran as an independent.

The Democratic City Committee will offer the council three names and the council must choose one to replace Williams in the Second & Third Ward at-large seat until the next general election. The winner in November will serve the balance of her term until the end of 2018.

See the full agenda here

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mapp Names New DPW&UD Acting Director

 A former Jersey City official is Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's choice to serve as acting director of Public Works & Urban Development.

Mapp has informed the City Council of Oren K. Dabney's appointment as acting director on Dec. 6 and says in a letter he intends to submit Dabney's name for the governing body's advice and consent at the 2017 Reorganization Meeting.

The department includes six important divisions, including Planning, Inspections and Recreation. The post became vacant with the untimely death of DPW&UD Director Eric C. Watson in July. City Administrator Rick Smiley had been serving as acting director since Watson's passing.

According to online sources, Dabney had a variable relationship with Jersey City's Steve Fulop, challenging him when Fulop was a councilman and Dabney was head of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, but then.being named acting Public Works director by Fulop in July 2014. However, he retired as head of the JCIA in August 2015 with lifetime health benefits for himself and his family and an estimated $77,472 pension. According to Jersey City's official web site, the JCIA was dissolved in April 2016, with the city assuming all its service responsibilities.

Newspaper accounts of the relationship between Fulop and Dabney echo the sometimes tense relationship of Mapp and Watson, who started out as the city's Public Works director but then became executive director of the newly-formed Plainfield Municipal Utilities in 1995. As council president in 2012, Mapp challenged the PMUA and called for its dissolution, but as mayor he welcomed Watson back as acting PW&UD director in 2014. Watson was approved by the council to serve until Dec. 31, 2017, but died in office.

The regular City Council meeting for December is 8 p.m. Monday (Dec. 12) in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

Friday, December 9, 2016


My snapshot of the city Christmas tree, flanked by a menorah and a kinara, came out a little blurry, but that's how things are lately. Celebrate what you can, as best you can, in this holiday season.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Talk Tonight on "A Changing America"

If there's any one thing that defines Plainfield, it's diversity. Many people choose to live here specifically because of the city's embrace of diversity in heritage, relationships, abilities and beliefs. Now with a president-elect and impending administration that appear to favor particular groups over others and even attacks or threatens others, Plainfielders may be wondering what will happen in 2017 and beyond to change their lives.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is offering a public forum to discuss concerns of residents. "A Critical Conversation - Questions for a changing America" will take place tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Senior Center, 400 East Front Street. All are welcome.

See more details here

My family is largely gone now, all the elders are deceased and I have no grandchildren. I feel a special concern for young families in these uncertain times. When I saw a Time magazine with Hitler as man of the year in 1938, my birth year, I wondered what my parents thought about bringing children into that world. My son arrived just before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and my young daughter was puzzled by our speechless sadness. We got all got through the chilling events, but not without a lingering wariness. Now it seems we may be in for an attenuated span of worry over the unpredictable. Getting together and talking about it is a good first step.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

From Russia With Love??

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
Blogger image

Yikes! How did I get a huge readership in Russia all of a sudden? That'll teach me to take a break. It sort of looks like a crocodile and as the song goes, "Never smile at a crocodile."

Taxis and Turf

I bet most of my readers do not use taxis to get around, but for a large segment of the Plainfield population, taxis are the primary means of getting to medical appointments, shopping and visiting friends and relatives. The city issues licenses to taxi owners and operators and has hit a limit on licenses based on population. Some North Plainfield taxi companies want to do business here, but face fines if caught. Next Monday, the City Council will vote on an ordinance giving police the additional option of having out-of-town taxis towed in addition to being ticketed.

More than a dozen people protested the new legislation Monday, charging that city taxis are often late and fares need to call the outsiders for timely service. Operators of the banned taxis said they are just trying to make a living and deserve a chance.

As a user of taxis myself, I can cite at least one egregious instance of a taxi being so late that the appointment I had made six months earlier with a surgeon had to be delayed two more months. But by and large, I do not have to wait long for a taxi to the Watchung Square Mall, my dentist in North Edison, a medical office in South Plainfield or even the vet in Fanwood. I will say that fares are expensive (though nowhere near the cost of owning a car) and drivers disregard the rule that the first pickup must be asked whether he or she minds having another fare picked up along the way.

City taxi drivers and owners are organized in a "chofers" group and have come out in force at times, once regarding safety of drivers after a spate of robberies and murders. They also want to protect their livelihood against unlicensed outsiders. Both the city and outside companies are mainly Latino-owned and -operated and serve primarily a Latino clientele, so their concerns may not be shared by the city's other populations.

The possibility of being turned out of a taxi by police so the vehicle can be towed sparks fear for Latinos who lack credentials. What might happen next? Will they be deported or held somewhere? Local advocates for Latino immigrants can tell stories of families being broken up in an instant, and certainly the president-elect supports such action.

There are many aspects to the taxi situation, but unless you are an owner, driver or passenger, you might not care. Amidst all the post-election anguish, one reaction has been a call for more empathy and understanding of what our various neighbors are thinking and feeling. Whichever way the vote goes on Dec. 12, some will be glad and others disappointed. When we see those blue, red, orange or yellow taxis zipping around,  will we have any thoughts for those inside?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday's Council Topics: Roads, Taxis, Cleanups, Crime

The city's capital improvement plan for 2017 will consist solely of $5 million for road repair, Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said when called upon Monday to explain a resolution that will be up for a City Council vote on Dec. 12.

Capital improvement plans can include equipment for long-term use and major improvements to municipal properties as well as infrastructure, as described in this 2006 post.

The city 's 2005 five-year plan for road repair faltered several years ago. In 2008, the governing body declined the administration's request to pay an engineering firm $1 million to assess and re-prioritize road repair needs. The current administration has been attempting to revive a program of road repairs.

 In other matters at Monday's agenda-fixing session, Norman Muhammad of the Plainfield Anti-Violence Coalition thanked Police Director Carl Riley for his efforts to reduce violent crime, but challenged Councilman Barry Goode to be more active in combating violence. Goode, who represents the First and Fourth Wards at-large, said he forgave Muhammad for "your lapse of memory" regarding his involvement and added Muhammad can call him at any time.

"I am approachable," Goode said.

A large group attended the meeting to support out-of-town taxi drivers who are facing the possibility of having their vehicles towed after final passage of an ordinance next week. Speaking in English and Spanish, supporters said the owners and drivers, mostly based in North Plainfield, are just trying to make a living. Several alleged it takes an hour or more for city-licensed taxis to answer calls, so they have to call the out-of-town taxis to get to medical appointments and such on time.

Resident Timothy Priano, whose Queen City Pride group has held numerous cleanups, said city Code Enforcement needs to be stepped up to address derelict buildings he has seen along the cleanup routes. Priano alleged courts were not helping and no one was obeying rules or codes.

Council President Cory Storch said Code Enforcement has been an ongoing concern and asked City Administrator Rick Smiley to comment. Smiley said the city will soon have a new director for abandoned property.

"I'm not going to blame it on the courts," Smiley said.

"I just don't find that response acceptable," Storch said.

Muhammad also asked whether a South Avenue developer was hiring minority contractors, as promised when the project was approved. Economic Development Director Carlos Sanchez said the project is in the demolition phase and a local contractor is doing the work.

In the absence of Chairwoman of the Whole Gloria Taylor, Councilwoman Tracey Brown filled in and rapidly received council approval to move all 35 resolutions and four ordinances to the agenda for the regular meeting at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Dan Damon's Blogs Temporarily Off Line

Dan Damon, author of Plainfield Today and aggregators of news on CLIPS, will be having surgery soon and so will not be blogging for a while. He called to ask me to let readers know.

Let us wish him the best and a speedy return to blogging.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all a happy holiday!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Walking Around on My Break

Click any image to enlarge
What a surprise to see this paisley-painted signal box on Park Avenue as I walked downtown!

I had written about Union County's "Art Outside the Box" initiative and other public art in 2015 and thought this was  a continuation, but an online search turned up nothing new, Finally, I contacted a county spokesman who said there was no new art this year. The artwork is signed, so maybe the artist will come forward to collect compliments. I saw another signal box design by the same artist while I was taking a taxi home from the Stop & Shop, but I can't recall the exact location.

It was a bit of cheer in an otherwise gloomy week for me, so thanks, Pedro Baez!

After doing my errand downtown without any mishaps, I decided to walk further. A vacant lot on West Front Street reminded me of its unfinished story. First cleared for construction of 12 condos, it became a "pocket park" in 2008, cleaned up and beautified by Lucent volunteers (top photo). Later, it was supposed to become part of another project with office space and an adult day care center, but it's still a bit of green space sans benches (bottom photo).

October 2008

November 2016

The much-painted-over west wall featured a scary monster and a flamboyant tag. I recently bought a fountain pen and was trying not very enthusiastically to brush up on my cursive writing skills, but the tag made me realize that creative is better than cursive.

On West Second Street, I thought about the 148-unit development project proposed for the PNC parking lot area. It was approved in 2010, with preservation of the Titsworth-Sutphen building discussed as a goal. The building is (correction: one of very few) the only pre-Civil War structure in Plainfield.

The sign on the building was hanging down and rear windows were boarded up. I had heard about vagrants getting in recently. One hopes action on the building's relocation will happen sooner rather than later.
December 2013
November 2016

On East Second Street, I saw new black fencing installed at Municipal Parking Lot 6, with complementary fencing at the  corner of East Second and Gavett Place, where an entertainment center is planned.

Municipal Parking Lot 6

New venue on Gavett Place

Glancing up at a window, I recalled some of the many improvised window treatments I have seen around the city. This one looked like a sheet. I have also seen black contractors' bags, cardboard, contour sheets, newspapers, blankets and towels (scroll down here to see an example).

Across Gavett Place, the other part of the envisioned entertainment center is getting the final details. It has 20 apartments and commercial space along with grounds for gatherings across from the main train station.
Art Lofts I

I ran into two very interesting people on North Avenue, both with vital interest in Plainfield, and we dished for a while on city topics. It reminded me of what I used to call "journalism by walking around," because the conversations were revelatory and only needed a little more work to produce stories.

The colors on this building were brighter than I remembered. Turns out it was just re-painted. The aqua details really stood out. I was telling one person about a theater that had been on the block, in the spot that is now just a vacant lot. If you weren't here in 2010, check out these demolition images.

Back home to the six-family building that was once the home of Joseph Yates, a member of Plainfield's first council. The Oak tree out front might even date back to those days.
The current City Council will not meet again until Dec. 5, when an agenda-fixing session is scheduled. The regular meeting is Dec. 12 and on Dec. 19 there will be an agenda-fixing session for the council reorganization in January. By the way, official results of the Nov. 8 election show 11,224 votes for Rebecca Williams, currently representing Wards 2&3 at-large but starting a four-year term as the Citywide at-large representative in January. Charles McRae won the Third Ward seat with 2,544 votes to 995 for former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. The council will choose an appointee to serve in Wards 2&3 at-large until the next general election.

Hope you enjoyed coming along on my walk!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Taking A Break

Some of you may know I was a reporter for 16 years before retiring in 2003. Recently I was taking a look at my old assignment books and couldn't help noticing all the vacation and personal days I had to use or lose every year. By contrast, as a blogger since June 2005 I have posted daily for more than 11 years with hardly a break. Early on, Barbara Todd Kerr also posted, but most of the 2,343 Plainfield Plaintalker posts were mine, as were all of the 3,550 Plaintalker II posts.

Seeing all those vacation days made me think I should assign myself a few, so here goes! The blog will be on hiatus for a while. Feel free to browse the archives at or if you wish. Here's an example from 2008: Plainfield and How It Got That Way. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday Wins Give Mapp A Council Majority

Councilman-elect Charles McRae, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp

City Council victories Tuesday mean Mayor Adrian O. Mapp will finally have a supportive majority on the governing body.

With the election of Charles McRae to the Third Ward seat and Rebecca Williams to the Citywide at-large seat, plus an appointee to fill Williams' unexpired Second & Third Ward term, Mapp will be able to count to a friendly five on the seven-member council in January.

Williams was unopposed Tuesday for the Citywide at-large seat and received 10,494 votes, according to unofficial results posted by Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi. In the Third Ward, McRae won with 2,364 votes, overcoming a challenge from former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who ran as an Independent and got 952 votes. Official results are expected Monday.
Supporters applaud Mapp's remarks

"I'm very pleased that after having to struggle over the last three years with a majority of City Council members that was not supporting my vision, it's very heartening to have a total of five council members that will be supportive of my vision," Mapp said as his team celebrated Tuesday night.
Councilman Barry Goode, Citywide at-large Councilwoman-elect Rebecca Williams.

Williams called McRae's  win "clearly a mandate for fresh, responsive leadership in the Third Ward" and said, "I'm gratified that the voters had enough confidence in me to vote for me as their citywide representative."

She said a lot of voters know her from her 15 years of walking across the city for various campaigns. She helped several people run and win off the line and finally did so herself twice before getting the line this year from the Democratic City Committee chaired by Mapp.

Mapp displaced Assemblyman Jerry Green as city committee chairman in June 2015, though Green retained the Union County Democratic Committee chairmanship. All the elected officials are Democrats, but they are split between Green and Mapp. Green opened campaign headquarters on Park Avenue, even though Mapp had Democratic headquarters on Watchung Avenue. Both urged support of Column A, but Green omitted the council candidates from signage and from a handout to voters at the polls. The handout had Green's photo and an image of the ballot that left off the council line.

Mapp recalled Tuesday that when he took office, he had only two supporters on the council.

"Just imagine what I am able to do with five," Mapp said, but quickly named the challenges ahead.

"I am in the third year of a four-year term," he said. "I have to run for re-election in seven months."

Mapp said his name will be on the June primary ballot, along with candidates for the Fourth Ward and Second & Third Ward at-large seat.

"I want to ask each and every one to be supportive of my re-election, to make sure we get the right results," he said, announcing a "birthday bash" event on Dec. 2 to launch the re-election campaign.
Not only will Mapp have to run for re-election in 2017, the 68 City Committee seats will be up in June and winners will choose the chair for the following two years. The appointee replacing Williams in the Second & Third Ward at-large seat will have to run in the June primary, as will Fourth Ward candidates. If unsuccessful, the appointee would have to yield in November to the winner of the general election.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote Today

By this time tomorrow, we will know who won the election. The pundits will give way to the analysts and between now and January the election chatter will just take another form.

Make sure you take part in this historic election. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. This year, there are unprecedented tools to find your polling place and help you vote. Facebook has one  and news outlets are aiding turnout as well.

In Plainfield, 2017 is already looming large. There will be a mayoral race and one for the Fourth Ward. It will be the Democratic City Committee's turn to fill 68 seats and choose a chairman to serve for two years. Statewide, voters will choose a governor (though the Democratic candidacy seems to be already resolved). By the time of the primary we shall also have an indication of how the new president is doing on the world stage.

But one thing at a time - just get to the polls and vote today. It's crucial!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Be Part Of The Outcome

W-w-w-waiting for Outcomes

Facebook wanted me to recall a 2012 blog post titled, "Antsy Tuesday, Waiting for Outcomes" but I did something wrong and didn't put up the memory.

However, the title struck me as very relevant right now, not because of a weather disaster, but for the jitters many feel about what will happen on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 and in the four years after the presidential inauguration in January 2017. Commentators today projected two possible scenarios, a loose-cannon Republican winner or Democrat who will be stymied through 2020 by Republican naysayers.

The candidates have engendered much dark humor, but it really isn't funny when they are deemed the worst ones in history, the most disliked, most despised. There are seven other presidential choices on the ballot, but some voters say they will just skip the polls this year.

As hard as the decision-making process may be on Tuesday, don't sit it out. Think, pray, read, listen and then go do it! Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Check your ballot to confirm your polling place and to review candidates and public questions - and VOTE!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What's Being Heard on Third Ward Grapevine?

Wild Grapevine

I don't live in the Third Ward, so I don't get campaign literature for the City Council race in that ward. I'm curious to know what kind of messages the candidates are giving voters this time around. The candidates did take part in a forum, but in the last days of a campaign the strongest pitches tend to emerge. So what are you hearing from Democrat Charles McRae and Independent Sharon Robinson-Briggs? 

Nasturtiums Still Blooming

November is here and still no frost!

I planted a lot of Nasturtiums this year and this group is still going strong on November 5. There are more with green and white variegated leaves that may yet bloom if the weather stays moderate.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Shared Parking And Other Planning Board Topics

Sharing is something children are taught to do with toys and candy, but land use planners want urban dwellers to think about sharing another coveted item - parking.

In a redevelopment plan presentation Thursday for a 25-acre swath of North Avenue, planner Veena Sawant of the Nishuane Group said parking requirements can be reduced when they are shared. The concept relies on agreements between property owners and is based on the notion that specific parking spaces are not full all the time. Traditionally, each building's parking need is assessed separately, but by sharing, Jersey City reduced requirements by 60 percent.

"We propose 20 percent reduction," Sawant said.

To learn more, scroll down in this New Jersey state transportation article to a section entitled "Efficiency: Encourage shared parking ...

Sawant was describing "new design standards and guidelines" for the tract bordered by North Avenue, Berckman Street, Leland Avenue and the Raritan Valley Line tracks. Currently it contains vacant, abandoned and under-utilized structures not conducive to transit-oriented development, she said. The goal is to create a "24/7 living district" with new mixed-use buildings, commercial at the ground floor and residential above. Thirteen-foot sidewalks would have three zones, one for fire hydrants and bus stops, one for walking and five feet in front of storefronts for outdoor dining and the like.

Sawant suggested a maximum of 90 units per acre and one car per 1- or 2-bedroom unit and no street parking, though a board member said street parking is necessary for a football field in the tract.

One tricky issue is that the entire area is in a Flood Hazard Zone, although developers could seek an NJDEP hardship exemption from having to build four feet above ground  level.

As for the old buildings in the tract, someone mentioned they could be recycled and used for fill. The rationale is explained in a Rutgers manual on Green Building.

The Planning Board approved the North Avenue redevelopment plan and it will go next to the City Council for adoption.

The board also held a public hearing on an "In Need of Redevelopment" study of 28 properties on Block 645, and had a lengthy discussion on satellite dishes. Issues included who owns abandoned dishes and who can be held responsible for their removal. Board attorney Janine Bauer guided the discussion with reminders of federal regulations on the devices and intricacies of landlord/tenant law. The board's work on the issue will continue next month.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Toliver: Address Public Nuisance on Park Avenue

People creating a public nuisance at Park & Seventh have now spread to Park & Front, officials said at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Councilwoman Diane Toliver had requested a council discussion of conditions at Park & Seventh after seeing them first-hand while volunteering at a Democratic campaign office there. Toliver said she walked along Park Avenue to Front Street and found people fighting, selling drugs and urinating in public.

Financial Plaza at Park & Front, newly renovated in 2008
Police Director Carl Riley said Tuesday he had benches removed from the Front Street corner, saying "resources were being wasted there." in dealing with the loiterers.

Chess table saved in 2005 renovations

"The crew that plays chess is no concern," Riley said.

In 2012, former Police Director Martin Hellwig had a bench removed from Park & Seventh because people were sleeping on it, drinking and having loud, profanity-laced arguments that were frightening away shoppers.

 Riley said police were trying to use "positive engagement" with the individuals causing nuisances.

Toliver also cited the Park Hotel, a state-licensed home for adults, as a source of problems and said officials might "perhaps enlighten the owners."

Riley said he and Deputy City Administrator Carlos Sanchez met with operators of the Park Hotel and things improved at Park  & Seventh, but now, Riley said, they will have a meeting regarding the situation at Park & Front.

Both locations are shopping destinations and merchants have also asked for help in deterring loitering and panhandling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Taxi Towing Penalty Approved On First Reading

Supporters of a North Plainfield taxi company and even one competitor came to Tuesday's City Council meeting to challenge new legislation that would allow police to have their taxis towed for picking up passengers in Plainfield.

The city has already levied heavy fines for the infraction as a result of complaints from Plainfield taxi companies that must pay for licenses and meet requirements of the city taxi ordinance. But representatives of the North Plainfield companies said they are Plainfield residents who are just trying to earn a living..

The ordinance to allow towing of a non-city taxi at a police officer's request passed on first reading Tuesday and will be up for second reading and final passage on Dec. 12.

In public comment, the dispatcher for a new North Plainfield company, Gray Taxi, told the council he had been taught that America is the greatest country for its freedom, adding, "We just want to work honestly."

He said because of fines by the city he could not afford costumes for his daughters.

"We're not stealing nobody's business," he said.

Plainfield has four licensed taxi companies and because the number of taxis goes by population, no new city licenses can be issued. Soria Taxi owner Fabian Soria pleaded two years ago with the governing body to relent on the fines and said due to the cap on licenses he can't get one, even though he started out in Plainfield. His daughter said Tuesday she was born and raised in Plainfield and called it "unfair the way Plainfield treats my parents."

Another woman who drives for Soria said she was recently pulled over in Plainfield "for no reason," scaring her passengers. She said she had collected numerous signatures from Plainfield residents saying they liked Soria Taxi and a speaker alleged a city police officer called Soria on his personal cell phone to pick up bar patrons at closing  time.

Others in favor of Soria claimed that Plainfield taxis may take half an hour to show up, but the Gray Taxi dispatcher put in a couple of similar digs at Soria.

All arguments aside, Corporation Counsel David Minchello said there is "no reciprocity" just because a person has a taxi license in North Plainfield.

Here is the amendment to the taxi ordinance that will be up for final passage on Dec. 12:

Any vehicle operating in violation of this chapter shall be deemed a nuisance and a menace to the safe and proper regulation of traffic, and any Police Officer upon his or her discretion, may provide for the removal of that vehicle. The owner shall bear the costs of removal and storage which may result from such removal before regaining possession of the vehicle.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Taxis, Speed Among Council Concerns

Among items up for a vote at the Nov. 1 City Council meeting, one ordinance targets out-of-town taxis that compete with city-licensed cabs and another aims to slow traffic on East Second Street to 25 miles per hour.

The combined agenda-fixing/regular meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Clinton Elementary School, 1302 West Fourth Street.

In 2014, the owner of Soria Taxi asked the council to reconsider a ban on his cabs, but a city taxi owners' group is adamantly opposed and protested at the Oct. 11 council meeting (reported by Dan).  The proposed change in the taxi ordinance allows for outside taxis to be taken off the road:

(e) Any vehicle operating in violation of this chapter shall be deemed a nuisance and a menace to the safe and proper regulation of traffic, and any Police Officer upon his or her discretion, may provide for the removal of that vehicle. The owner shall bear the costs of removal and storage which may result from such removal before regaining possession of the vehicle

Measures so far have not deterred Soria from picking up passengers in Plainfield, opponents allege, saying the owner just considers fines part of the cost of doing business. The ordinance amendment will have to pass on two readings before taking effect.

The other ordinance change limits speed on East Second Street. I did not attend the Oct. 11 meeting and heard no discussion of the need for a 25 mph rule, but I do know the street narrows as it goes east. It is a bus route and I have seen it become a tight squeeze when two 59 buses must pass each other.

East Second Street (a) 25 MPH from the center of Park Avenue to the center of Roosevelt Avenue; (b) 25 MPH from the center of Roosevelt Avenue to the easterly Plainfield Line (Terrill Road).

The agenda also includes a discussion item regarding "Loitering & Public Nuisance" at Park Avenue and West Seventh Street.

Pay At the Booth On Lot 6

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Attendants at this temporary booth on Municipal Parking Lot 6 will take change only for parking fees while awaiting installation of automated pay stations.

I was so intrigued by the sight of this booth that I forgot to write down how much time you get for a quarter, the preferred coin for transactions. Also I found out when I went to download the photos that I had done something on the smart phone to make the photos back and white.

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The parking lot was milled and repaved and will soon be striped. New fencing will also be installed, Public Works Superintendent John Louise said.

Click to see Plaintalker's earlier post on the parking lot makeover.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Democrats Lead Ranks of Plainfield Voters

The number of registered voters here for the Nov. 8 election is an unprecedented 23,321 and 62 percent are Democrats.

Figures released on Oct. 23 by the Union County Board of Elections show 14,524 Democrats, 7,793 unaffiliated (no party declaration) and 930 Republicans, along with smatterings of support for various other parties. To see the complete list, go to Affiliation Statistics and scroll down to page 14 for Plainfield. The key to party codes is on the last page.

The only contested race in Plainfield is for the Third Ward City Council seat. Registered voters in the Third Ward number 6,413. Democrat Charles McRae won the June 7 primary and former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs filed the same day as an Independent, assuring a place on the Nov. 8 ballot. The Board of Elections statistics show the number of voters in each of the city's 34 voting districts. Ward 1 has eight districts, Ward 2 has eleven, Ward 3 has ten and Ward 4 has five voting districts.

Turnout is the key and there are two campaign offices in Plainfield, one on Watchung Avenue led by Plainfield Democratic Party Chairman Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and another on Park Avenue established by Union County Democratic Party Chairman Assemblyman Jerry Green.

Voters should have received sample ballots by now. The tumultuous presidential race is at the top of the ticket, with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump as the main challengers and seven lesser-known candidates for the nation's highest office.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happy Diwali

  Happy Diwali 
to all our
Hindu friends and neighbors

Friday, October 28, 2016

Commentary on the Candidates' Forum

It was fairly clear at Wednesday's candidate forum that former two-term Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is still not over her long competition with current Mayor Adrian Mapp. She lost a third-term bid to him in the June 2013 primary, but showed up to chide him at many meetings after he took office in January 2014. Now she is running as an Independent against Democrat Charles McRae for the Third Ward City Council seat which Mapp previously held.

This post on a few topics is a follow-up to my earlier post on the forum.

Hiring and Firing: After eight years as mayor, Sharon Robinson-Briggs should have a better understanding of the separation of powers. As a Third Ward council representative, she would be in the legislative branch, not the executive branch and so would have no power over hiring or firing staff, despite her remarks Wednesday.

Economic Development: Robinson-Briggs contrasted the city with Westfield and Cranford and said Plainfield has "more than our allotted number of dollar stores and nail places." Prior to her administration, the city had a cabinet-level deputy city administrator for economic development, but she p but the responsibility in the hands of a middle manager of Community Development who could be found on the city website only by drilling down several steps. Currently Economic Development is on the front page with a link to the deputy city administrator levels.

The Vet Center: Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs signed a deal with developer Glen Fishman that said the Veterans' Center would be sold to the city for $1 only after all 63 condos on the upper three floors were sold. After years of limited sales, some condos were rented and the proposed center remained an office for the Monarch management. She said Wednesday it was the "council :led by our mayor" that would not allow a fee to be paid to open the center during her tenure. It was not occupied by veterans until Veterans' Day 2014, at which time the former mayor took credit.

The Typo: I was not sure I heard Charles McRae take credit for finding a large error in a past city budget, but Dan today wrote "McRae pointed out that, as a member of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, he caught a $1 million+ error in the budget that Robinson-Briggs had submitted (he politely refrained from naming her, only saying it was during a 'previous administration')"

Actually, I found that error and urged then-City Administrator Marc Dashield to take a look. Initially I did not want to "be .part of the story," a grave sin for journalists, but as a blogger it kind of got to me how the error went unnoticed by so many officials who sent the Municipal Data Sheet document to Trenton with their signatures on it. Read "A Bit of a Stretch" from 2008.

The general election is Nov. 8. Check your sample ballot for your polling place and review your choices for president, Congress, freeholders and Third Ward City Council. (In the other council race, Rebecca Williams is running unopposed for the Citywide at-large seat.

As of Oct. 23, there are 23,321 total Plainfield registered voters, including 14,524 Democrats, 12 Green Party, 12 Libertarian Party, five National Law Party,  two Reform Party, 930 Republicans, six Socialist Party, 23 Conservative Party and 7,793 unaffiliated voters. In the general election, you can vote across party lines as you wish.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Enough Already

I tried to post a straight story on the candidates' forum with maybe a commentary to follow later. Then two things happened. I got to a part of my notes where a loaded question was posed to former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. There was not enough context for the reader or maybe even last night's audience to know what it was all about. Apparently it had to do with a controversial CNN interview from 2011. The mayor's opponent for the Third Ward seat, Charles McRae, alluded to the news tape and stressed the need for positive exposure of Plainfield in the media. I couldn't find the right words for this situation. Maybe Dan will write about it in a comprehensible way..

The other thing was that I had posted pictures on the netbook and then was using the laptop to write the report itself. The laptop lacks memory for photo downloads but I can call up the pictures and text through Blogger. It's a mess and a pain in the keister to work this way. So then one of the photos disappears off the story in the laptop. Back to the netbook to bring up the photo and insert it again. Oy. It's 3:30 a.m. and I quit.

LWV's Third Ward Forum

Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Charles McRae

Third Ward City Council candidates in the only local Nov. 8 contest met the public at the Plainfield League of Women Voters forum Wednesday. 
Moderator Sandra Matsen of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey posed questions from the local league and the audience.

In opening statements, Democrat Charles McRae described himself as a 32-year city resident steadily involved in "organizations that push the city forward," including his block association, PTA, city Zoning Board and Citizens' Budget Advisory Board. He said he is "self-motivated and very energetic" and wants to represent the Third Ward on the City Council. Sharon Robinson-Briggs said she is a registered Democrat running as an Independent and led off with a couple of anecdotes about registering people to vote when she was only six years old and supporting same-sex marriage in her first term as mayor. She also took credit for a veterans' march, a City Hall garden, a clock at Municipal Court and street repairs.

Among the questions:

Q. What have you done to prepare yourself for this position?
Robinson-Briggs named serving two terms as the city's first female mayor, school board service including presidency, affiliations with numerous organizations including her block association, NAACP, Angels for Action and CBAC
"I show leadership and continue to show advocacy for the city of Plainfield." she said.
Democrat Charles McRae, Column A
McRae described founding the first African-American fraternity at Rutgers University, PTA presidency and working to pass a $33 million bond issue to build Washington Community School, serving on CBAC and dealing with a $1.8 million budget omission, presidency of his block association and mentoring 70 young men.

Q. What is the city's single biggest issue and specific steps you will take in your first six months to address it?
"Taxes," McRae said, vowing to work with the administration to find ways to reduce taxes. McRae pledged to "be fiscally responsible and not spend money frivolously."
Independent Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Column C
Robinson-Briggs named crime and unemployment as the most serious issues facing the city and called for establishment of a youth center and a training center to reduce crime and help people become gainfully employed. She urged going back "to things that actually work," such as mentoring, community outreach and a gun buy-back program. 

Asked about her most meaningful contribution to government, Robinson-Briggs cited school and city budgets over 11 years and her "unique experience" as mayor.

McRae said he would bring "civility and knowledge, wisdom and understanding of government" to the council, as well as professionalism and Robert's Rules of Order. He said he would read the agenda, interpret the information and be able to have questions ( ask).

Questions from the audience concerned speeding, infighting among council members, how to assess need for veterans' services, Third Ward needs, youth development, quality of life, uses for the former Muhlenberg hospital site and how to keep the city moving forward. On the last one, McRae said he would work with the administration on "projects we have right now," citing a "new-found zeal " of developers to build in the city. he said one issue is the time it takes to move projects through various board approvals and said a technical review committee now helps streamline the process. He said the council also has an Economic Development Committee that should be working to help the city get good, sound development.

Robinson-Briggs said, "We've had positive investment in Plainfield for several years. We're suburban, urban, rural." 

But she objected to a "gigantic" new project on South Second Street, "across from a house of worship."

"I definitely have to learn more about it," she said. "It's not a good look for Plainfield."

(To be continued)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Third Ward Candidate Forum Tonight

There is only one contest at the local level in the Nov. 8 general election, for the Third Ward City Council seat. Candidates are Democrat Charles McRae and Independent Sharon Robinson-Briggs. The winner will serve a four-year term beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.

You can hear the candidates answer questions at the annual Plainfield League of Women Voters forum, 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 26) in the Anne Louise Davis Room of the Plainfield Public Library. Candidates have submitted biographical sketches which are posted online at this link:
2016 LWV Candidate Information

The other City Council seat up for election on Nov. 8 is the Citywide at-large seat, representing all four wards. Councilwoman Rebecca Williams, a Democrat currently representing the Second and Third Wards at-large, is running unopposed.

Visit Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi's link for complete voting information.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two Cretella Projects Nearing Completion

Gavett Place Properties LLC

Developer Frank Cretella is putting the finishing touches on two projects on East Second Street flanking Gavett Place. Above, eight apartments are completed and plans call for a restaurant on the ground floor. A patio for outdoor dining is nearing completion.

Art Lofts I LLC

Art Lofts I LLC will have 20 apartments over commercial space at ground level. Cretella held a groundbreaking in July 2014. An adjacent city-owned space facing the main train station  is envisioned as an event venue and Gavett Place itself may be closed at times for large events.

The two projects are among nearly a dozen proposals by Cretella's company, Landmark Developers.
The largest is a mixed-use complex with 148 apartments and 26,830 square feet for office, retail and adult day care uses. The application dates back to 2008 and would be located on a former bank parking lot on West Second Street off Park Avenue.

Meanwhile, Cretella has renovated the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station and the Hotel du Village in New Hope, among other projects in the hospitality branch of his company. Keep- an eye on Gavett Place in 2017 to see how the plans for events and restaurants develop here.

Stating The Obvious

I can't imagine who would need this reminder, except maybe a person staring into a cell phone while walking on Park Avenue. And that person won't even see a sign, being too mesmerized by the phone. Crash!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Why I Am Voting For Rebecca

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams
Reporters are never supposed to endorse candidates, but because Councilwoman Rebecca Williams is running unopposed, I guess a few words in her favor can't be construed as partisan.

Elected twice to the Second & Third Ward City Council seat, she is now running (on the line, for the first time) for the Citywide at-large seat. She defeated incumbent Councilwoman Tracey Brown in the June primary and is on the ballot in Column A with a roster of Democrats topped by Hillary Clinton for president.

Having observed municipal government in Plainfield for more than thirty years, I have a pretty good notion of what constitutes effective public service. A responsible council member goes through the packet each member receives before a meeting and prepares to support a resolution or ordinance by reading it and asking any necessary questions. If it is unacceptable, the councilperson should be able to state reasons for not approving it. In my opinion, Rebecca understands her role as a legislator.

Rebecca also advocates for community causes through social media and her blogs. She informs herself and does not berate members of the administration over items that are already explained in the packet. She knows Robert's Rules of Order and honors proper procedure in meetings. She is one of the few council members who give committee assignment reports to the full governing body and public.

As the only openly gay council member, she highlights significant dates in the LGBT community to foster understanding citywide and to counter homophobia. She has met attacks on her personal status and beliefs with forbearance, even when the attacks are extreme.

Rebecca celebrates Plainfield's diversity and champions its cultural assets, encourages civic engagement and supports city youth in their aspirations. For all these reasons, she has my vote on Nov. 8.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Casino Question on Nov. 8 Ballot

An off-topic commenter who types in all caps wants you to know about a rumor that a casino is coming to Plainfield. Also I have been deleting numerous emails from another annoying person who wants people to vote "No" on the question.  Today I realized that my nearly life-long aversion to gambling has prevented me from even thinking about this question. I tried to inform myself online with no luck until I came across an overview by Ballotpedia, which includes both sides of the issue. Click on the link below.

 (Allowance for Casinos in Two Additional Counties)

My dislike for gambling comes from seeing its effects on relatives in both my family and my ex-husband's family. It is too easy to get caught up on the fantasy of luck that will solve all your problems. In fact, the gambler often loses much more than he or she ever gains, leading to debt and even prison for taking money to support the gambling habit.

At my 1958 wedding reception when relatives were filing up with envelopes as was the custom, one gambler uncle whispered not to tell his wife that he had taken out some of the gift money! In my family, as a child I felt queasy at the sight of daily racing forms used for betting. Visiting Atlantic City, I had no desire to enter a casino and felt sorry for those mindlessly playing the slot machines. 

The arguments pro and con casino expansion appear to be based mostly on economic considerations.. Look at your sample ballot, read the overview at the link above and vote!

Lot 6 Gets Makeover

A very popular parking lot was among four locations that just received milling and paving with funds left over from a larger road project.

Municipal Parking Lot 6 downtown, Melrose Place and Melrose Avenue in the West End and Academy Street in the East End were refurbished at a cost of $150,000, according to a resolution the City Council passed on Oct. 11. The city had joined the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council to save costs on road resurfacing and the contractor, Tilcon New York of Piscataway, was able to add the lot and the small streets to its schedule.

City Administrator Rick Smiley said Lot 6 will soon have two pay stations for credit card use and more lights. For a short time while work is being completed, attendants will take parking fees, he said. As of Friday, the paving was complete and striping will follow. (Old-timers will recall when there was a booth and an attendant taking fees before parking meters were installed.)

The parking lot is behind Bill's Luncheonette and other popular East Front Street destinations. Here's how it looked in March 2015:


Footing for Pay Station
Entrance/exit with planter

The parking lot once had an entrance on the west side and exit on the east side. When it was changed to an entrance and exit both on the west side, trucks tended to run over the concrete because the turn off East Second Street was too sharp.   Now it should be easier for delivery trucks and such to make the turn. And I really like the addition of a planter!

I need to do an update on the statistics below, but besides income from parking meters, the city receives income from monthly parking permits. Most of the lots need upgrades. 

Here is a 2009 overview of municipal parking lots.