The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No ringy-dingys with City Hall phone system

Comedian Lily Tomlin's Ernestine the telephone operator would count
the ringy-dingys on calls she placed. At least hers got through.
View some of her classic routines on YouTube here.

For the third time this year, I was unable to complete phone calls to Plainfield City Hall offices. I wouldn't even get a ring or an error message -- just silence after dialing.

I have heard complaints from employees that the system is highly unreliable and plagued with other difficulties besides leaving callers in the lurch. Some say they have have problems retrieving voicemails also.

On top of that, there is word that the city is being billed thousands of dollars for unused phone lines in a dispute with its supplier.

This is the 21st century. Shouldn't we be able to get at least 20th century phone service?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mayor Mapp's Town Hall set for Thursday

Official seal of the City of Plainfield.

Mayor Adrian Mapp has set a 'mid-year review' Town Hall meeting for this Thursday evening, 7 PM to 9 PM, at the Plainfield Senior Center, 400 East Front Street.

We can probably expect a review of the progress to date on the mayor's agenda as set forth in his Transition Report (see the report online here), but there will also be an opportunity for residents to discuss issues that may concern their neighborhood in particular.

Parking is an issue at the Senior Center. Plan on using Front Street and not the lot behind the Monarch, which is mostly for resident parking.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Registry of vacant and abandoned homes for Plainfield?

This abandoned property on East 6th Street is an eyesore
on a block that has been otherwise totally refurbished.

Would a registry of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed homes help Plainfield get a better handle on this problem?

There's not a neighborhood in the city that is without a vacant, abandoned or foreclosed home. You can often spot them with boarded windows, but sometimes the banks don't board them up -- but leave the yards for long periods without having the grass cut.

Just between 8th Street and Randolph Road on Arlington/Kenyon, there are three properties that can be spotted.

Sometimes it's not clear whether a home is in foreclosure. Take 1401 Chetwynd, for example. This tidy little ranch was the home of one of Plainfield's grand dames, Miss Peggy Thomas, niece of an early Plainfield mayor and herself the founding secretary of the Plainfield Symphony as a teenager in 1919.

The discreet and impeccable little home came on the market several years ago after Miss Thomas died with no close family.

It was bought and its new owners removed all the landscaping and showed every sign of a major makeover. Then work stopped, the yard became overgrown and the house appeared abandoned -- much to the dismay and annoyance of neighbors.

What can be done?

Several communities in South Jersey have fought back -- Cherry Hill, Paulsboro and Westwood among them. Now, Woodbury is proposing to join the movement with an ordinance that is under consideration (see South Jersey Times story here).

The proposed ordinance would compel owners of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties to pay an annual fee of $1,000 and be put on a registry maintained by the municipality.

What I think is potentially helpful is that such an ordinance could generate a registry that the city could make public -- thereby enlisting the entire community in keeping an eye on the problem.

As things stand now, we only hear something if a neighbor makes a fuss, or if the DPW goes in to cut the grass and there is a resolution placing a lien on the property that comes before the Council.

The last time there was an effort to inventory vacant and abandoned properties was under the administration of Mayor Al McWilliams, when a team of Rutgers students conducted a survey and made a list of 148 properties.

I am sure that list would be dwarfed today, with hundreds of homes in foreclosure as a result of the burst real estate bubble of the early 2000s.

What do you think -- would a registry of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties be useful in Plainfield?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

What happened in Plainfield in 1809?

Established in 1809?
What happened in Plainfield in 1809? My attention was caught by the decorative Plainfield seal used on the car magnets for officials riding in the July 4th Parade.

In the decorative scroll on which the seal was set were the words 'EST. 1809'.


I've heard a lot of dates concerning important mileposts in Plainfield's history, but I was stumped by this one. What happened in 1809?

At dinner with several Plainfield history-minded friends this past week I raised the question.

Folks were puzzled.

1869? Plainfield's charter of incorporation was adopted. 1684? The first European settlers took up residence in what is now Plainfield. 1847? Plainfield Township was created. 1809? Hmmmm.

I noted that in former years, the scrollwork always referenced the 1869 date, but during the administration of the previous mayor the 1809 mysteriously appeared.

Maybe it's just a typo that no one corrected, one of my dinner mates mused.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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