PLAINFIELD TODAY

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Friday, May 24, 2019

1970s Party fundraiser for Councilman Goode Friday

Get out your 70s fashions for a party...







Whether formal (including the Minnie Mouse shoes)...



...Glitzy, as in this 1977 photo of the Jackson 5...




...and let's not forget it was the decade of patterns.





Rummage in your closet and get ready for a 1970s Party this Friday night.

The fundraiser for Councilor Barry Goode, who is the Plainfield Democratic Party's candidate for re-election tow Wards 1/4 at-large, will be held at Plainfield Dem Headquarters, 31 Watchung Avenue from 6:00 to 9:00 PM this Friday (May 24).

The suggested donation is $100 (but come, and give what you can). Checks made payable to "Goode for Council".

Dem Headquarters is at 31 Watchung Avenue (next to Antojito's Restaurant). Parking behind headquarters and in the public lot adjacent or on the street.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Signs of the times: 2019 Primary Election campaign signs are springing up


Busy billboard for a busy corner. You probably can't take
it all in in one pass -- Council, City Committee,
Freeholder, Assembly and more.



With Plainfield's June Primary Election just two weeks away (June 4), I thought to take a look at the sign situation.

As everyone knows, signs don't vote, but still they are a rough indicator of interest in the upcoming election.

Here's what I turned up --











There is a fair sprinkling of signs for the re-election of Barry Goode for Wards 1/4 at-large. There were considerably fewer for his challenger, Terri Briggs Jones -- and I didn't see any for former Council President Bridget Rivers (I will take another look).

In Ward 2, Councilor Cory Storch has a considerable numbers of signs along busy streets (like Watchung and Leland Avenues), but also on the side streets.

While there are fewer signs for challenger Sean McKenna, they are spread out -- indicating he is doing his door-to-door work. I have to say he has shied away from the standard advice of bold sign colors for a very subdued palette. Off the beaten path, so to speak.












The county races -- dominated by the Freeholders -- only saw signs pop up this weekend, though the challenger's signs that I saw have been in place for more than a week.

I don't think Freeholder Rebecca Williams and her running mates -- Betty Jane Kowalski and Sergio Granados -- have anything to fear.

However, the Dems United for Progress slate (which includes Plainfield's own Wilma Campbell -- who switched parties for this race) appears to be coordinated with the People First slate of Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, who declined the regular party's line.

The buzz is that the Dems United are a proxy for Sen. Joe Cryan in the ongoing struggle with Sen. Nick Scutari for dominance in Union County Democratic politics.

Mayor Mapp, as chairman of the PDCC, sprang for the billboard above the Plainfield Donut Shop, paid for by his "Mapp for Mayor" account. The billboard makes a prominent pitch for his re-election as PDCC chair along with the cast of candidates. It is a bit busy to take in all on one pass by, so you will need to make a couple of passes -- or park and take a photo as I did.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Friday, May 17, 2019

The robots are coming! The robots are coming!


"Marty" the robot, hard at work at the Stop & Shop.



Another geezer and I happened to walk together into the Stop & Shop at Watchung Square a few days ago.

We exchanged pleasantries on the way in, where I picked up a package and was perusing the label (haven't we ALL become label readers?) and he stopped to look at the fruit specials at the table near the entrance.

Deeply engrossed in my label-reading, I became aware of a clicking sound. The other gent and I looked up at the same time -- and were surprised to see a the robot pictured above creeping along near us. The clicking sound had come from the robot. It's name is "Marty".

He had seen "Marty" before, I had not.

"Marty" clicks and whirs, then advances a short distance, stops, clicks and whirs again, then advances in a slightly different direction a little bit more.

When it gets a certain distance from a bin or a customer or a shelf, it corrects itself and starts off in a slightly different direction.

Eventually, "Marty" covers the entire store. But what is "he" looking for?

There is a small label affixed to "his" front that says he is for customer safety, but it took a clerk to explain to me that "he" is supposed to spot spills and the occasionally dropped box or other item in the aisles.

"Marty" never gets tired, never gets distracted and does not need a bathroom break -- ever.

Smart idea?

Does this mean anyone has lost a job?

I don't know, but when I mentioned "Marty" to the cashier on the way out, she rolled her eyes and said, "What a pain!"

Her complaint was that "Marty" is programmed to be too sensitive and blasts "his" news and the location out over the public PA system whenever something is spotted, which in her opinion is entirely too often.

"They need to dial 'it' back", she said, banging the register shut.

As I left, "Marty" was just starting down another aisle, weaving between shoppers' carts and the shelves. The future is upon us.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Soup kitchen starts up again at Crescent Avenue Church


Volunteers set up the serving line under the
supervision of Executive Chef Kevin Cook ...


... and stand ready to greet the guests.


With a the completion of a kitchen renovation at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, the church's soup kitchen ministry has restarted, with meals served every Tuesday.

Named Valarie's Kitchen in honor of the late Valarie Fisher, who encouraged its beginnings, the kitchen is the result of a successful $300,000 fundraising effort and involves the complete renovation of the original 80-year-old kitchen and installation of new state-of-the-art equipment.

Valarie (who incidentally was also the first director of Grace's Kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church) -- after realizing that the church's kitchen was functioning while many members' homes were without power -- encouraged the congregation to open its doors and bring together those who had food that would otherwise spoil to cook and serve it to the hungry.

The program grew through word of mouth until there were volunteers from the church and the community at large who prepared lunches for as many as 250 guests each week.

Volunteers serve under the supervision of Executive Chef Kevin Cook. Cook is a seasoned executive chef with more than ten years experience in such fine dining establishments as the Somerset Hills Hotel in Somerset and the Lake Edge Restaurant in Watchung.

The reopening of the kitchen with expanded services is just one of many initiatives that Crescent Avenue Presbyterian has planned for the celebration of its 175th anniversary in 2019. Volunteers -- either individuals or groups -- are welcome.  For more information, calling the church at (908) 756-2468 or visit the church’s web site here.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Monday, May 13, 2019

Council takes up a PILOT of a different kind Monday


The Allen Young Apartments on Central Avenue
(across from the Fire Station) are on the agenda.





Monday's Plainfield City Council business meeting will take up a PILOT of a different kind.

PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) is a familiar tool of projects promoted as "economic development". Think of the current large-scale apartment project on South Avenue.

They are advantageous to the developers (which after all are in the business of making a profit) because the payments are based on a formula (in the case of a residential project, on the rents) that never rises to the level of full tax rates because the school district and the county assessments are excluded.

This is fine for the City of Plainfield as far as covering its expenses, but not so much for the schools and the county. However, everyone has become accustomed to living with the arrangement. (Though an individual property owner might wonder if he or she is being soaked for the difference -- after all, the school and county budgets must be made up no matter who is let off the hook.)

Monday's PILOT, though, is of a different stripe.

The State of New Jersey allows as how affordable housing is a desirable thing and provides for a particular kind of tax abatement for providers of such housing.

The Council will take up an ordinance (MC 2019-12) for a PILOT covering the Allen Young Apartments, which has two locations: Central Avenue at West 4th Street, and Myrtle Avenue at Clinton Avenue, with a total of 104 qualifying units (plus 3 at market rate, for a total of 107 units).

Apartments vary from 1- and 2-bedroom units on the same floor, to 3- and 4-bedroom duplex (2 floor) units.

The documentation with the agenda shows that the new owner, IC Development Urban Renewal, LLC, replaces the original owner/developer of the project, United Plainfield Housing Corporation (UPHC), which obtained the original PILOT in 1973.

The UPHC is the outgrowth of the Plainfield NAACP Branch's housing committee, chaired by Freeman Whetstone in the mid-1960s. (See the UPHC website here.)

(This matter does not reference the sale or sale price by the original owner/developer, nor the sale date, nor what use UPHC is making of the proceeds.)

THE IMPROVEMENTS

The PILOT is predicated on improvements the new owner will make to the properties.




Outlining the improvements (click to enlarge).
Full details are in the online documentation.


Given the developing scandal with the State's tax incentive program involving Camden projects -- where an investigation is finding lax (or non-existent) followup by the State on performance of the promises made -- it is incumbent on the City to follow up on this developer's promises.

I say this because in the most recent other affordable housing PILOT -- at Liberty Village on West 4th Street in 2014 -- among the promises made were to be replacement of the sidewalks and renovation of the community center, all to be performed within 24 months of taking ownership.

To this date, I have never seen any work done on the sidewalks, and only just recently have I noticed new siding being put on the community center. We are now at five years after the adoption of the PILOT.

At the time, the PILOT created quite a stir when there were allegations that $1.5M set aside for improvements by the previous management (the Plainfield Housing Authority) had mysteriously disappeared, and that promised improvements had never been made. I wrote about those discussions and the allegations surrounding it in several posts you can find here.



'FIRST SOURCE' EMPLOYMENT






'Good faith' effort to use local contractors and businesses.
Full details are in the online documentation.



On its face, this looks good enough. The management team is supposed to stay in place -- I assume that UPHC will then still manage the property.

Will the improvements be done by Plainfield businesses and contractors? "Good faith" is not a firm guarantee of any kind. What do you think?



PILOT PAYMENTS




The payment schedule is itself an incentive
to perpetual rollovers.

For those who are curious, the schedule of payments shows why for-profit businesses like to engage in these projects. For the first 15 of the 20 years of the PILOT, only the PILOT is paid. In the last 5 years, the owner liability rises rapidly to a maximum of 80% of the fully taxable rate -- providing a built-in incentive to repeat the process at the end of the PILOT's lifespan. By which time all of the current players (and many of us) will no longer be on the scene.

Doing well by doing good? I suppose it depends on whom you ask.


City Council meets at 7:00 PM May 13 in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.

NOTE: I have seen officers in patrol vehicles allow Council attendees to turn onto 4th Street in front of Police Headquarters to enter the public parking. Exiting is no problem. Be cautious.






  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Monday's Council business meeting has a new item


Cotton candy being spun the old-fashioned way
at a Plainfield festival.



Plainfield City Council business meetings agendas normally do not differ from the agenda of the previous week's deliberation session.

But not always.

Monday night (May 13) will be a case in point, where the Council will take up a new item (R 198-19), granting use of Lots 8 and 8A for a multicultural festival.

Edison Garcia, owner of Faraone's and sponsor of several past Latin American Independence festivals is requesting use of the lots for a "multicultural festival" on July 12 - 14th.

In the case of new business, the Council must entertain a motion to put the item(s) on the agenda, and if that passes, to then discuss and vote on the item.

City Council meets at 7:00 PM May 13 in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.

NOTE: I have seen officers in patrol vehicles allow Council attendees to turn onto 4th Street in front of Police Headquarters to enter the public parking. Exiting is no problem. Be cautious.






  -- Dan Damon [follow]


View today's CLIPS W here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.



About Cookies: This blog is operated by Google, which uses cookies to improve the user's experience. By continuing to read this blog you agree to their use.