The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Taking a break...

Taking a break today to nurse a cold.

See you tomorrow.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Elmwod Gardens rehab: Fact or fiction?

Workers unboarding windows at Elmwood Gardens yesterday.

This view on West 2nd Street shows work already done.
Plainfield developer (and resident) Mario Camino of The Arkad Group posted a photo of an Elmwood Gardens building yesterday to his Facebook page (see his post and the conversation thread on it here).

What caught my attention was Mr. Camino's comments on what is going on at Elmwood Gardens. The project, once Plainfield's highest crime and drug 'hotspot' has been designated for demolition and replacement with town homes.

Camino's original comment was --

Booooom! City cleaned these suckers up. New buyer came in and is getting busy. This was one of the worst pjs in town. It's getting reconfigured, improved and revived.
Followed by this --
These will remain low income. But managed but basically the 2nd biggest landlord in the US for these types of properties. It's subsidized and got a pilot. If managed properly, which is where PHA comes in, it should fly very well for the next 50 yrs. financials are solid. They paid a premium for this too. So im sure they feel vested.
And then this to a commenter --
you're right to a certain extend. The idea is to help people that need help on their housing while maintaining a civil and crime free community. Speaking from a landlords stand point. People are always gonna need aid and the gov will always give it. What we need to do better is eliminate problems by reacting quickly. Not letting these properties rot and become drug dens. Both policing and land lording have to work well together for tear type of projects to work.
One correction to not to Mr. Camino's statements: It is the HAP, not the city, which owns and manages the project, and it was HAP's proposal (as part of the Hope IV program) to relocate the existing tenants.

Readers may recall that the Housing Authority of Plainfield came before the Planning Board and proposed that a redevelopment plan be drawn up for the area, conditioned on the demolition of the existing Elmwood Gardens complex and the construction of new town homes, with much-reduced density on the site.

It was late afternoon before I could get over to Elmwood Gardens, but I did indeed see crews removing the boards from the windows.

Checking with some of the HAP commissioners, I was told they were unaware of any plans to sell the property or to rehab it.

As it happened, the Planning Board was meeting Thursday evening and I shared what I had learned with them. The board appeared stunned at the news, and chairperson Ron Scott Bey remarked that the plan did not allow for the HAP to rehab the buildings, only for demolition an d reconstruction. In order to be able to rehab them, the HAP would have to come before the Planning Board with any proposal to change terms of the redevelopment plan.

Randall Wood, the HAP's executive director, is probably receiving phone calls this morning to find out exactly what is going on.

I am reaching out to Mr. Camino, also.

So, is this reported Elmwood Gardens rehab fact or fiction?

Stay tuned.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

With hurricane in works, time to check emergency preparations

NOAA map shows projected path of Hurricane Joaquin.

Plainfield residents need to take the approach of Hurricane Joaquin seriously.

Now is the time to check your emergency preparations and supplies -- batteries, candles, flashlights, water, nonperishable food, blankets and warm clothing, etc. Check you local gas station to see about their preparations for a storm emergency -- beforehand.

No matter how severe the storm is (or isn't) when it hits Plainfield, we all know the drill -- possibilities for power outages, fallen trees and branches and flooding in low-lying areas are high. So why not be ready?

During flash flood this past August, John Louise
and his DPW crew evacuated at flooded resident.
(Image from the Star-Ledger).
It would also be a good idea to check your emergency communications options. The City of Plainfield and Union County offer several methods for getting emergency information. If you have not already signed up, follow these links to do so before any emergency arises --

Note that with the new 65-foot telephone poles PSE&G is installing throughout the city, we have no experience with how they will do in severe wind conditions. If the storm impacts Plainfield and you must go out, pay close attention to conditions.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Council sets Wards 1,2,3 Town Halls

Turnout was sparse, perhaps because of the weather.

Councilors Williams, Toliver, Rivers, Greaves, Brown
and Storch were present.

Plainfield City Council President Bridget Rivers announced a further three Council Town Hall meetings at Tuesday's lightly attended Ward 4 Town Hall at Clinton School.

Perhaps it was the glowering weather that kept the attendance down, but fewer than twenty people took part in a meeting that usually brings out a roomful.

With six Councilors in attendance (Ward 3 representative Gloria Taylor was absent) and department heads Eric Watson, Ron West, Corporation Counsel David Minchello and chief of staff John Stewart also there, Council President Rivers got the meeting under way by saying, "This is your meeting", indicating residents could bring up any issues they wished.

The evening provided an opportunity for candidates Barry Goode, John Campbell Jr. and Norman Ortega to hit some of their campaign themes.

Residents raised issues ranging from folks running informal auto repair businesses in their driveways (on Myrtle Avenue) to worries about young people hanging out on the street, to questions about tax abatements and conplaints about information.

Except for one resident, everyone was respectful and addressed the Council as protocol demands. The one exception was a woman who -- as the longest speaker of the evening -- took one of the Council's mikes, turned her back on the Council and addressed the audience as if it were her meeting. Council President Rivers did not object to this flouting of proper procedure.

President Rivers announced the schedule of the Town Halls for the remaining wards, as follows --

Ward 2
Wednesday, October 14
Cook School

Ward 1
Tuesday, October 20
Emerson School

Ward 3
Tuesday, October 27
Cedarbrook School

All meetings begin at 7:00 PM and run until 9:00 PM. Residents are invited to attend any or all and are free to speak at any meeting.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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