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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Myrtle & Madison Avenue mysteries

Are Plainfield taxpayers being flimflammed again?

Now that the move of the Board of Ed's administrative offices from 504 Madison Avenue and the old High School to the Jefferson School building on Myrtle Avenue is out in the open, another question emerges: What of the agreement by the State with the City to return the old National Starch headquarters building -- now used as the swing school site -- to the tax rolls once the schools construction program was complete.

That would mean an extra several hundred thousand dollars a year in taxes -- something which should surely be of interest to a cash-strapped city looking at reduced state aid (as reported in today's papers, Plainfield will lose $683,000 in the next fiscal year).

But that would mean the question of the Jefferson School students needs to be resolved.

How the Jefferson kids ended up at the swing school without a firm commitment to build a new school (or renovate and expand the existing one) is something of a mystery to me. Nevertheless, there they are. And their building is now being taken over for administrative offices, for which it may be suitable.

Is funding for a new Jefferson School expected in the $3.9 billion the governor signed an authorization for yesterday? If so, where will the new school be built? (I have no recollection of a site ever being mentioned.)

Enquiring minds would like to know.

Meanwhile, what will become of 504 Madison Avenue?

Used originally as a meetinghouse by Plainfield's Seventh Day Baptist congregation before its sumptuous 1890s building was erected on the adjacent property at the corner of 5th and Central, the building is historic (probably designed by or from a blueprint of 19th-century architect A.J. Bicknell, who had a practice in Elizabeth; the belfry is the giveaway).

Will it moulder? Will it fall to the wrecker's ball? Will someone find an alternative use for it that will preserve its historic character?

Mysteries of Myrtle and Madison Avenues.

-- Dan Damon

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