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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Police layoffs imminent?

Plainfield employees are said to be getting the required letter of notice of possible layoffs tomorrow.

The Robinson-Briggs administration is apparently moving full throttle on its budget proposal, which will be presented to the City Council at a special meeting on Monday at 7:30 PM.

A second item on that special meeting's agenda will be a proposed layoff plan for FY2011 (which began this past July 1).

While a general letter is sent to all employees warning of possible layoffs, the plan will not go into effect until a) presented by the Administration, b) adopted by the Council, and c) approved by the State. Only at that point would actual layoff notices be given, to take effect 45 days from the date issued.

I am told that vis-a-vis the Police Division, the
Robinson-Briggs administration is --

  • Putting a freeze in place on all open positions;
  • Demanding 10 furlough days or a 5% wage cut;
  • Canceling the scheduled hiring of 7 new cops in October**;
  • Canceling promotions;
  • Reducing overtime.
With the Christie administration proposing an average increase of 22% in municipal contributions to employee benefits packages, Plainfield is just one of hundreds of communities facing an even tighter fiscal squeeze than last year's.

Robinson-Briggs, who won office initially with strong backing from the police unions, may be risking touching the third rail here. We shall see.

It is going to be another wild ride, though at least the budget is being delivered to the Council months earlier than last year.

**The figures cited in the Ledger's online UCR report for Plainfield gave a total of 135 officers in the Police Division -- a lower than we have ever been told to date.

Introduction of the FY2011 Budget
and proposed Layoff Plan

Monday, October 4 | 7:30 PM

City Hall Library

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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ShotSpotter® conversation amps up with Storch, Jerry and Nat weighing in

What smallery1-square mile coverage could look like.
With a growing chorus of questions from Plainfield homeowner taxpayers about the Robinson-Briggs administration's proposal to adopt the ShotSpotter® gunshot-detection technology, the conversation has been amped up with blogs posts by Councilor Cory Storch (see here), Assemblyman Jerry Green (see here) and Nat Singleton (see here).

While Olddoc (see here) points out the comments that his, Cory's and Jerry's blogs have elicited on the matter, it is Nat's post of yesterday that essentially gives the City Council A FREE CONSULT, based on his forty years experience in the technology-hustling game that IBM and UNISYS are both practitioners and victims of.

Councilor Storch gives a good overview of the issues that ought to be on Councilors' minds as they try to come to a decision on the Administration's proposal. Let's hope similar thinking is going on among the other Councilors.

Jerry is...well, Jerry. We learn that he also has questions about
ShotSpotter®, and that he's in touch with alternative providers. Too bad he spoils that good news with his tantrums about Storch and further falsehoods about the Council and the 'previous administration' (have you ever noticed there are never identifiable specifics?).

Nat's blog post gives the Council the benefit of his experience in dealing with the slipperiness of vendors seeking contracts -- and how to make sure you are getting the best product for the best price, and are protecting your organization from being ripped off if the 'steak' doesn't match the 'sizzle'. (This is the kind of hardboiled business sense we can only hope people mean when they speak of bringing a business perspective to government.)

So far,
the Robinson-Briggs administration has managed the whole business more as a public relations offensive than as a considered part of any STRATEGY for dealing with crime and gunplay. Consider for instance that the press was invited to the vendor demo at the Rock Avenue ballfields while the Council was not. Consider also that public input -- despite Mayor Robinson-Briggs' much-touted WBLS broadcast -- is only now coming into play with the scheduling by residents of a town hall meeting for Sunday afternoon.

City Administrator Bibi Taylor made it very clear at the last Council meeting that the
Robinson-Briggs administration's intent is to go forward, whether by bonding (which the Council must approve), grants (which would not come online for a minimum of two years AFTER APPLYING) or simply piling more onto already overburdened taxpayers by a DIRECT BUDGET ITEM.

All of which is good reason to make plans to come out Sunday AND Monday. On Sunday, you can raise your concerns and questions in a public forum NOT RUN BY THE ADMINISTRATION (see the flyer posted on Maria's blog here) and on Monday, you can hear the Council deliberate further on the proposed bond issue.

Full disclosure: Nat is my partner, Jerry is not. I am godfather to Councilor Storch's children (previously noted) and consider Olddoc a wise voice to be heeded.

Organized by West End Heights Homeowners

Sunday, October 3 | 4 PM

Clinton Elementary School
West 4th Street at Clinton Avenue
(Parking in Clinton Avenue lot)


Monday, October 4 | 7:30 PM

City Hall Library
The Public  is welcome and may speak at the end of the meeting.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leonardo murder highlights danger of cabbies' work

The cold-blooded shooting of cab driver Isidro Leonardo on Tuesday morning highlights the danger facing Plainfield cabbies every day.

My heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife, children and family, and to his fellow cabbies, who must worry every day about such random acts of violence.

I knew Isidro on a casual basis -- he and I often bumped into each other at the newsstand on my morning forays for the papers as he was getting a strong cup of coffee and maybe dropping off an early fare going to the laundromat next door.

Having lived in New York for many years, where many more kinds of folks are likely to use cabs than in the suburbs where having your own wheels is almost sine qua non, I was acutely aware of how dangerous a cabbie's life is.

Besides being stiffed for the fare, and having to deal with inebriated passengers who sometimes don't even know where they want to go, there is always that chance that someone will rob you at gunpoint, or even worse.

I am old enough -- and have lived in enough rough neighborhoods, to which Plainfield cannot even hold a candle -- to be inured of the gangstas murdering each other.

We all hate the violence, but to a certain extent it is part of the life these folks have bargained for, where drug turfs and points of honor can often enough lead to gunplay and even death between various 'sets'.

But shooting a man who is simply trying to make a living and give his family a better life in a new and perhaps strange country?

That enrages me.

Even though the cab companies may have established procedures for handling robberies, they are no defense against cold-blooded cowards with guns.

I certainly hope that if there are any witnesses, they will step forward. And I hope that the police and the Union County Prosecutor's office are able to make quick headway in solving this murder.

There may be an opportunity for the community (and Plainfield Today) readers to help the family as more details emerge.

But mostly, right now I worry about the other cabbies, who must now bear an extra burden of fear and anxiety as they begin their daily shift with this crime unsolved.

What can be done to make them safer?

And who will take the lead?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BREAKING: 2 shootings, stolen car crash overnight

Plainfield saw violence again overnight Sunday.

Two separate shootings in the West End include a cabbie shot in the head on Spooner Avenue, and a man shot three times on Brokaw Boulevard. Am told it does not look good for either shooting victim.

Am also told a stolen car reportedly crashed at Clinton Avenue and South Second Street, also in the West End.

UPDATE 1:00 PM: Courier has breaking news item here; see Ledger here.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Shutterbugs! Time running out on Library photo contest

Entries in the Plainfield Public Library's 5th annual 'Documenting Plainfield' photography contest are due Friday, October 1st.

This year's theme is 'East Side, West Side, all around the town'.

Amateur and professional photographers are welcome to submit up to five photographs of contemporary images of Plainfield places, activities and people.

Complete submission rules and instructions can be found on the Library's website (here) or picked up at the Library, Park Avenue and West 8th Street. Entries must be received at the Library or postmarked no later than October 1st (Friday). You can download the entry form here (PDF).

In addition to cash prizes for winners in various categories, entries become part of the Library's permanent collection of photographs documenting
Plainfield daily life.

The contest is made possible through the support of the Plainfield Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library.

For more information, contact Jessica Myers, head of the Local History Department at (908) 757-1111 x 136 or visit the Library's website here.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Proposed Historic Districts: Unofficial Maps

Properties proposed for INCLUSION in new historic district(s)
Plainfield's Historic Preservation Commission will have before it at tomorrow's meeting summary tables of properties to be considered for inclusion in -- AND EXCLUSION FROM -- a possible new historic district (or districts).

It is an open question if the meeting will be as contentious as last month's was, when property owners descended with their concerns en masse (see my previous report here).

Herewith are my unofficial maps of the proposed inclusions and exclusions.

Properties NOT PROPOSED FOR INCLUSION in new historic district(s)

Note that though based on the tables released by the HPC, they are UNOFFICIAL.

Also, note that I had questions about them as I drew the outlines -- for instance, are the Woodland Avenue properties between Highland and Prospect included? Given that Evergreen is proposed to include up to Woodland Avenue, the table seems to exclude two properties between Highland and Prospect.

These are fine points that will certainly be sorted out by the HPC either among themselves or in response to questions from property owners.

Nonetheless, the maps seem to me to make a pretty good case for th
e CREATION of probably two new historic districts bracketing the existing Hillside Avenue HD roughly from Watchung Avenue to Evergreen Avenue.

All the properties from Martine Avenue to Marlborough/Thornton Avenues and thence to Park Avenue are NOT RECOMMENDED for inclusion in any proposed historic district.

Any proposal by the Historic Preservation Commission will have to be adopted by the City Council, which will probably find the proposal(s) much more to its liking now that the 'stairstep streets' have been removed from consideration.


Tomorrow, September 28 | 7:30 PM

City Hall Library

The Public  is welcome

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sign Justice

Plainfielders don't have to ask whether there is 'sign justice'.

The evidence is before their very eyes.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Symphony's 91st season kickoff tonight features Jamie Bernstein

Composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein's daughter Jamie
will open the PSO's 91st season.
The Plainfield Symphony kicks off its 91st season tonight with a lively overview of three of the 20th century's leading American composers.

Jamie Bernstein, daughter of the famed Leonard Bernstein will talk about the works of her father, Aaron Copland, and Charles Ives, with musical illustrations provided by the PSO.

A delightful speaker (and something of a raconteur), Bernstein will provide a glimpse into how the very best composers borrow -- and even steal -- from one another both to show off their own talent and  to give homage to the person they are quoting...or upstaging, as the case may be.

Asked once when she realized her father was not just 'dad' but a major musical force, Bernstein said it was 'a trip to Bedrock' that did it.

As she related in an article on OPUS 3 --
There was a moment we realized it — it was when we were watching ‘The Flintstones,’ Bernstein said. “Betty and Wilma were going to the Hollyrock Bowl to hear ‘Leonard Bernstone.’” She laughed: “That’s when we realized that he had hit the big time."
You won't want to miss this truly different evening with the Plainfield Symphony, which Music Director Charles Prince has been referring to as 'a young people's concert for adults'.


Tonight, September 25 | 7:00 PM
Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church
East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue
(Parking in lot on First Place or at Swain Galleries)

Tickets: $45 reserved seating, $25 general admission

Martinis & More, Symphony After-Party

Attendees are invited at 9:00 PM to the after-party at the home
of Craig Bowman and John Stewart, where Jamie Bernstein will be a special guest.
Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and desserts.
$50/person, payable at the door.
308 West 8th Street (parking at Higgins Home for Funerals, 8th & Madison).

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Joe Black ballfield dedication tomorrow

Plainfield sports legend Joe Black will finally get the hometown honor he deserves with the dedication of a ballfield in his name at the school district's Hub Stine Sports Complex on Randolph Road.

The following is a letter of invitation to the community to take part in this long-overdue recognition --

Dear Friends, 
Please join state and local elected officials, family of the late Joe Black and the Plainfield community as we name and dedicate the Joe Black Baseball Field at Hub Stine Sports Complex on Saturday, September 25 at 10:00 AM.

Joe graduated from Plainfield High School in 1942, where he was listed as the school's best athlete. He graduated from Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) and received a Master's Degree from Rutgers University. He began his professional baseball career in the Negro League with the Baltimore Elite Giants. He played in the Cuban league, the Montreal minor leagues. and with the Cincinati Reds and the Washington Senators. He made baseball history in 1952, when he beccame the first Black pitcher to win the World Series while playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. This accomplishment earned him the distinction of being selected National League Rookie of the Year for 1952. After a six-year career in professional baseball, Joe taught in the Plainfield public school system.

In 1962, Joe joined the Greyhound Corporation where he rose rapidly through the ranks and made corporate history by becoming the first Black vice president of a major transportation company. He used his influence to encourage and promote hiring practices of minorities and developing business relationships with minority-owned firms. Additionally, he initiated scholarship programs for disadvantaged youth at forty-two historically Black colleges.

Joe's contributions to sports education, business and the community are too numerous to list. He made an impression on everyone he met and though he could sometimes be tough on people who looked to him as a role model, he explained that in order to succeed, today's Black youth have to be better than average. His favorite saying, which he often imparted to family and friends, was to encourage them to "keep on keeping on."

Please join us as we pay tribute to our local hometown hero as we dedicate the ballfields in his honor. A book signing will immediately follow the ceremonhy with accomplished author at attorney, a former student of Black's and author of the recently released book, "Meet the Real Joe Black."

Phyllis Black Greer
(Joe's sister)

I have been told that although the formal dedication will take place Saturday, the school district will not install a plaque until the baseball season opens next spring.


Saturday, September 25 | 10:00 AM

Hub Stine Sports Complex
Randolph Road
(across from Muhlenberg)

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Faith Bricks & Mortar sets ground-breaking for Stimulus-funded project

Map of a portion of Plainfield's foreclosures, May, 2008.
Plainfield housing nonprofit Faith Bricks & Mortar will break ground Friday (tomorrow) on the first of its Stimulus-funded 'Neighborhood Stabilization' projects.

The event is set for 951 West 3rd Street between 1:00 and 3:00 PM, according to the agency's executive director Horace Baldwin.

Faith Bricks & Mortar was among 24 agencies and governmental entities to receive $49.4 M in fund in May, 2009.

FB&M received $2.5M to be used to stabilize West End neighborhoods threatened by the subprime mortgage crisis that erupted in 2007. The grant is expected to allow the renovation of 10-12 homes.

While the legislation was enacted in 2008 and the grant made in 2009, it took time for the agencies involved to provide direction to grant recipients of guidelines for executing the grants and making the grant funds available. According to the original terms of the grant, funds must be expended by May 2013.

The public is invited to join with elected officials and other figures in the groundbreaking event. Info: (908) 756-5884.

[DISCLOSURE: Dan was a founding board member of FB&M and its second president. The organization grew out of the response of Plainfielders to the 1991 Rodney King beating, as a result of a meeting called by the Rev. Margot Campbell-Gross, minister of the First Unitarian Society, who became the founding president. FB&M formally incorporated itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1993. During Dan's term, the group finally was able to launch its first two rehab projects -- on Arlington Avenue and West 3rd Street.]

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

73 of 75 Plainfield nonprofits still face losing tax-exempt status

The IRS countdown for Plainfield nonprofits in danger of losing their tax-exempt status for nonfiling of the required 990 forms continues.

With an October 15 deadline, time is growing short for the
one-time relief being offered by the IRS.

Two Plainfield nonprofits were in touch and advised they were catching up on their 990 filings, leaving, as far as I am aware, 73 still in danger of losing their status.

Here is the complete list of the remaining nonprofits facing the October 15 IRS deadline --

  1. AFFORDABLE SHELTERS INC                                              
  2. AGAPE FOUNDATION INC                                                 
  3. AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST INC                                           
  7. ARS MUSICA ANTIQUA                                                   
  8. BALLET FOLKLORICO SENTIR CRIOLLO INC                                 
  9. BARKING ROOSTER THEATRE INC                                          
  10. BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL WOMENS CLUB INC                              
  11. CHANGING DIRECTION INC                                               
  13. CHILDRENS ACADEMY INC                                                
  14. COALITION OF 100 BLACK WOMEN INC                                     
  15. COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS OF UNION COUNTY INC                           
  16. COMMUNITY LEUKEMIA FUND                                              
  17. COMMUNITY NETWORK INC                                                
  21. FRATERNAL ORDER OF EAGLES                                            
  23. GLOBAL HEALTH VISION INC                                             
  24. GRANT AVENUE COMMUNITY CENTER                                        
  25. HANDS ACROSS THE SEA INC                                             
  27. HOMEWARD BOUND ENDOWMENT TR                                          
  30. JUNIOR WORLD OF BUSINESS INC                                         
  31. K-9 UNIVERSITY INC                                                   
  32. KINGS TEMPLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORP                                                      
  33. LEC STAR DUTERS                                                      
  34. M R S CLUB                                                           
  35. MANY MANSIONS INC                                                    
  37. MONROE FAMILY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION                                
  39. MUSLIM COMMUNITY SOUP KITCHEN INC                                    
  40. NAMASTI FOUNDATION INC                                               
  41. NAVAL RESERVE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION                                    
  44. NEW JERSEY ROCKETS INC                                               
  46. OLD GUARD OF THE PLAINFIELDS                                         
  48. PLAINFIELD AREA CLUB FRONTIERS OF AMERICA                            
  52. PLAINFIELD NEIGHBORHOOD HEALTH SERVICES                              
  53. PLAINFIELD TUTORIAL PROJECT INC                                      
  54. PLAINFIELD VOTER REGISTRATION INC                                    
  55. PREVENTION INTERVENTION CRISIS FOR YOUTH                             
  57. PTA NEW JERSEY CONGRESS OF PARENTS & TEACHERS                        
  58. PUBLIC EDUCATION FOUNDATION OF PLAINFIELD                            
  59. QUEEN CITY HEAD START PROGRAM INC                                    
  60. RENTAL SERVICE ASSOCIATION                                           
  61. ROSES STUDIO SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION INC                              
  62. SACHAR FOUNDATION INC                                                
  63. THE BREAD OF LIFE INC                                                
  64. THE CHRISTMAS BU                                                     
  65. THE INNER CIRCLE INC                                                 
  67. VAN WYCK BROOKS HISTORIC DISTRICT INC                                
  69. VIKASOKO DEVELOPMENT EXCHANGE                                        
  70. WATCHUNG NATURE CLUB OF PLAINFIELD INC                               
  71. WELSH SOCIETY OF CENTRAL NEW JERSEY                                  
If you see a group you recognize and have a contact, drop them a friendly reminder.

Having to start over again from scratch to get nonprofit status would be a definite bummer.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tweaking CLIPS

Rationalizing the layout of the Plainfield blogs on the CLIPS blog should make it easier to follow the most recent posts.

I'll put up a précis daily of the blogs that have posted since my last check-in (since I post
CLIPS in the AM, and don't usually go back to check the other blogs until the NEXT morning -- we should all have some life away from our computers, right? -- this may not always be the latest word from Plainfield's many bloggers, and I trust you'll be OK with that or do your own checking ad interim).

The blogroll itself now includes all the 'active' blogs, broken roughly into --

  1. the regulars
  2. elected officials
  3. other commentary and observations
  4. school-related blogs
  5. the Cable TV and Citizens Budget committees
Also, the sidebar links to mainstream news media sources have been updated to include Gannett's new Plainfield microsite.

As Ovid once remarked, 'Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit'.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, September 20, 2010

West End Heights residents set town hall meeting on gunshot-spotting technology

Residents of Plainfield's West End Heights neighborhood gathered at the Jefferson School on Sunday afternoon to air their concerns about the Robinson-Briggs administration's proposed ShotSpotter® gunshot-detection system.

On the one hand, residents of this quiet neighborhood that ranges from Victorians and foursquares near the Compton Avenue end to cape cods, bungalows and colonials toward Jefferson Avenue, were concerned that being designated a 'gunshot zone' would affect perceptions of the neighborhood and, ultimately, property values.

The residents are acutely aware that keeping negative activity at bay and preserving the quality of their neighborhood demands constant vigilance.

At the same time, there were concerns about whether, if more should be done to fight gangs and crime, the gunshot-spotting technology was the best use of taxpayer monies.

Perhaps most of all, residents were annoyed that the Robinson-Briggs administration has not tried to reach out to areas that might be affected by the technology proposal to get input from taxpayers about the positives and negatives of such a program.

Councilors Adrian Mapp and Linda Carter were in attendance, as was Council candidate Rebecca Williams. (The organizer, Nan Anderson-Bennett, said she had emailed all members of the City Council, though the email to Councilor Bridget Rivers 'bounced'.)

The consensus was to convene a 'town hall' style meeting on Sunday, October 3. Ms. Anderson-Bennett and Councilors Mapp and Carter are working on the arrangements.

For more information, contact Nan Anderson-Bennett at

    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    2nd Annual Hispanic Fiesta draws bigger crowds

    My guess was Saturday night's crowd was between 1,200 - 1,500.
    Plainfield businessman Edison Garcia's second annual Latino Fiesta celebrating Central American independece drew bigger crowds than last year to an event with an improved layout.

    Held for the second year in Lot 8 between the Green Brook and the stores facing Front Street, a 'midway' was better defined as the principal thoroughfare, leading attendees from the ample parking spaces across Watchung Avenue near the Supremo supermarket to the Fiesta's main focus, the bandstand set against the Somerset Street entrance to the lot.

    The vendors were busy both Saturday and Sunday with both food and tchtochkes being sold briskly
    (I even spotted a child's soccer outfit with an AIG logo of all things!). In Saturday's heat, the man making cones of shaved ice with flavored syrups was mobbed.

    Maker of shaved ice treats was mobbed.
    Saturday evening was when the crowd was at its largest, I'm guessing 1,200 - 1,500. The area near the bandstand was so crowded you couldn't even get close and the midway was full of folks eating, chatting and strolling (strollers galore!).

    Some improvements to the layout were obvious and benefitted the overall flow: an entryway at Somerset Street was added (last year it was barricaded, though often breached) and the kids' moonbounce was moved next to the beer tent (perfectly logical, if you think about it).

    Even pooches needed to take a break.
    I found it interesting that the Police Division's mobile command unit was on hand Saturday afternoon, but was not to be seen in the evening or on Sunday. On Saturday, I spotted only a single cop patrolling and on Sunday evening just two.

    The only thing that might be improved is to find some way to highlight the animal ride and petting zoo. The vendor has staked out the only grassy spot in the whole lot, which is nice for the kids and the animals, but leaves him off the beaten path -- and I am sure impacts his receipts. Hopefully, he will fare better next year.

    And then there's the matter of the portajohns. There were only two, the lines were long and they were filthy. The city's Health Officer may want to look into how the sanitation issue can be better managed in what looks to become a regular, and very popular event.

    Mountains of corn were consumed.

      -- Dan Damon [follow]

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      Plainfield artist organizes exhibit for Land Conservancy

      Waterlilies at Camp Hudsonia, by Gerry Heydt.
      The former Girl Scout camp has been preserved by the NJ Land Conservancy.
      Plainfield artist Gerry Heydt, renowned for her landscapes, is coordinating the participation of fourteen landscape painters in an exhibit for the Land Conservancy of NJ entitled 'Preserve Now -- Protect Forever: An Artistic Perspective' that will run from September 29 through October 29 at the Studio 7 Fine Arts Gallery in Bernardsville and the Bernardsville Public Library.

      The show was the subject of an article on Sunday in the Daily Record, the Gannett paper serving Morris County (see here).

      The Conservancy has preserved more than 17,000 acres of land in its 29-year history. From its roots in Morris County, it has become a nonprofit with interests in statewide land preservation issues, reflected by a name change in 2008 (from 'Morris County' to 'New Jersey').

      While the works on display will be offered for sale, Gerry says she expects the greater impact of the show will be on raising awareness of the work of the Land Conservancy in preserving areas of natural beauty which landscape artists are immediately drawn to because of both grand vistas and intimate settings.

      While the exhibit will run for an entire month, there will be an open house on Friday, October 1, from 6 - 9 PM.

      Whether you are a fan Gerry's, of the landscape genre itself, or a supporter of open space conservation (or all three!), you will want to set aside some time to visit the show.


      Open House, Friday, October 1
      6:00 - 9:00 PM

      Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery
      5 Morristown Road, Bernardsville
      (908) 630-9770

      and the

      Bernardsville Public Library

      -- Dan Damon [follow]

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      Sunday, September 19, 2010

      4th Ward taxpayers to Mayor on ShotSpotter: Not so fast!

      Map from flyer is not official City proposal.
      Homeowners in Plainfield's 4th Ward have called a community meeting for this afternoon to discuss concerns over Mayor Robinson-Briggs' proposal to install the ShotSpotter® gunshot-detection system in the city.

      A flyer distributed in the West End Heights neighborhood protests that the installation would stigmatize the neighborhood as 'unsafe, gang-infested and crime-ridden', and also that property values will be depressed as a result.

      In an email circulated to all City Council members, resident Nan Anderson-Bennett outlines the concerns of the neighborhood and urges the Council to look more closely at the matter before making a final decision --

      Recent reports indicate that the Shotspotter gunshot detector technology installation will cover the neighborhood bordered by Compton Avenue, West Front Street, Myrtle Avenue and Rock Avenue – the ‘West End Heights’. I am a resident of the 4th Ward, District 2, who is alarmed at the inclusion of this district in the proposed “Gunshot Zone”.

      My concerns are:

          * The neighborhood will be stigmatized as unsafe, gang infested, and crime ridden.
          * The property values will be further depressed.

      ‘West End Heights’ is a stable, well-maintained, family-oriented community. The homeowners, taxpayers in this district have worked very hard to deflect the broad brush of lawlessness and poverty generally used to paint the entire Fourth Ward.

      I am not against the installation of the Shotspotter technology in the so-called “hot spots” of the Fourth Ward. If the residents and the Police believe it will prevent shootings or improve the numbers in the capture and prosecution of offenders – so be it; I’ll bite the bullet (intended) with the other taxpayers for the expense.

      What I can’t swallow is my neighborhood, my property being red-lined, being forever categorized as dangerous. We will never be free of the brand, and a consequence will be further falling property values. If designated as part of the Gunshot Zone, ‘West End Heights’ won’t recover; in fact, it will fast-forward the neighborhood to more foreclosures, absentee owners, lower rents, increased density, and less maintenance. That’s a recipe for decline.

      I urge you to think bigger, deeper, and farther about the impacts of the Shotspotter technology on the entire community. It’s time to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat the lure of the gangs, the drugs, and the out-of-towners who troll the streets.

      What FACTS support the need for Shotspotter technology in the ‘West End Heights’?

      I urge you to get the answer.
      Since the City has not brought forward a map for the public of the 3-square-mile 2-square-mile area (I've been corrected by Bernice) proposed to be covered by the technology, everyone is operating somewhat in the dark.

      The map used in the community flyer is the one I posted a few days ago, with my proposal sketch (I'm not proposing anything, one way or the other) for a 1-square-mile demonstration area, along the lines of an idea the Council had broached in its recent discussions.

      Plainfield residents will recall that Anderson-Bennett is the daughter of long-time Plainfield Democratic councilwoman Helen Miller.
      Anderson-Bennett ran for City Council a number of years ago on the Republican line.


      Today, 4:00 PM

      Jefferson School
      1200 Myrtle Avenue

      -- Dan Damon [follow]

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