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]


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

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]


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

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]


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

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'.

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.

Hmmmm.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Homeownership Fair Saturday


The conversion of this property to affordable condos
is among the projects undertaken by Faith, Bricks & Mortar.

Faith, Bricks & Mortar, Plainfield's HUD-approved housing counseling agency, is offering a Homeownership Fair on Saturday at the Washington Community School from 10 AM to 2 PM.

A letter sent to Plainfield residents by the group's executive director Horace Baldwin notes --

Homeownership continues to be a challenge for many residents in our community. For some the issue is qualifying for a mortgage and whether or not it's appropriate to buy at all. For others, it's keeping up with mortgage payments after experiencing financial hardships.
The Fair will feature presentations on the following topics --

  • The pros and cons of owning versus renting a home
  • Understanding the home buying process
  • The legal environment of home ownership
  • Mortgages and financing options
  • Foreclosure prevention strategies
The event is jointly sponsored by Faith, Bricks & Mortar, the City of Plainfield, and the Plainfield Public Schools.

Representatives of Chase and M&T banks will be among the presenters.

The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required. At Washington Community School, 427 Darrow Avenue (parking available in the Spooner Avenue lot).


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Foiled by failed FiOS router


The culprit?
 
We live in an age where we are at the mercy of technology and Plainfield Today is no exception.

Wednesday night our FIOS internet connection went down without warning. The customer service rep thought it was the router and promised a new one would be here by sometime Friday.

Thus no Plainfield Today or CLIPS posts on Thursday -- and without a connection, no way to tell the world.

But my partner is a techie and a tinkerer and announced last night that the problem was fixed -- sans new Verizon gear.

So we're up and running again -- until the next time.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Four house, garage and art sales this weekend


Sale of the contents of The Pillars headlines
four shopping opportunities this weekend.

Sales of the contents of The Pillars, Plainfield's only Bed & Breakfast Inn, is the headline event of a group of four special sales this weekend.

THE PILLARS

Nancy and Lamont are shutting down Plainfield's only B&B, and the contents will be available for sale this weekend. The Pillars is at 922 Central Avenue.

Here's the schedule--
  • Thursday (July 24), 10 AM - Noon
  • Friday (July 25), 10 AM - 3 PM
  • Saturday (July 26), 10 AM - 3 PM
512 STELLE AVENUE

Van Wyck Brooks Historic District members Gayle and Al are having a garage sale as follows --

Friday (July 25), 1 PM - 6 PM (Preview)
Saturday (July 26), 8 AM - 4 PM
423 WEST EIGHTH STREET
This garage sale at the Rectory of Grace Episcopal Church will offer housewares, china and silver, cooking utensils, jewelry, decorative accessories, children's clothing and more. All proceeds benefit the ministries and community outreach of the parish.

Saturday (July 26), 9 AM - 3 PM
609 WEST EIGHTH STREET

Karen Torian is offering framed and unframed African and African-American prints, African masks, Black memorabilia and figurines, Ornamental plates and Jazz prints. Cash only.

Saturday (July 26), 10 AM - 3 PM
Put on your shopping shoes!

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Signs of the times: Commercial Real Estate


Rival ERA Reed offers former C21 Campbell building for rent.


Paramount Properties is popping up everywhere,
as here at the corner of West Front Street and Clinton Avenue.
 

Change is popping up all over Plainfield, but some recent signs (literally) in the commercial real estate market have caught my eye.

I was startled on Monday to notice a 'For Rent' sign on Park Avenue across from the Plainfield High School auditorium entrance. Not the fact that office space is for rent but whose and by whom.

The sign is on the former offices of Century 21 John Campbell and is being offered for rent by ERA Reed Realty.

Those of us who were in the real estate business back in the days of the Plainfield Area Board of Realtors (are you reading this, Anne?) will recall the mostly friendly rivalry between the two brokers.

After Lydia Flagg moved her ERA Queen City to Scotch Plains and the Willard Agency and Centruy 21 J.J. Schwartz closed their doors, Reed and Campbell became the bedrock of the Plainfield real estate scene.

When John Campbell gave up the Century 21 franchise and bought the smaller brick building (once a doctor's office) further down Park Avenue, 967 sat empty, the Century 21 sign over the door gone. All that looks to change now.

The other startling sight is at the corner of West Front Street and Clinton Avenue. While checking out the progress of the new
7-Eleven Dunkin' Donuts being built there, I noticed a sign on the side of the corner building across from the Anchor Bar saying 'Crown Chicken Coming Soon'.

Turning the corner revealed that Crown will take the corner space, next to Mi Ranchito Viejo (one of three restaurants owned by my next door neighbor). And the vacant store on the other side displayed the now-ubiquitous red and white sign of Paramount Properties.

Paramount, which began a number of years ago, by acquiring the East Front Street retail and commercial properties of the Pittis Estate, has become absolutely dominant in Plainfield retail buildings.

They also are putting the finishing touches on the building next to the former King's Temple church on New Street.

The only place we haven't seen them active is in the East Second Street business district about which Councilor Reid has complained recently. Could it be next?


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Welcome to Plainfield Area Sports blog


Plainfield High's Cardinal is featured as the logo
of Neol Pyne's sports blog.
 

Plainfield's blogging scene has a new addition. Longtime Plainfield sports enthusiast and chronicler Noel Pyne sent word via Facebook of his latest effort -- the Plainfield Area Local Sports blog (see here).

The most recent post is a coup -- an interview with Plainfield High's new head football coach Jason Glezman.

Noel was one of the more prolific contributors to the former Plainfield Sports News blog begun by Augustine Dashiell. That blog, which covered Plainfield and New Jersey sports, has since been merged into another covering the greater New York area.

Pyne, a longtime resident and self-declared Plainfield sports fanatic since the mid-1970s also blogs about Cardinals football (see here) and basketball (see here).

As he says, 'I love getting the word out about the good news of Plainfield youth'. You can't beat that for boosting the community.

I'll be following the blog on CLIPS, where its handle will be 'PALS'.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

YWCA dangling?




No one from the YWCA seems to notice the dangling sign.
 

Plainfield's historic YWCA, though having declared bankruptcy, is still operating, though we don't hear much about its activities.

I noticed the other day that the sign on the Front Street side of the building was dangling precariously.

Seems like no one who works there checks the outside to see what's going on.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Annual duCret student show at Swain's opens today


'Waiting in the Wings', by Vicki Hicks,
the 2014 Finck Award winner for portraiture.
 

Twenty-three students at Plainfield's renowned duCret School of Art will be on exhibit at the annual show at Swain Galleries, which opens with a reception from 5 - 7 PM today.

Hailing from as far as Cape May and Morristown, the students are all winners in the school's annual juried art show.

Works are presented in photography, drawing in pencil, charcoal and ink; painting in oils, acrylics and watercolors; portraiture, ceramics, collage, mixed media, stained glass and jewelry.

Honors include the Louis Lanzafama Alumni Award for landscapes, the Walter Swain Award for representational style, Alumni Awards for 2D and 3D design, the Anne and Dudley duCret Award, and the highly coveted Furman J. Finck Award for portraiture.

Finck taught and served as dean at duCret for 27 years. Among his commissions were portraits of such celebrities as Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the US, and actresses Helen Hayes and Julie Harris.

The gallery and the school have partnered for more than twenty-five years to produce the show, according to Ann Swain, fourth-generation owner of the gallery.

Swain Galleries is at 703 Watchung Avenue (corner of East 7th Street, parking off Watchung Avenue). Hours are: Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM; Saturday, 9:30 AM - 4 PM. More info at (908) 756-1707 or www.swaingalleries.com/.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Friday, July 18, 2014

'Christmas in July' bike giveaway set


Used bikes collected by the Dairy Queen are refurbished.

Plainfield's third annual 'Christmas in July' bike giveaway is set for the Salvation Army next Wednesday (July 23), starting at 10:15 AM.

Used bikes are gathered in as donations throughout the year at the Plainfield Dairy Queen and refurbished by owner Donna Albanese's husband Rich DeMair. In the past five years, DeMair has restored and refurbished more than 775 bikes.

The bicycles are then donated to Plainfield youngsters at an event at which they are also given bike helmets and safety tips.

The event is coordinated by the Plainfield Salvation Army, and bike helmets are donated by Children's Specialized Hospital.

Pre-registration is required to be eligible for a bike. Simply go to the Salvation Army at 615 Watchung Avenue (corner of East 7th Street) between 9 AM and 3:30 PM through July 22 to register. Staff will notify eligible recipients.

Plainfield Today readers interested in supporting this ongoing activity are encouraged to drop off used bikes at any time during the year at the Plainfield Dairy Queen, 1367 South Avenue. Donna, Rich and hundreds of Plainfield kids will thank you.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Plainwood Square summer concert (and car show) tonight


Crowds enjoy the outdoor concerts at Plainwood Square Park.


The Plainfield SID's summer outdoor concert is set for this evening from 6 - 9 PM at Plainwood Square Park.

Titled 'Three Women and Some Jazz', the evening features guests Crystal Jones, Sherry Winston and Pam Purvis. The program is coordinated by Plainfield's favorite event coordinator Pat Fields.

George Withers, of G-Wiz Auto Entertainment, hosts a car, truck and bike show at the same time across the street in the C-Town parking lot.

See you there!


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Proposed South Avenue project well-received at merchants' meeting


JMF's Kevin Codey discusses the proposed South Avenue project.
 

Plainfield's newest development proposal was well-received at a meeting this past Tuesday morning hosted by the Plainwood Square Merchants Association at Freppe's on South Avenue.

About fifty South Avenue business owners joined by several residents and elected officials heard a presentation and discussion led by Deputy City Administrator Carlos Sanchez and Kevin Codey of JMF Properties, the prospective developer.

After moderator Donna Albanese, president of the merchants group, led brief introductions of the attendees, Mayor Adrian Mapp offered a few words of greeting and shared his enthusiasm over the proposal, turning the presentation over to Mr. Sanchez.

Sanchez emphasized that though the project was at the conceptual stage, the Mapp administration's determination was that the developer's track record and demonstrated management expertise merited an open presentation to the business community that would be most directly affected to get input and answer questions.

So much of the success of these projects depends on the impression made in the first few minutes, and Sanchez set just the right tone -- warmly cordial yet professional to the fingertips, optimistic and upbeat but realistically cautious about how the process unfolds. Anxious questions did not faze him, and folks relaxed at once.

JMK's Kevin Codey then briefly explained the firm's background and outlined the project.

Headquartered in Cedar Knolls, JMK has more than 20 years experience in residential and commercial development in New Jersey (see their website here). Codey noted that one of the principals is a member of the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority (for those with magic decoder rings, this means the firm is politically well-connected -- a positive signal for anything to get done in New Jersey).

Codey mentioned some of the firm's more recent projects in New Brunswick, Maplewood, Springfield, Florham Park and Denville and noted that JMK has focused on transit-village projects in the vicinity of commuter train stations.

The South Avenue project as proposed would consist of two 4-story buildings plus a clubhouse with pool on a completely landscaped site that would result from the acquisition of eleven properties (approximately 5 acres) in the 1300- and 1400-blocks of South Avenue.

The proposal is for between 210 and 235 market rate rental units, sixty percent 2-bedroom and forty percent 1-bedroom. Parking (at 1.5 spaces per unit, which is a frequently found measure) would be provided with a combination of garages at the rear of the buildings and some open parking.

Codey showed some photos of entrances and units in several projects; all were spacious and well-proportioned, with top-of-the-line amenities including stainless steel kitchen appliances and more.

It was emphasized that the eleven properties are in the process of being acquired, which is expected to take another eight months or so. (It was noted that the Netherwood Grill -- formerly Cafe Vivace -- is among the parcels being negotiated.)

Beyond that another 6-9 months was (optimistically) projected for all approvals and permits. Among the items that will need to be done to qualify for NJMHFA financing is a declaration by the City of the area as 'in need of redevelopment'.

Such a designation would not only ease the path to financing the construction, it would set the stage for the establishment of a PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement, which is an inducement that is standard practice in developments.

Codey was at pains to state that the project would bring very few children into the school district (always a concern, since schools get none of the PILOT payments and the cost must be assumed by the rest of the tax base). Sanchez pointed out -- with a wry reference to the Liberty Village experience -- that the details of a PILOT are among the points to be neogtiated between the City and JMF. (I was put in mind of the 50-year PILOT at a very low fixed rate that Malcolm R. Dunn negotiated for the Liberty Village project. Hopefully, there will be no such giveaways under the Mapp administration.)

Among the questions raised by attendees were --
  • Traffic (a traffic study will be done on the impact on South Avenue traffic flow);
  • Parking at Netherwood Station (the developer is proposing shuttle service to the station);
  • Business disruption (Sanchez says the city will offer 'relocation assistance' for any affected businesses).
The only really unpleasant moment came when Councilor Gloria Taylor complained that she had not been informed of the meeting and learned about it through a constituent (she pointedly noted she does not read the blogs, where I had posted an open invitation based on the SID notification).

Taylor is a Council liaison to the SID and SID officials assured me that she is included in every email circulated by the group -- including the invitation to this meeting. Taylor is also said to have complained that she was not informed of the SID budget, which was adopted at Monday's Council meeting as a new item.

Taylor also complained at Monday's meeting that she had not received the emailed copy of the letter from Housing Authority director Randy Wood requesting the HAP ordinance be withdrawn.

Is there more going on here than meets the eye?

Mayor Mapp's closing remarks noted that one of his administration's goals was to change the perception that Plainfield was not business-friendly, and that this open meeting was part of his effort to make the process both more transparent and more efficient.

Donna Albanese remarked in closing, 'This is as close to perfect as we're going to get'.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reid tantrum caps bizarre Council meeting


Plainfield City Council behavior gives circuses a bad name.

Any comparison of Plainfield City Council meetings to a three-ring circus would be unfair to three-ring circuses, which are tightly organized and methodically executed public entertainments.

Last Monday's Council business meeting is a case in point: though entertaining at points, organization and execution fell well short of the best of circus routines.

An agenda that was chock full of REAL business (liquor license renewals, four ordinances on second reading and a host of public events) also had to accommodate a wrangle over the HAP ordinance 'conveying' Lot 9, confusion over adding new items to the agenda and a spectacular tantrum by Councilor Reid over giving the voters a say over an Open Space Trust Fund.

The HAP Ordinance

Despite a letter to the Council from Housing Authority executive director Randy Wood asking that the proposed ordinance conveying Public Parking Lot 9 from the city to HAP be withdrawn (see my post and the letter here).

Though the letter certainly could have been more coherent, there is no doubt that Wood was asking the ordinance be withdrawn so HAP and the Mapp administration could continue to consult on the matter.

Council President Bridget Rivers was adamant, saying 'this has become a Council ordinance, [Wood] has no authority to tell Council to take it off the agenda'.

(On this point, Rivers is technically correct, and my story stands corrected in this regard.)

In my post on the withdrawal request, I noted that Rivers had steamrolled adding the ordinance to the agenda for July 14, firmly shutting down discussion of issues with the proposed property conveyance.

Councilor Storch seemed hesitant about how to proceed. Giving the perception that he thought Wood's request should be honored, he moved to table the ordinance; the motion failed 3-2-1.

Though Mayor Mapp and the Administration weighed in about issues with the proposed ordinance, it was to no avail. Councilor Reid reported he had spoken with Wood that very day and flatly contradicted the contents of Wood's letter.

When Councilor Williams tried to read from a copy of Wood's letter that she had received, Councilor Taylor interjected 'I never received it ... I have no problem with it [the ordinance]'. Reid and Greaves also claimed not to have received the email with Wood's letter.

Storch made an impassioned appeal that Council decisions should be 'in the public interest' and that this ordinance contravened the Master Plan and the spirit of transit-oriented development. He closed his remarks by saying 'the only thing transit-oriented about this proposal is the way it is being railroaded', which brought a roar of laughter from the audience.

All was to no avail. The fix, as Olddoc suggests (see here) was in. David Rutherford has posted a video of the complete discussion (see here).

The vote went down 4-2: Greaves, Taylor, Reid and Rivers for; Storch and Williams against. Councilor Tracey Brown was not present.

The ordinance will be up for second reading and final adoption at the August business meeting.
Agenda Confusion

The addition of eight resolutions and an ordinance as new items led to some agenda confusion.

After some clarification, Council decided to add the resolution in one fell swoop (congrats!) and then the proposed ordinance (after some confusing back-and-forth about numbering inconsistencies).

The resolutions included two liquor license renewals with conditions (La Bamba, Ben Franklin Liquors), the SID budget, commemoration of Muhlenberg Hospital's closure, rejecting a bid for animal control services and closing Gavett Placce for a groundbreaking ceremony.

Because David Minchello has been appointed Director of the Law Department for Trenton under newly elected mayor Eric Jackson, two further resolutions made Minchello city solicitor (he has resigned as Corporation Counsel) and appointed Vernita Sias-Hill as his replacement as Corporation Counsel.

All the resolutions passed unanimously.
Reid's Tantrum

Councilor Bill Reid actually threw two tantrums during the meeting.

The first came during the discussion of the HAP ordinance and he became so unruly that Council President Bridget Rivers forced a recess when she was unable to gavel him down. Watch David Rutherford's video of that exchange here.

To my mind, Reid's more embarrassing performance was in relation to the new item, MC 2014-17, an ordinance to put the question of establishing an Open Space Trust Fund to the voters on the November ballot.

Such a referendum can be authorized by an ordinance adopted by the governing body.

If he had got on his high horse over the Mapp administration's failure to bring the matter to the Council in a timely fashion, he would have been on much better ground. (Why was it brought up under-the-gun, so to speak?)

Instead, Reid veered off into one of his rants about how high taxes are (true) and how he was agin' it (true). He didn't want to hear about how the funds generated would be used to advance recreational purposes for all the residents (conveniently forgetting he had a few minutes before given an impassioned plea for the Mapp administration to do something about youth hanging out around San Houma Liquors on East 2nd Street).

Despite efforts by fellow Councilors to point out the vote was not about a tax but about giving the general electorate the say in the matter, he could not be convinced.

When the vote went down -- 5-1 -- his NO reverberated through the room.
So here we are, still searching for the meaning of 'just and capable government' for Plainfield.

And City Council gives three-ring circuses a bad name.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Off to South Avenue developer meeting


Large-scale development is being proposed
for the 1300 and 1400 blocks of South Avenue.
 

Off to the Plainwood Square merchants meeting with a potential developer this morning. The developer's proposal would bring a massive project to Plainfield's South Avenue commercial neighborhood. See more about the meeting here.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Was Sharon trying to poison us all and drown our kids?



Once again, Plainfielders' attention is being drawn to the failures and incompetence of former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' administration -- now with restaurant health inspections and the safety of our public pools.

In a front-page story in Sunday's Courier News print edition, reporter Sergio Bichao does his usual excellent job in digging into the details of a story -- this time the long-term failure of the Robinson-Briggs administration to conduct timely state-mandated health inspections of Plainfield's 325 food establishments (see story here). The story includes an interactive map of all food service locations, with indications of their last inspection.

If I have one quibble with the Courier, it is the alarmist tone of both the print headline (Eat, drink and be wary in Plainfield) and the online headline (Restaurants in this city went years without inspections). They paint with too broad a brush -- but of course the point is to get you to click on the link or pick up the paper and read.

What, if anything, was on Sharon's mind?

Robinson-Briggs fired both health officer Jadwiga Warwas and inspector Randy Mascaritolo, causing the inspections program to fall hopelessly behind. Did she intend to put everyone who dines out in Plainfield in harm's way? That would be a stretch, but her failure to address -- or perhaps even comprehend -- the magnitude of the problem boggles the mind.

Thankfully, as Mayor Mapp's new Health Officer Denise Proctor says in Bichao's report, there have been no reports of food-related illness in Plainfield.

But this is not the only lapse by Robinson-Briggs that endangered the public.

In the course of opening the city's three pools for the summer season, Recreation Superintendent Veronica Taylor was unable to locate state-mandated logs for the operation of the pools.

These logs are required by the state and track the usage, supervision, incidents and conditions of the pools while they are in operation.

Moving ahead, required health inspections of the pools, their equipment and water quality were scheduled -- only to discover that under the Robinson-Briggs administration this required inspection and certification had never been done.

Further, one of the three pools did not have the safeguards required to prevent youngsters being sucked into the outflow vents and drowning, a safety precaution that has been required for years. Plainfield's children were put at risk every time they used that pool during the Robinson-Briggs administration.

Again, who could imagine Robinson-Briggs would allow such a failure? Where was the oversight of the Recreation Division?

Thank God we have now got a mayor who is truly putting the interest of the public above all else, and capable division leadership to ensure the public's safety.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BREAKING: HAP ordinance on Lot 9 withdrawn


The Housing Authority is asking the ordinance be withdrawn.

In a brief letter dated July 11, Plainfield
Housing Authority executive director Randy Wood asked the Council to drop consideration of the proposed ordinance transferring ownership of public parking Lot 9 to a consortium led by HAP that wants to build affordable housing on the site.

The letter is astounding in that Wood asserts he was asking for the Council's 'consideration, advice and consent'. To those present at last week's meeting, it seemed quite obvious that Mr. Wood was asking the Council to bring the ordinance forward.

Council President Bridget Rivers brooked no discussion and insisted that a vote be taken at once to put the ordinance forward for first reading at the July 14 meeting. A majority concurred and the proposed ordinance was included in tomorrow's agenda as MC-2014.

The letter suggests that there are a number of other issues involved with the proposal, which I am sure will be discussed as matters progress.

I have posted a copy of Mr. Woods' letter online and below.







  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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

Road work slated to start


Plainfield Avenue is slated for milling and resurfacing.
 

Plainfield Avenue
between West Fifth and Front Streets is scheduled to be resurfaced beginning on or around July 28.

The project is being managed by Union County through a shared services agreement with the City in which Plainfield is saving money on the cost of the project since it is folded into the county's summer road work scheduled countywide.

Though most of the county's program is being done at night (between 9 PM and 6 AM), for some unexplained reason the Plainfield work is being during daylight hours. For more on the Union County 2014 road projects, see the Westfield Patch's report here.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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