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Monday, March 23, 2015

Mapp administration sure to be quizzed on demolition tonight

A suspicious fire ripped through the North Avenue building
in December 2011.

  The administration of Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is likely to face a lot of questions at tonight's special Council meeting about the emergenvcy demolition of a North Avenue building over the weekend.

The building, part of the city's only commercial historic district, was deemed in danger of imminent collapse -- hence the emergency Council meeting called for tonight.

However, many were surprised to see the demolition being undertaken on Saturday, and I got a host of questions from residents, business owners and taxpayers over the weekend --

  • Why now? If the building needed to come down, why wasn't it taken down immediately after the fire three years ago?

  • How was the decision made to award the demolition contract?

  • Why was a sub-contractor used for the actual demolition instead of the firm [being] awarded the contract?

  • Who is Yates Real Estate, Inc. and is there any connection to the Yates who owns the former Abbott Nursing Home in th Van Wyck Brooks Historic District?

  • Where did the city find $250,000 to pay for the contract?

  • Are the taxpayers out the money or can the city recoup it? If so, how?

  • Why was the adjoining one-story building damaged, causing the businesses there to be closed? Could it have been avoided? Was carelessness or neglect involved?

The fire-gutted building was not boarded up for over a month
after the December 2011 fire.

After the building was gutted by a suspicious fire in December 2011 (see my posts here and here), merchants were dismayed when the Robinson-Briggs administration failed to have the property boarded up for weeks afterwards and even told shop owners they were in violation for being open.

So, it is not without reason that folks have some mistrust of government's motives. Let's hope the Mapp administration puts taxpayer suspicions to rest this evening.

The emergency special meeting of City Council is set for 6:00 PM today at City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Avenue. Parking available in the city hall parking lot.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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