The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Plan to outsource Planning dropped

The Mapp administration withdrew the proposed layoff plan
for the Planning Division at Tuesday's Council meeting.

Applause interrupted Plainfield City Administrator Rick Smiley's reading of a statement by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp at Tuesday's council meeting when it became clear that the administration was withdrawing its proposal to outsource the work of the Planning Division.

The room was crowded to overflowing with residents opposing the outsourcing and prepared to speak up in favor of keeping Director Bill Nierstedt and staff members Scott Bauman, April Stefel and Ronald Johnson.

In the statement, Mapp said the administration had found the four bids received inconclusive as to whether a sufficient savings would result and whether service levels would be maintained.

Though several residents thanked the Mapp administration for withdrawing the proposal, the owner of 1080 Rahway Road continued to complain of her dealings with the Division over landscaping issues on her property that have caused flooding of Crabapple Lane whenever it rains.

Councilor Tracey Brown also complained about her Ruth Fellowship's experience with providing wheelchair access and planting trees on the property. It was not made clear by her remarks whether the complaint is really against Nierstedt personally or against whichever land use board the matter was heard by.

In the matter of settling with Yates Real Estate over the outstanding bills for the North Avenue demolition, the Mapp administration also asked to withdraw the motion to settle for $129,000.

Several residents spoke to the issues around the proposed settlement, including Alan Goldstein, Tom Kaercher and Bill Kruse.

Kruse, drawing in his many years' experience in dealing with contracts, challenged the Mapp administration, saying "you never pay a bill just because it's presented." He suggested getting a financial person to sit down with Yates, go over the books on this job, and draw up an agreement to pay Yates' actual costs plus a stipulated amount for overhead and profit.

A payment to Yanuzzi, who cleaned up the mess left behind by the Yates fiasco, was approved unanimously without discussion.

I noticed on Tuesday that workmen are busy at the damaged North Avenue property repairing the masonry that had been knocked over. New plywood flooring was visible in the former restaurant and it appears the building is going to be repaired rather than demolished as had been rumored.

Public Works Director Eric Watson told me that the city is responsible for putting a parge coating on the exposed brick party wall (as has already been done with the building at the rear of the lot). Once the parging is done and the rest of the former basement filled in, Plainfield can hopefully write finis to this embarrassing episode.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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