The needler in the haystack.

Monday, July 31, 2017

G-Wiz Car Show added to National Night Out celebration


Summer Youth Mentoring program participnats recognized
at 2016 National Night Out.



Plainfield's 31st Annual National Night Out celebration gets under way at City Hall at 6:30 PM on Tuesday (August 1) -- see my previous post here.

Word comes today that
G-Wiz Auto Entertainment will be participating, offering for your delight a show of classic, muscle and vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles. They will occupy Watchung Avenue between City Hall and the flagpole at East 7th Street.

Back-to-school bookbags will be distributed. The DPW will serve hot dogs. There will be music, information booths by community organizations, a bounce house for the little ones, and an opportunity for all to mingle with Plainfield police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Bernice sighting


Bernice snapping pix at a July 4th Parade.




I have been in shock since Bernice put down her quill pen in June and declared an end to Plaintalker II (see her final post here).

Shock and denial.

I still click her blog's icon on my taskbar every day, in the fond hope that she will have changed her mind and posted one of her always thought-provoking stories on Plainfield goings-on.

She even gently chided me via Facebook for keeping her final blog post at the head of my daily list of blog posts. I took it down, but still miss her daily presence.

So, it was a surprise when I was going through the blogs and other sources for CLIPS on Friday evening to discover that Bernice was the author of a piece on TAPinto Plainfield on the November school board election (see here).

Is this a one-off item, or may we expect to see more reportage from Bernice?

I certainly hope it's the latter.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Free Summer Concert series kicks off Thursday with neo-soul group Flavuh


Series opens with FLAVUH, NY metro area's hottest cover band.



This summer's FREE outdoor concert series kicks off Thursday evening (August 3) at 7:00 PM at the City Hall Plaza.

The concerts will run on Thursday evenings until August 24, and are brought to you by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the Plainfield City Council.

Founded by Wayne Griffin in 2003, Flavuh bills itself as the NY Metro area's 'hottest cover band' (see their website here, and check out their Facebook page here).

Many Plainfielders may know them from their gigs at Deltas in New Brunswick.

With a flair for keyboard fireworks, the group is sure to lead a rousing evening in Plainfield. You can check out their YouTube videos here.

Invite your friends, come early and bring a chair. Parking is available in the City Hall parking lot at the rear of the building, which is at Watchung Avenue and East 6th Street.

Here's the roster for the rest of the month --

August 10: Brick City Soul Collective
August 17: Cocomama
August 24: Rhythm Review w/DJs

The series is produced by the Plainfield Division of Recreation in conjunction with Grand Jamz Entertainment.

For more information, call the Rec Division at (908) 753-3097.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Free bike giveaway, Tap dancing, Jamaican flag-raising Saturday


Dairy Queen's free bike giveaway is Saturday AM.



This Saturday will be a busy day in Plainfield. Three events will appeal to a broad cross-section of the city's residents --

FREE BIKE GIVEAWAY

Each year for the past eight years, the Plainfield Dairy Queen has hosted a free bicycle giveaway for Plainfield youngsters. This year's event gets under way at the DQ Saturday morning at 9:00 AM. According to DQ owner Donna Albanese, 150 free, refurbished bicycles will be given away this year.

Donations of used bikes are sought throughout the year, and refurbished by Donna's husband Rich DeMair for the annual distribution. The total number Rich has refurbished over the years is approaching the 1,000 mark.

Bikes are distributed on a first come, first served basis until supplies are exhausted. Don't dally for this popular event.

The Plainfield Dairy Queen is at 1367 South Avenue.

TAP DANCING AT THE LIBRARY

The Plainfield Public Library is celebrating National Dance Day this Saturday with a program at 11:00 AM in the Anne Louise Davis Room.

The NJ Tap Ensemble, based in Bloomfield, will present a tap extravaganza in celebration of National Dance Day.

Founded by its Executive Director Deborah Marshall twenty years ago, the Ensemble is focused on presenting tap programs throughout the state as well as by educating young and aspiring tap dancers through year-round lessons and an intensive summer camp. For more about NJ Tap, see their website here.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots. For more information about library hours and programs, visit the library's website at www.plainfieldlibrary.info/.

JAMAICAN FLAG RAISING

At 2:00 PM, the Jamaican Organization of NJ (JON-J) will celebrate the island nation's 55th anniversary of its independence with a flag-raising ceremony at Plainfield City Hall.

Besides special invited guests, there will be food, music and a variety of vendors.

Plainfield City Hall is at 515 Watchung Avenue, corner of East 6th Street. Parking in the lot behind City Hall.

Be sure not to miss any of these fun events!



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Plainfield's 31st National Night Out celebration set for Tuesday


Mayor Mapp addresses the crowd at 2016 celebration.
Seated are honorees Marie Davis (Ward 1) and
Donald Van Blake (Ward 2).


Tuesday, August 1st, will mark Plainfield's 31st annual National Night Out. The city's observance begins at 6:30 PM at City Hall Plaza. There is also a neighborhood celebration coordinated by the Netherwood Heights Neighbors with a community BBQ at Leland Avenue Park.

Over the years, the celebration has grown from residents' turning on their porch lights for the evening to the large communitywide event at City Hall -- with food, music, recognition of civic organizations and programs and demonstrations by publis safety personnel.

Here are some photos from last year's celebration --


The Police Cadet program is recognized.


The Recreation tent is always mobbed.


Signing up for CERT training.


A little help with my glow bracelet, please?


The crowd enjoys itself.


Rose Marie Cathcart staffs the Clerk's information table.


Freeholder Linda Carter and 4th Ward Councilor Bridget Rivers.


Nancy Piwowar chats with Mayor Mapp's Chief of Staff John Steward.


Book bags and firefighter hats were much sought after.

See you Tuesday!


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Plainfield's Brooklyn Road finally gets its due


West 7th Street was once two separate roads.


Plainfield's Brooklyn Road will finally get its due -- as part of Union County's 7th Street raid improvements slated to get under way about August 1st.

Back in the day (1870 or so), West 7th Street started at Park Avenue and stopped at Plainfield Avenue. Across the avenue, the street was known as Brooklyn Road. You can see the ghost intersection by noticing the sharp turn in the road at the traffic light. (This is similar to the way the intersections of Front Street, Park Avenue and Somerset Street were straightened out in the 1960s.)

The Union County roads department has announced that milling, paving and striping are to begin August 1 and run for five nights on the stretch from Park Avenue to Clinton Avenue. Work crews are slated from 7:00 PM to 6:00 AM, during which time the road will be close except to local residents and emergency traffic (the Plainfield Rescue Squad is located at West 7th Street and Spooner Avenue).

The street is also known as County Road 601, and is one of Plainfield's busiest streets. Often I must wait for a leisurely parade of cars, vans, trucks and New York buses to pass before I can get out of the driveway.

Over the 35 years we have been at this address, the road has taken quite a beating. A couple of years ago, a novel approach was to mill and apply two long patches that left the original asphalt in the middle and along the gutters on both sides. This was not very successful and after the first winter, the failing bond with the old pavement generated a whole new series of potholes forcing drivers to try to straddle the strips of potholes as they drove to avoid cratering.

Among the most frequent commercial vehicles passing through (besides the NYC buses) are the Pepsi delivery trucks from the Pepsi bottling plant on New Brunswick Road. This bottling plant replaces a facility that used to be in Plainfield. Does anyone remember the location of the Plainfield bottling plant? (Was it next door to the Fire Headquarters on West 4th Street?)

The County advises the Traffic Bureau is available to answer any questions you may have about the road work. Call them during regular business hours at (908) 789-6011.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Plainfield residents eligible for gun buyback this weekend


Plainfield residents are eligible to participate
in this weekend's gun buyback program.



Plainfield residents are eligible to participate in a no-questions-asked gun buyback program this weekend.



Cash payouts of up to $200 per firearm are being made available to members of the public, according to acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, Freeholders Chairman Bruce Bergen, Sheriff Joseph P. Cryan, and Union County Public Safety Director Andrew Moran.


The event is being held from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29. One of the three locations for the buyback, being coordinated by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, is the Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church on Lyons Avenue in Newark. The other locations include Antioch Baptist Church in Camden and Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton.


New Jersey residents can turn in up to three firearms of any type, no questions asked, and receive payouts of $100 for a rifle or shotgun, $120 for a handgun or revolver, and $200 for an assault weapon. Police officers and law enforcement firearms experts will be on hand to assist with the valuation and securing of turned-in weapons. 
 
TRANSPORTING THE WEAPONS TO THE BUYBACK


Pursuant to New Jersey Statute 2C:39-6g, all weapons being transported to the gun buyback locations must be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gun box, or securely tied package, and locked in the trunk of the vehicle in which it is being transported. Also, pursuant to the statute, driving to and from the locations must "include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances."


Since 2013, two law enforcement-run gun buybacks were held in Union County-- including Plainfield-- resulting in the collection of nearly 1,500 firearms.


"We were extremely pleased with the results of our previous events, and we recommend and encourage that any resident of Union County seeking to dispose of a firearm or firearms participate in this program," Prosecutor Park said. "One of this Office's top priorities is investigating, prosecuting, and preventing violent crime - and reducing the number of dangerous weapons in Union County neighborhoods is a simple, effective way to work toward that goal."


"It's an imperative for us in law enforcement to do everything in our power to take as many guns off our streets as possible, and buybacks such as these are useful mechanisms through which many hundreds of firearms are collected at once," Sheriff Cryan said. "These are weapons that are out of the picture for good - they'll never be a factor in an intentional or accidental incident that results in an injury or death - and all of us are a little safer because of it."
 
HOW IT'S FUNDED


The Attorney General's Office is paying for the gun buyback with forfeiture funds obtained by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police, and the three participating County Prosecutors' Offices, in Camden, Essex, and Mercer counties. Payouts will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis.


The gun buyback has also been promoted through radio, newspaper, bus transit, social media, and other advertising throughout the month. Any resident with questions about the buyback effort can call the Attorney General's Citizen Services unit at 609-984-5828 or visit www.nj.gov/guns; frequently asked questions and answers can also be accessed online at www.nj.gov/guns/faq.html.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

GOP asks for a helping hand on killing Obamacare


Cartoonist Matson, for
The Hill.

Shifting our gaze from Plainfield today.

From time to time, Politico magazine publishes a roundup of editorial cartoons. The toon above is from the most recent collection (see here), featuring the Obamacare repeal drama and assorted Trump activities.

Enjoy.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Plainfield gets nearly perfect score on audit


Mayor Mapp's insistence on dealing with the city's
auditors' recommendations has paid off.



Plainfield's CY2016 audit was released on Friday, revealing a near-perfect score on the questions of Recommended Actions.

Thanks to the persistence of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, himself a Certified Municipal Finance Officer, Plainfield has gotten its act together big time since he became mayor in 2014.

In addition to missing cash problems that affected the Health Division, the Tax Collector's office and the Recreation Division in past years, there were longstanding problems -- noted in the audits' Recommendations sections. Among the perennial process and record-keeping issues in Plainfield have been failure to deposit cash on time, purchases circumventing the purchasing procedures, and sloppy record-keeping.

As I pointed out in reviewing last year's audit (CY2015, see here), in his third year in office, Mayor Mapp had reduced the flagged items in the Recommendations section from 34 findings (filling five pages) in Mayor Robinson-Briggs' final year, to seven findings in 2015 -- four of which concerned infractions of purchasing rules.

This year, there is only one recommendation, and that concerns the outsourced animal control program:

Monthly animal control reports filed with the state were not filed on a timely basis and were not always filled out accurately, resulting in paying the State incorrectly.

RECOMMENDATION: That monthly animal control State reports be reconciled with license fees collected.
The audit document should appear on the city's Municipal Finance web page (see here) within the next day or two.

Congratulations to Director of Administration & Finance Ron West and his crew for their hard work. We can practically see the Promised Land from here.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Plainfield Car, Truck & Bike Show this Thursday


This vintage car exhibited at a 2012
Latin Rides show produced by G-Wiz.


Plainfield's Special Improvement District (SID) hosts the FREE 2017 Plainfield Car, Truck & Bike Show this Thursday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.

The show is produced by George Withers of G-Wiz Auto Entertainment and will offer for your  delight a show of classic, muscle and vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles. There NO VEHICLE REGISTRATION CHARGE for this show, but exhibitors must register with G-Wiz in advance of the show -- call (908) 482-8132.

Many Plainfielders have seen G-Wiz shows at various venues throughout the city and won't want to miss this one.

Also performing as part of the evening fun will be Party of Five, an a cappella doo-wop group, who will entertain with classic doo-wop songs.

The Plainfield Car, Truck & Bike Show will be in the Fine Faire parking lot, 1405 South Avenue. (Rain date: Thursday, July 27 -- but the forecast is hot and clear for this Thursday).


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Back to School Book Bag Drive under way


The annual Book Bag and school supplies drive
is under way.


Plainfield Action Services is conducting its annual Book Bag Drive through next Tuesday (July 25).

Residents are asked to donate book bags and school supplies for the upcoming school year. The donations will be made into book bag kits that will be distributed to students at this year's National Night Out celebration on Tuesday, August 1.

The book bag giveaway is a popular component of the city's annual National Night Out celebration.

The deadline for donations is Tuesday, July 25. Plainfield Action Services is located on the first floor of City Hall Annex, 510 Watchung Avenue. For more information, call PAS at (908) 753-3519.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Sunday, July 16, 2017

FREE Youth Basketball Skills Camp is this week


Free Basketball Skills Camp offered to
Plainfield youngsters this week.


The Plainfield Division of Recreation is offering a FREE Basketball Skills Camp this week at Hannah Atkins Playground.

The Camp is free to young Plainfield residents ages 8 to 14 and runs from Tuesday (July 18) through Thursday (July 20), 9:00 AM to Noon.

Young people may register on site with Coach Wayne or Coach Hasan.

The Camp is part of a series of programs offered by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the City Council in an effort to blanket the city with summer recreation and cultural opportunities while school is out.

Hannah Atkins Playground is at West 3rd Street and Plainfield Avenue. For more information, contact the Division of Recreation at (908) 753-3097.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Neighborhood Health Center is NOT closed


Logo developed for the Neighborhood Health Services
Corporation after its name was changed from
the Plainfield Health Center.


Ouch!

That is a direct quote from a well-known Plainfield political figure, and it fits my note on the Health Center posted on CLIPS at 1:17 AM on Saturday morning.

I went over to the Center a little past noon on Saturday, to find the place hopping with activity and 33 cars parked in the staff and patient parking areas.

Late this evening, I got a blistering email from retired police captain (and former Public Safety Director) Siddeeq El-Amin, who is also chairman of the Neighborhood Health Center's Board, which I am reprinting below --
Dan,

Today I saw your Clips and was completely astonished at what I read.  You have known me for decades in the City of Plainfield.  You have known me for my employment with the Plainfield Police Division, known me as a former Public Safety Director, known me a member of the Planning Board, and known me as the Board Chairman for the Neighborhood Health Center.  And you certainly know my personal cell and home numbers.  Good investigative reporters would know how to obtain them.

So why in hell couldn't you just call me, or email me, when you received that initial "rumor" of the Health Center allegedly closing?  But no, you decided to post a tantalizing tidbit on your Clips that you were "chasing down a rumor the Neighborhood Health Center has been shut down. Check back for more on Sunday
."  Are you now trying to be like FOX News?

Fact:  the Neighborhood Health Center is NOT SHUT DOWN OR CLOSED!   But you would have known that if you had bother to contact someone in authority at the Health Center.  This is the very reason why so many Plainfielders don't take your utterances with any form of seriousness.  You major in gossip and speculation and minor in facts.  Writing titillating "rumors and speculations" in attempts to get readers to return for more may work in the "National Enquirer" environment but Plainfield citizens deserve better.  Unfortunately, you are not able to deliver better.  And the damage you have caused to the Health Center, the only major health provider for the uninsured and underinsured populations in the Plainfield area is unspeakable.

Siddeeq W. El-Amin, BS (RU'68), MPA (RU'97)

Siddeeq is right. I do have his numbers, though I decided 1:00 AM was really too late to call -- anyone. My bad judgment was to print the "tantalizing tidbit" -- out of fear of being "scooped" if the story was in fact true.

Thankfully, it is not, as my trip to the Center Saturday mid-day confirmed.

I have written over the years about both the Neighborhood Health Services Center (see here) and its predecessor, the Plainfield Health Center (see here).

Siddeq is correct that the Neighborhoord Health Center is the "only major health provider for the uninsured and underinsured populations in the Plainfield area."

Its loss would be tragic indeed.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Friday, July 14, 2017

'Taming of The Shrew' at Cedar Brook Park Sunday


 


Crowd watching a 2015 performance of
Romeo & Juliet at Cedar Brook Park.

 

An abridged version of Shakespeare's comedy The Taming of the Shrew will be offered in a FREE presentation at Cedar Brook Park this Sunday (July 15) at 1:00 PM. The play will be offered on the county's portable stage near the cricket pitch next to the Shakespeare Garden.

The annual Shakespeare performances are funded by the Union County Freeholders and feature the NJ Shakespeare Theater's Next Stage Ensemble, a summer touring program of students working toward professional careers in the theater.

The group has presented annually at Cedar Brook Park for several years now, and attracts a sizeable audience.

Bring chairs or blankets. Parking on the Park Drive next to the Shakespeare Garden. Accessible restroon facilities available.

The weather is expected to be sunny and warm.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Steve Gallon case shows why getting Superintendent search right is critical


Campaign photo from Gallon's 2016 run for Miami-Dade
Board of Education.



Dr. Steve Gallon, the Plainfield school superintendent who left amid scandal in 2010, was sanctioned and lost his teaching and administrator's certifications in Florida on Thursday (July 13), according to a story in the Miami Herald (see here).

His story is a sober warning to Board of Education members and the rest of the community -- including teaching staff, administrators, union leaders and community stakeholders -- how important it is to get the Superintendent search right. Thorough vetting and taking no shortcuts are the lessons we can take from the Gallon experience.

Gallon was charming and manipulative, which should have raised red flags.

He brought along with him from Miami two females who were unqualified and uncertified for the top administrative positions he carved out for them. More red flags!!!

What really brought the house of cards tumbling down was the discovery that Gallon allowed the address of his condo in South Plainfield to be used as the "home" address for the two women's children. (The women were actually living in Perth Amboy, and the children should have attended Perth Amboy schools.)

(In a recent case of tuition fraud, a parent living in South Bound Brook owes the Bridgewater-Raritan school district more than $38K for one year's tuition for the out-of-district child.)

In today's story, the Miami Herald reports the youngsters in the NJ case as Gallon's "godsons" -- a reference I do not recall ever having been made in the New Jersey matter. The story also notes that the decision of the Florida Education Practices Commission does not affect Gallon's service on the Miami-Dade Board of Ed, to which he was elected last year.

In any event the Plainfield Board of Education, which chooses the Superintendent, must be ever-vigilant against doing an incomplete or shallow vetting of candidates.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Annual Council-PMUA exhibition match highlight of Monday meeting


The world according to the PMUA.
(Cartoon courtesy Mark Anderson)



Once again, the Plainfield City Council and the PMUA put on their annual exhibition match at Monday evening's Council double-header. That, plus one agenda item, made for the only items of note for the evening.

The questions raised by the Councilors are always the same: Why are rates so high compared to other municipalities? Why does generating more revenue by expanding services to other communities never seem to put a dent in Plainfield's rates? Why can't the PMUA rates be folded into owners' property taxes so they can claim a deduction?

Executive Director Daniel Mejia and CFO Duane Young answered questions on behalf of the Authority, while most of the Commissioners sat in the front rows of the audience.

As the proceedings wore on, it became clear that the Authority did not wish to get into any detail on any of the questions, closing off most discussion with the ever faithful "but Plainfield is different" argument, meaning the PMUA asserts no comparisons can be made.

After an hour, the sides called in quits -- until the next time.

If the Council really wants to get to the bottom of their concerns, they are going to have to shell out for professional assistance in analyzing the PMUA's books. Will they do it? Your guess is as good as mine.

The agenda item that caused some note was R241-17, a proposal to renew the city's contract with Associated Humane Societies to provide animal control services for another year for $121,890.

This had been tabled at the June business meeting after several residents questioned some of AHS's practices, including excessive euthanization of cats and dogs, and difficulties retrieving and returning lost pets to their owners.

When the agenda came to this item, Council President Williams noted the resoltuion's purpose and asked for someone to move the resolution.

Silence.

The meeting moved on to the next item.

Not taking up a resolution at the next meeting after which it has been tabled means that the resolution has died. To proceed, it will have to be offered as a new resolution at a future meeting.

This means the Administration must address the concerns which caused it to be tabled in the first place, and then try again.

The City Council meets again on August 14 for a combined agenda/business meeting. Time will probably be 7:00 PM, at the Council Chambers / Courthouse, East 4th Street and Watchung Avenue.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Council takes up proposal for online street openings permit system Monday


Utilities must get (and pay for) permits to open streets.

Plainfield City Council will take up an interesting and innovative proposal at Monday evening's combined Agenda/Business meeting -- which starts at 7:00 PM in the Courthouse. This will be the ONLY Council meeting in July.

The matter to be taken up (R 238-17) would have the City contract with Savory Technology Partners of Newark to provide an online street openings permitting process.

According to Director of Public Works and Urban Development Orrin Dabney, the city receives about 600 requests for street and sidewalk openings each year. These are submitted on paper forms and a written permit is issued which must either be mailed to the applicant or picked up by the applicant with a second visit to the Division's offices.

Dabney estimates that the requests and backup materials (including plans and drawings) generate 12,00 pages of paper files that must be maintained by the Division. He says that as of 2016, the Division has run out of physical space to store more documents, necessitating a new approach to the problem.

The inferene in the proposal is that customers (residential or business -- including utilities) would be able not only to fill out the permit form online but would be able to add the plans and drawings necessary for the Division to make an inormed decision.

Fees would be $5/opening for resident requestors and $10/opening for businesses and utilities.

Dabney estimates that the City would save considerably in staff time needed to search and retrieve paper files and to answer customer inquiries about the status of permits.

Additional benefits to the City will include quicker acess by the City to the funds and minimizing human error associated with manually processing payments.

The only question I can see that might be raised by the public is whether the applications and permits will be available for online inspection by the general public. In fact, that would be a perfect question for Councilor Toliver, who has made a point of keeping a sharp eye on street openings.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Friday, July 7, 2017

Jesuit writer addresses LGBTs and the Catholic Church at Sunday talk


Fr. James Martin, SJ, who is on the editorial staff of
America,
the Jesuit magazine, will speak at Sacred Heart Church Sunday.


Jesuit priest and author James Martin, whose new book (Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into A Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity, more here) is gaining a wide reading in both Catholic circles and LGBT community, will speak about his new book and the possibility of building bridges with the LGBT community in a talk at South Plainfield's Sacred Heart Church Sunday (July 9) at 3:00 PM.

Gay Catholics have often been treated shabbily by the Church in the past, and while there has been much change in recent decades, Fr. Martin presses for the Church to move beyond tolerance to inclusion.

That is a big ask, but Martin seems to be in good company -- all the way from Pope Francis himself ("Who am I to judge?") to Newark's newly appointed archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and many parish priests in New Jersey, who labor quietly to build parishes that are inclusive and show respect to all who enter.

Sunday's talk is being sponsored by "In God's Image," a ten-year-old LGBT group that meets regularly at Sacred Heart.

Fr. Martin will be available for a Q&A after the talk, and the book will be availalbe for purchase through Little City Books of Hoboken, which will be on site. Fr. Martin will sign copies purchased that day.

Sacred Heart Church is at 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield, NJ (see map here) or visit the parish website here.

Many thanks to old friend, longtime Plainfielder and RSVP charter member Bruce Zehnle who tipped me off the event was coming.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Assemblyman Jerry Green brings home the bacon for new YMCA program


The upper floors of Plainfield's historic YNCA
would be converted into 31 studio apartents for
young people aging out of the foster care system.


Plainfield Assemblyman Jerry Green, who is also Speaker Pro Tempore of the New Jersey Assembly, has brought home the bacon for the YMCA, putting together a financing package that will allow the Plainfield YMCA to move forward on a multi-million dollar renovation of the YMCA building that will replace SRO rooms with studio apartments for young people 18-24 who are aging out of the foster care system.

The Assemblyman's office released details on Thursday, July 6 --

Assemblyman Jerry Green announced today that a portion of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Plainfield will be rehabilitated into affordable housing for youth, ages18-24, who are aging out of foster care.

The developer, Eastern Pacific Development, LLC, anticipates construction to begin in December 2017 with an anticipated completion date of May 2019.

The $9.5 million project includes bridge financing recently committed from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency (HMFA) during their June 27, 2017 board meeting. The financing includes a $4.86 million permanent bridge loan from revenue bond financing and approximately $3 million in permanent financing from the Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund (SSNHF). Additional sources of income include $6 million in construction financing from New Jersey Community Capital and $500,000 in capital funds from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The borrower is also applying for 4 percent tax credits.

“I would like to thank the State of New Jersey and congratulate YMCA President Ravenell Williams and YMCA Board President Kieran Anderson, for working with my office on these efforts. This is a unique housing project in Plainfield that many state residents will benefit from.  We will be home to only the second facility in the state to provide housing for youth aging out of foster care. I couldn’t be happier than to know that our Queen City is leading the way in providing these life-changing services,” said Assemblyman Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union).

The existing vacant and dilapidated units located on the second and third floors of the YMCA property will be demolished and substantially rehabilitated to include the new construction of 31 units, at an average of 413 square feet per unit. The building will be also expanded by approximately 5,000 square feet. Thirty of the efficiency units will be designated for youth aging out of foster care and one rent-free unit set aside for the superintendent. The first and fourth floors will remain YMCA facilities.

All units will have private kitchens and bathrooms and Energy Star appliances.  Elevator service, a secured entrance, common laundry facilities, office space for property management and support service functions, on-site parking, and access to all YMCA facilities will also be offered. Additional items in the scope of work include the installation of an elevator, replacement of roof, renovation of downstairs lobby entrance, and new security camera system.

Case management services will be available to the residents, including skills development, housing, education/vocational training, physical/mental health and employment.

The project, located in a Smart Growth Area and a Metro Planning Area, is within walking distance to a grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, Union County College, social services, buses, and a train station.

Vanguard Realty will provide property management services, with the Plainfield YMCA providing onsite management and maintenance personnel. Security will be staffed 24/7 with the existing security staff that presently services the building.

The proposed net rents, set at Union County Fair Market Rents, are $1,007 per month. The project will provide Section 8 Rental Assistance Vouchers through the Housing Authority of Plainfield.

The developer, Eastern Pacific Development, located in Vineland, specializes in high quality housing, assisting municipalities in meeting their obligation to provide affordable housing, often with the added benefit of renovating older, deteriorating buildings into modern housing complexes. Brookfield Construction will serve as the General Contractor. 


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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