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Friday, February 16, 2018

'State of the City'? Plainfield shrugs

Seal of the City of Plainfield, settled in 1685 and
chartered as a city in 1869.


On Thursday evening, Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp delivered the annual 'State of the City' address, as required by the city's special charter.

This is the mayor's annual opportunity to make the Queen City shine -- to tout the achievements of his or her administration in the previous year, and to outline some of the proposals for the coming year.

As long as I have been in Plainfield (35 years) it has always been an exhaustive (and often exhausting) catalog of things done and to be done. And often enough, attendance has been standing-room only.

Plainfielders are well known for being interested in the improvement of their community. They turn out in droves to hear, discuss and work on community improvement projects.

When Plainfield won the arts grant from AT&T and launched the 'New Audiences' project to assess the condition of the arts in Plainfield and lay out a cultural action plan, over 400 people participated.

Later, during Mayor Al McWilliams' first term, more than 500 people turned out to work for months on a long-range strategic plan for the community, with mass meetings at the nursing school at Muhlenberg.

Even a display of a fantasy complex for Park-Madison, including a hotel and banquet hall, proposed by the architect nephew of real estate investor Rose Walker drew hundreds. And it was just a 'concept'!

Mayor Mapp's 'State of the City' addresses have always been well-attended -- until last night.

When elected officials, senior city staffers, and highlighted volunteers -- such as the Vision 2025 Executive Committee -- are subtracted, the total audience was meager indeed.

With all the good news there was to report (you can find both the State of the City address and the Vision2025 report on the city's website here), I was dumbfounded by the poor turnout.

The Mapp administration would be wise to ask what has happened? and why? and what does it mean? and what is to be done?

It was an opportunity to celebrate our progress.

And Plainfield shrugged.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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