Montclair Makes It Official: New Chief and Deputy Chiefs of Police

BY  |  Sunday, May 29, 2016 10:15am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Effective Wednesday June 1, Acting Chief of Police Todd Conforti will be appointed Chief of Police and Deputy Chiefs Tracy Frazzano and Wilhelm Young will become Deputy Chiefs of Police, Montclair Township Acting Manager Timothy Stafford announced Friday. Continue Reading

Montclair Man Says Police Pointed Gun at Him After Stopping Him Walking Home

BY  |  Friday, May 27, 2016 2:45pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

Montclair Police Report Sheds Light on Investigation into Assessment LeakHampton Humber, a Montclair resident, was stopped on his way home on William Street by Montclair police on May 20. Police were responding to a shooting.

Montclair Times reports that Humber says a Montclair PD officer pointed a gun at him before he was allowed to continue on his way to his house. Continue Reading

West Orange Woman Struck and Killed By DeCamp Bus

Thursday, May 26, 2016 5:16pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

West Orange Woman Struck and Killed By DeCamp BusWest Orange Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force are investigating a fatal pedestrian incident.

At approximately 9:31 am today Dilma Khan, 82, of West Orange was struck by a DeCamp bus and killed at the intersection of Mississippi and Harrison Avenues. Continue Reading

Wynton Marsalis and Christian McBride Wow The Crowd at Inside The Jazz Note (VIDEO)

BY  |  Thursday, May 26, 2016 3:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Inside the Jazz Note, presented by Jazz House Kids, is always a spectacular night for jazz fans. Last year, Sheila E. brought down the house; past guests have included Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves and Esperanza Spalding. Last Thursday night, at the ninth annual Inside the Jazz Note at Montclair State’s Alexander Kasser Hall, Christian McBride sat down with none other than jazz great Wynton Marsalis.

Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz House Big Band performing at Inside the Jazz Note 2016. Richard Conde Photography.

Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz House Big Band performing at Inside the Jazz Note 2016. Richard Conde Photography.

The chemistry between McBride and Marsalis, who first met when McBride was still in high school and Marsalis, in his 20s, was already a rising star. Marsalis recognized McBride’s talent, saying how he knew when he saw McBride play that he was going to be amazing talent because no one else was playing bass like McBride. The mutual respect and admiration the two had was poignant as was Marsalis’ sharing of his own musical journey, including experiences growing up and some of the obstacles he encountered (as well as some funny anecdotes about Marsalis’ mother). Continue Reading

Fourth Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville to Host May 31 Community Meeting

BY  |  Thursday, May 26, 2016 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Councilor Baskerville to Host 4th Ward Community Meeting April 28Fourth Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville will host a community meeting on Tuesday, May 31 at 7:00 p.m., in Fire Headquarters, 1 Pine Street, Montclair.

Pedestrian safety and traffic calming will be the major issues covered during the meeting. The focus will be on the Willowdale Avenue, Washington Street, Franklin Place corridor (including Grenada Place and Linden Avenue). Residents are welcome to raise concerns about traffic calming needs in other parts of the Fourth Ward. Township Engineer Kim Craft and Police Lieutenant Stephanie Egnezzo will be present to contribute to the discussion. Continue Reading

Everyone in the Essex Pool This Weekend!

BY  |  Thursday, May 26, 2016 11:45am  |  COMMENTS (0)

montclair pool past 1

Montclair’s Essex Pool will open for the season on Saturday, May 28 and will and remain open weekends only until June 24 when all three pools (Essex, Nishuane, and Mountainside) will open. Essex Pool will close August 21 for the season. Nishuane and Mountainside pools will close at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 5 for the season. Continue Reading

Amazing Fun For A Great Cause! MFEE’s Amazing FundRacer A Big Win For Community

BY  |  Thursday, May 26, 2016 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

fundracer

They ran, they biked, they danced, they got their toes painted. Intrepid teams competed Sunday for the Montclair Fund For Education Excellence’s Amazing FundRacer (check out the highlight video below).

The event raised over $85,000 in donations and sponsorships, including several in-kind donations from local businesses.

“Here are the winners, but as corny as it sounds, I think we really are all winners because of the overwhelming community engagement,” says Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, MFEE executive director. “We had hundreds of people involved as racers, volunteers, donors, fans, bracket entrants, FB/Twitter followers. To see so many people share a common experience and have a little fun doing it was truly the coolest part of this entire adventure.” Continue Reading

Montclair Council: Budget, Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Controversy, Protest Permit Standards

BY  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2016 11:14am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Fresh from a municipal election that returned Mayor Robert Jackson and the entire Montclair Township Council to office, the council approved the town’s budget for 2016 at its May 24 meeting.  The $82 million budget, which was approved on April 19, passed with about as much drama as there had been with the election.

The budget includes $52.8 million for municipal expenditures, $7.3 million for school purposes per Montclair’s status as a Type 1 school district, and $ 2.3 million for the library, with .73 percent tax increase overall as reported by Chief Financial Officer Padmaja Rao.  The entire process took about five minutes.

“That was interesting,” Mayor Jackson said at the end.

“Can we do it one more time?” Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon joked.

The Montclair Township Council, minus Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager.  Fire Chief John Herrmann (third from left) substituted for Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford.

The Montclair Township Council, minus Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager. Fire Chief John Herrmann (third from left) substituted for Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford.

The debate over a resolution petitioning Congress to enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax turned out to cause greater controversy.  No one disagreed with the idea of such a tax, but the mayor and at least three councilors had reservations about supporting it.  Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville thought it was a “deviation” from the council’s business and wondered if the council would try to address other national issues locally, like the minimum wage.  First Ward Councilor William Hurlock said it was inappropriate for the council to petition a higher governing body on legislation and called it a “feel-good” resolution, noting  both Mayor Jackson (who expressed similar reservations about the resolution during the council’s May 3 conference meeting) and Councilor McMahon were also hesitant to support it.  Not Deputy Mayor Robert Russo; he emphatically explained the need for its passage with outraged eloquence.

“Our form of government,” the deputy mayor said, is that the people from the bottom tell their council members and their public officials what they want.  So people from the streets . . . come to us asking us to help advocate at the national level – which, by the way is a very reactionary  national level of government . . .we are telling them we think they should do something.  So how many more years are we going to wait to do something?  How many more storms, how many more crises are we going to have?”  Deputy Mayor Russo added that that Montclair’s investments in environmentally friendly policies, such as solar energy, gave the town some authority on the matter.

In the end, the resolution passed 3-0.  Dr. Baskerville voted yes with Deputy Mayor Russo and Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller in the hope that the council could take steps to address similar issues of major importance, but the mayor and Councilors Hurlock and McMahon abstained.  Despite Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager’s absence due to illness, the resolution still passed because one abstention for every “yes” vote was not tantamount to a tie.

Dr. Baskerville had qualms about one other resolution, that authorizing a professional services agreement with Montclair lawyer Jason Santarcangelo  as a special counsel for abandoned and vacant properties for 2016.  She wondered about spending money on lawyers for specific purposes.  Mayor Jackson noted that the township had always consulted outside lawyers on issues such as labor and that even the post of township attorney had once been an outside position, adding that Santarcangelo had generated six dollars for the township for every dollar spent on his counsel .  Dr. Baskerville, however, preferred to abstain, and the measure passed 5-0.

With regard to ordinances, the council also passed on first reading an ordinance creating a new C-3 business district zone for Church Street and Glenridge Avenue to preserve the historical continuity of the two streets in accordance with the “historic center business district” created by the Planning Board in an amendment to the master plan in February.  Dr. Baskerville expressed concern that adjacent areas such as the Lackawanna Plaza area would still be fair game for development that did not conform to the C-3 zone, but Township Attorney Ira Karasick said that the council could regulate development through a redevelopment plan for Lackawanna Plaza.  The Planning Board recommends ideas for redevelopment but the council has the final say and approval on a plan.

The C-3 zone ordinance passed 6-0 with prohibitions on uses such as adult entertainment establishments, tattoo parlors, automobile sales and services, and pawn shops, among others.  It also included  a provision limiting building heights to 37 feet, which real estate owner Dick Grabowsky had said at the May 3 council meeting was tantamount to “spot zoning” and did not factor in the taller buildings around the zone.  A second-reading ordinance could amend that provision, but there was no indication of any changes being considered.

Glenridge Avenue (from October 2015), the subject of a newly proposed C-3 commercial zone.  Image courtesy of Google.

Glenridge Avenue (from October 2015), the subject of a newly proposed C-3 commercial zone. Image courtesy of Google.

Another first-reading ordinance, creating a Director of Senior Services in the Health Department with a salary range between $80,214.49 and $96,478.15, also came under a critique from Dr. Baskerville, particularly the high maximum salary.  Karasick explained that the position was created to be the equivalent to the nursing director’s position, with the same level of training, and that was where the maximum number came from.  He didn’t believe that it was a managerial position. Dr. Baskerville complained in response that calling the new post a directorial post when no one would report to this person and would bump the salary up, made no sense.  Fire Chief John Herrmann, substituting for Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford, tried to provide some answers.  He said that the new director would provide coordinate with different groups to provide services to township residents, such as the Adult School, but could not say if the salary range was comparable to similar positions in surrounding areas.  The ordinance passed on first reading 4-0, with Deputy Mayor Russo joining Dr. Baskerville in abstaining.  Chief Herrmann said he could ask Stafford to provide more information.

Dr. Baskerville also asked about a demonstration by the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) that recently occurred on Bloomfield Avenue.   As Karasick explained it to Baristanet, the group applied to the police department to hold a march on the avenue, and the police gave them a permit only to march on the sidewalk.  The group contacted Essex County and supposedly received a letter giving them permission to use the avenue – Karasick says he hasn’t seen the letter  – and after meeting among the municipal authorities, it was decided that the police would intervene to protect the safety of the marchers.  Dr., Baskerville worried that groups applying for permits to march in Montclair were not beholden to a uniform standard, and that special rules had been made for POP.

“We did believe that we need a better process for being able to address these issues,” Karasick said, citing the need to balance First Amendment rights and public safety.  “That needs to be worked out a little better.” He said that the group and the police had cooperated with each other.  He found Dr. Baskerville’s point about uniform standards to be legitimate, but he said that the bureaucracy has to resolve situations like this one when they come up.

In public comment, resident Kyle Pelling brought up an unpleasant situation involving the Montclair animal shelter’s director, Nicole Dawson.  He said that a dog with biting problems had been euthanized in November 2015 and charged that the shelter hadn’t followed protocol to try to rehabilitate the dog, named martin, and have him overcome his biting habit.  Though dogs whose biting habits cannot be corrected are euthanized as a last resort, Pelling said that martin was never given any rehabilitation training, and he said that the volunteer trainer at the shelter didn’t even know that Martin had already been euthanized.  “Other animals at the shelter face a similar fate,” Pelling said.

Pelling’s voiced his concerns to fellow volunteers, which he said  led to be reprimanded for spreading false rumors and his dismissal from the animal shelter a couple of months after Martin’s euthanization.  He said he learned that other volunteers had been spreading rumors about him, and that his dismissal was carried out by two volunteers at Dawson’s discretion.   he said that she didn’t even acknowledge his dismissal personally, which he found to be unprofessional.

“I know I am not the only one who has faced such treatment at the animal shelter,” said Pelling.  “It is my understanding that two other volunteers, as well as one animal control officer, were also let go under similar circumstances.”  He demanded that changes be made to improve the situation.  Resident Karin Coorant, another shelter volunteer, said that Pelling was an excellent volunteer but came to Dawson’s defense, saying she would never euthanize an animal unnecessarily.  She said the overwhelming majority of staffers being volunteers working without any hierarchy was the biggest problem, but she added that the shelter was still well run and praised Dawson’s dedication.  mayor Jackson said that Pelling’s concerns would be forwarded to Acting Manager Stafford nonetheless.

See the Irises at Full Bloom This Weekend

BY  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2016 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

 

Grab your camera (or your paint brushes) and visit the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens (474 Upper Mountain Avenue, Montclair) this weekend for a walk among the gorgeous flowers in full bloom.

It’s peak season through May 30 at Presby and, with the long, holiday weekend, the perfect time to visit Montclair’s “Rainbow on the Hill.”

(Photos courtesy Presby Memorial Iris Gardens)

 

 

Bloomfield Woman Killed in Car Crash on Garden State Parkway

BY  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2016 3:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

New Jersey State Police identified the woman killed in a crash last Sunday morning on the Garden State Parkway as Alexis Simpkins, a 25-year-old Bloomfield resident, NJ.com reports.

Simpkins lost control of her car while driving northbound early on Sunday morning on the Garden State Parkway, state police Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Williams said. Simpkins was not wearing a seat belt and the road was wet from rain.

 

 

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