Montclair: Community Block Grants Applicants Make Pitches; Talk of Town-wide 25 MPH Speed Limit

BY  |  Wednesday, Dec 07, 2016 9:06am  |  COMMENTS (1)

December in Montclair usually means requests for community development block grants in the new year, and the Montclair Township Council spent the bulk of its December 6 conference meeting (Deputy Mayor/First Ward Councilor William Hurlock was absent) going over funding requests from various groups that do all sorts of community service in town.  Planning Director Janice Talley, as per custom, hosted the groups filing for requests for community development block grant (CDBG) funding for 2017.

Montclair Planning Director Janice Talley presents the 2017 community development block grant applications to the Montclair Township Council.

Montclair Planning Director Janice Talley presents the 2017 community development block grant applications to the Montclair Township Council.

Talley said she has not heard from Congress regarding what the allocation for Montclair would be for 2017, but she was told to assume the funding would be comparable to 2016, or about $320,000.  Eight groups have filed requests for funding totaling $246,700 in all.  Mayor Robert Jackson and the councilors will rank the requests to determine how the money gets allocated.   Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville and Director Talley will serve as the Montclair’s representatives to the Essex County CDBG office to present the township’s recommendations.

Sue Seidenfeld of the COPE Center went first, requesting $40,000, double the group’s 2016 amount. The group expects to use the grant money to support its counseling and outreach services, administering to 440 Montclair residents.  Seidenfeld talked about how COPE was seeing a spike in opioid abuse among the people it has been trying to help, and how it has come to rival alcohol abuse as a primary addiction.  She says her group is seeing so many severe cases that their doctor has been authorized to prescribe Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction.  She said that COPE had received funding from the United Way, but that had been cut.

Marcia Marley of Succeed2gether asked for 20,000 for her group, the same amount as in 2016.  Succeed2gether is a group fostering academic excellence among lower-income children and expects to use the grant money to support staff salaries and consultant expenses and also manage the increase in enrollment and student volunteers. She said the group is interested in pursuing places for 60 to 80 children for tutoring over the summer and reaching out to parents with workshops on things from navigating college to helping their children write.  Marley said she promotes the group through flyers and the school system’s electronic backpacks, and she hopes to sponsor a literary festival in April 2017.

The Interfaith Hospitality Alliance was represented by Emma Justice, who requested $32,500 to continue her group’s work in finding emergency shelter and permanent housing for homeless families while counseling them on their problems and helping them toward financial and personal independence.  In its shelter program, the Interfaith Hospitality Alliance provided shelter and support services to 18 families and 58 individuals, the majority of them under the age of 18 in 2016. Some 29 children participated in the group‘s after-school program. Continue Reading

Montclair Planning Board Approves Vestry, Raises Concerns About Warner Building

BY  |  Tuesday, Dec 06, 2016 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (2)

The Montclair Planning Board heard two applications at its December 5 meeting that are to be subject to review by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).  One got approved, while the other, a previously approved application, was substantially revised – and led to a chaotic hearing.  Attorney Neal Zimmerman represented both applicants.

The first application was the Vestry apartment building planned for Bloomfield Avenue next to the Montclarion II building that is scheduled to be completed in early 2017.   The developer, David Genova, had reviewed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements since the board’s review of his application on November 7, and concluded that he did not need a deviation for silver certification.  The testimony on the project came from architect Paul Sionas, who made more revisions to his plan.

The Vestry

The Vestry

Sionas’s changes include, among other features, added street trees, double front doors, reduced-size lettering on the sign up front, and a second floor terrace to cover the ground-level bicycle garage, with partitions in the terrace for each adjoining apartment.  Sionas also included balconies for upper-floor apartments, and he modified the parking.  He had a wall on the western side of the building slightly moved to accommodate for bigger spaces and he proposed a different striping pattern to provide space in the column areas.  Sionas and Genova also assured the board that any tenant who requested designated parking, should the available parking spaces on-site be unavailable, would get an overnight space at the Bay Street Station parking deck. Continue Reading

Montclair Arts Advisory Committee Discusses How To Move Arts Forward

BY  |  Monday, Dec 05, 2016 10:15am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Members of the Montclair Arts Advisory Council (MAAC) held a forum on December 4 at the Montclair Fire Department on Pine Street to go over strategies and plans to promote the arts in the township. The group, chaired by theater director Elaine Molinaro, looked back at past efforts and looked ahead in the context of the planned arts direction around Seymour Street. Councilors Robert Russo (At-Large) and Renée Baskerville (Fourth Ward) were also in attendance.

Montclair Arts Advisory Council chair Elaine Molinaro at the December 4 arts forum

Montclair Arts Advisory Council chair Elaine Molinaro at the December 4 arts forum

Retired teacher Jim Price and jazz musician Bruce Tyler led off the discussion with a look at previous efforts to promote the arts in Montclair.  Price noted that the old Montclair Arts Council, disbanded by the township in 2010 for budgetary reasons, had created a plan in 2001 to, among other things, create a sculpture garden in Crane Park, feature music and stage performances in a newly refurbished auditorium at Montclair High School, provide live music at the Montclair Art Museum, and easy access to the arts on the town’s Web site, among other proposals.  Tyler admitted most of these proposals didn’t work out, but that some progress was made by showing arts programming on TV34 and providing a Web site, Destination Montclair, for arts information.  But many of the forward steps were countered by backward ones; Destination Montclair went offline due to staffing problems, and a similar staff shortage has left TV34 a shadow of its former self, with the post of a managing director left vacant and a lack of full-time staffers.  Tyler said it was imperative to restart these efforts because of the economic benefits that arts information can provide, such as attracting more people by providing a calendar of events and offering listings for jobs and auditions. Continue Reading

Housing, Gentrification and Policing Discussed at Montclair Conversation on Race, Culture and Class

BY  |  Friday, Dec 02, 2016 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (11)

Loss of diversity, housing costs, gentrification and policing concerns were raised at an intergenerational community conversation on race, culture, and class Thursday night, presented by the Montclair NAACP and the First Congregational Church of Montclair.

Montclair NAACP Second Vice President James Harris and the Rev. Ann Ralosky officiated the discussion, the first in series, and were joined by a panel offering their opinions on housing and gentrification.  The Reverend Ann, as Ralosky is known in the community, said she did not want anyone to pass judgment on other people’s statements; instead, she wanted people to replace judgment with wonder, as in wondering about the basis of the other person’s opinions.  She felt that this would be the best way to foster discussion on the issues facing a changing Montclair.

James Harris of the Montclair NAACP at the intergenerational forum on race, class and culture.

James Harris of the Montclair NAACP at the intergenerational forum on race, class and culture.

The panel’s participants discussed the high cost of living in town and the state of law enforcement in America, with housing and gentrification the focus of the former topic.  Matthew Donegan and his daughter Kayla noted that prices for goods ads well as housing were making living in Montclair out of  reach for many families, and the elder Donegan said that the higher cost of housing made it harder for longtime residents to stay in town, a town where even renting an apartment  has become difficult.   An estimated 40 percent of Montclair residents live in rental housing.

Two onetime Montclair residents who both live in major cities – New York and Philadelphia – agreed. John Rogers, an associate pastor with First Congregational,  said he would love to live in Montclair again but has had to reverse-commute from New York City instead of living in town, a situation current Philadelphia resident Naima Tryman said was absurd.   What was more distressing, Tryman said, was the upscale trend of Montclair’s retail sector, citing the fancier stores along South Park Street and even in the South End, a historically black section of town now attracting more upscale and mostly white residents. Continue Reading

Montclair Mourns As Woman, Missing For Over A Week, Is Found Dead in West Orange (UPDATED)

BY  |  Friday, Dec 02, 2016 6:59am  |  COMMENTS (5)

Missing Person

UPDATE: 3:50 p.m. Authorities announce that Sarah Butler’s death has been determined to be a homicide. Reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti have announced that the death of Sarah Butler, age 20, of Montclair, New Jersey has been determined to be a homicide by the New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.  At this point in the investigation, it has also been determined that the victim’s body was placed in an area of Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, NJ.

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura’s Crime Stoppers Program is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the murder of Ms. Butler.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432. The investigation is active and ongoing at this time.


Family and friends of Sarah Butler, Montclair High School graduate and a talented dancer who attended New Jersey City University, are grieving after learning that her body was found in West Orange.

According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Thursday law enforcement officers located the remains while searching in an area of Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, NJ. Butler had been reported missing to the Montclair Police Department on November 23, 2016.

The exact cause of death will be determined by an autopsy by the New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, according to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas S. Fennelly. The investigation into her death is being handled by the Homicide Task Force. The investigation is active and ongoing at this time, according to Fennelly.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Prosecutor’s Tips Line at (877) 847-7432.





Montclair Council: Traffic Woes and Introduction of Salary Increases For Council, Town Manager

BY  |  Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 10:16am  |  COMMENTS (13)

The Montclair Township Council

The Montclair Township Council

The Montclair Township Council spent much of its November 29 meeting talking about traffic issues, and Mayor Robert Jackson and the councilors heard from Police Chief Todd Conforti on the issue.

Chief Conforti said the Montclair Police Department was faced with a staffing issue in the traffic bureau when he took over in March.  He said that at the time, there was no one who was exclusively assigned to handle traffic enforcement.  He said that Traffic Bureau Sgt. Stephanie Egnezzo – since promoted to lieutenant – has done a good job in the traffic bureau but that there has only been so much she can do. Chief Conforti wanted to staff it effectively and has since assigned two officers to the bureau – one officer dealing with only traffic than the department has had.  The actual enforcement, Chief Conforti said, is largely complaint-driven, and the department goes to certain areas based on the complaints.  He has seen an increase in stops and summonses, but regular officers who have been handling traffic issues have been diverted to other services.  Chief Conforti said that he has had a good rapport with the two traffic officers, and he expects stops and summonses to continue to rise in 2017.  He also credited Lt. Egnezzo with expanding education on traffic issues in the community to foster more responsible driving. Continue Reading

Montclair Police Seek Help To Find Missing Montclair Woman

BY  |  Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 9:32am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Missing Person

D/Lt. David O’Dowd of the Montclair Police Department just sent the following notice of a missing woman from Montclair:

On 11/23/2016, family members of Ms. Sarah Butler (20yoa from Montclair) reported her missing. Ms. Butler was last seen on 11/22/2016 at approximately 8pm.

Sarah Butler is described as a black female, 20 years of age, 5’5 in height, weighing 170 pounds, brown eyes, black/red hair, medium build, and medium to dark complexion. She was last seen wearing a black zip up jacket labeled “Premiere Dance Theater” with orange stripes, large men’s reading glasses, silver hoop earrings, dark blue jeans, a black headband, tall black boots, and a black side bag with a long strap.

Sarah Butler was operating a light blue/gray 2007 Dodge Caravan with yellow scrapes along the rear driver side.



Montclair Crime: iPad stolen from Turtle + The Wolf, Burglary, Arrests

BY  |  Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Crime: Storm-Related Incidents, Theft, Attempted BurglaryThe week in Montclair Crime from D/Lt. David O’Dowd, Montclair Police Department:


11-19-2016 (Nishuane Road) Suspects were observed attempting to break into vehicles in the area. They fled the scene in a Silver 2011 Nissan Altima towards Orange. Minutes later, Orange Police had located this vehicle and arrested three of its occupants. Through investigation, Mr. Nahime Gilmore (25yoa from orange) and a 17yoa juvenile from Orange were charged with Burglary for their involvement in the incident on Nishuane Road.

11-20-2016 (Ridgewood Avenue) Ms. Rebecca Fiorillo, 25yoa from Ringwood, was arrested and charged with DWI following a single car accident.
Continue Reading

Development Versus Preservation Concerns Montclair Planning Board

BY  |  Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (19)

Members of the Montclair Planning Board spent 90 minutes at their November 21 meeting holding a public hearing on the historic preservation element of the master plan and finalizing the re-examination report of the plan.  Both were passed, but the Planning Board will likely revisit the plan’s historic element – which Planning Director Janice Talley called a “living document” – and add guidelines regarding the historic integrity of Montclair Center.  Discussion of added language could be brought up as early as the board’s December 19 meeting, provided that concerned members offer their comments five days in advance, but it will most likely be revisited after the first of the year.

Montclair Planning Director Janice Talley and Montclair Planning Board attorney Arthur Neiss

Montclair Planning Director Janice Talley and Montclair Planning Board attorney Arthur Neiss

David Greenbaum, one of several Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) members in attendance, issued the call for specific language relating to the commercial district.  He said that Montclair needed higher standards to preserve the area’s historic integrity in relation to new development, and he added that the historic preservation element as currently written is not strong and coalesced enough.  Saying that Montclair had the people and the talent to ensure such standards and protect the overall fabric of the town, Greenbaum added, “We just need to make sure we assert our role in a constructive way.” Continue Reading

Montclair PD Shares Updates, Thanks Participants of Coffee With a Cop Programs

BY  |  Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 8:31am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Coffee With a Cop

Lieutenant Tyrone Williams, Jr., of Montclair PD’s Community Service Unit, shares updates and offers thanks to participants of the Coffee With a Cop program:

On November 13, MPD partnered with Java Love of Upper Montclair. Many residents came out for the event. Chief Conforti, Deputy Chiefs Frazzano and Young, Community Service Unit Officers along with other MPD Officers were in attendance. We appreciate our partners at Java Love, and their willingness to host this event.

Continue Reading

Featured Comment

Condolences. So tragic. May she RIP. Very sorry for her family.

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