Montclair High Alum Co-Creates and Stars in New Off Broadway Play

BY  |  Friday, May 29, 2015 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Tommy CrawfordMontclair is known as a place that draws an artistic crowd, but it’s also nurtured quite a few artists who grew up here.

Tommy Crawford is one example. A 2005 graduate of Montclair High, where he was the president of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, Crawford is making a name for himself in the New York theatre scene.

After graduating in theatre studies at Yale in 2009, where he was the recipient of the Metcalfe Prize for his work on his senior project an essay, Crawford went on to become a member of the resident acting ensemble, The Bats, at the off-off Broadway Flea Theater. He’s also performed in productions and workshops with The Ensemble Studio Theater/Youngblood, NY Fringe, Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, The Lark and others.

But his biggest project to date happens on June 23 when the first play he co-created and directed the music for opens Off Broadway. Sea Wife is a concert play, which is, as the phrase implies, a mixture of a concert and a play, in which actors are also band members who play music on stage.

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Montclair Photographer Showcases the Town’s Most Picturesque Homes in New Book

BY  |  Friday, May 29, 2015 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Stately Homes of MontclairIf you’re like me, you have a few Montclair “dream” homes (there is a large white house on Upper Mountain Avenue with gorgeous wrap around porches and balconies that is my favorite). Truth is, so many Montclair homes are beautiful, but some just stand out. Montclair photographer and videographer Andrew Wander has put together a collection of 50 stand out—or what he calls “Stately”—in his coffee table book “Stately Homes of Montclair.”

Stately Homes of Montclair ($59.95) features beautiful photography of the town’s most picturesque houses. Wander started this project seven years ago after moving to town from Bergen County. He came up with the idea after visiting a bookstore and seeing some coffee table books of other great towns and thought Montclair didn’t have anything to showcase its charm.

Wander would drive around town and stop at the homes that struck his attention. “I started knocking on doors telling the homeowners about my project and thankfully 95 percent said sure,” says Wander.

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Councilor Spiller to Host Montclair Third Ward Community Meeting June 3

BY  |  Friday, May 29, 2015 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Sean SpillerThird Ward Councilor Sean Spiller will hold a community meeting on Wednesday, June 3 to address residents’ concerns on the Township’s area in need of redevelopment study that includes the Seymour Street area. The meeting will be held from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Municipal Building second floor conference room, 205 Claremont Avenue. Township Planner Janice Talley and consultant architect Ira Smith will be present to answer questions from the community.

Earlier this year, the Township Council determined that Seymour Street, Glenridge Avenue, and Lackawanna Station meet the legal requirements for “area in need of redevelopment” designation. Another public hearing on the redevelopment investigation is scheduled before the Planning Board on June 22.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend and will have an opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns.

Hurlock Discusses Street Improvements, Affordable Housing, Senior Services at Community Meeting

BY  |  Friday, May 29, 2015 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair First Ward Councilor William Hurlock addresses constituents at his May 28 community meeting.

Montclair First Ward Councilor William Hurlock addresses constituents at his May 28 community meeting.

Montclair First Ward Councilor William Hurlock held his latest community meeting at the Montclair Public Library’s Bellevue Avenue branch on May 28, and the meeting was mostly more settled than previous First Ward meetings due to the biggest bone of contention in the ward – the Master Plan – having been settled itself.  Councilor Hurlock said he was pleased there would be no six-story buildings constructed in the business district, with only the A&P lot left open for possible development in the future.

The First Ward’s streets and avenues remained an ongoing issue, as many residents voiced the need for their streets to be redone. Councilor Hurlock said that the township has been trying to catch up with the backlog of streets that need work.  Councilor Hurlock said that the street projects were on a two-tiered system, with some streets rebuilt through what Montclair Public Works and Parks Superintendent Rob Bianco, who was present at the meeting, called a “design and build” program, with the recently redone Fernwood Avenue and Glenwood Road cited as recent examples, and others where basic curbing and/or paving is being taken care of, such as on Cooper Avenue.  The councilor said that part of the problem was that many First Ward streets have not qualified for community development block grant funding, so resources have not been readily available.

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Montclair Crime: Arrests, Theft, Vandalism

BY  |  Thursday, May 28, 2015 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Crime: String Of Burglaries, One Seen by Homeowner on Remote SurveillanceThe week in Montclair Crime from Lt. David O’Dowd, Montclair Police Department:


05-18-2015 (Bloomfield Avenue) Mr. Earle Blake, 41yoa from Montclair, was arrested on warrants out of Montclair totaling $558, as well as a no bail warrant from the Essex County Sheriffs.

05-22-2015 (Park Street) Mr. Leslie Davies, 54yoa from Orange, was arrested for striking a female associate repeatedly with a walking cane. This assault occurred in the bus stop shelter at the YMCA on Park Street. Both parties were intoxicated. The female victim sustained a laceration to the face. Mr. Davies was charged with Weapon Possession and Aggravated Assault.

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Celebrating the 110th Anniversary of Anderson Park With a Tree Planting

BY  |  Tuesday, May 26, 2015 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Anderson Park

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.(center) joined the Friends of Anderson Park to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Anderson Park or a ceremonial tree planting on Sunday, May 17.

With DiVincenzo are (from left) Lisa Renner from the Friends of Anderson Park, Montclair Councilors William Hurlock and Robin Schlager, Mayor Robert Jackson, Scott Kevelson from the Friends of Anderson Park, Girl Scout Dana Oscar from Troop 22915, Eagle Scout John Macksoud and Boy Scout Spencer Uri from Troop 13, Deputy Mayor Bob Russo and Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill.

(Photo by Glen Frieson)



Seen Around Town: Cooling Off at Essex Pool

BY  |  Tuesday, May 26, 2015 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

essex pool

Yesterday’s warm, sunny temperatures had locals happy that area pools were open for the season. Even the ducks were looking to cool off. This duck took a quick dip at Montclair’s Essex pool. Thanks to Chanda Hall for the photo!

See any interesting and/or fun things around town? Send your photos here.



DHS Secretary, War Hero Speak at Montclair Memorial Day Observance

BY  |  Monday, May 25, 2015 4:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson speaks at the 2015 Montclair Memorial Day ceremony.

Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson speaks at the 2015 Montclair Memorial Day ceremony.

Montclair held its annual Memorial Day observance in Edgemont Memorial Park, which was developed as a public space in 1925 to honor the veterans of World War I (then called the World War of the Great War). Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary and Montclair resident Jeh Johnson was the featured speaker, and retired U.S. Air Force Major William Horn, a Montclair resident since 2010, spoke about his experiences in Vietnam.

Johnson, the fourth DHS Secretary, was introduced by Mayor Robert Jackson, who cited Johnson’s many accomplishments,  including his service as a federal prosecutor, General Counsel of the Air Force, and General Counsel of the Defense Department.  Johnson said his proudest distinction was to be a Montclair resident.  When he first came here to look at houses, he said, “I knew this was going to be home.”  He praised his adopted hometown as an “urbane suburb” that embraced progressive values.

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First Ward Councilor William Hurlock to Hold Community Meeting May 28

BY  |  Thursday, May 21, 2015 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

bill-hurlock-smFirst Ward Councilor William Hurlock will host a community meeting on Thursday, May 28, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Bellevue Avenue Branch of the Montclair Public Library, 185 Bellevue Avenue. Topics to be discussed will include matters specific to the First Ward as well as township issues in general. All are welcome to attend.



Montclair Township Council: Abandoned Properties, Arts Advisory Committee, Honoring Michael Aron

BY  |  Wednesday, May 20, 2015 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (10)

With only two pending ordinances, one first-reading ordinance and four resolutions – one of which was ultimately tabled – to be voted on, the May 19 Montclair Township Council meeting  looked to go quickly and smoothly. Then, without warning, a husband and wife took to the podium in the public comment period and temporarily turned it into a school board meeting.

George Bennett and Karen Stevenson each took a turn expressing concerns about the Montclair school district, addressing the council in general and Mayor Robert Jackson in particular in his capacity as chair of the Board of School Estimate. He found that schools just outside the district, such as North Star Academy Charter School in Newark and Elizabeth’s eponymous high school, outperformed Montclair High School in scores and testing, and he said that the people who run the district have not succeeded in getting students up to par. He singled out former Superintendent Penny MacCormack – whom he twice called “McNamara” before being corrected – as an example.

“Our problem starts with the superintendent all the way down to the principal level,” Bennett said.  “If this was like corporate America, they’d have gotten rid of them a long time ago.  I don’t understand how we keep selecting people who cannot change the achievement gap when other places have absolutely solved it.”

Both Bennett and Dr. Stevenson cited problems with students being unable to, among other things, tell the passive voice form the active voice or a mood from a tense, or understand the difference between 3.5 and 3.50.  Dr.  Stevenson also noted cases where teachers teach that mass and weight are the same, which is wrong, and that grammar isn’t taught at all.  “How,” can you speak in the English language when you do not understand the rules of grammar, when you do not understand the laws by which a sentence should be constructed?”

Dr. Stevenson said she sent e-mails to interim Superintendent Ronald Bolandi, Chief Academic Officer Gail Clarke, and Mayor Jackson about her concerns and noted that the mayor was the only one who bothered to reply. Mayor Jackson said that the couple raised “compelling” points in the public and said he could talk with them offline about what could be done. Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville  said that she had looked at the same data Bennett and Dr. Stevenson had, but she was more optimistic about the change of leadership in the district and encouraged them to continue participating.


327 Grove Street, seen from its side facing Prescott Avenue.  The abandoned house, which has caused discontent among neighbors, is one of many abandoned properties Montclair is trying to deal with.  Image courtesy of Google.

327 Grove Street, seen from its side facing Prescott Avenue. The abandoned house, which has caused discontent among neighbors, is one of many abandoned properties Montclair is trying to deal with. Image courtesy of Google.


Township  Attorney Ira Karasick also updated the council about going after abandoned buildings.  He reported as examples that the township was moving to take care of an abandoned property at 327 Grove Street with which the bank wasn’t moving forward due to property belong to squatters who had been there before, but the situation was straightened earlier in the day out so it could be cleaned out.  Also, he said, the bank was working with code enforcement to take care of the house at 13 Talbot Street, where a pipe burst.  These were two of many examples of abandoned properties across town. He did not identify the bank(s) by name.

Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager expressed frustration over the Grove Street property on the corner of Grove Street and Prescott Avenue, which has been vacant since 2008 and has caused consternation among the neighbors. Karasick said the he could help arrange a meeting of residents to deal with the issue. Mayor Jackson expressed consternation of his own.

“My position is, until we demonstrate to the banks that we’re serious, this is not going to end,” he said.  “Until we demonstrate seriousness and purpose, we’re just talking to ourselves.  We need to do something.” He said he thought the purpose of hiring the outside person overseeing  the issue was to ensure the expediting of the process, and that he wasn’t satisfied. Karasick said he’d send the mayor memos he has of the progress currently going forward, and he admitted that the most extreme cases were egregious. He said he needed to work with the Department of Community Services  to get landscapers to take care of the properties and supervise the work, but there were logistic issues holding up progress.

On the head shop issue, Karasick reported to Dr. Baskerville that the township has the authority to restrict them, and there are amendments to its existing head-shop ordinance in the works, but he added that shop owners need notice, with specifics of what is and is not allowed. School zones cannot be used to control such shops, he said, because most of the central business district along Bloomfield Avenue would be off-limits given the proximity of several public schools to Montclair Center.

“We have some work to do,” Karasick said regarding the amendments, “but the work is being done right now.”

Theater director Elaine Molinaro, the first member of the newly created Montclair Arts Advisory Committee

Theater director Elaine Molinaro, the first member of the newly created Montclair Arts Advisory Committee

Councilor Schlager was at the forefront with all three of the four resolutions considered (the tabled fourth resolution concerned the proposed cancellation of open and future sewer charges for the Glen Ridge-owned tennis courts at Willowdale Avenue, withdrawn for further scrutiny). In addition to the bill resolution, Councilor Schlager brought forward a resolution establishing the Montclair Arts Advisory Committee, which is to promote the arts in the township, and a subsequent resolution appointing theater director Elaine Molinaro to the committee.  Molinaro’s term runs from June 1 of this year to December 31, 2016; the rest of the committee will be selected from volunteers who offer their services through the volunteer form on the township Web site.

Deputy Mayor Robert Russo reads the proclamation honoring New Jersey public television journalist Michael Aron, standing at right.

Deputy Mayor Robert Russo reads the proclamation honoring New Jersey public television journalist Michael Aron, standing at right.

Also, several proclamations were issued at the start of the meeting for, among other things, Make Music Days on June 20 and 21, which will feature musical performances throughout the town, a recognition of the death of local educator Viola May Williams-Simpson, and Older Americans Month.  Journalist Michael Aron, a Montclair resident since 1995, was on hand to receive a proclamation from Deputy Mayor Robert Russo (originally passed on April 14)  in honor of his thirty-third anniversary as a political correspondent for the state public television network NJTV (formerly NJN).  The Philadelphia-born Aron, whose 45-year career includes reporting for Harper’s and Rolling Stone, said that, despite  having covered numerous political figures for New Jersey public television, this was his first appearance at a Montclair council meeting.

“It’s where the real power is,” Deputy Mayor Russo joked.

“I love Montclair,” Aron said.  “I think it’s the best town in northern New Jersey, which is why I can’t quite bring myself to leave it.”



Featured Comment

I’d love to take the family to see Robin Hood on stage and his attempts to help the 99%!

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