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

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.

Montclair Crime: Thieves Steal From Mt. Hebron Cemetary, Montclair Fellowship Tabernacle Church, and a Mom’s Diaper Bag

BY  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:19am  |  COMMENTS (1)

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

Arrest:

05-17-2016 (Church Street) Mr. Daniel Moschello, 39yoa from Bloomfield, and Ms. Kara Salvatoriello, 31yoa from Belleville, were arrested and charged with Shoplifting.

Theft:

05-16-2016 (Dryden Road) Theft of a wallet from an unlocked motor vehicle.

05-16-2016 (Mt. Hebron Cemetery) Numerous slabs of chocolate mahogany granite crypt fronts were stolen from the mausoleum construction project site.

05-17-2016 (Elm Street, Montclair Fellowship Tabernacle Church) Attempted burglary to two storage containers on the property. Nothing was reported missing.

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Montclair Planning Board: A Look At The Vision For Seymour Street

BY  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2016 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (30)

After talking repeatedly about the Hackensack/UMC Mountainside and Seymour Street redevelopment plans for the past few months, the Montclair Planning Board met on May 23 and . . . talked some more about both of them.  The meeting was a workshop, in which board members offered their opinions and observations and tried to get a better idea of the plans’ objectives.

The Hackensack/UMC plan, the subject of a joint meetings of the planning boards of Montclair and Glen Ridge 12 days earlier, led off the discussions.    The main issue there was about getting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the proposed medical  office building, which had come up during the joint meeting.  Planning Director Janice Talley said she got a response from Hampshire, the development company building the medical office facility, saying that it could do so, but that the board members wanted it to qualify for “silver level,” which is the first level up from basic certification.

Glenn Pantel, a lawyer representing Hampshire, said that the basic level of certification, requiring a minimum of 40 points, was doable,  but he cautioned that the 50 points needed for silver level would have an enormous economic impact on the project, raising rents for potential tenants and putting the viability of the project in doubt.  “I’m certainly not going to say it would never become silver, “he said, “but also, I sit here today, I can tell you that we are definitely not prepared to commit to that.”  He asked for flexibility on the issue from Montclair’s planning board, and he added that the building could meet the requirements for LEED certification but preferred not to save to actually go through the certification process.  The board is still waiting for Glen Ridge’s input on the LEED issue, and the discussion on the issue was tabled for the time being.

The footprint of the proposed Seymour Street plaza, shown in red.

The footprint of the proposed Seymour Street plaza, shown in red.

On the Seymour Street redevelopment plan, consultant Keenan Hughes recapitulated  the project’s goals – among them, a 14,000-square foot plaza with 38,500 square feet of space for arts-related uses, new parking decks, affordable housing, and  LEED-certified construction.  The plan , with its multifaceted details, led board member Anthony Ianuale to ask about a financial analysis of the plan, which he thought would allow the board to come up with better recommendations.  Talley and Chairman John Wynn reminded Ianuale that as a land-use board, the Planning Board could only decide how acreage could be developed,  and that it’s the council’s responsibility to go over the numbers and negotiate agreements.  Ianuale insisted that having financial information would give members a better perspective of the project, but Talley disputed that.

“A fiscal impact analysis will tell you, what are the costs associated with the redevelopment, and what are the revenues that you’ll get at the end of the day.  It doesn’t go into, what are the PILOT payments going to  be, et cetera.”  Board attorney Arthur Neiss concurred by noting that a fiscal analysis can only guide the board’s decision-making.

A rendering of the proposed Seymour Street plaza in the daytime.

A rendering of the proposed Seymour Street plaza in the daytime.

The look of the redevelopment plan itself was addressed by architect Ira Smith, who has been  advising the board.   Smith envisioned a public space not unlike the space created on Church Street when it is closed to traffic on occasion, and he cited numerous examples in cities such as Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Burlington, Vermont to show how a similar plaza could work for the street space in front of the Wellmont.  The proposed plaza would be 65 feet wide and 200 feet long.  He dismissed the idea of a plaza along Bloomfield Avenue on the site of the closed Social Security Administration  building and on the site of STS, saying that it was interesting in that it would open up to Lackawanna Plaza.  He was afraid, though, that it would push developable too far toward residential blocks to the south, denying the front of the Wellmont any public space.  He also warned that the town would have to lift the plaza several feet above the grade of Bloomfield Avenue to accommodate parking, which would not achieve the goal of hiding parking in inner blocks and setting up attractive retail establishments along the street.  Smith also ruled out the idea of an arcade to give people an improved view coming up the street toward the plaza, saying that retail stores along the plaza would lose a depth of space.  He also said the southern side of Bloomfield Avenue already receives too little sun to justify it, and that an arcade would cost retailers valuable storefront space.   Hughes also noted that arcades create a lot of useless dark space that no one would use.   The proposed designs for Seymour Street that Smith showed the board preserved frontage along Bloomfield Avenue that wraps around to face the Wellmont’s marquee and uses materials and colors to blend in with the existing streetscape.

A rendering of the proposed Seymour Street plaza at night.

A rendering of the proposed Seymour Street plaza at night.

Traffic expert Lee Klein told the board that a pedestrian crossing with decorative pavement to designate the arts district and the point at which to cross Bloomfield Avenue would improve pedestrian circulation, but a demonstration made it impossible for him to do an accurate traffic count around Glenridge Avenue and Forest Street.  He did do the counts for the Lackawanna Plaza project for traffic volumes nearby and he can come up with traffic volumes there.  He also did traffic counts for South Fullerton Avenue into the Fullerton lot where a new parking deck might be built, which he will use to analyze the traffic flow there.   On parking, Hughes said that parking on any new decks would be managed  by professional companies ,with the details of revenue to be worked out in a redevelopment agreement.

The board will continue to discuss the redevelopment plans at its June 6 meeting.

Click It Or Ticket Campaign to Begin In Essex County on May 23

BY  |  Friday, May 20, 2016 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Click It Or TicketWe shouldn’t have to warn you to wear your seatbelt in a car — it’s the law and it’s a common sense safety precaution — however if you need more of an incentive, law enforcement officers from across Essex County will be cracking down on unbuckled motorists and passengers as part of the national “Click it or Ticket” operation from May 23 – June 5.

“The enforcement and education program will begin May 23rd and run through June 5th”, Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. “Our department and municipal police will establish high visibility seat belt checkpoints and saturation patrols to underscore the life-saving value of seat belts.”

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Montclair BOE: New Members on Board, But Still No President or Vice President

BY  |  Friday, May 20, 2016 7:08am  |  COMMENTS (23)

Montclair Board of Education meeting started with the swearing in of two new appointees, something that didn’t happen at Monday’s night’s meeting. But the rest of the board’s second re-organization attempt at its special May 19 meeting was contentious with a tie vote resulting in the board’s failure to select new officers and allegations from the public about newly seated members.

The Montclair Board of Education, minus new member Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross.

The Montclair Board of Education, minus new member Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross.

After Mayor Robert Jackson changed course and allowed the Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross, Joseph Kavesh and Franklin Turner to take their seats on the board, informing the district office of his decision late in the afternoon without advance notice, Kavesh and Turner took their seats at the special meeting but the Rev. Caldwell-Gross could not attend.  His absence allowed the board to spilt 3-3 in choosing between Jessica de Koninck and Laura Hertzog for board president and in choosing between Turner and Anne Mernin for vice president.  Voting for de Koninck for president were herself, Mernin and Eve Robinson; voting for Hertzog were herself, Kavesh and Turner.  The de Koninck bloc voted for Mernin for vice president; the Hertzog bloc voted for Turner.  Interim Superintendent Ronald Bolandi, who assumed control of the meeting with Business Administrator Brian Fleischer, explained what the ties meant, based on his own experience prior to his retirement. Continue Reading

Archdiocese of Newark Orders a Merger of Two Montclair Roman Catholic Churches

BY  |  Thursday, May 19, 2016 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (11)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel</a> (94 Pine Street) and Church of the Immaculate Conception

On Tuesday night, parishioners of two Roman Catholic churches in Montclair — Our Lady of Mount Carmel (94 Pine Street) and Church of the Immaculate Conception (30 North Fullerton Avenue) — were told by the Archdiocese of Newark at two separate, but simultaneous meetings, that they must merge into one church with a new name. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel will close and consolidate with Immaculate Conception. The new name will be Church of the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, named for Mother Teresa, and will go into effect in September to coincide with Pope Francis canonizing her a saint on September 4.

The news wasn’t welcomed by all. Many parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was founded in 1907, were upset by the news of losing their church. (see letter below)

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R.I.P. Glen Rochkind, Celebrated Television Journalist and Montclair Resident

BY  |  Wednesday, May 18, 2016 8:16am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Glen RochkindBaristanet is sad to report that Glen Rochkind, television journalist and Montclair resident passed away on May 12.

Glen Steven Rochkind passed away Thursday, May 12th in his Montclair, New Jersey home.

He was a native and great lover of New Orleans. Educated at the Isidore Newman School and later at Georgetown University, he set his sights toward journalism and took his first job as a production assistant in the Washington bureau of NBC Nightly News. Among his career stops were USA Today’s TV Show, WRC-TV and CNBC, where he was the financial channel’s first London Bureau chief in 1990.

He served in a number of positions at CNBC including Washington Bureau Chief, managing editor and executive producer of a number of specials, including the network’s acclaimed special “Inside Walmart” with David Faber, which won the prestigious Peabody Award in 2004. In 2001, he and correspondent Steve Frank travelled to Saudi Arabia to score the first one-on-one interview with Prince Alwaleed. “Along the way”, said Matt Cuddy, who succeeded Glen as CNBC’s Washington Bureau Chief, “there were dozens of us at CNBC who he went to bat for and fought for. He was always on the side of smart journalism”.

Glen left broadcasting in 2006 for a stint as Senior Vice President of Hill and Knowlton and then as the head of his own crisis public relations firm, only to jump back in to be one of the producers of CBS News “60 Minutes” groundbreaking “Inside Apple” piece in December of last year.

It seems there was no question in TV news — to which Glen Rochkind wasn’t the answer. But his career was only one aspect of Glen. He was a gourmet, a gourmand and a junk-food junkie.

He was a great and constant friend.

Glen is survived by his loving parents, Arlene and Oscar (aka “Chief”), his two sisters, Lynn Rochkind Gansar and Dale Rochkind, all of South Florida. And the production about which he was most proud, his beloved 11-year-old son, Jack. Glen would always call Jack his “favorite boy in the world” and instilled in Jack an amazing appreciation for things around him and a deep, loving concern for others. Jack knows that his father loved him deeply and that Glen’s influence will help guide him as he experiences what life has to offer.

Memorial services are being planned in New Orleans and Montclair for next month.

Baristanet offers its deepest condolences to the Rochkind family.

 

 

Montclair Crime: Attempted Luring, Theft, Arrests

BY  |  Tuesday, May 17, 2016 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

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

Luring:

05-11-2016 at approximately 1430Hrs, officers were dispatched to Sunset Park on a report of an individual attempting to lure a 12 year old female into a vehicle. The suspect is described as a white male in his 40’s with black slicked back hair wearing dark sunglasses and a black short sleeve shirt. This suspect drove up alongside the juvenile and asked “Can you help me find my puppy”. The suspect vehicle, a dark colored sedan, then left the area, south on Norwood Avenue.

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Featured Comment

Wow. I could relate to and empathize with much of the perspective shared here. It's an inspirational story and exemplary contribution to both local and national history. Thank you for sharing. Best of luck to Sara and the MHS Girls Softball Team! Go Blue!

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