Montclair town council has their eye on the vacant Social Security building on Bloomfield Ave., located at Seymour and Bloomfield Ave., near the Wellmont Theater. The Montclair office, which closed last year, leaves an over 7,000 square foot blank canvas that Montclair’s council would like to acquire, although no definite plans have been announced if the property is successfully in it acquisition attempts (possibilities include something inline with the council’s development visions for Montclair or using the building as a combined community/senior center.
At the last town council meeting, Deputy Mayor Robert Russo read the resolution, R_13_028 expressing the township’s interest in acquiring the Social Security building. Russo reported that he had expressed the council’s interest in the building to Congressman Frelinghuysen, but added that Congressman Payne’s support would be critical and that lobbying would be needed.
Then Haywood Woods spoke in the public comment, questioning the presence of demonstrators in front of the Social Security building, across from the Pilgrim Medical Center.
“Well, obviously, first of all, there’s the First Amendment. People are allowed to protest,” said town attorney Ira Karasick.”But specifically, with respect to the clinic and the protesters, they’ve worked out arrangements. The police, and the clinic, and the protesters have actually talked to each other and worked out arrangements for how those things are done, and occasionally, it does get a little out of hand. But, I think they get it under control quickly, but there has been a lot of co-operation, as I understand it, among the parties to try to minimize that kind of thing.
Woods continued, saying that the protesters were blocking the sidewalk with their signs when he tried to walk by.
Russo then said to Karasick, “Can I ask a question? I’ve seen for years this situation at Pilgrim, people protesting abortions. They’ve got these signs, terrible signs. They’re across the street by the Social Security building. If we want to get this Social Security building, as we just read in a resolution, for the town…we want to have that facility or whatever used by seniors, or however we use it or whatever we do with that property if we can acquire it. That has some impact on us, whether there’s protesting there, demonstrating and, you know, congestion. I’m concerned about people blocking sidewalks, because I’ve experienced it myself walking down there – going to the Wellmont. There’s people there making protests that are interfering with the transit on the sidewalk. We just talked about not having sidewalk cafes block, you know…”
If Montclair acquires the Social Security building, what would you like to see there? And do you think the regular appearance of protesters would be a turn off to a potential developer?