Montclair’s Move To Acquire Social Security Building Raises Concerns About Abortion Protesters

montclair social securityMontclair 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.

abortion protesters

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?

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48 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve lived in Montclair for 10 years, the first 4 very close to that building. The same older women have been there protesting every day and many times, not across the street as they are supposed to by law, but right in front of the clinic.

  2. ” They’ve got these signs, terrible signs. ”

    Let me guess they are pictures of mutilated, murdered babies? It sucks that you have to feel so uncomfortable with the reality of the murder of innocent babies going on. I bet the babies feel more uncomfortable right before they are slaughtered.

  3. The stories from unamed sources….

    (Physician, Washington State)
    (Physician, Nevada)
    (Physician, New York)
    (Physician, The Netherlands)
    (Physician, Colorado)
    (Physician, Ontario)

    ………….are usually pretty reliable because they don’t have an agenda.

  4. speaking of sidewalks, no one cleared the snow on that sidewalk. walking to the wellmont on sunday was a little tricky.

  5. Come on. I find them annoying, but I really doubt the one or two old ladies who show up there are blocking people from walking up and down the street. If it’s really a problem then call the police. Otherwise, they have every right to be there and some accommodations will have to be made.

  6. The Social Security building is bad for the street scape. Its like a missing tooth). I would love to see it torn down and replaced with a taller building, just as long as it is not pushed back from the sidewalk line. I like the way the smash burger building looks. It is truly an improvement to the street cape so something like that in the place of the Social Security building would be just fine, in my opinion.

  7. Dear Township of Montclair

    First please articulate a plan. Why is the township pursuing this building? What other properties might also address the needs in your plans?

    Without a plan going in, I’d only support the township acquiring this property if it is the only way to gain control from the feds with the intent to then resell to a developer in order to build something tall. I’d use eminent domain to take the adjacent single story tire store to provide a decent sized site.

  8. Why is the Town Council intent on acquiring this building? They apparently have no plan for it. And where will the money come from?

    Is this discussion of a few women carrying signs on Bloomfield Avenue not a red herring by Russo, Karasick and the Town Council to avoid the real issue here?

    The town has an opportunity to develop an outreach center here for the homeless with Federal support. So rather than spending money on real estate with no (open) plan for its use, the town could benefit from an influx of money to support those in need in our community.

    The social security building is available from the Department of Health and Human Services to any “public bodies and eligible nonprofit organizations” that would who wish to use the building to provide assistance to the homeless, that would provide needed assistance to the homeless.

    Is the Town Council trying to sabotage this opportunity? Why?

  9. “…are usually pretty reliable because they don’t have an agenda.”

    —this from the guy with a Lyin’ Andy Breitbart avatar…

  10. Up unitl sometime in the late 60’s, This was the site of the Montclair Post Office. The neo-classical building, with a portico of sandstone corinthian columns and wide steps, graced the avenue and was slighlty set back from the sidewalk to allow for the approach. It also complimented its neighbor, the Wellmont. Too bad the tire store was there on the left by Willow St. It so detracted from the overall grand effect it could of had.

  11. This building is a complete eyesore and I agree with FrankGG – it should be torn down and replaced with a building more congruent with the architecture of the area. I would support Montclair getting the building if that is what would be done with it – or a developer.

  12. 1) they block the sidewalk 2) they verbally harass people entering the clinic 3) I don’t care about their signs, no matter how mutilated or gory, insofar as adults are concerned, but I do think they cross the line when children have to see those pictures.

  13. In case nobody’s noticed, all of the anti-abortion protestors are decades – in one case, generations – past child bearing age. They’ll likely be deceased long before any envisioned deal on this property goes through.

  14. You know, Courson, dear old apparently ageist Courson, the last thing someone whose photo here affects the look of an ancient mariner should probably do is assail the chronological ages of others.

    One might even assume, going by your photo above, that thee too are well past child-bearing age. Nor even capable of such a procedure unless science has progressed to the level of an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie since I last checked.

  15. 1. Many young children go by the protesters and their signs every day on their way to the Bullock school (Glenfield as well).
    2. Imagine how much better the lives of even one or two children in need would be if the protesters put their energy into helping the already born. There are many agencies and non-profits that could use the assistance.

  16. The anti-abortion protectors have a right to be there. Their pictures depict the harsh reality of abortion. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

  17. Of course the council wants to sabotage the potential use of the property as a homeless shelter. They’ve thrown millions into a hopeless attempt to revitalize the downtown strip – and I don’t think a homeless shelter in the middle of this alleged commercial district fits into their grand visions.

  18. But then again, they’re all gun-ho over an assisted living facility for dementia patients, so perhaps they have a different vision for Montclair Center than one might have anticipated.

  19. Yes, like them or not, they have every right to be there as long as they are peaceful and not blocking the sidewalk.

    Slightly OT, but since another poster mentioned it: Not a lot has changed re: snow removal since I left Montclair more than 10 years ago. We celebrated a family member’s birthday last Sunday at Leone’s (GREAT food and service, by the way!) and the sidewalks and street on Park were an absolute mess, impassable in parts!

  20. “Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable”

    —there’s nothing quite as stirring as a snide, cynical lie of an faux-apology from a caring, forgiving christian.

  21. redrum: I think you are correct on both of your posts. And we may disagree about the social security building being used to assist the homeless (your concern is legitimate), but we seem to agree that this Town Council is more and more becoming a law unto themselves.

    The claim that this Council was elected on a development platform is certainly true. But this gives the Council no right or legitimacy when it acts secretly and without accountability to all the residents, those who voted for them and those who voted against them.

    The assisted-living location is a complete disaster. This will further depress the surrounding commercial area and very likely ruin the Church Street there now is. People on “assisted living” do not go out to shop. It will created a crowding issue in the Town’s center and create more parking havoc. And already, this week, the Town Council in all its wisdom gave the developer a pass on paying Town taxes. There is too much collusion between the members of this Council and the developers they are passing ordinances to support.

    If the Town Council opposes having the homeless cared for in the social security building, they should say so and debate it openly. This, rather than spending millions of Montclair’s tax payer’s dollars to buy a building for which they have no (open) purpose.

    Again, the issue of a few women carrying signs that are completely unrelated to the social security building is a red herring. The real issue now is the public responsibility of this Town Council, the Town Manager and the Town Attorney (with his recent raise after that horrible interpretation of the Nishuane Park deed).

    Because people are elected it does not mean they are acting openly with public accountability.

  22. Nellie, the signs don’t make me uncomfortable. Very few things do. It may be a “harsh reality”, but does that mean children walking past need to be exposed to it?

  23. It would be nice and fiscally prudent to return the SS building space to a tax paying use. If it continues off the tax roles as exempt, whether as a nonprofit homeless servicer or as township property, we again loose an opportunity so rare these days. A thriving commercial district does not need more tax-exempt “services, assisted-living, or affordable housing” set-asides. Let us be wise and frugal while being sensible. IMHO of course.

  24. wildwoodben: Your suggestion is reasonable. But the Mayor and the Town Council are leaving open many questions. How much does the town want to spend on this property? How will it return it to a source of income? How much will it cost the town and how much money will it generate? And how will we better address the needs of our homeless neighbors, with or without this building?

    A reasonable cost analysis might indeed demonstrate that it is more “wise and frugal” to use this vacated property to support the needs of the homeless using federal grants rather than increasing the town’s debt with another irresponsible “development” idea.

    The town needs a mayor and a town council that are accountable and transparent. Without this we can have no reasonable expectations for social solidarity, for development or for getting out from under the enormous town debt still needing to be properly addressed.

  25. I Too Had Love To Give
    by Rick Christensen
    I’d have been there for you
    when you were grey and old.
    Now all that you will have
    is pain and remorse untold.

    Was it not in Earthly pleasure
    that you and daddy made me?
    Why then for worldly treasure
    the farewell that you bade me?

    When you killed me, no tears,
    just a sigh of relief.
    But one day, dearest mother,
    you will know the deepest grief.

    Why was I not adopted?
    Could not someone else enjoy
    watching me grow up to be
    a delightful girl or boy?

    Why did you slay me, mother?
    Why not let me live?
    You would have loved me, mother,
    I too had Love to Give.

  26. Mary 33 have you adopted a lot of children? The few hundred thousand of older children in the system also have love to give.

  27. “When you killed me, no tears,
    just a sigh of relief.”

    —another sterling example of christian charity and understanding!! it’s so much easier to be pro life if you simply demonize and dehumanize your “opponents”, isn’t it?

    “judge not lest ye be judged”—i forget—who said that?

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