Nishuane Well, Afterglow Way Paving Dominate Montclair 3rd Ward Community Meeting

rp_Spiller-4-16-14-800x600-350x262.jpgMontclair Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller held a community meeting ion April 16 at the Montclair Inn on Hillside Avenue, during which he fielded questions on a  variety of issues.  Ongoing issues that got special attention included the Nishuane Well  and the proposed energy aggregation, along with continued concern over the Afterglow Way paving controversy.

Nishuane Well Presentation, April 29

Councilor Spiller told the assembled constituents that a presentation on the Nishuane well by Montclair Water Bureau Director Gary Obszarny is expected at the Montclair Township Council’s April 29 meeting, in which the questions asked about the well will be answered.   Resident Patti Grunther, a leading critic of the well development proposals, said she heard that a vote on the well was possible at that same meeting.  Resident William Scott noted that alternatives to developing the well had not been considered yet,  and that such alternatives needed to be looked at first.

Councilor Spiller said that he had not heard such a thing, adding that he doesn’t know what sort of proposal would be voted on as a result of the presentation. Copies of the preliminary agenda for April 29, however, have not mentioned the presentation, and some constituents expressed concern about the lack of advance notice.  As of April 16, the final agenda for the April 29 meeting had not been posted on the township’s Web site.  Spiller said that he would ask Township Manager Marc Dashield to make the agenda information readily available on site as well as promote the meeting through his own site and social media.

“I would doubt that there’s any substantive vote that night to do anything,  because we’re just seeing a lot of these different things,” Spiller said of the available options.  He said that he hasn’t seen any of the proposals, and that the council would likely want to take its time looking into all of them before moving forward, no matter how long that takes.

“I’m going to want to see what the options are,” he said.

Council Looks Into Green Energy
Councilor Spiller also reported on the council looking into buying green energy in bulk for the township’s residents, though PSE&G, which does not produce its own energy, would continue distributing the power. The township is looking at options of buying energy in bulk with a 25 to 50 percent green component at no additional savings, buying energy  with a 10 percent green energy component with a 12 percent savings, or an undetermined mix somewhere in between.

“We are always on the forefront of being a green community, and being progressive in that sense,” Councilor Spiller said, ” but if we’re doing this, I think everybody would like to save a little money too, it wouldn’t’ be bad.”  He said he preferred the blended option, and he expected the township to continue looking into the issue more thoroughly.   While other municipalities in New Jersey buy energy in bulk for residents, Montclair would be the first to include green energy in the mix.

Some residents expressed support for the plan, noting that New Jersey had fallen behind in green energy distribution.  the power itself would come from both New Jersey and elsewhere.  Energy would be purchased at a rate locked in by a price-point contract, similar to how oil is purchased in advance.

Afterglow Way Residents Vocal, Oppose Paving
On the Afterglow Way issue, Councilor Spiller had to deal with questions regarding resident Thomas O’Beirne’s effort to get that street (and Parkhurst Place) repaved with asphalt at the expense of the yellow cobblestone bricks currently in use and prized by local residents.  Spiller said that the temporary repair O’Beirne had done through an emergency permit was a separate issue from whether to replace the street with cobblestones or with asphalt, which would be the step following the repair. Residents complained how O’Beirne, who was never mentioned by name, got a permit to repair the street and had it done by his own paving company without adequate notice.

Don't Pave On MeSeveral residents said that the permit for the repair of Afterglow Way needed to be investigated, and whether it comprised an actual emergency, and possibility of conflict of interest was also brought up, given O’Beirne’s position as a paving company owner.

Spiller called the repair a secondary issue.  “What we are going to be discussing and deciding is, ‘Should that road remain the way it is, or should it be paved?’  If the road should be paved, it will all be paved, and there’ll be no issue.  If the road should remain as bricks, then that area will have to be replaced with the bricks.  [O’Beirne] is already required to replace them with bricks, if that’s the outcome.”

Though Spiller said he believed there was no conspiracy or malicious intent, residents thought it was just that, an attempt by O’Beirne (who was not at the community meeting) to force the issue for his own benefit and have Afterglow Way and Parkhurst Place paved with asphalt in the interest of “safety” – even though residents of the two streets have offered no safety complaints themselves.  Spiller said that that an independent assessor, along with the police, fire and public works departments, would make a determination as to what can be done and discuss the options in a special community meeting, originally scheduled for April 21 but now moved back to May 19. The information will be forwarded to the full council for a decision.

Resident Carol Hobson thanked Spiller for being helpful for his attention to the issue, and she accused O’Beirne of having a “vendetta” to repave both streets.  As for O’Beirne’s safety concerns, she said, that safety belonged all of the streets’ residents, not just one person, and that O’Beirne has created a mess and inconvenience with his personal agenda.

Also, Community Police Officer Frederick Cook, a regular at the Montclair councilors’ community meetings, said the his unit has been continuing to address quality-of-life issues and been able to foster relationships with residents in all parts of town.  Two additional community officers are included the preliminary 2014 budget.

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  1. While I am all in favor of green energy, what is being proposed for Montclair is an “opt out” arrangement. Under this arrangement, EVERYONE will get their supplier changed to a choosing of the Montclair Town Council and if one doesn’t want to be changed they can “opt out” via some arrangement.

    MANY will not understand this and will see changes in their billing that they didn’t necessarily want.

    Also, there’s quite a “to do” in Pennsylvania with folks who signed up for this program actually saw INCREASES in their bills.

    If the Township is willing to a) guarantee savings and b) handle all complaints, then let’s move ahead! If not …..

  2. The opt in and/or opt out issues that have come around in the last 15 years or so always bother me. The opt out issue always comes back to haunt people and is really a mechanism for business to hold on to your money. I would urge the Town to have it be opt in, that way we as the consumer has the choice, not the town. I must say I don’t trust the town to make decisions for me. Thanks Cary I always appreciate it when you comment on things.

  3. I’ll never understand people, why did this guy move to a cobblestone road if he’s got such an issue with living on a cobblestone road? This reminds of the people who complain about living next to the High School who voluntarily moved next to the High School. Everybody’s a whiner around here nowadays.

  4. It’s a function of labor costs, really. Brick and stone for Afterglow can come from inexpensive local stone and clay quarries located within a few hundred miles of Baristaville. Asphalt sludge requires the mixing of local gravel aggregates into a bed of fossil fuel ( tar ) ( dead dinosaurs and plants ) imported from remote locations, perhaps Canada. Texas, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia.

  5. I’ll never understand people, why did this guy move to a cobblestone road if he’s got such an issue with living on a cobblestone road? This reminds of the people who complain about living next to the High School who voluntarily moved next to the High School. Everybody’s a whiner around here nowadays.

    File this under First World Problems.

  6. You know, I’d never considered some of these issues. Not only do I know a paver who lives on a street that is asphalt, I know a family who owns a little market, and they eat food! Who do I call to investigate?

    My kids were taught that it’s bullying to single out a person and harass/slander them because they don’t share your views. What do they call that in the adult world? Libel?

  7. This guy O’Beirne must be some piece of work if he thinks he can get away with depriving the hard working rich people of Afterglow of their god-given right to soak the townsfolk for half a mil to repair their exclusive piece of local history. If he were allowed to pave over the bricks for free, it would be a total conflict of interest because he owns a paving company. This blatant attempt to corporatize road maintenance will not stand! Afterglow is a very special place, and it must remain so. The very soul of Montclair is at stake.

  8. Like they say, the road to hell is paved with…apparently pale yellow bricks? I think the best way to preserve the old cobblestone is a layer of durable material that people can drive on.

  9. I’m away for 24 hrs and the cost has gone from $500K to $900K to rebuild the street with cobblestone. I reviewed the new breakdown and I’m sure it is a pretty good estimate, albeit expensive, and agree with the cost disclaimers.

    It seems if Montclair wants to rebuild the street with asphalt, it would cost $400-500K in round numbers. Again, seems reasonable, albeit expensive.

    So, the $26K+free labor & equipment, is giving us a 2″ surface course. Everything else remains as is?

    So my natural question, along the lines of frankgg’s thinking, is what does $26K give us if we keep the cobblestone? You know, apples to apples.

  10. Mrs Martta,
    I don’t think the terms 1st/2nd/3rd World are used anymore. I think you can guess why.

  11. Thats so great that the meeting was held at the Montclair Inn. That beautiful building is a survivor of when Hillside avenue was populated with Hotels and Boarding Houses, the Montclair Springs tourist destination was at the top of the hill at South Mountain. i think that its great that Mr. Spiller holds community meetings there and that he does such a very good job in communicating and listening to people’s conserns.

  12. And now it looks like the town is going to repave Union Street from Orange Road west including that wonderfully bumpy section as you turn onto Undercliff. Why aren’t they removing the asphalt and restoring it to it’s historic charm with cobblestone? What’s wrong with this town?

  13. With all this chatter about paving and roads-are their plans to curb the side of Porter Park on Orange Rd that isn’t curbed? All surrounding streets seem to have had the work done, but not this stretch of Orange Rd. It seems odd to have left this alone and do the work on all surrounding streets, no?

  14. Today I will look for documents from the original repaving of Afterglow and post my findings here. The house on top of this Lloyd Road house at Afterglow is Bellclaire, where Lou Gehrig was recovering and where Babe Ruth stayed with him. Around 1900, Montclair was still considered a Climatic Station, or Health Resort due to the clean mountain air and broad panoramas. Overlook Park is an estate section at Afterglow and one of the estates became the Children’s Hospital, sited there for the healthy climate

  15. There’s a lot of ink being spilled about paving here, which is good for Spiller as he paves over conflicts of interests he faces in other areas of his position. First and foremost, he’s voting on school budget issues at the same time he’s serving as an officer at the New Jersey Education Association. The third wards needs an independent representative, and Spiller isn’t.

  16. Frankgg,

    Are you, or anyone involved in the historic properties on Valley around and including the Munn Tavern? Is anyone, or is it going to be “developed?”

  17. I intend to bring clients there that would be interested in creating an events venue. Right now, there is going to be all of that construction activity going on. Munn’s Tavern is one of the oldest and most valuable historic properties in town… along with the Freed Slave House

    I’m always fascinated by stories about Mr. Munn, the owner of Munn’s Tavern in our history books….quite a character! I can just imagine him exchanging snarky comments and joking with walleroo here on Baristanet. According to local legend, he is said to have been seen frequently in an inebriated state walking around Montclair Center “saying oaths” to passers by. When they moved the West Bloomfield Cemetery (now the site of the Siena building) and dug up all the graves…. Mr. Munn’s body was completely preserved (probably the alcohol) so as a scary practical joke… they stood him up on a street corner for a while! If he were around today, I would definitely want to be his Facebook friend!

  18. Yesterday, I spent several hours at Afterglow and was quite amazed to find that the brick road surface was not in need of replacement and that the brick units are in generally good condition. They would only need to be removed and reset in in the areas where they have settled (in about dozen places more or less) and the appurtenances (like drains) repaired and reset. I practically didnt see any spalling or cracked brick. All my life the brick paving at Afterglow has been more or less like the way it is now! Highland Avenue is another story. The asphalt roadsurface is really damaged and dangerous and needs to be replaced!

  19. Highland Avenue has been a long neglected road going back for years! During Sandy, they were the last road to have debris cleared away. Potholes going north from Mt. Hebron are huge. The Town experimented this winter using road grinding equipment to remove ice which at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars did nothing to solve the ice problem and left the roads in even worse shape.

    For whatever reason, the residents there seem to never complain.

    The road should be fixed now. It should have been fixed years ago.

  20. “For whatever reason, the residents there seem to never complain”

    Shot in the dark = the residents don’t mind the added difficulty of traveling down that street as it serves to reduce the annoyance associated with increased traffic.

    The Range handles the potholes just fine.

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