MontClairVoyant: Montclair Has Yet Another July 4th Parade That Liberals Can Love



Where did you watch Montclair’s fun, diverse, socially conscious, full-of-great-old-cars July 4th parade?

During Our Town’s 150th Year!

On Midland just south of Watchung Avenue — near where the colonists fought British troops in Montclair Music Studio’s epic “Battle of the Bands, 1778.”

But didn’t that music-lesson place not open for business until 1978?

P. Ano-Bench

It was a long battle.

Not far from the July 4th parade route, the proposed building at 256 Park Street would add 11 apartments to the Watchung Plaza area. Aren’t you glad neighbors are protesting that project?

Petition Mission

I am! It’s no coincidence that 2, 5, and 6 add up to an unlucky 13.

The new 256 Park would have inadequate parking and further cram an area already dangerous for drivers and pedestrians, so what should we do with the recent traffic study claiming that building wouldn’t be a problem?

Credibility Pap

Give it the next Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Meanwhile, there’s talk of placing a permanent monument to the old Washington Street Y in front of Bullock School. Great idea?

Remembrance of a Thing Past

Yes, but a Y so important to Montclair’s general history and African-American history never should’ve been razed for the school. Heck, Booker T. Washington and Jackie Robinson spoke at that Y — though Washington Street wasn’t renamed Robinson Street.

Why wasn’t the excellent Bullock placed elsewhere?

Rhea Location

Not sure, but private developers often find places to put their huge/unneeded buildings, sometimes with help from the town. If public schools were for-profit, developers would erect thousands of them in Montclair, with one student per school.

Um…how would those solo students learn social skills?

Conversation Situation

The schools would be close enough for students to shout at each other from the windows.

It’s obvious that you struggled to fill this column during an early-summer week of less Montclair news than usual. In short, I can see right through you.

Sight for Sure Eyes

This column was NOT ghostwritten.



Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.





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  1. Dave
    Youre a dog with a bone. Let go of your anti-development tirades on every occasion. We all know your refrain — Whatever it is, I’m against it. How about you try something new Enjoy a great parade and have a hot dog and beer. Talk about some of the great things that happen here in town. But no, this is yet another opportunity to rail against development.
    Dave, get over yourself. Its not as bad as you think. People still managed this Fourth of July to line the streets, find parking spaces, applaud the floats, watch the three Republicans in a Cadillac convertible and the fourteen liberal groups under differing banners, enjoy the marching bands, get sprayed by the Commonwealth Club and have a great time in a pretty wonderful community. In spite of it all, Montclair seems to be functioning and continues to thrive, even with some new development along Bloomfield Avenue.

  2. Thanks for commenting, professor wagstaff!

    I did greatly enjoy the Fourth of July Parade (you described it well!). And I love Montclair — which is one reason why “upscale” overdevelopment upsets me, because it can mean a less economically diverse and less racially diverse town with less open space. (I’ve lived in Montclair since 1993, so I can already see the change.) Yes, I’m sort of “a dog with a bone” when it comes to overbuilding. Which still goes on and on — meaning my commentary on that topic has as much impact as a celestial cosmetic puff crashing into Earth. But, what the heck, a person has to keep trying.

    Over the years, I’ve said many positive things and praised many people in my column. But I guess the majority of content is indeed critical/satirical, because I want a great town to stay great or be even better. And I suspect an always-positive column would get a bit boring.

  3. Dave, change is inevitable. Some will be good, some will be bad. It seems like what is good for some people is bad for you…and vice versa. We get it, you hate Trump, you hate new buildings that don’t fit your aesthetic, hate people that risk their time and capital and are fortunate enough to become wealthy, hate anything upscale…I could go on. That is a lot of hate for one person and boring for the rest of us to hear week after week. Very boring! The ironic thing is you like to look at expensive buildings and houses. You happily send your child to school paid for with tax money from the greedy people you abhor. Yes, you are a “dog with a bone” one that also bites the hand that feeds it. Cheer up, Montclair is doing just fine…and getting less and less affordable every day. That’s been it’s history for a few decades. New people from the city with money pushing out the old who pushed out the generation before them. Just roll with it. Being grumpy and bitter won’t change anything.

  4. Thanks for the comment, flipside! As someone (me) who dishes it out, I’m happy to take it — especially when a comment is as well-written as yours.

    Yes, change is inevitable — including some redevelopment. But how about more new housing and stores aimed at the not-so-affluent? And how about some projects that are not as huge and incorporate more green space? Developers would still make a profit, just not as big a profit. Montclair would not lose as much open space and racial and economic diversity, and developers could still embrace their own economic diversity: $20 bills, $50 bills, $100 bills… 🙂

    “You happily send your child to school paid for with tax money from the greedy people you abhor” — actually, the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) deals that developers love shortchange education funding in Montclair. And the additional students all the new residential units bring in can cost the town more to teach those kids than it gets in new ratables.

    I’m not a “grumpy and bitter” person. 🙂 My column does have a critical edge, but it’s leavened with humor — or at least attempted humor. 🙂 Trump — whose cruel policies I DO hate — should try to crack a joke or two rather than be unintentionally funny sometimes with his incoherent ramblings.

  5. Ha, Frank! A good question. Given some of the national “leaders” and local bigwigs we have, it’s hard not to be at least a little grumpy. And Grumpy is one of Disney’s top seven dwarfs…

  6. I thought town also liked PILOT deals (not just developers) because we don’t have to share with county?

    I don’t begrudge Dave his predictable complaints but i wish he would surprise us just once with a view that was not 100 percent PROGRESSIVE. Is there literally no issue in Montclair or beyond where you deviate even slightly from the progressive line? I have liberal friends and most have at one least illiberal view or at least doubts about their liberal views.

    Are your views really that uni-dimensional? Do you ever wonder, say, whether teachers unions may be a bit too powerful? Do you wonder if maybe the achievement gap and suspension gap are not ALL due to systemic racism? Are you SURE that “restorative justice” where disruptive students get to hug it out instead of being removed from class isn’t disruptive to the other students? Is it possible that Trump might be right (at least once) in demanding that other NATO members contribute the alloted share to the alliance?

    In any case, you are unfailingly polite to your critics.

  7. Thank you, lacamina, for your comment and for your kind last sentence!

    I think you’re right about PILOT deals re the county, but a downside (if I’m remembering correctly) is that the proceeds go exclusively to the municipal budget and not to the education budget.

    Not sure it’s a bad thing for a person to be 100% consistent in their views, but I suppose I have a few beliefs that are not predictably liberal. For instance, I’m very much against marijuana use, except for medical reasons. And my feeling that Edgemont Park’s surface parking lot shouldn’t have been replaced by the entranceway that curves around new grass (because it will be harder for some seniors to park) might not be the classic liberal environmental stance.

    To answer the questions in your third paragraph: I don’t think ANY union these days is too powerful; unions have lost an enormous amount of clout in recent decades “thanks” to the Republicans and certain court rulings. I think the achievement gap and suspension gap have socioeconomic origins in addition to racist origins (students from struggling families will often have more trouble in school, whether they’re black or white). Restorative justice has its flaws, but no-mercy punishment is ultimately worse. Perhaps NATO countries could contribute more to defense and such, but the crude/nasty way Trump has gone about trying to achieve that (while cozying up to authoritarian countries that don’t help the U.S. in any way) is pathetic.

    I guess my response is now long enough… 🙂

  8. Thanks for reply.

    Public sector unions haven’t lost power-they’ve gained-until Janus ruling last month. That ruling may save NJ etc. from bankruptcy by reducing public sector union power and thus future pension obligations. That could mean more money for teachers.

    Opposing legalization of marijuana for recreational use, of that’s what you are against, is def. not a progressive view. I fully disagree but applaud you’re eclectic beliefs.

  9. You’re welcome, lacamina!

    Public-sector unions are definitely doing better than private-sector ones, but — as you note — the Janus ruling hurts them. And, even before that ruling, many teacher unions weren’t powerful enough to prevent the erosion of some of their benefits and classroom autonomy (such as more standardized testing mandated from above). I’m skeptical that curtailing the power of teacher unions will mean more money for teachers, but I’m encouraged by the successful teacher protests in some red states.

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