MontClairVoyant: If Lackawanna Developers Win, Historic Preservation Will Be Derailed Again


Before you discuss August 6’s Planning Board meeting about the controversial Lackawanna Plaza redo, can you explain why developers who care little about historic preservation purchased an historic property like LP?

Counter N. Tuitive

Perhaps those profit pursuers thought town officials would let them do almost anything with the site. Yet some developers ARE history buffs — parsing Dante’s “Inferno” for clues about the variances that expanded Hell into nine circles.

At the August 6 meeting, LP’s developers seemed willing to slightly compromise, but I think saving — and not moving — the former train station’s vintage elements is non-negotiable. Do you agree?

Bea Strong

Yes. With some of Montclair’s architectural heritage obliterated in recent years, protecting LP’s historic train sheds, steel columns, etc., is a last stand of sorts. If not stopped, developers might next buy and tear down the 1796-built Crane House — maybe keeping a porch railing to relocate on the front lawn.

Also, as you’ve said before, historic preservation and a needed new supermarket can be compatible. Anyway, with LP scheduled to be discussed yet again at the August 27 Planning Board meeting, when will this ultra-lengthy process end?

Bea Completed

When Montclair State has a student body of seven billion. Oops, that can’t be right — the fast-growing university will reach that total on August 26.

What about the idea of exposing Toney’s Brook, part of which has been hidden under Lackawanna Plaza for many a decade?

Life Is But a Stream

Unlikely to happen, but that would be scenically great. And a future LP supermarket could tap the brook for bottled water to sell.

Would the water be drinkable?

William Randolph Thirst

Sure, you could drink it…once…before getting sick.

Meanwhile, school is still nearly a month away, but there’s already stuff to fill out in Genesis. Too soon?

Kay Thru-Twelve

Not if that education portal links to the movie “Faraway, So Close.”

And also links to the similarly named U2 song in that film. Hey — which U2 tune would be an appropriate soundtrack if Lackawanna Plaza’s historic elements are marred?

With or Without New


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. The developer’s paid historian’s argument that the historic train shed structures are no longer historic because they are covered up by a 1984 repurposing project really didn’t hold water, in my opinion. It seemed that the Planning Board saw that too. Speaking of holding water, we have seen with this last storm event that the underground waterway culvert structures under Lackawanna and Montclair Center are also no longer holding water. The volume of storm water is increasing substantially and the 130 or so year old underground culverts are no longer sufficient to contain it all. There are active underground waterways under Montclair Center. Just because they are covered up and not visible, like the train sheds, doesn’t mean they’re not there. The Lackawanna area is one of the greatest areas of confluence and its all below the roads and sidewalks. The amount of water that comes from underground at the top of Bloomfield Avenue was once enough to supply all of Montclair and some of Upper Montclair. The waters are still there and seem to be increasing. Its time to re think them.

  2. Thanks, Frank, for those two fascinating links about Montclair’s underground waterways! If they’re no longer able to handle all the rainfall, that’s another impact of climate change. 🙁

    As for the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopers’ paid historian, I don’t see a lot of credibility there…

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