MontClairVoyant: ‘It’s Not Easy Being (Consistently) Green’

Before you discuss January 28’s Planning Board meeting, and that night’s many great public comments against the developer plan for Lackawanna Plaza, what about January 19’s Northeast Earth Coalition conference?

Our NEC of the Woods

Makes sense for that event to have been in Montclair, which is environmentally greener than many other places. Heck, even our town’s restaurant salads are green (when they don’t include tomatoes).

Yes, we have a farmers’ market, some “green” office buildings, some houses with solar panels, lots of recycling, many cyclists, many hybrid cars, many gardeners, many vegetarians, etc. What’s not to like?

The House of Earth

If you’re going to omit tomatoes from my green salad, please add avocado slices — and some lime Life Savers for crunch.

Why do I sense there’s going to be a caveat here? Are you about to say Montclair has ecological contradictions?

The Other Shoe Drops

Well, there are numerous SUVs, too much leaf blower use, developers cramming downtown with huge projects that will idle cars in traffic jams, and cats who aren’t hybrids — they’re just cats.

Okay, good points, except for that dumb observation about cats. So, what’s the solution?

Winona Whiskas

Fewer motor vehicles that guzzle gas, rakes instead of leaf blowers (good exercise!), less overdevelopment, and cats starting a book group to discuss Rachel Carson’s eco classic “Silent Spring.”

My cat silently springs…onto windowsills. But are you being a bit holier-than-thou? How “green” are YOU?

Al Gore Vidal Sassoon

I’m far from environmentally perfect, but live in an apartment, share a Prius with my wife, and always used a push mower when I owned a Montclair house. Ask any of my former neighbors — my lawn was the ugliest on the block!

Back(awanna) to Lackawanna. Many spoke eloquently on the 28th about how the site can have a much-needed supermarket AND preservation that saves/keeps in place all the former train station’s historic elements. The question is, will the Planning Board listen to the public or rich developers?

Democracy vs. Plutocracy

We’ll see if PB stands for not only Planning Board but Pro-Builder, Pro-Bigwig, and (this Thanksgiving) Pro-Basting.

LP’s developers and some of their supporters say they want a new supermarket on the site ASAP to serve non-affluent neighborhood residents who no longer have Pathmark. Real populists, eh?

Mother Teresa Alert

Sort of like Trump being an alleged “friend” of the working class. It’s all about profit, as Montclair’s big developers mostly focus on upscale projects — when not rereading their favorite Twain book: “The Prince and the Prince.”

After a princely December 31 state appellate court decision declaring PARCC graduation tests illegal, some backward-thinking state legislators are pushing bills to keep the punitive/problematic/Pearson-profiting exams. Thoughts?

Making Students Fail and Wail

Montclairites are among those writing to legislators to oppose S3381/A4957 and urging Gov. Murphy to veto the bills if passed. CLASSROOM GRADES ARE ENOUGH FOR GRADUATION. Heck, “The Scarlet Letter” protagonist Hester Prynne got an “A” without taking the PARCC.

Um…bad example. But isn’t a veto certain? After all, Murphy repeatedly vowed to end PARCC as a candidate.

Promises, Promises

That was then. Now he’s yet another Democrat who ran liberal and governs less liberal. It was misleading when Murphy turned LEFT from Midland onto Watchung near the end of Montclair’s 2017 Fourth of July Parade.

Speaking of Jersey politicians, recently elected Mikie Sherrill of Montclair had the decency to hold the first in-person town hall by an 11th District congressperson since 2013. Did that smart/informed Democrat impress at the January 27 event?

Edgar Allan Podium

Yes! But Sherrill was also cautiously centrist at times, as when she punted on a Medicare for All question. Everyone deserves health care — just as everyone deserves public schools, public libraries, and paper shredders that mince Trump’s “MAGA” caps. Which are red, not green.

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. I have to believe a developer like Hampshire has been working on a Plan B or C for the scenario where the PB protects the train station. Aside from the residential rents/sf, medical office fetches the next highest rent with retail and restaurants bringing up the rear. Actually, I think supermarket anchor tenant would bring in the lowest rent/sf. A 30,000 sf (vs 46,000 sf) grocer could be a win-win. Maybe Kody could chime in on this.

  2. Thank you, Frank! One would definitely think Hampshire and Pinnacle have a backup plan if their current proposal is nixed by the Planning Board. The PB usually gives developers almost everything they want, but surprises us once in a great while.

    Interesting/informative ranking of what brings the highest and lowest rents per square foot!

  3. Are you about to say Montclair has ecological contradictions?

    You did omit light pollution (my personal cause, as you know). I have a growing trepidation that the MC Hotel will be illuminated like a mini Empire State Bldg when it is completed next year. Of course, I won’t be able to see its steel halo from the 043 – just the halo’s glow.

    My pet peeve is cardboard. Montclair makes the most $ from this recyclable over all others. Yet, we throw it in with the mixed paper and feel good about it. It’s not the resident’s fault. One has to drop it off at the DPW yard to get the benefit. Online ordering, and the cardboard shipping cartons, are growing at double digits. The US gets most of its cardboard from halfway around the world. This just seems like low hanging fruit for Montclair to do better in this stream.

  4. Frank, light pollution is definitely an issue in some parts of Montclair. Though, ironically, there’s also an issue with some parts of Montclair being too dark (as when drivers have trouble seeing pedestrians at night). More and/or brighter streetlights would help in a number of Montclair locales, but that might be more the bailiwick of PSE&G than Montclair’s government.

    I laughed (and grimaced at the same time) at your description of The MC hotel’s possible future lighting.

    Didn’t know that about cardboard. Wow!

  5. This is why I have no use for the Montclair Environmental Commission. They meet. And meet. And meet.

    Light pollution is about WASTED light. I’m fine with illuminating what needs to be illuminated. But, don’t illuminate the really crazy, moronic stuff that is not important for safety, way finding, etc. We illuminate the sky! Seriously. We complain about taxes, but have no problem taking our own money and send it up to the heavens. I have never seen one of Ms Steiner’s walkers or cyclists (except in E.T.) riding the sky’s contrails, but they are better lit than some of our streets.

    I drove down Park St tonight in the 043 and it’s like the neighborhood got ignorant about what sustainability is. They must feel good if they recycle their Poland Springs bottle. This street is a walking advertisement for conspicuous consumption. Maybe the next generation will make a difference.

  6. I agree that there’s some over-illumination here and there in Montclair. Wasted light (and wasted energy) indeed.

    In your Park Street paragraph, are you talking about houses using too much light? And/or other sustainability/consumption issues? I’ll pay more attention the next time I go down Park, which I live steps away from.

    Nice E.T. reference!

  7. That’s a great point, frankgg! If something is going to be done to a building, it is indeed “greener” (as well as history-friendly and often more aesthetically pleasing) to not knock down everything and start from scratch.

  8. Thank you, Frank! I like the link, and this quote in it: “There is nothing greener than preservation.” A quote not monogrammed on the shirt of a certain Montclair developer…

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