Make A Wish! Throw Your Vote In The Church Street Circle Fountain Poll

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The traffic circle at Church Street and Valley Road in Montclair is getting a makeover, so traffic and pedestrians flow better through the roundabout. Also flowing again will be the circle’s centerpiece water element, which has been dry for the last six years (who remembers way back when there were ice sculptures at the fountain for First Night Montclair?).

Rendering of Church Street fountain, courtesy Arterial

Landscape architects Arterial have come up with design plans for improvements to the circle and the fountain.

The new designs would feature a water element, but could range from a classic sculpture in the center; a more sculptural element with a modern art direction; or an architectural theme with water acting as the focal piece.

Which direction do you think the town should take:

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Retaining the circle is not the optimal configuration for pedestrians, cyclists or drivers. Further, it creates a unusual % of dead-space. Unfortunately, the Council has committed us to plan with the County and they are only allowing input on the water feature. Thanks!

    The plan: It’s a close cousin to the Montclair Art Museum’s proposed, ill-conceived circle and so, provides a certain symmetry around the MC Hotel’s halo. They say the Rule of 3 is good design. When you think about it this is tricking-out a garden-variety T-intersection. That’s fine. However, an elaborate circle is being pursued without any real thought. We could easily create a divided, wide median Church St. Valley Rd would simply be a connected stop street.

    With this design, we will just pump up pedestrian accidents annually from the low-40’s to the low-50’s. Where was Bike/Walk Montclair?

    Another “could have been” project.

  2. …and where were you Frank?

    Seems once again you have saved the best of your fight as well as a wealth of recommendations for the ever effective lever of power known as “after-the-fact-advocacy-by-way-of-social-media-comment-box.” Cool and thanks for weighing in.

  3. Sometimes I use Bariatanet for 20/20 hindsight. This is one instance. That’s because when Arterial got the contract last June, I placed a very big red flag on this project. Really, amazingly big. The Township loves Arterial as much as they like Pinnacle. Deep love. I don’t get either.

    Anyway, I was getting nervous in July when I hadn’t seen anything on the subject. So, I sent a cautionary note to the Planning Department who forwarded my email to the appropriate people.

    Then I found out the 11/1 the Council was going to do an Off-Agenda, special day Council Conference mtg 11/4. I had my visions of the Element Park project process. What a cluster that was. Anyway, I was told directly my input would not be received well by the Council. Shocking! :). So, no point in being proactive….as you naively suggest.

    Anyway, Council was sure not to publicly published plans until after the they approved them that night. This water element thing is just a stupid, after-the-fact, sparkly, silver ball. We do superficial well.

    So now everyone can see a rendering and clearly see the considerable problems with the concept. If it takes a few pedestrians to get hit, then I guess that is what it is. But, yes, this is an after-the fact condemnation and also serves as a safety warning in advance.

    I sincerely hope Essex County’s Senior Engineer sees this plan and walks over to our Mayor’s office in the court complex and…rips this design apart as a joke. Because, this is another design we can give to the MHS students to create alternatives.

    PS: and this is a $500-650K project!

    Now, how about you?

  4. And Parkour, I also appreciated the water piping work under Church St last year and the Township worked overtime not to connect the projects. You want the reference doc on that one?

    This is not rocket science. This is actually amazingly mundane, obvious and straight-forward stuff. Very boring, too. We screw these things up because we, as a township, have the attention span of gnats if it is not has a personal self-interest angle. Further, 90+% have no idea about our government – functional illiterates. We don’t do civics anymore, We don’t do history anymore. We do easy. We do for ourselves.
    So, I appreciate you are different. You are the exception. Your are there party of one that get’s the best seat in the house. Good for you. Montclair has its One.

  5. …and parkour, unbelievable as it may seem, people will continue to vote for which water feature they prefer. Yup.

    Your people?

  6. What’s wrong with a traffic circle at this location? What should be there instead? If used correctly, traffic circles are quite efficient, eliminating the need for lights and other interruptions. Crossing guards are present at the existing one when needed (during school hours)

  7. captainjp,

    I was waiting for parkour to jump in here and explain how circles, and any roadway efficiency is purely about vehicles. Pedestrians screw up circle efficiencies. FYI, note the crosswalk locations in the above rendering. First, their location from the circle center. Then, look @ their location at the traditional intersection shown at the top of the rendering. There are important reasons for their shift.

    Anyway, we are keeping the circle because it is a pretentious, aesthetic feature. It makes little sense as an optimal multi-modal RoW solution and it is a blatant waste of land.

    We are getting a deserted concrete atoll.

    The foliage on “the mainland” won’t look like the design. The near-side trees have to come out. Neither the township or the BoE do landscaping well and this is outside the BID’s boundaries. The water will be turned off 5 months each year.

    As parkour correctly stated, this is all 20/20 hindsight. We will add another crossing guard and I guarantee you the pedestrian conflicts will still increase materially. The good news is the County is now sharing in the liability exposure…and they have deeper pockets.

  8. How about an urban excavation, similar to those in Rome, where they dig down and find ancient ruins? We may discover the charms of a Montclair long gone.

  9. They never seem to get it right design wise. Why can’t they just repair the existing fountain and use the $$$ on something more important?

  10. Yes, so many alternatives. So much room for public discourse. Nah. It’s better than before….good ‘nuf.

  11. Has anyone asked the opinion of property owners from the adjacent neighborhood? I am one. I applaud any improvement. The streets surrounding the circle have pot holes, lack proper curbs and residents do not pick up after their dogs. I am tired of the naysayers that do not live in Montclair that express their opinions and those that only complain. After spending decades in other towns the size of Montclair that did not have developers and wealthy property owners willing to reinvest in the community, I find the complaining and the wining really annoying. If you have a problem, participate in the town government, run for office, start a neighborhood group or association. Better yet talk to your elected officials whether they be democrats or republicans. I am happy to see progress in Montclair and have found the Planning and Zoning process to be fair and much more efficient than other offices in Essex County that I have dealt with. Let’s be positive and start working together to make things better for the Citizens of Montclair that pay taxes. Stop throwing throwing stones at progress.

  12. I prefer my approach to municipal civics versus yours. Your approach strikes me as superficial, maybe with a hint of laziness. But, yours is the majority in power now.

    Sorry you had to live in so many disappointing towns before you found Montclair. Maybe you can age in place.

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