MontClairVoyant: Settlement Means April Will Be the School-est Month

The Montclair School District (MSD) and Montclair Education Association (MEA) reached a settlement March 9 for elementary schools to reopen April 12 for hybrid learning. Comment?

Post-March Demarche

A bit of a tight deadline for most teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated (including second shots and the subsequent reach-immunity period), but pretty good news. Internet chat rooms for talking syringes are buzzing.

Talking syringes? The partial reopenings are contingent on the MEA being satisfied that buildings are safe enough, with walk-throughs to be conducted later this month. Thoughts?

Trust But Verify

An important provision of the agreement. And the fact that walk-throughs need footwear reminds me of T.S. (Talking Shoes) Eliot and how his shoes said “April is the school-est month.”

Remind me of the names of Montclair’s elementary schools?

The Magnificent Seven

Bradford, Bullock, Edgemont, Hillside, Nishuane, Northeast, and Watchung. Given that Nishuane is the only one with three syllables, please join that school’s roof as it sings “I gotta be me, I GOTTA be me…”

Before the reopen-schools agreement, Baristanet posted a March 6 story about the impact of Montclair’s remote learning — as stated in a brief the MSD filed in its unfortunate lawsuit against the MEA. Care to unpack that story?

Pack Man

If I moved, I couldn’t pack an online story unless it was printed out. “He didn’t print it out,” confirms my talking ink cartridge, whose name is Eppie (short for Epson).

Given how much ink cartridges cost, nice that some talk. The MSD brief said Montclair, during COVID, has seen 459 students dis-enroll from its school system and a rise in the number of parents seeking out-of-district placements. Reaction?

Lost and Not Found

Sorry to hear, but I wish those families had more patience given that there’s light at the end of the tunnel (most MEA members soon to be vaccinated). A talking light that says, “I make the ends of tunnels less dark.”

Also, the MSD brief claimed that MEA members were conducting an “illegal strike” by not resuming some in-person instruction earlier this year. But how can they have been on “strike” when they never stopped the difficult task of skillfully teaching remotely?

The Fast and Spurious

You hit the nail on the head — after which the talking nail said, “Ouch.”


Talking inanimate objects…strange theme today. In other news, Fourth Ward Councilman David Cummings held an online community meeting March 9 with new Lackawanna Plaza owner David Placek to discuss the future of that historic former train station site. What do you think?

Post-Pathmark Prognosis

I’ll discuss that more next week, but Placek promisingly seems willing to bring in a good supermarket, preserve the site’s vintage elements, incorporate some open space, and build at least some affordable rental units. Maybe Lackawanna’s bricks will sing: “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (than what the previous owner planned).”

Bricks channeling The Beatles?

Scold Goriot

Time to sign off because my umbrella is telling me to watch a Talking Heads video.



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,

    You are correct in that your ‘vintage’ terminology matches that of the Council and Planning Board. Mr Placek promised to keep the historic terminal building. He said he thinks the platform roof supports are attractive, so he designated them historic.

    What he doesn’t like is not historic. Note that Greenwood Av/Lackawanna Plaza elevation. That is a important section of the former platform roof. He said that is not historic. That includes the tacky tiled roof, the clerestory and its windows. The freestanding pillars, the horse trough, the matching utility rooms are not historic. Got it.

    Thankfully, in 6 short years, he can now step forward and clarify for citizens and review bodies what is historic and what we are clearly confused about. Personally, I’m glad he is willing preservationists like myself on the right path.

    My total parlor game guess is the grocery store will go where the stanchions aren’t…and where it probably should have gone all along. I’m guessing the rest will basically be of a very Montclair Urban Renewal 2.0 scale with some biophiliac-lite design elements. I was told successful biophilia recognizes 5 human senses – not just 1 or 2.

    And then there is…the parking. Well, a nice redevelopment plan would nip that issue in the bud. Put in some drive-thru pick-up/drop-off capacity. I never liked those futuristic concepts fyi

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank, and for your analysis of several aspects of the Lackawanna Plaza site.

    True that what’s historic and what’s not historic can be in the eye of the beholder (developer). I’m cautiously optimistic about David Placek’s vision for Lackawanna — it undoubtedly will be better than what the previous ownership wanted — but of course we’re all waiting to see the detailed plans to find out if that vision will be appealing or not so appealing. Montclair residents have been disappointed before.

  3. Actually, it is not in the eye of the beholder. Set aside we all have opinions. We have local laws that say what is historic. This site is covered by those local laws. Our laws, if we really want to adhere to them, actually say what parts are historic or not. They use the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards…which we actually codified in our ordinances (not like the school district/ME trying to write their own standardized test, the ensuing fiasco).

    So, it is not in the eye of the beholder. People refuse to wrap their brains around this. I know why and but I have some strong guesses.

    Anyway, the law lets us tear down, demolish, destroy, eradicate anything & everything we might have designated historic…as long as we have a decent reason. So, we can legally, and in god conscience, tear down all elements of the former train station. And I’m fine with that. My preservation POV did not prevail with the Planning Board, the 4th Ward, the Council and the vast majority of the Township. The court case was not mine, but it reaffirmed that we can do locally what we want. I also pointed this out back in April of 2018.

    We just can NOT say it was demolished because it wasn’t historic.
    [sorry for the double negative with a negative connotation]

    So, in simple terms most Montclairions should be able to understand, “tear it down in the name of progress, or it wasn’t your history, or for money. Feel good about that. Have no guilt. Just be clear about your feelings. It will be a great project when it is done. Way better than the last plan and certainly better than what beens there for decades.

    One favor – the last one out please put our historic preservation public policy out of its misery. Let each property owner decide how and what elements contribute to your each of your respective neighborhoods. Thanks!

  4. Frank, I realize there are laws determining what is historic. When I wrote “True that what’s historic and what’s not historic can be in the eye of the beholder (developer),” I wasn’t clear enough. Developers can WRONGLY claim something is not historic, and at times get away with demolishing that something that IS legally or essentially historic “thanks” to the caving to developers by many Montclair officials. Or, as I think you’re saying, developers can offer self-serving reasons for demolishing something historic and have a good chance that the aforementioned Montclair officials/enablers will let them get away with that.

  5. I realize we should lighten up, switch gears and give a tip of the hat to Mr. McBride’s 7th Grammy and, quite the album, Trilogy 2. Give it a listen.

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