MontClairVoyant: Ida’s Aftermath Adds Up to Montclair Misery


Four of our town’s 11 public schools were unfortunately affected by Hurricane Ida’s fierce remnants. What percentage is four of 11?


Dev A. Station

It’s the first day of school and you’re already assigning a math problem? Sit in the corner!


Seriously, parts of Montclair were badly damaged last week by Ida’s torrential rain — which flooded some streets and the basements of many homes, apartment buildings, stores, offices, restaurants, entertainment venues, etc. A food pantry, too.


Hard-Hitting Hurricane

And climate change made things worse than they would’ve been. The many Republicans who oppose climate action have much to answer for, yet they won’t answer when I ask what percentage is four of 11.


Sheesh — just use your phone’s calculator function. Does some blame also lie with profit-focused developers who build too densely in Montclair, with little green space?


We Sulk at the Bulk

Yes, and the town officials who enable them. The result is a smaller amount of permeable ground to absorb heavy rain — which means unelected builders and Planning Board members seemingly support “perm limits.”


That said, the life-threatening agony and huge price tag of extreme weather is beyond awful. Is there any silver lining?


Silver Linings Playbook

MANY Montclair individuals and entities stepped up to help — including Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis raising $30,000-plus from hundreds of local donors to help less-affluent residents slammed by Ida. My phone calculator says that’s “more than a pittance.”


If that calculator talks instead of crunching numbers, Ida must have soaked your phone. What’s among the NON-silver linings?


Look at Clouds from Both Sides Now

Essex was missing from the list of New Jersey counties declared eligible by FEMA for federal disaster relief. A puzzled Who rock band commented about that in its prescient 1964 song “I Can’t Explain.”


A really bad omission that will hopefully change. Meanwhile, can you list which four local schools sustained flooding and/or storm damage?


Fearsome at Foursome

Montclair High, Bradford, Edgemont, Hillside, and Hogwarts. Oops, that’s five schools. Maybe my phone did get wet enough to affect its calculator function.


Despite the beating they took, all four Ida-hit Montclair schools were to open today for in-person learning along with our town’s other seven public schools. A good thing?



Absolutely. In-person learning is much needed after many months of remote instruction during the COVID-caused school closures starting in March 2020. Heck, Hogwarts hasn’t reopened since 2007.


That’s because J.K. Rowling’s last Harry Potter novel was published in 2007, you idiot. But will Montclair’s schools be safe?


Half-Blood Blintz

Probably, because our town mostly takes masking seriously and has a high percentage of people vaccinated. Many residents got one shot and then a second shot, which equals…um…I’m tapping my phone calculator…


You can’t add one plus one?


Math Mitigation Merited

Oh, one plus one equals 11 — the number of Montclair public schools. I should add that it’s not my fault my math SAT score was below zero; I took the test in Antarctica.


That lie is even dumber than our rain-inundated town not being offered federal disaster relief (so far). Any final words?


Stop Making No Sense

I’d be smarter if I had attended Montclair schools as a kid.



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. More good news with MHS back to in-person instruction: FridaysForTheFuture’s Climate Strike walkout in two weeks is a go!

  2. Dave – Not only can’t the puzzled rock band Who explain why Essex not included on list of counties eligible for relief, but Creedence is still asking, “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”

  3. Tonight we will have clear skies, a cool night, and a waxing, 18% crescent moon setting by 9:30. In short, almost perfect conditions for stargazing and, for those with a basic telescope, viewing the 4 moons of Jupiter and adieu to the best summertime views of the Milky Way until next Spring. The best views are at elevation, e.g. the MC Hotel rooftop bar, or with a telescope, the top floor of any of our parking decks.

  4. An advantage of living in Montclair as long as I have is local knowledge and a historical perspective when it comes to flooding. We have always had a stormwater problem. We have had, going back 50 years, numerous 8” rainfalls, some on top of extremely wet seasons. Our more common 4” rainfalls have wreaked heavy flooding across Montclair. I don’t recall the level of flooding we have seen in Montclair Center in the last 5 years, but I seriously doubt climate change is the primary culprit. Maybe it is because we have tributaries of the 2nd River enclosed in obsolete box culverts running under Church St, Park St, meeting at and then under the Fullerton Deck flowing down along Glenridge Ave. Maybe that South Park Street redo was lacking in handling storm water. Maybe all the development, from the MAM expansion and down the Avenue has made it worse. My concern is we can’t fix it and will have to live with it. Maybe we also need some stricter ordinances on how we use below grade spaces to mitigate losses and protect occupants?
    It’s too late for the large redevelopment projects we have approved, but there are several new ones currently under review. Maybe if we re using obsolete infrastructure as a pretense for more redevelopment, we might want to include a hard look at our public infrastructure and the increase in water flow rates…holistically…instead of treating each project as an unique, one-off review? If exh project adds 3% more runoff, I’ll take a wild, but conservative guess and say our total, 100-year calculated flow has increased by at least 20%.

    However, I admit it would be easier to just blame climate change and kick the can down the Avenue.

  5. The good news is that the Town of Bloomfield, with all of its development in Bloomfield Center, will find it hard to make a case to sue Montclair again for any impact from our storm water infrastructure deficiencies.

  6. Ha, silverleaf! 🙂 Unfortunately, I saw the rain “Down on the Corner,” “Up Around the Bend,” while “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” and from other vantage points… 🙁

  7. As if the Gods of Montclair History were trying to speak to just now…

    I received the Montclair History Center’s September Events & News email with the featured photo being…a seriously flooded Park St @ the YMCA, c.1940.

    Or they could have been sending me a hint to renew my membership.

  8. Frank, I think that’s optimistic given the way most corporations, most Republican politicians, and some Democratic politicians oppose strong measures to try to stop or slow down climate change. But…I hope you’re right.

  9. But what part are we doing here in Montclair? Is it proportional to our means? Are we leading by example?

    The work on Township Climate Change Hazard Assessment Element of the Master Plan will only begin next Spring at the earliest due to a lack of resources from the Council. That hopefully gets us a common vision & policy roadmap in 2022. To keep our non-renewable electricity component flat, we must increase our current 40% renewable component a minimum of 5% points a year. Again, to stay flat.

  10. Talking specifically about Montclair, our town is more eco-conscious than many other towns. But, as you allude to, local leadership has been mixed and/or at times slow on climate change-related issues. And, to repeat what I’ve said before, Montclair as a whole is all over the map when it comes to being environmental — with the good things that have been done partly negated by overdevelopment (with little green space), many big cars, overuse of gas-powered leaf blowers, etc.

  11. I promised myself to bite my tongue but….climate change? What can Montclair do? Seriously? Even John Kerry admitted the US could go carbon neutral and it would have no effect on the climate. All it would mean is that China would have to pollute even more to supply us with junk. You want to do something meaningful kiddies? Turn off your air conditioners, turn off your electronics, the whole family could read around one light, walk or ride your bike everywhere!, stop buying from Amazon, (just the excess packaging is a huge polluter,….should I go on? Dump your Teslas until they figure out a way not to destroy the planet to make batteries that need dirty energy to be charged. What happens when the batteries wear out? Toxic landfills anyone? So yea, talk it up and plan protests that do absolutely nothing except make it seem like you care. I could go on but I have to clean my heated pool behind my 4000 sq ft air conditioned house. You got to love Montclair, the center of the universe!

  12. You make many good points, flipside. Individuals can do a lot. I follow your advice in various ways: I don’t have AC, I walk a lot, I read a lot, I don’t watch TV, I buy from Amazon as little as possible, I live in an apartment rather than a house, and I used a rake rather than a leaf blower when I did own a house. Of course, I’m far from ecologically perfect — for instance, I’m on my computer or phone way too much. 🙂

    But there needs to be some governmental intervention, too. Many car companies are not going to increase the miles per gallon of their vehicles without some government regulations or incentives, many corporations are not going to pollute less without some government regulations or incentives, etc.

  13. Both comments are examples of the concept of rational self-interests, both economic and social, whether local, regional, national, or international. Can they be globally reconciled or better aligned to address the manmade components of climate change? Of course. Soon? No. By 2050? Definitely. But, we have the wherewithal now, therefore have the luxury of choices to be, by example, leaders or stragglers in defining what is rational.

  14. To my other point about our ignoring our flooding problem that is not going away, e.g. the MFF is rebuilding their concourse level space again, what to do? Maybe a stormwater mitigation plan?

    What strategies and actions can be done in the short term, with the current stormwater system? Are we maximizing our existing collection ponds? Can we lower their water levels pre-storm and manage flow rates? Should we create a few intermediate collection ponds, e.g. lower Anderson Park? Are we properly maintaining our stream beds and culverts, e.g. Upper Montclair Village? Do we even know the condition of the underground culverts, e.g. the Fullerton Deck? Maybe take a more enlightened approach to our Steep Slope Zoning and new development? Are 25-year stormwater events a sufficient standard for new development infrastructure, especially for those adjacent to the obsolete FEMA flood plain zones?
    I think we will have some more heavy rains. What’s that definition of insanity?

  15. Can America do better? Sure, but we buy products from countries that pollute indiscriminately and then point fingers at ourselves. Everybody hated Trump because he acted like a buffoon but his trade policies were actually helping the planet. With the population explosion we have had in the last 60 years we were bound to have environmental problems. Solving them is not that easy especially since he are a sun spot or volcano away from a mini ice age which is much more devastating than warming. I have always lived modestly because it was the way I felt was sensible. I was never under the delusion that I was saving the planet. The Earth is a big place with a lot a variables involved in the weather. A leaf blower or Ferrari here and there has no impact.

  16. Frank, it’s possible that climate-change deniers (some in positions of power) will get more serious about fighting climate change as the effects of climate change get worse and worse over the next three decades. But even if the current and next generations of deniers act appropriately by 2050 (a big if), it could very well be too late. (I’m talking nationally here, not being Montclair-specific.)

  17. Yes, Frank, one wonders what kind of attempts will be made to deal with flooding in Montclair. Some places have now unfortunately been hit more than once, and of course could be hit again in the future. 🙁 You asked a number of good questions.

  18. Dave, I’ll give you a good example to consider – the Essex Hudson Greenway. Everyone seems to agree a unique opportunity…but, for what? It obviously is a pre-made mass transit corridor capable of taking hundreds of thousands of car trips off the roads and the required parking lots. It is an ideal, new route for an Essex County storm water management and a light rail expansion for Hudson County. Alas, all of a scale far beyond the capabilities of the current scheme and outside the agenda of its leaders. It would have to be a U.S. Corp of Engineers level endeavor. But, this will not happen. The conversation is a political non-starter because either case will drive more development and the quick political win of a greenway more salable and at a fraction of the cost. So, it is back to the rational self-interests of both the believers and the deniers. Maybe we need an environmental Moses (the Robert kind).

  19. You’re right, flipside, that the growing population in the U.S. and elsewhere puts a LOT of pressure on the environment. And I agree that one less leaf blower or one less Ferrari has little impact, but many fewer gas-powered leaf blowers and many more eco-friendly cars (or transportation alternatives) of course have a bigger impact.

  20. I feel badly for you & your neighbors around 17 Watchung Plaza. I think the Shell Station at Pine & Blmfld has less lumens. This is a really atrocious lighting plan.

    Just love architectural uplighting….it’s very egotistical. Architects think their work surpasses the heavens. So glad I don’t live in your neighborhood.

  21. And what would development be in Montclair if we didn’t drive another stake in bike lanes with 17 Watchung. Of course, no one ever mistook BikeWalkMontclair for being relevant. It would help if they had an attention span.

  22. I drive my CO2 machine to the Farmer’s Market via Watchung Plaza, to Fairfield St, ignoring the North Fullerton Safe Route, and turning onto Montclair Erie Park. It’s a pleasant route on a Sat morning. However, during the school week, Fairfield St was fraught with pedestrian safety and congestion issues. It had got so bad that the Council passed an ordinance last April, for immediate effect, to permanently ban parking, at all times, on the North side of Fairfield Street. The one side of the entire length of Fairfield Street, from Montclair Avenue to Watchung Plaza Park, is now free of parked cars and their open doors. It is supposedly safer for pedestrians and gives cars more breathing room. It is a narrow roadway…under 30′ wide. So, does it make sense to give a property owner 4′ of the RoW to park cars in the front yard up to the edge of their property line? Of course, taking a glass half-full approach, it is better than before when they parked cars on the sidewalk itself. Anyway, I can see how a bike lane on Fairfield St, from Watchung Plaza to Montclair Ave make little sense.

  23. Frank, 17 Watchung Plaza — the building formerly occupied by the Chase branch? Guess I haven’t gone past that corner at night lately to see how it’s lit. Light from neighborhood residents’ convenient-bank-visit dreams (figuratively) set on fire? 🙁

    Some Montclair streets are indeed narrow. In certain cases, of course, those roads date back to pre-car days. Fairfield, as you know, still has a couple of old metal hitching posts for horses.

  24. Yes, the former Chase Bank across from Watchung Booksellers. The HPC will approve the plan this Thursday and the Board of Adjustment gets it shot Oct 6. If you want to get an illuminated sense of what Watchung Plaza will look like, go along Bloomfield Av at 6 Corners. from Vault 491 (#491) to #475, the former Chase Bank on the corner. ( night, obviously). In the C-1 Commercial District vs the Plaza’s neighborhood moniker. Maybe we can have historic plaques attached that say Climate Denier.

    If curious, here the powerpoint presentation to the DRC, 1 of the 3 land use bodies that get to say aye!

  25. Oh, the 17 Watchung Plaza lighting you discussed is being proposed, not quite yet in place? Thanks for the link to the plans. The suggested lighting is…interesting.

    Your second link — picturing the Fairfield Street area in 1898 — wow! Positively rural-looking!

  26. Up lights are de rigueur for architects and property owners. This architect’s other Watchung Plaza building, The Westerly, was uplit. Basically, any building project in Montclair will be uplit. It’s their way of saying climate change is not important.
    Friday is FridayForFuture climate strike.
    Absolutely priceless timing.

  27. It will be interesting how the architects on the HPC critique the lighting plan. This is the first instance of such building lighting adjacent to a public park, the lighting shadows creates a flat roof appearance to a peak roof bldg, diminishes the cut-corners feature, illuminates common brick piers while further shadowing the new dark bronze windows (& the now horizontal dark structural voids behind) and basically turns a vertically oriented design into a horizontal one. It seems hardly worth mentioning one up light is set on the SW bldg corner which is in the public right of way. I doubt placing the business sign over the extant, original transom window will be challenged. It doesn’t fit with the the new door design.

    More a design police review than a preservation review.

  28. I can only hope that the Board of Adjustment review of the roof penetration of the East roof with skylights prods them to request bronze colored solar panels to mask them with a green feature in exchange for the requested variances. At least this will make all the lighting carbon neutral.

  29. Thank you, Frank, for the additional thoughts and information.

    I sort of feel like William Faulkner wrote a “Light in August” sequel called “Light in September.” 🙂

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