Montclair Councilors Team Up To Introduce ‘Jose German-Gomez Native Species Act’

MONTCLAIR, N.J. – On Monday, in collaboration with Councilor Bob Russo and Councilor Lori Price Abrams, Councilor Peter Yacobellis announced the introduction of the “Jose German-Gomez Native Species Act. Councilor Robin Schlager also signaled strong support.

Jose German-Gomez

In addition to requiring that only native plants, defined as a plant occurring the northeast region of the U.S. before Euro-American settlement, be used in public places in Montclair, the Act is intended to protect and promote appropriate native vegetation, protect microhabitats for the conservation of wildlife, encourage new and maintain existing wildlife habitats. Its intent is to also create larger, more connected plant populations, and to help ensure the future of native plant species by increasing their ability to migrate in response to climate change.

“Before I was elected, my fourth ward Grove Street neighbor, Jose German-Gomez, who Renee Baskerville introduced me to, invited me to tour his whimsical backyard, a community garden at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church and his demonstration gardens at Crane Park. I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone so passionate about plant life and all its benefits to people and our suffering planet. As a fellow environmentalist, I’ve been so inspired over the years by his relentless work and advocacy, and I consider Jose to be a true Montclair treasure.”, said Councilor Yacobellis. “This act will put Montclair at the forefront of communities working hard to re-populate our local environments with native vegetation so that we can support insects, butterflies, birds and other creatures reliant on a healthy, native ecosystem,” he added.

“We must do everything we can to protect our environment. And there is no better local champion than Jose German-Gomez. I’m happy to be able to introduce this Act with my fellow Councilor-At-Large Peter Yacobellis. These are exactly the kinds of things municipalities can do to be part of the change to heal our planet,” said Councilor Bob Russo

Yacobellis with Schlager and neighbors planting trees at Edgemont Park

“With pollinators and so much of our ecology threatened by development and climate change, one of the most important things we can do for our environment is to try to restore native ecosystems. I’m thankful to Jose and all the incredible people in our community who think about our planet and advocate for changes like this,” said Councilor Lori Price Abrams

“Being on the Planning Board, this comes up a lot and we try to incorporate this into private projects as much as possible. So, I’m really happy to support doing this for public spaces too. This is something that is close to my heart,” said Councilor Robin Schlager

“Montclair is again taking the lead in environmental protection and restoration in the state of New Jersey. This ordinance will have a positive impact for future Montclair generations and will help the township achieve other environmental goals. The environmental community in New Jersey is celebrating this milestone with all of us. The Northeast Earth Coalition (NEEC) is grateful for the support we have received from Alliah Livingstone, Chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, Councilors Peter Yacobellis and his colleagues, Deb Ellis of the New Jersey Native Plant Society, and David Wasmuth, Northeast Earth Coalition Board Member,” said Jose German-Gomez

“On behalf of the Montclair Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC), we are thrilled the Township Council will be considering Mr. German’s Native Pollinator Ordinance. Simply put, it just makes sense. It supports the township’s existing efforts to preserve and encourage the recultivation of our native plant species (an effort Mr. German and the Northeast Earth Coalition have been spearheading for years) in a gradual way that also incorporates reasonable exceptions for township institutions like May in Montclair. The PRAC enthusiastically endorses this ordinance, and we are grateful for Mr. German and the NEEC’s environmental expertise guiding our township to be a more active environmental steward,” said Alliah Agostini Livingstone, Chair of the Montclair Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee

Yacobellis notes the Act is being introduced first for discussion on Tuesday, March 15th. “My hope is that we can advance this for a first vote in early April and a final vote in time for Earth Day. I thought that would be a great way to honor Jose and everyone’s work for our precious planet,” said Councilor Yacobellis

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  1. Councilman Yacobellis is deeply worried about “our suffering planet” (while some of us worry that anthropomorphism has no place in responsible governance). The town severs its “relationship” with our city sister, Cherepovets, Russia, with our Mayor Spiller informing their Mayor Germanov that “Montclair will proudly stand against tyranny and fascism wherever it may rear its head” (did the Mayor mean to say “ugly head” as suggested in Forbish’s Dictionary of Classic Cliches? and as though this is somehow the responsibility of Mayor Spiller, who might be thinking, let’s re-institute the Draft to really give it teeth?). As though Cherepovets doesn’t already have enough to worry about. So soon we will be forbidden from planting certain species of plant life that the authorities will determine for us (will we also be digging up the ones already in our yards?). Caviar, I assume, is off the table too. This was the work output of our town council in just one week. Let the post-Covid antics begin!

    The worst caricature of small-town politicians is their high-minded activism, and I fear we’re going to be seeing a lot of it now that lockdowns and mask-ups are no longer occupying all their attention. An enormous amount of do-gooderism and symbolic posturing was lost during the last two years.

    My fellow Montclarions! Don’t be surprised to see these folks feverishly trying to catch up. But as they emerge into the cameras and lights, let’s remind them of the only real purpose they serve, unless attention and symbolism is that important to a rich, meaningful life:

    This is from the Township’s own website:
    “The Legislature of the State of New Jersey has delegated the responsibility to local governmental units to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry.”


  2. “These are exactly the kinds of things municipalities can do to be part of the change to heal our planet,” said Councilor Bob Russo.

    Again, what is the job of the Town Council? Harmless as such diversions may be, it seems to me that the much-anticipated destruction of our planet (Greta Thunberg, god willing, will be spared) will have to happen before anyone on the Council gets around to talking about cutting taxes.

    Thank you, Baristanet, for this space to air opinions!

  3. Watchungski, I told you this town is entertaining. We give the Babylon Bee a run for its money. This is all a diversion …it has to be.

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