Goodbye Old Soccer Dome, You Served Montclair Well

Montclair, NJ – If you passed by the soccer dome in Montclair and came upon this scene, here’s what’s going on:

“After 20+ years, the dome outlived its useful life,” says owner and local developer Steven Plofker. “Next week, new turf will be installed, and a new and technology improved dome immediately thereafter.”

“We thank the community for their support through the years and look forward to continuing to serve for a long time in the future,” Plofker added.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Technically – it’s a new building. Technically – there are now storm water requirements.

  2. This is what I love about the Council. There are rules…and there are their rules.
    There are ethics and then there are their ethics.
    There are the ambidextrous and then there are orally ambidextrous (comfortably speaking out of either side of their mouthes).

    Anyway, back to the new sports & training building. I think it snow a chain. Maybe Centercourt? But, we can’t call it the soccer bubble anymore. We can call it the party bubble. Whatever you want to call it. I think they are open to anything.

    But, I’m confused why Mr Plofker is involved. Yes, his ownership of the property is not a burning question for me. But, he doesn’t hold the lease as far as I know.

    Anyway, maybe Mr Stafford should double check with the Council how they want the Planning Dept to handle this one.

  3. This sports complex is a great example of how the Town supports Transit Oriented Development (TOD) land uses. The Council may even decided to designate the Walnut Street corridor a Transit District. A sports complex makes sense. Athletes will walk, run, bike, or use the train or bus service. No need for parking. Minimal impact on parking. However, the parking requirement doesn’t make sense. It says for a facility of this size, it should provide over a 100 parking spaces. C’mon! Stupid ordinance. Let’s ignore it.

  4. I can’t stop pointing out to the Planning Board how the Township – when they want them – takes them out of the curio cabinet, winds them up, and sets them off. When they don’t, they are still prominently displayed behind glass.

    For the few who follow the PB, just think of recent 6 Gates Avenue and 103 Grove St (self-storage bldg) applications. This property has setbacks, parking & height variances & waivers granted a quarter century ago . It manages to retain them in spite of demolishing the building and picks up more non-compliant features, e.g. § 281-8.5B(1).

    The Council & Planning Board are looking at redeveloping Erie Park/Farmer’s Market parcel because it is obsolete and inefficient use of prime TOD space. Which means we will likely have to move the Farmer’s Market to Montclair Center/South Park St. And this new building doesn’t rate a review?

    I can’t count the number of poor, sad residents who had to hire an architect and/or an attorney to file applications, get on the calendar, attend hearings just to obtain variances to rebuild their garages …in the exact same footprint. Why do these poor residential saps have to do this for a dime-a-dozen garage? Dunno.

    Clearly all garage builders (pool house, cabanas, et al) – it may be better in Montclair to follow the common adage here, “it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission”.

  5. Frank, don’t you think it’s more than coincidence, in fact, actually quite interesting that the dome comes down just as the Council pushes Montclair’s Township Planner to give her conclusions from a “study” — that she alone undertakes — to support an Area in Need of Redevelopment right there. Which, if the Council had approved for the first two lots impacted, could have been written ultimately to include this Plofker owned soccer dome too. And that would mean another new building for him which could bypass existing zoning and get special then added height giveaways?

    If that is the real takeaway, one should rethink this announcement. Instead, the likely scenario was that Mr. Plofker was waiting/hoping an ARN would be approved there and therefore, he could eventually build another multi-story building on his property near term.

    However, since it was not approved by the Planning Board, and the Planner’s opinions completely rejected, after residents and neighbors pushed back on her efforts for more intensive building around the train station — presto! It’s all presented as just timed maintenance. The dome is down but a newly needed one will come right back back up. To live again with a new field even until perhaps, the next redevelopment attempt in the Walnut area tries to get around the lower zoning heights.

  6. spotontarget,

    The redevelopment proposal was raised by the contract purchaser to Mayor Spiller, Deputy Mayor Hurlock, and Councilor Cummings. They brought it to the Council and Spiller & Hurlock moved the resolution. The other Council members didn’t give it much thought or asked their constituents. The other Councilors are not particularly savvy when its comes to land use items.

    The Council unanimously voted last August for a study to determine if the adjoining parcel meets an Area of Redevelopment…for the intention of designating it as a Rehabilitation Area. This is an important distinction, but also getting into the weeds.

    Once approved, it was subsequently presented to the Council’s Economic Redevelopment Committee. I think just as a courtesy. I’m not sure why they didn’t field it, as the appropriate committee, in the first place. The EDC asked about including the former soccer bubble parcel & was told Mr Plofker, the owner, was not interested. Obviously, all this transpired well before the Planning Dept study and the ensuing Planning Board hearing on the question.

    Maybe Mr Plofker was indeed getting ahead of the issue by demolishing the existing building. But, I had mentioned the lease holder question for a reason. Furthermore, I suspect the property is not economically suitable for what you are suggesting. I base this on existing conditions and prior uses. In brief, the sports bubble may be the economical best and highest use.

    All that aside, it is an incompatible and undesirable use per our Master Plan, per the zoning, and most significantly, the Council’s premise the area currently detracts from the area. The windowless bubble detracts from the streetscape, but it is a building. As you recall Fauburg Restaurant on Bloomfield Ave built a glass enclosed structure that was determined to be a building. The bubble is a building. It is a new building. It does not have to comply with zoning. It is not being reviewed by any land use board. They (the tenant? the property owner?) is building this as if by right.

    Do you remember the issues with 6 Erie Street? The multiple Planning Board hearings held? All the questions raised when they waded into the details? So, if the Planning Board wants to sit on their hands, so be it. But, the next time the PB members get on their high horses about some other applicant’s proposal, they should all take a big breath and think about this sports bubble.

    So, yes, to your point, this stinks. But, it is nothing new.

  7. Oh, I recall I wrote an Op-Ed in the Mtc Local…last July 30th…about the Council using Area In Need of Rehabilitation designations. It was blah, blah, devil in the details stuff.

    I can assure you that was just a coincidence. How could I have known they were working on this ANR last Summer and that 24 days later they would pass this resolution? I would have to be psychic, wouldn’t I?

  8. While I would have been accurate 100 years ago, but here in 2022, the following correction is required:
    6 Erie St should be 6 Depot Square.