MontClairVoyant: There’s No Sesame Street in Montclair. Or Is There?

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

A 125th-anniversary party for what’s now Glenfield Middle School is being held this Sunday, June 12. Comment?

Sincerely,

Educational Staple on Maple

That school — so important to Montclair’s history in general and our town’s African-American and immigrant history in particular — dates back to 1896 and Grover Cleveland, the Muppet character from Ohio.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Um…wasn’t Grover Cleveland a human, born in nearby Caldwell, approaching the end of his second White House stint in 1896?

Sincerely,

Not Grover Cleveland Alexander

He was the only U.S. President to serve non-consecutive terms, something Donald Trump might try to duplicate in 2024. That would make many millions of Americans grouchier than Oscar the Grouch.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Am I detecting a Muppets theme today? The Montclair Education Association is feeling grouchy, too, criticizing the superintendent and other school-district officials at a recent Board of Education meeting. Merited?

Sincerely,

Presented, Discontented

Seems that way. The devastating larger-than-expected teacher layoffs, not enough of promised communication with the MEA, etc. Makes a teacher want to seek advice from the “Dear Abby Cadabby” column.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

It’s “Dear Abby.” In other news, was it a shame Montclair resident Imani Oakley lost June 7’s Democratic primary to centrist incumbent Donald Payne Jr. in the 10th congressional district that covers part of our town?

Sincerely,

An Imperfect 10

Yes. Ms. Oakley was a much more progressive candidate, but up against lots of spending and the Democratic machine. Plus Fozzie Bear remained neutral when asked for his coveted endorsement.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Never thought of Fozzie as a power broker. And the 11th congressional district that covers another part of Montclair saw centrist Democratic incumbent Mikie Sherrill run unopposed. Was there ever a possible opponent?

Sincerely,

Not Ocean’s 11

Only Aloysius Snuffleupagus, but that Muppet looks like an elephant and thus would have been better off competing as a Republican — with the less-ethnic name of Al Snuffle.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Getting back to Glenfield, that school is of course near Glenfield Park. Wasn’t there a groundbreaking ceremony there on June 3?

Sincerely,

Ground, Not Morning, Has Broken

There was. Among the changes at the park will be a larger Wally Choice Community Center — larger, in fact, than Big Bird.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Also on June 3 was our town’s raising of the Pride flag, one of various events leading up to the first Out Montclair-organized Pride Festival on June 11.

Sincerely,

Ticket to Pride

Talk about boffo back-to-back Saturdays after June 4’s African American Heritage Foundation Festival! If our town’s Spring 2022 events were cookies, Cookie Monster would be more than satisfied.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

And don’t forget AAPI Montclair’s beautiful Lantern Festival for Justice and Remembrance on June 5 at Edgemont Park.

Sincerely,

Pondering Near Pond

AAPI of course stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the CVC number on the back of my credit card stands for Muppet vampire Count von Count.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Does Grover Street…um…Grove Street turn into Elmo Street…um…Elm Street south of Bloomfield Avenue?

Sincerely,

Al Phabet

It does, but Veggie Heaven’s plant-based menu doesn’t offer a children’s version of Sesame Chicken called Sesame Street Chicken.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Does Montclair’s library have kid editions of Albert Camus’ The Stranger and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls?

Sincerely,

Seuss Sans Doctorate

If so, they’re written by Bert and Ernie.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Thank goodness we got through this column without mentioning Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy!

Sincerely,

Green Big Deal

I’m impressed that you named two members of Grover Cleveland’s cabinet.

 

 

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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68 COMMENTS

  1. Dave, Dave, Dave,

    The original layoff count was 26 teachers across 11 buildings. Dr Ponds team subsequently increased it by a third to 35 instructors. This is not a devastating difference. It was horrible math by Dr Ponds that I believe created the increased layoffs. Did anyone look at the layoff count last year. Right. We don’t look back in this town. Blue wave rocks!

    Ah, but you say the total layoffs were 83! Yes. And, let’s speak truth to really bad leadership, the MEA leadership does not care about the paras. Never has. I’m wrong? Go back and see all the facts cited to the media by the MEA on the 48 paras. Crickets.

    I’m sick and tired of the MEA claiming parental rights to the paras and then consistently throwing them in the gutter. The MEA leadership is shameful. If it weren’t for the BoE, they would take the title year in and out for worst leadership. Every time the MEA gets themselves in a bind, notic how the NJEA spokesperson or negotiator pops up! It is something I can set my clock to. Bozos.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank. I feel any number of layoffs of teachers, paras, and other school staffers is too many. If student enrollment is going down (if that’s true and if that’s not temporary because of COVID and such) then perhaps a few fewer people could be hired in the future rather than people being laid off. Also, the MEA — while not having a perfect history with paras — does care about paras. There has certainly been plenty of comment this spring and in the past about how important paras are.

  3. Dave,
    This was published exactly ONE YEAR ago.
    https://montclairlocal.news/union-montclair-schools-cut-dozens-of-personnel-including-special-ed-staff/

    It seems the MEA & MPSD don’t subscribe to hiring freezes. I’ve watched over a decade of this same stupidity and incompetence. Public education here is run like today’s department stores – as white elephants. “3rd floor, STEM-themed schools to left and right, Arts-themed schools also to your left and right.”

    Frankly, I can’t count the number of years I have experience the recurring nightmare that is public education in Montclair. Remember, this is the world-class Township of Montclair. We are pretty darn special.

    On another track, the MEA President says MPSD don’ts collaborate, but the MEA was effusive in their sugary praise over the collaboration level last Summer’a contract negotiations. They lie, too. But, they lie for the kids!

  4. Frank, I realize that annual layoffs (euphemism: “non-renewals”) have happened in a number of recent years. Some of it is legitimate budget constraints; some of it is poor planning, incompetence, or whatever.

    Re the supposed “recurring nightmare that is public education in Montclair,” I strongly disagree. While not every student is done right by, in general (as I’ve said before) our town has a mostly excellent school system — something I’ve seen firsthand as a parent.

    Re school-district officials collaborating or not collaborating with the MEA, it’s possible that these officials make an effort for a while and then don’t.

  5. Your readers should look at the Council’s agenda for their in-person only discussion Tuesday. So many fun things the taxpayers just don’t have a clue about yet.

    I can’t decide if taking $2MM from the dedicated Parking Utility funds for non-parking needs counts as an irregularity…or, mi cuenta es tu cuenta.

    I can’t decide if the renewal of a liquor license to a business that is over $1MM in arrears to us taxpayers (but, literally, has a halo over its patrons) is the way to go.

    I can’t decide if the Planning Board will be confused over whether a homeless shelter merits a study to designate it an Area of Need of Redevelopment.

    I can’t decide if the Montclair Public Library interests would be advanced if they shared their adult report from their new auditor.

    These are the questions I publicly wonder about. Our Councilors discussion will be public…kinda of.

    This Council reminds me of the Fried Council.

  6. Thank you, Frank. That is some eye-opening stuff. 🙁

    If there isn’t a very major penalty for The MC hotel for being PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) deadbeats, I wouldn’t be surprised but would definitely be angry about yet another case of the rich and connected getting a break the general public usually wouldn’t get.

  7. This unrecorded working session of the Council (a Conference mtg) includes separate public hearings on 4 ordinances. Councilor Price Abrams is advancing an on-street handicap parking space conversion in front of 22 St Lukes place, in a R-2 residential zone. An apartment building that offers no handicap access…just like the Bellevue Branch of the Montclair Public Library. What is she thinking? Is she thinking?

    Another ordinance is expanding affirmative action program for municipal contracts…which had issues among Councilor last meeting causing it to be delayed…to an unrecorded conference mtg. It is written in the same high quality as the Rent Control ordinance. Maybe some remote, possibly insightful public comments might improve the offering?

    There is the hearing on adding more stormwater regs but we don’t enforce the current Steep Slope regs already on the books. A tried and true political practice of passing things that won’t be enforced. For new residents, the Steep Slope water is water that had pathways (little streams) down First Mountain’s slope but we developed them out of existence…and gathers on many of your street and basements.

    But, the bestest part of what this Council is doing by not recording, not streaming, not offering remote public comment is….wait for it….they will go into Executive Session…sending members of in-person guests to leave. Yes, leave. And the Council is unwilling to indicate approximately how long they will be in camera and if they will return to public session to conduct off-agenda business items. Then, like Tuesday, they will take 3-4 months to publish their meeting minutes and inform the public they did some off-agenda votes.

  8. Dave and Frank, I hear both of you and agree with both of you (partially) on who to blame for the issues with the school. I blame both the school board and the MEA for the current situation with the budgets and staffing. I would have preferred staff reductions through attritions if the student numbers are going down. Although I am not a teacher, I have family members who are teachers and close friends who are teachers. I see and hear them go through their stressful professions! I assign more blame to the teachers unions. They are far worse than the BOE. It is embarrassing to read the MEA rep complaining that opening the windows constitute manual labor! Teachers do care for their students and protect the children by opening windows and covering the students from bullets. NJEA and MEA do not.

    For all the big liberal talk our Mayor who is also the NJEA President talk, did he ever think about the disproportionate amount of income gap between his pay and the average teacher pay? He doesn’t care about the teachers and he doesn’t care about the town!

  9. The MEA leadership’s window opening charge was spectacularly embarrassing for their President, the MEA, all parents and the Township. It was so absurdly stupid that I just wrote it off as the utter school district dysfunction.

    I went through the Montclair school system way back when. The windows were always a challenge. Of course, we all were simple folk back then, living in an urban backwater, who didn’t know better. Back then the teacher didn’t need to look up union rules. Teachers wielded unquestioned power back then and simply charged the stronger, taller students with the task of raising/lowering the substantial windows. To this day, I still wake at the trauma our teachers inflicted upon those students – at least the ones who had to raise the windows. We didn’t know we were being exploited. We foolishly believed we were contributing to the common good for which we received a polite ‘thank you’…but not a minimum wage.

  10. Unrecorded and un-broadcasted and in-person only council meeting! Is it a working session though? Other than just the title, they don’t post the body of the resolutions and ordinances listed under the ‘discussion’ items. Once in a while they do take action on some of those ‘discussion’ items. Isn’t public notice mean making the entire item (not just the tile) available for public scrutiny? The two attorneys on the council may have vouched for the legality of such action, and forgot about the need for transparency!

    The number and kinds of ‘un-implementable’ items on the agenda is making my head spin.
    Fried Council posted the meeting minutes on time. And Fried council didn’t have these many ‘“executive sessions”. What is up with these? Every meeting seems to have an exec session for either ‘litigation’ or ‘personnel’. This one on tonight’s meeting seems to be for both. I wonder if it is the fire fighter’s discrimination issue? Btw, has anyone seen the investigator’s contract resolution? Council, especially, the attorneys in the council are either stupid or arrogant to do a back door deal on this item.

  11. Frank, re your June 12, 2022 at 8:40 am comment, the Township Council indeed too often acts in head-scratching ways.

  12. Thank you for the comment, ChungAAPI.

    I totally agree that staff reductions through attrition would be the better way to go than layoffs if student numbers are indeed going down. It would take some advance planning, which the superintendent and Board of Education need to become better at.

    But I disagree about who is most to blame about various things; to me, it’s more the superintendent and BOE than the MEA union. I know there are those who admire teachers but not the MEA, but to me the MEA in many ways IS the teachers (and its other members). I admire both teachers and their local union.

    I do agree that the NJEA president, whether the current one or past ones, is WAY overpaid.

  13. Frank, I also remember students being “drafted” to open classroom windows. (Being tall, I was among the conscripts.) When closing the windows on windy days, the “draft” ended.

  14. Thank you for the comment, AKnightly.

    Being the attorney for a Township Council, a Board of Education, or another such entity in any town is an “interesting” position. These attorneys are supposed to decide on legal things “by the book,” but they can at times be influenced by the entity’s members to whom they owe their position and their often-generous pay.

  15. AKnightly,

    The Conference meeting is being abused. It was intended for the Council to get together and spitball with the minimum of public interference. This is what Cummings & Hurlock will tell you. But, when you start scheduling public hearings (4!), it is abuse. Cummings & Hurlock will tell you these are uncontested issues going through the formality. (FYI, Cummings & Hurlock were members of the Council Finance subcommittee that decided, in camera, to audit the Montclair Public Library. They weren’t wrong, but these two are guys who really want to get their way all the time. And they should! We voted them in. So, now I am confused who to hold accountable when all this sh*t goes South. Of course, the registered voters who created this.

    What! Hold voters accountable for their bad decisions? Are you crazy? Voters are never held accountable. And this is why Montclair will do nothing go significance on climate change. We are just not big thinkers. We are quite pedestrian in many, many ways. Applying foundation correctly may be our biggest concern.

  16. Dave,

    While I was of average height, I was quite rotund before I went through the p-phase. My teachers, being of the 1890’s school, associated my girth with strength. So, yes, I was mistakenly selected and when I could not raise the windows as all expected, I was ridiculed. It was horrible. To this day my preference is in-window a/c units that preclude me raising windows but once a year…while my wife is at work.

  17. The Township Attorney’s client is the Township Council. All 7 members. Each is a client. It is a challenging job. It shouldn’t be called the Township Attorney. It should be more accurately called the Council’s Attorney. I can assure you he does not represent the 40,883 residents of Montclair.

    Lawyers, like doctors get to make up their own rules. Best of all? They do their own quality control. The Rule of Law.

    Every time I hear the importance of the Rule of Law I chuckle. Hong Kong residents used to bang on about that, too. Now they have nothing. They got lazy. Oh well.

  18. Sorry about your school-window memories, Frank. Some of those windows are so big and old and stuck-prone that even the strongest people would have trouble moving them.

    The Township Attorney “should be more accurately called the Council’s Attorney”? SO true. The person in that position indeed represents the Council much more than township residents.

  19. It is that time when those thinking about running for Council in 2024 should begin laying the groundwork for their campaign.

  20. I was at the “conference” council meeting on Monday and there were barely 20 people there. Compare that to the “regular” meetings that are streamed and recorded–which well over 300 people are documented to have streamed on You Tube, not including those who watch on TV.

    News flash: The meetings are exactly the same.
    There were votes taken on Monday, there were proclamations and recognition of an amazing former resident who grew up here. There was discussion of important issues that will impact our township.
    At one point we were sitting there and it appeared that they were voting on $18 million in spending. A few of us looked at each other and said “Did they just vote on $18 million in spending?” because everything goes very quickly and is not clearly explained.
    And alas, I am unable to look it up or re-watch what actually happened, or ask someone who might have been watching a live stream, because there was no stream and there is no recording of the meeting.
    It is 2022. The world has changed since the pandemic in ways that we can unfortunately not easily alter. Both monthly Town Council meetings should be streamed so that people who are not able to attend can still learn what is happening in our town. There should also be the opportunity for people who are unable to attend in person to comment virtually. All of this can be accomplished without too much difficulty, and the town should commit to doing it.

  21. Thank you for the comment, Eileen! Very well said!

    I totally agree that the Township Council’s “conference” meetings and “regular” meetings have a lot in common, and both should be available to watch remotely — whether in real time or after. Not doing so feels like a lack of respect for the community, and also feels very un-transparent.

  22. Tuesday’s Regular Council mtg is also the beginning of Summer…and also the once monthly schedule…and all Regular mtgs. The next Conference mtg is the 3rd week of Sept, when Fall begins.
    Time is the friend of the tradition. Time is the friend of the status quo. Time is not your friend.
    To paraphrase an Italian proverb, “Meglio è nemico del buono abbastanza.”

  23. Thank you for that summer-meeting information, Frank.

    Google Translate tells me “Meglio è nemico del buono abbastanza” means “Better is the enemy of good enough.” Perhaps a preview of a Township Council candidate’s 2024 campaign slogan? 🙂

  24. When there is something that is easy to do, that will increase equitable access, and make people’s lives a little bit easier– to paraphrase Nike “fallo e basta.”

    This is not something that is difficult to do.

  25. Yes, it is cleary an easy thing to do. A no-brainer. A layup. A walk in the park. Low hanging fruit. A crowd pleaser.

    I am pretty sure not a single constituent has objected to streaming meetings with call in public comment.

    I know the Township CEO said it is physically doable if 4 of the 7 Council members give him the okey-dokey.

    So, ask yourself why Sean, Bill, David, Lori, Bob, Robin & Peter aren’t making this happen.

    Maybe your right on about the Nike analogy. Nike is about the individual. It promotes the individual over “the team”.

  26. And those silly people on the land use boards who think what they do precludes them from also joining the 21st Century and thinking the law will stay back there with them. Do you really want these boards writing vision documents like the Master Plan.

    I have the solution. Radio! Yes, it was good enough for the Greatest Generation to hear FDR and Churchill. Everyone can gather around the fireplace burning logs. Afterwards, we can take out our fountain pens, stationary and stamps to write, in cursive, to our elective representatives.

    And we think, as an civic-minded, an all-in engaged community we are remotely capable of taking on (locally) issues like climate change and social inequities? Call me cynical, but we have a better chance to just follow the lead of Cedar Grove or Caldwell.

    ‘Just Follow’ would be more appropriate.

  27. I know if there had been call-in public comment I would have. I would not have let Councilor Yacobllis get away with that BS about the RFP process limiting what he can say on the topic. Please, people, stop and think. It is Glen Ridge’s RFP!!! And a highly unusual process by Essex County standards.

    Montclair is not bound by another Township’s rules that are in their sole interests. Seriously, maybe a mental reset is in order before August 18?

    I’m not a good negotiator, but this is seriously ignorant thinking. Think about the premise of whatever our offer should be? It sounds like Councilor Yacobellis is falling into the same trap that the Fried Council did? I have to believe there are residents who are skilled negotiators and understand Montclair should be negotiating from our position of strength. The best thing that can happen is we don’t renew. We avoid the pension and executed absences, the wear & tear on our very new and very expensive 110′ ladder trucks (OPRA the maint bills if you want). Mutual aid costs are going up, but GR doesn’t change that.
    Best of all, we get a full size, Township synturf athletic field for the full year instead of just half. Again, this is our only township synthetic turf field.

    As I have said, no one has accused us Montclair residents of being anything but of average intelligence.

  28. Frank, re the start of your June 17 at 10:34 am comment: yes, there are many synonyms for “no-brainer”…that should be allowed to be mentioned in-person or remotely. 🙂

  29. And I understand the Council reluctantly renewed the special liquor license for the MC Hotel. Yes, the MC Hotel that is running a 7-figure tab. It was a tough call for them. Their options were limited. Their hands were tied. It’s wedding season.

    I watch all these Montclair Zoning Board meetings streamed (and allows call-in questions/comments). I listen to Chair Harrison. I like him. He has this Old Man & The Sea persona.

    He inquires in that very even keeled voice, at the start of hearing each application, if the applicant has paid their taxes. Because he is not going hear an application if they haven’t. He doesn’t care if it is an application for a fence or a garage…or a hotel.

    I think these redevelopment parcels are really panning out well.

  30. True David. And this thread, like the thread of public comment, can be cumulatively beneficial. And immediate. Like when the head of montclair tenants association called in to say all those who had an objection to the rent control ordinance were cold-hearted and were not true Patriots Montclairions. The cold-hearted people were able to respond in the same meeting…even though they were 2 mile away and had to put the kids to bed in 10 minutes. And then someone else from the other end of town – that didn’t want to drive just themselves in their carbon burning car 2 miles to a meeting – could do the dishes, fold laundry and clean while waiting their turn to speak for their allotted 3 minutes…and still get to bed by 9:00.

    The Council only wants to hear from the truly committed.

  31. Thank you for your two latest comments, Frank.

    I wish there were a video of the Township Council’s June 13 conference meeting I could see, but of course I couldn’t find one. If The MC’s liquor license was indeed renewed, that is outrageous — weddings or no weddings — when that hotel is a deadbeat on its PILOT payments. I hope there’s some sort of repayment plan happening or soon happening, but I’ve seen nothing about that announced publicly.

    Yes, the opportunity to remotely watch a meeting, and remotely comment, has many benefits — relating to the environment, time management, and COVID worries.

    The Zoning Board chair is a nice guy. He used to be a neighbor of mine.

  32. One of the reasons I really want people to have the opportunity for virtual public comments is because there are really vital voices that we don’t get to hear from. I always liked when Frank R. called into the virtual meetings because he has a lot of knowledge, and even when I don’t always agree with him (I often do), I found his comments valuable to my own understanding of Montclair. So I think it is important to allow people the opportunity to express their opinions in a way that reflects the reality of pandemic life in 2022.

    One thing I do agree with Frank on is the GR Fire Agreement– we should not negotiate as if we need to offer discounts and other valuable things just to keep the agreement. Our Fire Department offers a valuable service and we should act like it.
    Mutual Aid costs are another issue that Montclair residents should also be aware of. Essex County operates in a way that really doesn’t make sense to me, in terms of fairness among tax payers.

  33. ZBA Chair Harrison is Montclair’s strongest, most experienced serving land use expert. He is also consistent. He denied an Up Mtc application for a Southern facing sign on the Bank of America building. That sign, of similar circumstances to the latest, Southern facing roof sign Planning Board application for Summit Health (SH) atop the Seymour parking garage. The SH illuminated sign is 8′ tall. The PB should look at their 2021103 Grove St (storage facility), too.
    The dangerous aspect of this SH sign (300′ from the street) is that it is intended to be for drivers going past the library on S. Fullerton. Now, if the PB was smart, they would – based on the public comment during 560 Valley – bring in their own traffic consultant before someone get’s hurt. Just my opinion. If the PB uses the applicant’s argument, then I see no reason why the bar atop the MC Hotel (running a tab) couldn’t get their own 8′ rooftop sign. Nothing like a little visual clutter with your architectural character.

  34. Thank you Eileen B.
    I think Montclair & Glen Ridge have been in this partnership for 20 years. And they go and royally RFP us, again. I know the Fire Department no longer looks at seniority, but this is a relationship where I believe Montclair has delivered or exceeded all service levels we agreed to provide. For 20 yrs.

    My suggestion to the Council is let Bloomfield be the sole respondent and if GR likes their package, then they should take it. But, if the Council had some steel, they would publicly indicate they will not participate in this Facebook (seriously? Facebook us, too) RFP process.
    Demonstrate some self-respect for our Township. Or not.

  35. I agree, Frank. This Fire Service Agreement was first signed in 1990– over thirty years ago! And the Montclair FD has delivered excellent service over that time and yet, instead of negotiating a new contract, they “put it out to bid.” There is really no such thing as an RFP for a Fire Department, and the only reason GR can even think to do this is because they happen to be located in between two towns with career fire departments. And they do this even though they are paying LESS than they were 30 years ago, in inflation adjusted dollars. (Montclair’s costs have exceeded inflation by over well over 100%) And in actual dollars they are paying less than they were 10 years ago. And they got to use a beautiful field, and we flush their fire hydrants more than we flush our own.
    For 30 years, Montclair has provided this service to GR, but the contract has ALWAYS been on GR terms. Ever since the first contract was signed, which gave them an opt out clause. It is time for Montclair to say we have done enough. The Council should not provide any discount or extra incentives in any proposed contract.

  36. Dave,

    Yes, the sign is slightly bigger than a Cadillac Escalade V! The best part is the business, Summit Heath, is an office use…visitors are by appointment. The variance is being justified as serving a wayfinding need…for people using using a map app that will tell them they passed their turn to Seymour St.

    Eileen,
    Didn’t know it has been 30 years. Of course, I remember one reason we built the fire dept headquarters on the Glen Ridge border was to deliver optimal response times to them versus Montclair proper. Hence, we had to keep the obsolete Cedar St Station. Of course I also remember the sweet retroactive $200K credit we tacked onto the previous contract as part of this expiring deal. Now we have to invest a couple of hundred thousand to upgrade that facility. Oh well.

  37. Eileen and Frank, it indeed sounds like Glen Ridge has had a very sweet deal using Montclair’s fire services. Too sweet.

  38. Eileen,

    I caught the Council mtg today and the Mayor’s response to your comments. My takeaway was the Mayor was guided by what is called a Cost+ Pricing approach. I could argue the pros & cons of this model, but suffice it to say it basically makes the service offering by our MFD a commodity. Maybe Bloomfield’s FD is equivalent qualitatively. I don’t know. But, I know land use. And if we are packaging GW Field, this approach is wrong. Land utilization if fixed and only a Value Pricing is appropriate here, if at all. How do we justify a shared service with land? Open space land?

    The Mayors growth strategy is via redevelopment. Redevelopment concentrated in Montclair Center. Live/work/play. Redevelopment that explicitly overweighs adults-only housing. 75% of our housing growth is within ½ mile of GW Field. The nearest Township fields/ open space is Nishuane Park & Walnut St.

    So, I’m curious, as we soon will see Lackawanna Plaza plans, how a 50/50 sharing GW Field with Glen Ridge advances the Live/Work/Play, all within the neighborhood walking distance, underpinning of our strategy.

  39. I just read the actual 2012 contract, and it is pretty staggering– what Montclair provides and gave away to keep the contract. AND Glen Ridge had the option to renew it for 10 more years under the same terms and chose not to. So they must want more for less.
    According to their Borough FB post, GR appears to want to go from one field to multiple fields!! They want more fields and recreational space!! We should not go along.
    Bloomfield is currently budgeted for 72 fire fighters, for a town of 53,000 people– and they also have an automatic aid agreement with Nutley and Belleville. For most of the past decade, Montclair has staffed in the high 80s- 90+. Maplewood and South Orange will consolidate with 71 FF. So if Bloomfield can do all of that with 72, and take on GR, then they should do it. And we should do what Bloomfield did 10 years ago when they lost the bid– consider to downsize to the low 70s. In other words, don’t fill the open positions that are currently open. Not winning the contract was probably the best thing that happened to Bloomfield, from an economic standpoint.
    The Mayor does seem to once again be operating along a “what does it cost us” model. The contract was not always negotiated this way. 10 years ago we were told it costs nothing, and I guess we will be told again that it costs 16 million+ to cover Montclair, and 0 to cover Glen Ridge, so be grateful for what we get. I guess we should get ready for another drop in the payment from GR. Some of my favorite lines from the contract:

    “Montclair will provide the services to Glen Ridge, in the same manner, to the same extent and to the same degree in to which it provides fire suppression services to citizens and property in Montclair.”
    Guess who doesn’t pay close to the same manner, extent and degree as the citizens of Montclair?

    And this one:
    “Montclair, AT ITS EXPENSE (emphasis mine), will provide an annual flushing of the Glen Ridge water system each spring.”

    And then to your point about the fields:
    “The Township of Montclair will permit Glen Ridge use of Washington Field between August 15th and November 31st (it’s not my error, it says November 31st in the contract) during the terms of the contract.” And then in the spring they can use it when available without paying for a permit. So as a Montclair residents, I would need to pay for a permit. But GR, nah.

    We should take the field back. I agree with you on land use. The terms of the contract are SO far from the original agreement in 1990, and we should try and get back to that. No fields or flushing was included.

  40. Thanks for all your work on this. Great points of emphasis.

    Frankly, I’ve reaching the end of my patience with this Council. They are in way over their heads. They make stupid mistakes, don’t do their homework and are just frigging out of touch. This is there redevelopment strategy. They don’t understand it, but they are bought in.
    The GW Field is a substandard field. I think we should sell it for the $10MM it is worth and be done with it.

  41. Wow, Eileen! GREAT information! And I agree with your points. I second Frank’s thank you.

    Frank, George Washington is an okay field (my younger daughter played many rec-softball games on it). But Fortunato and Glenfield are much nicer as softball fields go.

  42. I’m a little slow Eileen. Are you saying their current contract allows them to put out this RFP and then, if they don’t like the offers, they can simply pick up their current contract’s option for both the fire services and the field use for another decade? Please, I am really looking for you to say “it ain’t so!”.

  43. Dave,
    As I mentioned above about the Seymour Health sign 8′ tall, 93′ up…on a building zoned in the Redevelopment Plan to be 80′ maximum height…yada, yada, “need the sign to help patients find us”.

    The building address is 1 Seymour St (no, I’m not doing tangents today). The SH website is very helpful giving directions:

    – If you are being dropped off, enter #7, yes seven, Seymour St into your navigation system. But, if your driver wants to park, don’t enter the garage from Seymour because there is no validated parking.

    – To get validated parking, you must enter #23 South Fullerton into your navigation system and access that entrance.

    So, I am wondering how they are going to squeeze all this information on their proposed roof-top sign 93′ up in the air and only visible Northbound on So. Fullerton for 2 seconds going 25mph?

  44. Just a strange coincidence that the Council, at Tuesday’s meeting, amended this building’s zoning to mitigate the cell towers & equipment…and this signage application goes before the Planning Board next month…in the hazy, lazy days of Summer…while the Township administration is negotiating with the developer for a separate, new, freestanding sign on South Fullerton. I missed it when the BID sold the naming rights and changed Montclair Center to Summit Health Center.

    Those hazy, lazy days of Summer in Montclair. It seems like just yesterday that late July PB meeting where the developer’s historic preservation expert explained to PB why Lackawanna Train Station wasn’t historic. Summers in Montclair!

  45. Yes, and the MC Hotel & 37 Orange Rd approvals share the Summer. The MC Hotel stop paying us in the Summer. Basically, if you want to slide something past Montclair voters, Just Do It sometime during the Summer. Unless it is music. Then, like War’s release of “Summer”, only the first day (1976) will do.

  46. Frank, some town officials want voters to also ignore their actions or inactions during the other three seasons, too. 🙂 🙁

  47. The lyrics fondly describe listening to 8-tracks and CB radio…which reminded me of the Council’s retro mindset and why they don’t allow “breaker, breaker, come back bubba” speak from the public.

  48. Nostalgic, Frank! 🙂

    Perhaps the Council would also like to hear “The Sound of Silence” from its many critics?

  49. Bravo! The original (favored)?. The Disturbed cover? Or the recent Spiller & Cummings live cover most all missed (& not available on MtcGov YouTube)?

  50. Frank, I think both the Simon & Garfunkel original and the Disturbed cover are great. (I read that Paul Simon was impressed with the cover.)

    As for Montclair officials, perhaps some (not all) can form a Led Zeppelin cover band called Led Inept-lin?

  51. I’ve been waiting for you to say cite these lyrics covering the Council’s outlook:

    “Sunny Day
    Sweepin’ the clouds away
    On my way to where the air is sweet
    Can you tell me how to get?
    How to get to…”

  52. “In restless dreams I walked alone, narrow streets of cobblestone . . . ”

    S&G were prescient in ’66. Perhaps a foreshadowing of the loathsome idea from some years ago of paving over Afterglow Way that (happily) never happened?

  53. Ha, Frank! 🙂 Great observation. The street sweepers that occasionally go down Montclair’s roads seem to leave the clouds alone…

  54. Ha, silverleaf! 🙂 Given what town Afterglow Way is near, I’m surprised Paul Simon mentioned Corona rather than Verona in his later song “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.” 🙂

  55. Dave,

    I have to laugh at those members of the Council and the land use boards who whine at every opportunity about the burdens of our civic participation. Yes, the public is one huge PITA. We’re not allowed to have any expertise. We are to be tolerated. Of no significance. A trifle that encouraged only becomes a irritant.

    So, they argue the great unwashed public should subject themselves to the same irritants they face if they want a seat at the table. They want the public to sit, in person, like them, and wait as issues are postponed, rescheduled and extended before the can have their say. These members epitomize the entitlement that they feel they have earned after a decade or more of residency.

    But, they are giving us a priceless gift. They are giving us the gift of universal 20/20 Hindsight of their actions.

    You can’t have it both ways. This is the price for stifling civic participation. It will not change your decisions, but it will change the personal legacies you are working on.

  56. Well, as you of course know, Frank, elected and appointed Montclair officials aren’t forced to take the jobs; they decided to do so, knowing they would need to listen to the public. Of course, some of them mostly ignore the public.

  57. Frank, Dave– Sorry I missed your question last week about the GR Fire Contract. Per the agreement, GR had an “option of renew” to extend the contract for 10 more years provided written notification was given to Montclair by January 1, 2022. So I *think* that ship has sailed.
    It’s a bit unclear, based on how the contract was written, what GR would have paid over those 10 years. But in 2022, Glen Ridge is paying 46K LESS than they were in 2011, and their increases over recent years have been very modest. So between 2020 and 2022, GR’s annual contribution increased by 22K. This is maybe enough to cover the increase in personnel costs (raises, insurance, pension) for one fire fighter. So they are paying less than they were 11 years ago (is anyone else paying less for anything from 11 years ago?) AND the annual increases were modest, and they got a field and flushing at Montclair’s expense. And still they did not want to renew. I’m really unclear as to what more they expect. (it seems like more field space maybe?) But I certainly don’t think they should be rewarded by giving them more for less.

  58. Hello Frank,

    I for one as a member of the Planning Board very much value and appreciate public comment at our meetings. I would like to see a hybrid of in-person and call-in public comment. I think the public in general has a lot to add and I would encourage their participation in these meetings. I don’t feel entitled to my position and work hard to understand the applications and ramification each might have on our neighborhoods.

    Carmel

  59. Thank you for the comment, Eileen. Excellent information, and well said. On top of everything else, Glen Ridge is an affluent town. Its officials don’t have to act so “penny-pinching-ly.”

  60. Thank you for the comment, Carmel. I think a combination of in-person public comment and call-in public comment is a very good thing.

  61. Thank you Eileen. I guess Councilors Russo & Yacobellis couldn’t tell us at the Jan 4th Virtual Conference mtg, or during the mtg on the18th, or anytime that Glen Ridge has notified us they would not be renewing the agreement. I think that merited a mention to taxpayers and those of that had raised the issue.

    As I said, they are in over their heads and just can’t bring themselves to reach out for that ladder of transparency. The one at the edge of their peripheral vision.

    Carmel,
    As you know well, serving as the single, dissenting vote doesn’t change much of anything. You’re not succeeding in changing the body. This is a very common, oft illusive accomplishment of most serving members – leaving their mark on the body. The staff members are way more influential than most voting members in this regard. In this case, your Board Attorney.

  62. Why do I feel we are regressing? The whole Roe & equal rights we blame on other states, other Americans. Blue Wave Montclair is unbelievably upset. Really wringing their hands. Mr Biden says we need to vote every 2 years to to meet our moral code. That’s his advice. Really.

    Meanwhile, on a micro-level, almost ALL Montclairions are really, truly oblivious to their option to utilize what is essentially a drive-thru choice of civic involvement….because the elected and their appointees finds it to be a royal PITA. But, we are totally into virtue signaling. We are world class.

    Yup, this is the Montclair of today. This is what we are. Oh, so superficial and oh so superfluous.

    Happy Independence Day. Enjoy the parade.

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