MontClairVoyant: Money from the State Is Great to Help Us Educate

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

The state has agreed to pay $58.5 million of the cost if Montclair voters this November approve a $187.7-million bond proposal for fixing and improving our school infrastructure. Good news?

Sincerely,

Money for Something

Great news — even if the state sends the $58.5 million in pennies. Those coins can be dumped in Mountainside Park, and, when it snows, there’ll be sledding down Penny Hill.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

That sort of makes cents. But will the much-needed bond proposal submitted by our town’s Board of Education be approved by voters?

Sincerely,

Rhea Zultz

Hope hope hope so, because our public schools desperately need fixes and upgrades. Most buildings are old enough for George Washington to have slept in them — which was always awkward during Back to School Night.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

He didn’t HAVE to snooze in the front hallways of our schools. How was Montclair High’s Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 13?

Sincerely,

Community Chestnut

I was very impressed with the teachers — who, like those in our other schools — remain dedicated in the face of layoffs, some oversized classes, too much standardized testing, far-from-ideal infrastructure, and stepping over George Washington’s hallway bed.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Wait…didn’t Washington die in 1799?

Sincerely,

Pre-1800 Blues

If I’d had Montclair teachers as a kid, I’d know history better. And good grammar betterer.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

In other news, our town received a $970,555 state grant for free preschool. Comment?

Sincerely,

Not Grant’s Tomb

Wonderful for the 60 or so 3- and 4-year-old Montclair kids who can be enrolled starting next month. Sixty is also the number of 1927 home runs swatted by Babe Ruth, who was well-rested when he didn’t sleep in school hallways.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Ah, that explains why George Washington never hit 60 homers, and was too tired to attend Montclair’s jazz festival this past weekend. Amazing event, wasn’t it?

Sincerely,

Big Crowd Did Downtown Proud

Yes! Music, food vendors, craft vendors, and more. The music was live, as were the vendors.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Good to know. Then, this coming weekend, there’s the first event of Montclair’s first Latino Heritage Month, Outpost in the Burbs’ 35th-anniversary “minifest” on South Fullerton, and the annual sidewalk sale and Anderson Park fair in Upper Montclair!

Sincerely,

Eventful Events

Summer in our town always ends with a flourish. Then, autumn starts on September 22 — the same day in 1236 that the Samogitians won the Battle of Saule.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Where did you find that obscure piece of pointless trivia?

Sincerely,

Prime Waste of Time

In Wikipedia, which somehow didn’t also mention 1775’s equally epic Battle of Bradford Avenue, in which Montclair defeated Cedar Grove three CVS stores to two.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Was there blood shed?

Sincerely,

Carnage-y Haul

Some, but plenty of band-aids were available for purchase.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Would $187.7 million be more than a band-aid for our schools?

Sincerely,

Not Minor But Major Deegan

Very much so. And it would be nice for students to be in upgraded classrooms when learning about the Battle of Bradford Avenue — a skirmish George Washington won despite being sleep-deprived because of Back to School Night.

 

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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10 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, townie! My response:

    “I see what you’re saying, but if the spending of the school-infrastructure money wasn’t designed to be spread out over time, it would probably be harder to get the bond proposal approved by voters this fall. Plus it might not be realistic for all the work our school infrastructure needs to be done in a very short amount of time. As for inflation, hopefully the tires of the work trucks we might see at Montclair’s schools will have all the air they need.”

  2. The biggest thing property owners can do, under the circumstances, is appeal their assessed property values for 2023. Just this coming week’s Council conference mtg you will see limited liability corporations being granted, by our Council, close to $100,00 in property tax refunds. In one mtg. In a fast appreciating property market where we have to control rents and houses on Gray St are selling for $1.2MM.

    This will only grow in number and size over the coming months.

    And renters who say they pay property taxes, indirectly? Did you get a refund?

  3. Thank you for the comment, Frank.

    The selling prices of a number of Montclair houses have become VERY high.

    As a renter, I haven’t received any refund, but I occasionally find a stray coin on the grounds of my apartment complex. 🙂

  4. No worries. The Council intends to approve a new, expanded Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance for residential zones per their agenda item. It will apply to up to 3-family dwellings. They also intend to limit the amount of impervious surfaces for resident lots (think limits on additions, driveways/parking, patios, etc) in these zones. And, not forgotten, still meet our rent control, parking & lot width ordinances. I guess the prohibition on front yard parking will be among the first to fall by the wayside. Actually, this last one has already.

    Should be quite the tall order while adhering to the Master Plan’s mandate to preserve the character of our residential zones. I suspect something or many things will have to give.

  5. Frank, it’s not a bad idea for a smart, well-crafted Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance to be one of the possible “tools” to try to maintain a decent amount of economic diversity in Montclair housing. But, as I think you’re alluding to, whether such an ordinance would be smart and well-crafted is a big “if.” And, as I think you’re also alluding to, there’s plenty of tension between the need for additional affordable housing vs. concerns about open space, storm-water runoff, and the environment in general.

  6. I’m not assuming that there will be any affordability clauses. Actually, I can’t see how they would begin to write in this requirement. Same for additional environmental standards…no HVAC requirements. I’m betting they will also exclude ADUs from the dwelling units count in determining applicability of rent control ordinance. We’ll see soon enough.

  7. Frank, I assume and hope ADUs — if they happened in Montclair — would, by their very nature, be more affordable than “traditional” housing. Whether more affordable is affordable enough is a good question.

  8. You do realize a property owner could downsize on-site and move into the newly constructed ADU…and then rent out the main buildings, single dwelling or multiples DUs to a family(ies) at market rates, right? FYI, Everyone gets access to the designated common area spaces.
    We’ll just tweak the ordinance as we go. The important thing is we are adding housing & quickly.

  9. Interesting, Frank. I hadn’t thought of that. I guess in the scenario you mention, housing costs would become more affordable for the property owner, at least.