Montclair Council: Edgemont Park Improvements, Waste Receptacles, Private Streets, Mitochondrial Disease Awareness

BY  |  Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017 8:06am  |  COMMENTS (7)

The Montclair Township Council had a light agenda for its September 19 meeting, passing eight pending ordinances and six resolutions, as well as the bill list.  One resolution that got much commentary from members of the council was the one awarding a contract to Abraham General Construction for improvements to Edgemont Park.

The Montclair Township Council

Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville said the improvements that members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee proposed for the park were “outstanding,” and she said that committee members hope to be more involved with the council in all issues regarding parks and open spaces.  Deputy Mayor / Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager said that the Friends of Edgemont park group was also supportive.  But Dr. Baskerville asked if the money was left over from a previous source for park spending, or “reprogrammed.”

Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford explained that funds were in fact reprogrammed from Green Acres funding for Edgemont Park. He said there was more funding possible through the state Green Acres program, and he added that Montclair has sent a letter to the state asking to be kept informed of such funding.  Mayor Robert Jackson has a sent a letter to the state endorsing such funding. Continue Reading

Montclair Planning Board and EDC Have Different Ideas About Supermarket For Lackawanna Plaza

BY  |  Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017 6:45am  |  COMMENTS (3)

An early-twentieth-century picture of the old Lackawanna railway terminal.

The Montclair Planning Board spent its September 11 meeting finalizing one application and foregoing another, but before all that, they heard from the Montclair Township Council’s Economic Development Committee (EDC)  – which includes the Planning Board’s council liaison, Deputy Mayor / Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager – about the feedback the committee received on the board’s critique of the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan.  Despite the extensive briefing, the Planning Board did not engage in a public tête-à-tête with the committee members, but Chairman John Wynn appreciated the EDC’s input.

Deputy Mayor Schlager, Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller, and Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville went through 19 comments the Planning Board offered up in its rebuttal to the town council, and the EDC members agreed with the board on all the major points.  They agreed with the board that any plan should identify the historic elements of the Lackawanna railway terminal building, and that the main plaza between Bloomfield Avenue and the train sheds should be made into a green space.  The EDC also concurred that the bricked-up walls of the train shed facing Bloomfield Avenue should be opened up and turned into storefronts, rather than the current arrangement in which the entrances to the stores are from the inside of the mini-mall that was built in the train sheds’ space.  Even more importantly, the EDC agreed that the number of apartments should be scaled back.  The Pinnacle and Hampshire development companies wanted 350 units; the EDC said that 280 units would be enough.

The Montclair Township Council’s Economic Development Committee presented its input on the Lackawanna Pala redevelopment plan. Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville (at the podium) led off the presentation.

However, the EDC disagreed with the Planning Board on how to include a supermarket in the plan.  Deputy Mayor Schlager, speaking as a councilor and not as a planning board member, said that a supermarket on the parcel of land east of Grove Street would have a negative impact on nearby neighborhoods by increasing noise and truck traffic, which put the EDC at odds with the Planning Board’s desire to see a supermarket built on the east parcel.  Furthermore, Deputy Mayor Schlager said the EDC disagreed with limiting the maximum square footage of the supermarket, saying it would discourage more supermarket chains from opening a store in Lackawanna Plaza due to lack of sufficient space.  The EDC, though, was on the same page as the Planning Board in preserving historic elements of the railway terminal building and restoring some of the building’s historic elements, such as the water basin between the west-parcel parking lot and Grove Street. Continue Reading

Montclair Township Council Reviews Temporary Alcohol Permits and Abandoned Properties

BY  |  Wednesday, Sep 06, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Township Council

The Montclair Township Council breezed through yet another 20-minute meeting on September 5 in a conference meeting that dealt with a pending ordinance, three resolutions, and one comment from the member of the public.

The pending ordinance was an amendment to allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed on public property through a temporary permit for what Township Attorney Ira Karasick referred to as “narrow circumstances” such as social events like the food and wine festival, or if a license holder wants to extend his or her permit for such an event.  The amendment allows the township to give such permission, although it would not necessarily have to.

Deputy Mayor / Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager said she was very pleased with the amendment to the ordinance because it had always been a gray area for people who wanted to plan a public event using Montclair parks or parking lots at which serving alcohol would be expected.  She noted that the council had listened to residents asking for clarification in the ordinance.  “I’m pleased we did this,” she said.

One member of the council who was not pleased was First Ward Councilor William Hurlock.  He first asked Karasick if he had discussed this with the police in terms of enforcement and in terms of patrolling.  Karasick replied that he’s discussed it with deputy chiefs, and Acting Township Attorney Tim Stafford interjected that any such application for a temporary permit of alcohol consumption on public property would have to be reviewed and approved by Police Chief Todd Conforti before the township would even look at the request.   Despite that assurance, Councilor Hurlock pressed further, asking about responsibility for liabilities.  Karasick explained that there would still be a requirement for insurance.  Then Councilor Hurlock asked about his biggest concern – the township’s liability under the “Dram Shop” rule, the rule that holds a bar liable for serving alcohol to an individual who later cause a car accident. Continue Reading

Montclair Planning Board Hears, Approves Another North Willow Street Project

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 29, 2017 7:31am  |  COMMENTS (12)

By the Montclair Planning Board’s standard, this was fast going.  The board met on August 28 to hear a project on North Willow Street that, coincidentally, is adjacent to the site of developer Steven Plofker’s project to renovate the former Diva Lounge on North Willow Street and Bloomfield Avenue as part of a new apartment building.  EKR Associates, LLC plans to reuse and expand the existing building at 10 North Willow Street and turn it into retail space with two new apartments on the second floor.  The application was heard from start to finish and approved in two hours.

10 North Willow Street in Montclair. Image courtesy of Google.

Architect Matthew Jarmel of Jarmel Kizel in Livingston, who is working on the Warner Communications building in Upper Montclair, presented his plan on behalf of the applicant.

The current structure, a garage with a single apartment above, would be reconfigured.  The shed in front would be demolished, as would a diagonal interior wall on the first floor; new walls would be built to provide perfectly rectangular rooms on the first floor, and a new wing would be added in the building’s northeast corner, providing 1,000 square feet of first-floor retail space overall.   The second floor would be converted into two two-bedroom apartments, a 1,065-square feet unit in the front and a 1,026-square foot unit in the rear.  The design calls for the second floor to hang over the façade of the first floor, with simulated-wood siding and slight use of brick on the top level and an arrangement of brick and decorative concrete block along the lower retail level.  Jarmel says he expects the retail unit, which features 387 square feet of rear storage space, to be rented by an art boutique or a similar small-retail business.  The existing windows, which are non-conforming, would be taken out and replaced with fewer windows of a more appropriate size.

A rendering of the facade of the proposed renovation of 10 North Willow Street. provided by architect Matthew Jarmel.

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Glenfield Park in Montclair Gets Modernized Basketball and Tennis Courts

Friday, Aug 25, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced construction to modernize the basketball and tennis courts in Essex County Glenfield Park was underway on Thursday, August 24th. The project is part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to continue the revitalization of the Essex County Parks System and provide up-to-date recreation facilities that meet the needs of the community.

“Essex County Glenfield Park is the focal point of Montclair’s Fourth Ward. Making sure our facilities are up to date is essential because this park is heavily used by students from Glenfield Middle School, recreation programs and members of the community,” DiVincenzo said. “Parks that offer modern facilities, such as these tennis and basketball courts, positively contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood, enhance property values and quality of life, and influence public health,” he added.

The two basketball courts and three tennis courts will be reconstructed with new asphalt surfaces, fencing and sports equipment. The courts were dedicated in 2015 as the “Robert S. Hurt Basketball Courts” in honor of the late Robert S. Hurt, who was the longtime junior varsity and assistant varsity basketball coach at Montclair High School. The courts were last redone in 2006 and needed to be replaced because of regular wear and tear.

“Parks are special areas because they contribute to the environmental and social justice, and public health of our communities. I anticipate the renovated courts will get a lot of use because Glenfield Park is such a beloved place,” NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said.

“Glenfield Park represents the heart and soul of Montclair and its Fourth Ward. Residents take what happens in this park very seriously because it is part of the neighborhood’s DNA. The upgrades to the recreation facilities will be well-received,” Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver said.

“I applaud the County Executive for continuing to come up with ideas to make our parks better. Improvements such as this impact our residents’ quality of life,” Freeholder Patricia Sebold said. “The difference that the refurbished tennis and basketball courts will make will be amazing. I am proud to partner with the County Executive and look forward to future projects,” Freeholder Len Luciano said.

“When I was growing up, Glenfield Park was my summer retreat, but it did not look as good as it does today. It is so gratifying to participate with the County Executive to improve our community,” said Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, who also serves as Essex County Administrator.

“When it comes to Glenfield Park, I see a mosaic of people playing baseball, basketball and tennis and a vibrant senior program in the community building. Joe D. has done a tremendous job with our parks and we are looking forward to the renovations,” Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation Executive Director Albert Pelham said.

The improvements were designed in-house by the Essex County Department of Public Works, which is also monitoring the project to ensure delays are avoided. Shauger Property Services of East Orange was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $353,275 to perform the construction. The project is being funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Board. Work started in early August and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Montclair Council: No Word on MC Hotel Progress, Discussion Of Clary Anderson Arena, and Montclair Tourism

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017 8:36am  |  COMMENTS (1)

The Montclair Township Council’s August 22 meeting was even a quicker affair than the conference meeting that preceded it two weeks earlier – 20 minutes, just enough time to pass six new ordinances on first reading, nine resolutions in a consent agenda and four more resolutions separately, with a 6-0 vote; Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville was the only member not present.  The only comments on the various items passed came from Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller.

The Montclair Township Council, which heard from Raffaele Marzullo about the impending visit of a delegation from Montclair’s sister city of Aquilonia, Italy. Note the Italian flag at the right.

Councilor Spiller asked about the first-reading ordinance appropriating $500,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund for the acquire and install new water system infrastructure   water system control updates, variable frequency drive replacements, and funds for an environmental cleanup in the Watchung Avenue pumping station.   He said he understood that the fountain at the circle between Valley Road and Church Street is in that area, and he asked Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford to check and see if this is the last major piece that has to be taken care of before the developers of Valley and Bloom complex can repair the fountain as they had promised.  Stafford said that he would.  In regard to an ordinance appropriating $350,000 from Capital Improvement Fund for refurbishing parking decks and lots, and upgrading the enforcement devices and improving signage improvements to signage in said decks and lots, Councilor Spiller asked Stafford to look at how signs could be employed throughout the town, such as signage directing motorists to open spaces and enacting parking availability.  He asked Stafford to look at how other towns use such signage for guidance, and Stafford was happy to oblige. Continue Reading

Candlelight Vigil in Brookdale Park Held in Solidarity with Charlottesville

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017 12:06pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

A candlelight vigil was held in Brookdale Park Sunday night to “gather for peace and solidarity with Charlottesville.”

The event, hosted by NJ 11th for Change, drew an estimated crowd of 400-500 people, many accompanied by their children. Most were holding candles or other lights and stood in a circle on the archery field in the park.

The vigil was one of many such events held nationwide in the aftermath of the “Unite the Right” rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. Heather Heyer, a young woman who was in Charlottesville protesting against the white supremacist rally, was killed by a car driven purposely into the group of protesters by one of the “Unite the Right” supporters.

Elizabeth Juviler began the vigil at a little after 7 p.m., followed by numerous other speakers from all around the area.

Bishop George Lucey of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Glen Ridge spoke, followed by Marcia Marley of Bluewave NJ, who quoted Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman of Temple B’nai Keshet in Montclair quoted Hillel the Elder, saying, “If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”

Pastor Ronald Verblaauw of the Rutherford Congregational Church, wearing a rainbow-hued stole, led the crowd in a call-and-response prayer declaring that all people are siblings and calling for unity.

Mikie Sherrill, a Democratic Congressional candidate from Montclair who is running against Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, spoke, as well as numerous other community members.

A mother holding her young child spoke forcefully about the need to teach our children at a young age so they will grow up believing in what is right.

Speeches were interspersed with song. The crowd sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “We Shall Overcome,” the voices tentative at first, and then stronger as more joined in.

As the last strains of “We Shall Overcome” faded, Montclair resident Denise Rodgers spoke, commenting that she had been singing that song since she was 5 years old and couldn’t believe she still has to be singing it today. She read the famous poem by Martin Niemoller as the audience listened somberly:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”

Denise Rodgers, center, speaking to the crowd.

She followed with a speech about the history of progress in America, and pointed out that every time there is a progressive movement in America, there is a backlash, giving as an example the rise of the KKK in the 1920s when a progressive movement began, and again in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement.

As dusk fell, the vigil ended with the crowd joining together to sing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

Montclair Planning Board Approves Diva Lounge Project, Balks at Modernist House and Signage

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017 8:06am  |  COMMENTS (1)

The Montclair Planning Board finished hearing one application and punted two more into September at its August 14 meeting.  But the application that wrapped up and was subsequently approved was a big leap in the board’s efforts at getting larger projects resolved, as it was local developer Steven Plofker’s application for a five-story, 11-unit apartment building along North Willow Street that will incorporate the former Diva Lounge on Bloomfield Avenue as modest retail space.  The property is a lot merged several years ago.

Holding up a rendering of developer Steven Plofker’s proposed apartment/retail project for the corner of North Willow Street and Bloomfield Avenue at the August 14 Montclair Planning Board meeting, board member Martin Schwartz asks about possible changes to the details of the design.

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Montclair Council Talks Trash, Bamboo and Security in Parking Decks

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 09, 2017 7:27am  |  COMMENTS (1)

One and done.  The Montclair Township Council concluded its August 8 conference meeting one hour after convening after a very light agenda.  The bulk of the meeting was devoted to an update on the Bigbelly trash receptacles that were installed in Montclair Center earlier this year, with Bigbelly representatives Rick Gaudette and Joseph Nardello briefing Mayor Robert Jackson and the councilors.

The Montclair Township Council

Gaudette and Nardello said the 40 receptacles, called “stations,” had accumulated 24 tons of waste since they were first installed in February 2017, with a 98 percent efficiency rate in collection and computerized alerts from each receptacle, which are activated when the receptacles are 80 percent full – all running smoothly.  Craig Brandon, the township’s Supervisor of Solid Waste Services, has been overseeing the implementation of the Bigbelly program in town.

Guadette and Nardello explained that the Bigbelly concept allows for receptacle locations to be adapted and changed when the situation calls for it.  They noted an area along Church Street where so much waste was being discarded in the Bigbelly can – 7,000 gallons, the highest volume of any receptacle – that a second receptacle would be added to to keep things in balance.  The Massachusetts-based company’s operational system is designed to accommodate such flexibility. Continue Reading

Baristaville Open Houses: Sunday, Aug. 6

BY  |  Saturday, Aug 05, 2017 10:15am  |  COMMENTS (0)

This week’s open house column is sponsored by Kate McDonough


This Sunday there are 46 open houses in the greater Baristaville area. Two properties in Montclair and one in West Orange feature butler pantries (see below). This conjures images of Lurch from the Addams Family.


51 Overlook Road, Montclair

List Price: $799,000
Taxes: $26,826
Acreage: 0.17
BRM/BTH: 4/2.2

Colonial with modern eat-in kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. Kitchen opens to family room. Master Bedroom has over-sized shower and walk-in closet. Other amenities include central air and a security system. Third floor is ready to be finished. New York City transportation right outside your door. Play-set included. Open 2-4 p.m. Continue Reading

Featured Comment

And we can get this project completed in time for Montclair's sesquicentennial when we can stick a fork into historic preservation as a public policy.

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