Montclair Council Passes 2017 Municipal Budget

BY , ,  |  Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Township Council approved at its April 25 meeting the 2017 municipal budget.  The final vote, though, was temporarily delayed when Mayor Robert Jackson asked about a line-item issue.

the Montclair Township Council

Bob Benecke, a financial analyst who has advised the township in the past, and Padmaja Rao, the township’s chief financial officer, gave an overview of the 2017 budget and cited the highlights.  They started out by explaining for the benefit of the council and the residents in attendance that  the budget and tax caps have had an impact on how money is budgeted.  The budget must comply with previously set rules that make establishing spending priorities more rigid and leave less room for discretionary spending.  Nevertheless, Montclair’s 2017 municipal budget includes items that were sure to please the council and residents alike.  The library will get $3.4 million, an increase of $116,000 over 2016, while the code enforcement office adds six new employees – two full-time, four part-time – to handle the growing amount of construction in town.    There is also more funding for public safety, with an emphasis on the township’s community policing program. Continue Reading

Brookdale Park Oval Could Be Renamed “Essex County Tom Fleming Athletic Complex”

BY  |  Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 3:15pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Glen Ridge Councilman Dan Murphy, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Tom Fleming posed for this picture at the 2017 Essex County Cherry Blossom 10K Run on April 9th. Fleming died suddenly on Wednesday, April 19.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced yesterday that he is proposing an ordinance to dedicate “The Oval” in Essex County Brookdale Park in Bloomfield and Montclair as the “Essex County Tom Fleming Athletic Complex” in honor of the late Tom Fleming (right), an iconic professional runner and coach. The complex includes a state-of-the-art, quarter mile, rubberized running track and a multi-purpose football and soccer field with a synthetic grass surface. Fleming was a two-time winner of the New York Marathon and finished second in the Boston Marathon twice. The ordinance was submitted to the Board of Chosen Freeholders for its consideration. With the County Executive and Mr. Fleming at the 2017 Essex County Cherry Blossom 10K Run on April 9th is Glen Ridge Councilman Dan Murphy. Continue Reading

Montclair Planning Board: Lewis Court, Master Plan Revision, Seymour Street Engineering

BY  |  Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (21)

The proposed house on the southwest corner of Pleasant Avenue and the proposed street Lewis Court, facing Pleasant Avenue.

The Montclair Planning Board made its way through three topics at its April 24 meeting, approving one application, continuing another, and making a change to the master plan.

The bulk of the meeting was dedicated to completing and approving the application for the new subdivision to be built off Pleasant Avenue on the property occupied by the house of the late Aubrey Lewis, an accomplished athlete and FBI agent.  The street, to be named Lewis Court in his honor, is to feature eight new houses designed to fit in with the neighborhood, but some residents and even a couple of Planning Board members had their reservations – especially those who had sought to preserve the Lewis house as an historic landmark.

The proposed house on the southwest corner of Pleasant Avenue and the proposed street Lewis Court, facing Lewis Court.

Engineer Michael Lanzafama of the Millburn firm Casey & Keller presented a revised version of the plan for Lewis Court, explaining that the two corner lots on Lewis Court and Pleasant Avenue, Lots 1 and 5, would be set back 25 feet from the new street, with the house on Lot 1 set back 40 feet from Pleasant Avenue and house on Lot 5 set back 53 feet from Pleasant Avenue.  The two houses would be lined up together as closely as possible to preserve the character of the neighborhood, and would shield the two farthest lots on the southern side of Lewis Court (Lots 3 and 4) both condensed in size, from the perspective at Pleasant Avenue.  This would allow the two houses on Lots 3 and 4, as well as those on Lots 7 and 8 (the two farthest lots on the northern side of Lewis Court) to be built with front-facing garage doors rather than with garage doors facing the side, if customers for the houses so desire.  Lanzafama said this would give the developer flexibility to build what customers want.  Any house with front-facing garages would require a variance.

A couple of board members did not like the idea of the Lewis house itself being demolished, a 1906 building designed by noted Montclair architect Dudley Van Antwerp, but board member Martin Schwartz noted that the board could have saved the house.   “It’s important to point out that this board had the opportunity to vote to preserve that home,” he said, “and the majority of members did not choose to vote for that, unfortunately.”   He also pointed out that Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) had lobbied for its preservation as well, without the support for the Planning Board.

“That ship has already sailed,” Schwartz said. Continue Reading

Montclair Free Shred-Fest: Celebrate Earth Day by Recycling Private Documents

BY  |  Monday, Apr 24, 2017 12:15pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Montclair Shred-FestStart gathering your private documents that can be thrown away (check out these guidelines from and head to the Montclair Free Shred-Fest on Sunday, April 30 between 9 am – 1 pm. The event is hosted by the Montclair office of Environmental Affairs and is free for all residents.

Montclair residents doing some spring cleaning can now celebrate Earth Day and enjoy the peace of mind from seeing their confidential documents securely shredded, while saving money and boosting recycling.

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Montclair Affordable Housing Forum Offers Help to Residents

BY  |  Monday, Apr 17, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (8)

Steven Cooper, Renee Baskerville, Deirdre Malloy and William Scott (L – R).

Al Pelham of the Montclair Branch of the NAACP and Chris Napierala of the Montclair Justice Coalition hosted a Community Forum on Affordable Housing for local residents on April 11 at the Wally Choice Community Center in Glenfield Park.

The forum was sponsored by the Justice Coalition and featured a four-person panel comprising 4th Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville, MD; Steven Cooper, Senior Mortgage Banker at Alterra Home Loans in Jersey City; Deirdre Malloy, Property Compliance Manager at HomeCorp; and William Scott, Chair of the Montclair NAACP Housing Committee and Co-Chair of the Montclair Housing Commission.

Councilwoman Baskerville began her comments by discussing the Mt. Laurel decision regarding affordable housing, and saying that Montclair had gone “above and beyond” in their efforts to provide affordable housing. However, she pointed out that with new housing coming into Montclair with rents from $2000-$4000, there is concern about how this will affect people who have historically lived in the township’s low and moderate-income neighborhoods.

She also discussed gentrification, saying that it’s “not necessarily an all-bad thing,” as it sometimes serves a need for economic stimulus.  “Some people feel some types of gentrification can be a positive thing. But people who’ve been in Montclair for decades, and whose families have shaped the township and given their all for generations, they may not be able to afford to live in their neighborhoods.” She questioned whether this trend would “push black and brown people out of their community.” Continue Reading

Montclair History: The Darden Sisters, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine

BY  |  Friday, Apr 14, 2017 2:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Darden House montclair

The Darden sisters, Norma Jean and Carol Darden Lloyd, currently living in Manhattan, have immortalized their magnificent Montclair home and family history in a 1978 book now reaching its fifth edition, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine.

Their parents, Dr. Walter Darden and his wife Mamie Jean, had acquired their Montclair property at 266 Orange Road in 1946. The house employed a butler, a maid and a gardener. Dr. Darden built the garden apartment complex behind their home as a business venture.

The Darden House montclair

Dr. Darden, was born in Wilson, N.C. He was an alumnus of Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., and of the Howard University Medical School in Washington. He moved to Newark to join a colleague and stayed on in private practice. He was one of the first black men to be a guest in the audience of the then-segregated Cotton Club of Harlem where he acted as physician.

Among his patients, friends and Montclair houseguests were Sara Vaughn, Lena Horne, Billy Eckstein, the Duke Ellington band, as well as Sammy Davis Junior. From the sports world, Larry Doby, Jackie Robinson, Monte Irving and the Newark Eagles baseball team that meet frequently at the Darden house. The Dardens with Harold Shot and Congressman Peter Rodino did fundraising and organizing for the Montclair chapter of the NAACP. The Dardens were also affiliates of education pioneer Mary McCleod Bethune and hosted her often in their home in Montclair.

Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine intends to be a historical family cookbook, but it is of even greater value as it presents an exceptional social history. Norma Jean and Carole Darden also have two restaurants in Harlem – Miss Mamie’s at 366 W. 110th St., named after her mother, and Mrs. Maude’s at 547 Lenox Ave., named after her aunt.

The Darden House montclair

Both graduates of Sarah Lawrence, Carole was a social worker, Norma, a Wilhemina model before they wrote the 1979 cookbook that launched them into the celebrity food world.

The recipes and family stories in Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine came from their Southern roots: corn pone, spareribs, peach cobbler, banana pudding. Their grandfather, Charles Darden born before the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, was a great inspiration also. Papa Darden, a former slave that became an undertaker was quite known for his recipes for fruit based wines and pine needle beers.

A request to cook for a Channel Thirteen event led to the birth of the Darden Sister’s catering company. Catering has its own challenges they say, like one time they packed up Norma Jean’s Porsche in front of their home on Orange Road before doing a catering gig and the huge quantity of coleslaw began to create a big white puddle under the car. Another time, an order of fried chicken fell out of the back door of the delivery van and was stolen by onlookers waiting at a bus stop. Norma had to buy more chicken and two fryers and then find a hiding place where she could prepare it on the fly at the event. Years later, when a space opened next to the catering kitchen, it seemed natural to open a small restaurant.

When the cookbook came out, despite its glorious history, the Hahnes Department Store in Montclair declined to sell the book. In an interview on the Martha Stewart Show, where Norma Jean was presenting her story, she said that she had learned many recipes from her father. Stewart smiled and asked, “Oh, your father was a cook?” Norma Jean smiled back at Stewart who had apparently not read the book and replied, “No my father was a medical doctor.” The audience giggled.

The Darden House montclair


Today, the Darden House is the lovingly preserved home of Senator Nia Gill, Thurston Briscoe, and Bradley Gill.

Montclair Third Ward Community Meeting: Lackawanna Development, Taxes, Law Enforcement

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 9:01am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Montclair Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller at his April 2017 community meeting

Montclair Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller held his annual spring community meeting at the Montclair Inn, as he has done in the past.  And as at his previous spring community meetings, his April 11 event was dominated by development and law enforcement issues, as well as taxes.

Councilor Spiller had the township’s architectural consultant, Ira Smith, speak before the assembled constituents about the Seymour Street and Lackawanna Plaza projects.  Smith said his role was to ensure the architecture of the new developments was aesthetically pleasing and would not repeat the mistakes of the Valley & Bloom apartment complex.  He said the Historic Preservation Commission liked the designs for the Seymour Street projects but balked at sketches of the proposed plaza that would be developed in front of the Wellmont Theater’s entrance.  He told the audience the planning board was due to consider the civil engineering aspects of the project at its April 24 meeting and revisit the plaza two weeks after that.  The façade of the new building facing Seymour Street across from the Wellmont would be 65 feet from the existing theater, ensuring ample room for the plaza, and Smith added that measurements have been taken to ensure any renderings of the new buildings are faithful to the project. Continue Reading

Montclair Councilwoman Baskerville to Take Part in Affordable Housing Forum

BY  |  Sunday, Apr 09, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (9)

Councilwoman BaskervilleMontclair Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville will take part in an affordable housing forum to be held by the Montclair Justice Coalition on Tuesday, April 11, between 7 – 9 pm, at the Wally Choice Community Center (49 Maple Avenue, Glenfield Park).

The discussion will center on issues of affordable housing in Montclair, the impact of new development and financial assistance for residents and municipal employees.

Baskerville will be joined by William Scott, Chair of the Montclair NAACP Housing Committee and Co-Chair of the Montclair Housing Commission.

The Montclair Justice Coalition is a community organization founded in October 2016 to bring together the full diversity of residents to work towards a hometown that benefits all of its residents. Coalition founding members are: Shae Cali, Greater Newark Conservancy Re-Entry Program; Albert Pelham, Montclair NAACP & Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation; Chris Napierala, Seed Artists; and Joseph Davis, Brother to Brother.


Montclair Fire Department Unveils New Ladder Truck

BY  |  Saturday, Apr 08, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

montclair fire department

Fire Dept. ladder truck design team, L-R: Lt. Dave Hill, Firefighter Tim McLoughlin, Lt. Dan Ernst, Capt. Joe Bates

The Montclair Fire Department unveiled a new firefighting apparatus addition to its fleet – a Pierce Arrow XT 105’ Aerial Ladder Truck. The unveiling took place at a dedication ceremony held at Fire Station #2, 588 Valley Road. The truck features a 105’ heavy duty steel ladder with a pre-piped waterway, LED lighting, a variety of rescue equipment, power and hand tools.

“The new ladder truck shows Council’s commitment not only to the safety of Montclair and Glen Ridge citizens but also to our firefighters,” said Fire Chief John Herrmann. “It is a major investment in our public safety capabilities, allowing our personnel to respond quickly and safely to any incident.”

The truck represents a total capital cost of $847,000 and was purchased through the H-GAC Cooperative Lease Purchasing Program. It will be assigned to Fire Station #2.



Montclair Council: Dog Park/Mount Vernon Road Update, Glenridge Avenue Street Fair

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 11:28am  |  COMMENTS (1)

The Montclair Township Council

About half of the Montclair Township Council’s hour-long conference meeting on April 4 was devoted to the ongoing effort to do something about people who use the canine facility in Brookdale Park just beyond the dead end of Mount Vernon Road and park on that street to access the dog park.

Montclair Police Lieutenant Stephanie Egnezzo explains solutions for Mount Vernon Road while Acting Township manager Tim Stafford listens. Deputy Police Chief Tracy Frazzano is in the background.

Lt. Egnezzo said police analyzed the situation after it was brought to the attention of the Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee (TPAC).  Although the police plan to do an extensive study in the spring months, they did conduct a study in February and came up with possible solutions.  The proposals they came up with were formulated after they talked to the fire department about safety issues.  Fire officials had their own concerns, given that Mount Vernon Road is 25.9 feet wide and parking on both sides could inconvenience emergency vehicles.   The TPAC has not yet weighed in.

For the time being, Lt. Egnezzo says, the solutions that the police are proposing that parking be prohibited at eastern dead ends of Mount Vernon Road and two parallel dead-end streets – Chester Road and Gordonhurst Avenue – and that parking also be prohibited on one side of each of the streets.  On Mount Vernon Road, parking on the south side would be prohibited.  Another suggestion was to prohibit parking on the north side 90.5 feet from the dead end because of the location of a fire hydrant, as that is where most people tend to park.

Mount Vernon Road, July 2013. Police Lt. Stephanie Egnezzo said that the police would recommend the elimination of parking on the south side of the street (left). Image courtesy of Google.

“At this point, it’s a public safety issue,” Lt. Egnezzo said.

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Featured Comment

These houses look like McMansions that were in the dryer too long and now have shrunk to 3/4 size. The flaccid one at the top of the thread looks like the elastic is all stretched out, too.

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