Past Newsletters

Some Updates

I hope you’re all doing well. I just finished reviewing and editing an ordinance on a 10 year renewal agreement with Comcast and now I’m pivoting to one on the deployment of 5G in Montclair. How jealous are you of my afternoon? I thought I’d take a moment to update you on some things other things in the hopper. I’ll write again early next week in advance of our Council Meeting a week from tonight in terms of what’s on that agenda.

Quickly, regarding the water main break at Bloomfield and Gates, the staff continue to be on top of the situation and have issued a Boil Water Advisory for: 300 ,306 ,308 ,314, 320, 321,324, and 331 Bloomfield Avenue as a result. Notices are being hand-delivered to those properties. For everyone else, there isn’t a concern.

A Vision for Zero Traffic Accidents and Pedestrian Strikes

Tomorrow I’m meeting with some colleagues and advocates to put the finishing touches on our Vision Zero Task Force Resolution that I’ve been developing with subject matter experts, to establish same. Upon enactment, the Task Force would include representatives from various institutions, government entities as well as ensure diverse perspectives are included. The focus is clear: ending traffic accidents, pedestrian and cyclist strikes in Montclair by developing and then implementing a strategy for road, and particularly intersection design across Montclair as we upgrade our infrastructure in the years ahead. This is about having the vision and having the strategy and putting it in front of investment decisions vs. the other way around. We need to come at this problem from a macro perspective focusing on priority (high impact) intersections and then making other improvements over time.

Hiring a Social Worker

The pandemic took a heavy toll on our community. It hit our finances hard but also showed us where we have some glaring opportunities. Perhaps no community has suffered more than our Seniors and I think it’s time for us to put our money where our symbolic gestures have been.

I’m excited to share that our new full time Health Services Director started this week. Additionally, given that that role is now filled, our Director of Senior Services position is finally posted now and the Township is collaborating with senior advocates to fill that position. 

Next week, Councilor Russo and I are introducing a Resolution to create the position of a full time Social Worker. I think we need to fund a position that connects humans in need to the services that various governments and non-profits provide. 

Jail Time Modifications

We know that jail time for certain crimes has a disparate impact on communities of color. We also know that much of our local code was developed during generations where that fact wasn’t top of mind. In collaboration with the Civil Rights Commission, notably Chair Christa Rapoport and member Leslie Brown; and our law department, some colleagues and I are working on a list of approximately 53 laws, as a start, where we can remove jail time as a penalty for violating laws such as noise, lawn care, peddling, tampering with vending machines and ready for this — tampering with pay phones (the 1990s called). I think we can both step up enforcement of traffic violations, go after vehicle thieves and property vandals, while also not creating a record for someone who may have not known they’re breaking the law or should get an opportunity at a second chance. This is complex and we’re going to take our time. But this work has been under way for some time and I’ve been working to re-prioritize it. I’m happy to email you the list we’re working off of as a start, if you’re curious. 

Fixing Stormwater Infrastructure

Continuing this promise, our staff, including engineers and contractors are continuing to literally scope and begin go clean out areas of our system that have acute problems. The view here is a culvert running under Gates by Harrison. The hope here, as we (and by we I mean the contractors because eww) by cleaning these out and making repairs, we improve the capacity to move water through our system more quickly so it doesn’t rise as much outside of the system, result in flooded homes and businesses. I haven’t forgotten what so many of you went through with Ida and I’m just so grateful my colleagues support doing this important work that hasn’t been done in decades.

Lackawanna Plaza Update

At the last meeting we extended the contracts for traffic study work, our design consultant and redevelopment plan consultant. We currently have them working on synthesizing all of the information we’ve received back from the land-use bodies, the public and other interest groups and bodies like the Environmental Commission and Business Improvement District with an expectation that they provide us with their professional recommendations on any changes to the plan while holding in place the guiding principles. 

The traffic study with the additional augmented data for weekday after 6pm traffic did not affect the prescribed solutions from the initial study. We’re working on making this complete study public. Overall, it’s going to take time for the plan to evolve. There was also an interesting piece in the NY Times today that talks about the future of parking and might help some folks understand perhaps why we opted not to do surface lots in our plan and instead, prioritize open space, which created additional height and density.

No vote is imminent. This is the process continuing to work. My mind is still very much open on all of this. 

Clary Anderson Arena

I haven’t paid much attention this the arena in recent years and I wish I had. The previous Council passed a bond to spend approximately $1.7M fixing the roof and other improvements. For reasons I’m not aware of, that work was never done. We then took the funding and used it to do environmental clean up work at our Public Works yard. I assumed there was a plan. It doesn’t seem like there is one.

To me, this is what happens when individual Council Members try to manage their wards like fiefdoms and don’t bring in the other elected representatives on the Council who serve the area, to help. The ice rink serves everyone and now it’s in terrible shape and possibly beyond repair without a massive cash outlay that we can’t afford. This is me saying to all of you, it’s time to ask questions and ask for the plan.

The Council should be working as a body to map out all of our needs, borrowing capacity and prioritizing work across our needs — pools, police department, water infrastructure, a senior center and more. I think in the world of who gets to be the hero, we end up paralyzed, which is why may Township facilities are in rough shape. We need to be honest with you about what we’re doing (or not) and why. Pride and need to be right shouldn’t come before transparency. 

Lost In Jersey Podcast

For anyone wanting to get to know me a little better through my own voice and some interesting facets about being on the Council, consider listening to this podcast ‘Lost in Jersey’, that I did here.

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