Thursday, March 29, 2012

Green Space

Bordering Bloomfield's northernmost stretch of the Morris Canal is this cute home which happens to also be adjacent to the Montclair Golf Club. At 337k, it's one of the lower priced properties we've seen in the
Oakview section of town. It had its first open house today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Morris Canal -- A Virtual Tour

The Historical Society of Bloomfield Presents: The Morris Canal Presented by Richard Rockwell DATE: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 TIME: 8:00 PM PLACE: Presbyterian Church on the Green -- Parish House. 147 Broad Street Parking available at the School Administration building, corner of Broad and Belleville Historic Society of Bloomfield member Rich Rockwell has created a virtual tour of the Morris Canal from South Bloomfield to Brookdale. Explore Bloomfield’s Lock, Inclined Plane, bridges and aqueducts through historical photographs, maps and postcards from the Historical Society’s archives including photos by Charles Warren Eaton, and Rev. Wilson S Phraner. Visit each of the eight Morris Canal sign posts throughout town and compare historic photos to current scenes.
Rockwell is responsible for digitizing, archiving and maintaining the HSOB’s vast collection of historical photos and maps. He has created a number of historical websites, including those for the Halcyon Park Historic District. He also serves on Bloomfield's Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Bicentennial Kicks Off

The Bloomfield Bicentennial Opening kickoff attracted hundreds of people from the community to Bloomfield High School's auditorium along with dozens of politicians and dignitaries from Essex county and beyond. The evening was a memorable salute to Bloomfield's 200 year history. The featured speaker was the legendary motivational speaker and atheleteRich Ruffalo(top photo)who shared many of his most memorable experiences growing up in Bloomfield within "a spear's throw of the Green."
The highlight of the evening was the sight of Mayor McCarthy and members of the township council in formal colonial costumes performing a reenactment of the signing of the town charter prompted by General Bloomfield himself(John Cataldo).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Science Fair at BHS

Bloomfield's first district wide Science Fair drew students and their families from schools throughout the township. The projects filled the High School cafeteria.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rehearsing the Bicentennial

That's Joseph Bloomfield on stage at Bloomfield High School as volunteers measure some of the bunting that will be hung in time for Friday's Bicentennial kickoff.
At the kickoff event, at which Mayor Raymond McCarthy and members of the Town Council will participate , the Bloomfield Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts will perform a full flag ceremony and local singer Molly Frieri, accompanied by the Bloomfield High School Chorus, will perform. Township resident John Cataldo, portraying General Bloomfield, will then read the charter

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Volunteers Needed -- No Volunteers Need Apply

It has been widely known that prospective volunteers have been discouraged from applying to the Bloomfield Animal Shelter since last July. As of Friday, all active volunteering has been suspended as well. Here are the highlights of a disturbing letter that was sent to many of the most active volunteers at the Shelter: Dear Volunteer,
The BLOOMFIELD ANIMAL SHELTER (John A. Bukowski Shelter for Animals) is about to undertake a positive reorganization. As you are well aware, our facility is being expanded and modernized. We have a new manager on staff and many promising fundraisers in the works. We plan to align with the best practices of our nation’s most respected animal welfare agencies, and we are strengthening our policies for staff and volunteer work procedures. The Board of Health is confident this reorganization will serve not only the disadvantaged animals that temporarily rely on our care, but also will bring a heightened sense of community service and cooperation within the shelter community. ...However, over the next several months, while administrative pieces of the reorganization are put into place, we are suspending volunteer services inside the animal shelter facility. In part, we are restructuring the volunteer program and you will be able to reapply for service once it is completed. If you wish to resume, you will be asked to participate in a volunteer orientation and training program, and you will be asked to sign off on new policies and procedures developed during the reorganization. We have chosen this particular time to reorganize because we are in the fortuitous position of having a lower number of animals currently housed, a highly unusual circumstance. We are confident our paid staff can manage the shelter on their own for a brief time using streamlined procedures for feeding, cleaning and exercising; pet adoptions, vet checks and home visits. ....An interim volunteer agreement will only be given to committee members who wish to continue serving during the reorganization. Signature on this agreement will be required to continue on a committee. .....The suspension of in-shelter volunteer services is effective immediately. The Health Department will announce resumption of volunteer service on the department website, and periodic updates will be posted.
The response from volunteers has been fast and furious -- primarily on various Facebook pages and, most recently, the Bloomfield Patch. Since it was published this morning,The Patch article has already generated a remarkable number of responses by both volunteers and the public:
This situation is very troubling. Whatever legitimate reason the Health Department may have had for their decision to suspend the volunteer program, their complete lack of transparency makes them look exceedingly shady....
I too would like to know why the shelter administrators decided to (1) ban a person from a publicly-funded building without any explanation and then (2) close down the volunteer program entirely, again without sufficient explanation for such a drastic move. Why end a program that was providing free labor and desperately needed care and socialization for shelter animals? The lack of transparency is indeed troubling and gives the distinct impression that the admin and the health department are attempting to cover something up....
Committee members who have been allowed to stay on as volunteers have been forced to sign a paper stating that they will NOT discuss the shelter on Facebook....
I offered my 25 years of grant writing PRO BONO to help the Shelter's budget and access funding (NOTHING happened after months of my pursuit and numerous emails with no follow through from the Health Department Management) and my awe of the dedication of volunteers, none of whom I would call "friends" ...but I can't believe their true dedication witnessed firsthand. I am so sad to hear any nonoprofit do this, as I have consulted with agengies that really need volunteers since media used correctly can do so much for individuals and animals in need! As a resident of Bloomfield, I find this decision very painful mostly of course to those precious animals!!!...
An animal shelter restricting the help of volunteers?! What? This is very odd, and so sad for the animals, who are probably experiencing more anxiety with less frequent walks and human interaction. Sounds like Bloomfield is forgetting it is about the animals.....
Posts on the Shelter Fb page have had a tendency to disappear only to be reposted on the Save the Shelter Fb page. At this point, the Management seems to be shooting itself in the foot by censoring posts and threatening volunteers who share information. The official Shelter page currently has 265 "likes", while the Save the Shelter page has 5,833. Today's latest Save the Shelter post encourages volunteers and their supporters to share their concerns at Monday's council meeting:
ANIMALS HELD HOSTAGE - Day 3 If you want to make your feelings known, here is contact information. PLEASE: be polite and be factual in reporting what you have read here. Exaggerating or expanding on facts won't help the volunteers or the shelter animals we love. When contacting council members ask that your emails be read into the record at Monday night's meeting and send a copy to the township clerk Louise Palagano: Phone (973) 680-4015 FAX (973)680-0048 E-Mail: PHONE NUMBERS AND EMAIL FOR COUNCIL AND HEALTH DEPARTMENT Mike Fitzpatrick, Health Officer: 973-680-4026, 973-680-4024 and 973-680 4025 Karen Lore, Acting Director Health Dept: 973-680-4018 Mayor Raymond J. McCarthy Rosemary Brown, Secretary Email: Phone (973) 680-4080 FAX (973) 680-4040
COUNCIL MEMBERS (ALL): Phone: (973) 680-4077 FAX: (973) 680-4040

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Revolting Developments

This week's Planning Board meeting brought back memories of the decade old battles over two ambitious developments at the end of Liongate Drive. Local residents won their initial year long battles to stop both projects. But they lost later battles when modified projects were resubmitted to a modified Planning Board.

The "War" was ultimately won by the housing market. Homebuyers would not pay the 500k+ that was needed to make the project work. The developer for the larger Scientific Glass site claimed that he had remediated the cleared soil to the point where it could be safely eaten by a school age child. The NJ DEP disagreed and ordered that the mountains of top soil be covered with tarps. The smaller development(lower 3 photos), originally owned by the Copeck family, was tentatively approved for purchase by the township for use as a "passive park."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fundraising at Foley

Bloomfield's first Bicentennial banner made its debut Sunday at the annual Felis 50 benefit. The event was organized by Bloomfield personal trainer Steve Crooks. Nearly 500 cans of food was donated to the United Way food pantry. Bloomfield animal shelter volunteers offered pet adoption information, and signed up one of their smaller dogs for the walk. At the last minute, he was disqualified by Foley Field management for having too many legs up on the competition.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Developer to Ask Planning Board for More Givebacks from Town

Most of our Bloomfield friends fall into at least one of the following categories:
1, Outsider 2. Insider 3. Gadfly
Some are a combination, and a few fit into all three.

We recently received an email from one (or more) of the above alerting us to this Tuesday's Planning Board meeting:

.New Business:
A.) Discussion of a request for a reduction of fees for Bloomfield Belleville
Associates, LLC 221-225 Belleville Avenue.

B.) Discussion of a proposed amendment to the Bloomfield Center
Redevelopment Plan Phase II sent to the Planning Board by the Mayor
and Council.

Our friend suggested that all concerned taxpayers should try to make it to this Tuesdays meeting to voice their feelings about the 225 Belleville Ave. project. They added that present and past employees of the many business affected should attend the meeting and:
"tell the entire board how many people have been put out of work and small businesses ruined.  It is an outrage that we, the residents of Bloomfield, will be forced to finance worthless developments that enrich.  Our property taxes have gone up considerable.  We are paying through the nose for political appointments, newly hired police and firemen, and worthless development projects."
Another friend is a true outsider, having lived in Glen Ridge and worked at 225 for many years, She plans to bring along some colleagues from the affected companies to speak their peace.

The Tuesday meeting starts at 7:30 PM in Town Hall's Council chambers.

When Baristanet ran the earlier piece we posted on this subject, there were over 2 dozen comments, None favored the project. Here are a few of them and some others we received later on:

This whole thing stinks. More people, more kids, more need for classrooms, more tax money needed = tax abatement for the developer and higher taxes for everyone else. Crystal clear logic town council. Also, ‘luxury apartment in Bloomfield’ is an oxymoron.
And some wonder why there are skeptics about Bloomfield’s redevelopment plans.
And what is this drivel about maybe it will be rented at first, and maybe later they will change and sell them as condos? That is NOT an acceptable plan! That is a plan for mass eviction and dislocation and cost upon renters who have been good tenants and paying their rents. If these people are not serious about building rentals, then don’t let them build and rent! If they want condos, they should be condos from the get-go. The residents cannot be set up as cannon fodder for these people. The residents cannot be set up to be jerked around. How in hell could you be giving money and tax benefits to people with such disregard for the well being of Bloomfield residents!
Contact the "sub-committee" of the planning board who make the decisions. The persons comprising this subcommittee are Alan LaQuaglia, Bernard Hamilton, and Dan McGonigle. They work closely with Mr. Rubin on these matters. All of this should be part of the public record as our taxes will pay for just about everything.
I believe the corruption in this project goes beyond the local leaders, as corrupt as they may be. The site is a Superfund site, as of yet un-remediated. It was formerly the home of National Starch, which made glue and other products, and produced such toxicity that when we first moved our business to 225 Belleville Ave., we had liability insurers refuse to underwrite our policies on the grounds of our proximity to National Starch. One year there was an explosion which killed a man there. There was another business on the property: Park Place, a manufacturer of car parking lifts, which dumped a lot of hydrolic oil on the site which has never been cleaned up. It is also in a flood plain: the site flooded badly during both hurricanes Floyd and Irene, and the data is clearly listed (and posted here once by Pat Gilleran.) There is also at least one leaking underground fuel storage tank.
Somehow none of this prevents Mr. Wilf from proceeding with his “luxury” 1 bedroom apartments. One has to wonder how he has managed to circumvent the clean-up regulations, the distance required from waterway
Ehere is a subcommittee of the P B that makes all decisions before anyone else has a chance to vote on anything: Hamilton, McGonigle, and La Quaglia. The PB is a joke. Have you seen any businesses that have come here and created jobs? Who benefits from this garbage? Not you or me!
There was no negotiation about the 30 year abatement. It was agreed to without real discussion. Yoshi Manale said, “It’s the only way I could get the developer to agree.” That development would bring about $1 million a year in taxes to the town. The same thing happened with the “affordable housing” project across from PD HQ. There is 20 year abatement at another $1 million a year. Don’t forget all of this is done with the mayor and Yoshi cutting the fire department and other town services. More residents=more strain on the schools and other town services that are already being “taxed”....I find it interesting that the mayor’s house WAS in foreclosure until the Oakes deal and downtown developer were chosen.
It is truly a disgrace. They should never build on a floodplain because we, the taxpayers, will have to bail out any flood victims. This is a scam on property owners in this town (both on home owners and small businesses).

Friday, March 09, 2012

Breaking News on Floyd St Homicide -- The Sopranos Redux?

When the Sopranos TV series filmed it's final scenes at Holsteins, Bloomfield became the penultimate tour bus stop for mafia fans. Most of the stops were at sites of fictional events in the series. The Floyd St, site of one of Bloomfield's rare real life killings, may soon become a DocuDrama unto itself.

It seemed strange to many locals that Bloomfield Police were not forthcoming with details in February's mysterious homicide. After all, when the owner of a popular arcade becomes the first murder victim in 3 years, residents in the area had many unanswered questions.

The mystery deepened when the FBI moved in, and the victim'Verona family refused comment.
Now, The NY Daily News has weighed in with new information suggesting that the killer and the victim may both have been mob informers. One of their sources is an intriguing website called Gangland News.

The latest news of an arrest of a Plainfield resident add new twists to the case.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Foley's Felis 50 This Sunday

Before it was ever a charitable event or a can-drive, the FELIS 50 was created as an opportunity for inspirational people: administrators, representatives, first-responders, to do something inspirational in full view of their constituents. To show their town what they're made of...An appreciation for the benefits of fitness, an appreciation for the joy of group activity, an appreciation for the power of charity.

Bloomfield resident Steve Crooks, who manages the event, hopes to break his personal record: "Anyone could see that these things are essential building-blocks of character in young people, " he says." Bloomfield Superintendent Bing certainly sees it. And for this year's FELIS 50, he's helping me carry the weight of promoting this event throughout the school system as part of his wellness initiative! Bravo!"

Crooks reminded potential spectators and participants alike of the charities involved; "You can drop off a ton of cans, and that's good. But it's not enough. You can write a big ol' check, and that's great, but it's not enough. Because cans alone aren't inspirational, and checks alone aren't inspirational. We need bodies on game day; students, teachers, councilmen, firemen, policemen, everyone. Bodies in motion, bodies in action. Because that's exactly what fitness is!"

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Church on the Green Needs Some Green

Many towns have a town square or green as it's hub. Bloomfield has it's Presbyterian Church on the Green. It's as much an icon for our town as the Capitol Building is to Washington D.C.

In the past year, the structural stability of the church building has been compromised by a combination of record snows, deep freezes, and the strongest earthquake in the recorded history of the area. Services have been moved to the adjacent Church Sancuary.

A long term plan to restore and stabilize the building has begun to take shape and, hopefully, can be completed by the end of our Bicentennial Year.

Donations are welcome and can be sent directly to the Church at 147 Broad St., Bloomfield 07003, Checks should be made out to Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green and marked "Building Fund." [office phone: (973) 743-1796]

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Congressman Donald Payne Dead at 77

Donald Payne, the 77 year old elder statesman of New Jersey's congressional delegation, died of colon cancer early this morning.

Payne was running for re-election in NJ's 10th Congressional District that had recently been expanded to include the southern half of Bloomfield. He was faced with a potential challenge from Ronald C. Rice, son of NJ State Senator, Ronald Rice. In a eulogy on his Facebook page, the Junior Mr. Rice issued the following statement:
Congressman Donald Payne was more than a son of Newark. He was an icon who was not only a trailblazer for New Jersey, but also a pioneer who made a real difference in the lives of all Americans, particularly African-Americans. What barriers existed, he helped tear down and showed future generations that the promise of America was accessible to all of us. I am truly in his debt, for I would not be here without him. God bless the Payne family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
President Obama has ordered flags at the White House to be lowered to half staff, and Governor Christie has ordered the same throughout the state.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Food Season

Reflecting its ethnic diversity, Bloomfield has become increasingly known for its growing number of restaurants. Restaurant Week will be held Sunday, March 4 through Saturday, March 10. Participating restaurants invite you to participate by offering a prix fixe menu of $30 or less (not including drinks, tax and tip) for dinner and $15 for lunch. This can include lunch and/or dinner.

Restaurant Week will showcase all of its best restaurants. From French to Thai, from Japanese to Italian and from our traditional Steakhouse to Mexican, every taste and every palate will be satisfied at the first annual Bloomfield Restaurant Week. Each restaurant will raffle away a gift certificate to the guests that come during restaurant week date. Mark your calendars and start planning which restaurants you will want to visit.

The North Essex Chamber of Commerce is throwing their annual Taste of Essex on Monday, March 5. This Taste is unique, since it offers food from restaurants throughout North Essex.

Restaurants from Fairfield, Montclair, Caldwell, West Orange, Bloomfield, and many other towns will be well represented at this affair.

This is the 12th annual Taste of Essex, and like a fine wine, it just gets better with age.
Proceeds from this event will be dedicated towards the North Essex Chamber Foundation award scholarships, along with other community service programs this business owner club runs all year long.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Bloomfield at 101

Long before the NY Times profiled our town, The NY Tribune sent it's reporters here to take a close look at the township just after it celebrated its centennial. The date was Sunday, July 6, 1913. We're starting the month with this "time capsule" as a reminder that our BiCentennial Gala kickoff is barely 3 weeks away on March 23.(Click on photo to enlarge it.)

This framed page can be more easily read at Bloomfield's Historical Museum in the second floor of the Children's Library.