Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BOE Discusses Overcrowding Issues and New Adult School

Last night's Board of Education meeting led off with Bloomfield High School teacher Anthony Todaro presentin his framework for for a new adult school utilizing BHS facilities. There was much discussion on how to accomodate the projected increase in the student population in the immediate future. Brookdale has taken a number of school choice transfer students. The BOE approved funds to move their library to create more classroom space.
Benjamin Morse summarized the discussion:
There's no more school choice in Bloomfield. NJ schools are able to opt out of that. Maybe it was a waiver--they are going to use a different standard going forward. There will be no more busing for existing students who moved to different schools. If a child has already moved to a different school, he/she will be allowed to stay but that will not be grounds for allowing siblings to move to the same school.
Brookdale is going to "add" a classroom by redoing an old unused room in the basement of the school. Not sure if it was an old gym or not. There are a number of possibilities on the table for getting more classroom space in the district. The one I liked was possibly leasing space in the Essex County academy acroos from the Bottle King. They would possibly make that a 6tth grade only school and make the middle school just 7 & 8th grade.
Boe President Mary Shaughnessy concluded by encouraging all parents to attend an education town hall and panel discussion on Tuesday, June 12 at 7PM at The BHS auditorium. The forum will examine how the proposed state budget will impact public schools. The panel will feature Senator Ronald Rice, Assembly members Ralph Caputo, Mila Jasey and Cleopatra Tucker, Ray Pinney of the New Jersey School Boards Association, and Julia Sass Rubin of Save Our Schools NJ.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bicentennial Memorial Parade

Today's Bicentennial Parade was certainly an event for the history books. Along with dozens of photographs of todays events that can be seen on Facebook, video clips are now viewable on YouTube including the dramatic opening of the Bloomfield High's Time Capsule that was buried in 1962.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bloomfield and The War of 1812

It's time to remember that this is the Bicentennial of one of our country's more forgotten wars -- one that produced it's own crop of veterans. The War of 1812 inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" after soldiers at Fort McHenry in Baltimore raised an American flag to mark a victory over the British on Sept. 14, 1814.

It also inspired Revolutionary War veterans such as Governor Joseph Bloomfield to reactivate their active military status to serve in the War of 1812. Govermor Bloomfield was commissioned a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army in the spring of 1812, but it was in his role as governor that he issued orders that activated N.J. militia companies. He left New Jersey to serve in the Army at the Canadian border until after the end of the war in 1815. Sketchy historical records suggest that there were approximately  two dozen Essex County militia companies in Essex County that were activated for this conflict. 

The newly restored cavalry flag (right) was made for Caldwell Troop, Essex Squadron of the 2nd Regiment, N.J. Militia, The flag will be on display for the first time to the public on Memorial Day, May 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Crane Homestead, Westville Avenue, West Caldwell. Admission is free. For more information, contact or 973-364-0155.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heller Lawsuit Rejected by Courts -- Last Hurdle to Redevelopment

An Essex County Superior Court judge today rejected the lawsuit filed by New Jersey developer Cary Heller. The judge ruled in favor of Bloomfield and gave a green light for the long-delayed Bloomfield Center development project to begin in ernest.

Developer Cary Heller had filed a civil complaint in state Superior Court in Newark in August of last year. He insists he wants to see downtown revitalized but opposes the existing plan passed by the Planning Board.   Heller, whose development company is based in South Orange, owns property in the redevelopment zone and has his own ideas for developing the area.  He has hired traffic engineers to present an alternate plan (right), which would create a round-about at the intersection of Farrand, Washington and Lackawanna.

The mayor and other township officials have characterized the lawsuit as frivolous by Heller who was not selected for other segments of the redevelopment plan. He still could appeal the ruling, but he may not be more aware of his rapidly declining public image. Most residents and shop owners have also been exasperated by the continual legal delays.
Just yesterday,  one frustrated Bloomfielder  issued the following call to action on the NJO Bloomfield forum:
It's time to turn the pitch forks away from each other and go after these b*st*rds. Letters to the editor, letters to legislators, letters to the board of health, pickets in front of their businesses and homes (especially their homes so their neighbors can see them for what they are.) Our terminally inept municipal government can't seem to get a handle on it so it's really up to the people of Bloomfield to send a very strong message to the bully slum lords.
The owner of Anthony's Cheesecake celebrated his shop's 1st anniversary with his own call to action on The Bloomfield Patch:
Join our FB page @ Anthonys Cheesecake and I will post info on how we can all band together if we need to. If Mr Heller does appeal, we will need all the support we can get. We have already started a letter writing campaign in the case of an appeal. We have many, many supporters and any help we get will help to ensure Bloomfield Centers Redevelopment. Spread the word --power in numbers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rockwell on Eaton

Rich Rockwell discussed one of dozens of historic Bloomfield photos taken in the 1800's during his presentation on “The Photography of Charles Warren Eaton.” As part of the year long celebration of the Bloomfield Bicentennial, the mix of paintings and photographs were from collection of the Historical Society of Bloomfield

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dog Day Afternoon At Obals

Today was the Fourth Annual Fundraiser for the Bloomfield Animal Shelter! There was food, drink, and prizes for the dogs in attendance (best wag, best costume, prettiest eyes, etc). All proceeds went to benefit the Animal Support Fund of the Bloomfield Animal Shelter. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bay and Broad in Transition

Before the current construction began, Fred the Barber told us the story about a blind customer he recently pointed down the sidewalk on the east side of Broad St. heading toward Clark. The customer later reported that his seeing eye dog stopped abruptly at the corner and refused to turn left as directed. The clearance around the Garden center did not meet the definition of a sidewalk according to his training so he had to find a two legged guide to lead him eastward on Bay. Hopefully, the sight lines will soon improve for both pedestrians and drivers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Save Bloomfield Now" Group Alerts Residents to Planning Board Meeting

On Saturday a couple of dozen local residents got together at Bloomfield College to discuss the implications of the 4 largest residential developments that are confronting the Bloomfield planners. In order of magnitude,they are:

 1) 350 Apartments ar Oakes Pond at 225 Belleville Ave.

 2) 315 Apartments at the former Hartz Mountain Factory site.

 3) 215 Apartments as part of the Downtown Redevelopment plans.

 4) 104 Condominiums at the former Scientific Glass site.

The non-partison group plans to continue updating residents on the true impact of planned developments on Bloomfield's quality of life as well as alerting state agencies such as the NJDEP on environmental issues that need to be addressed.
A special Planning Board meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday night to begin a discussion of issues concerning the 225 Belleville site. More info can be found here and on their Facebook Page.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"The Town Paints" Annual Art Exhibit On The Green

The Bloomfield Art League is one of the oldest art organizations in New Jersey. It serves the community and neighboring areas in promoting and stimulating interest in art. The organization is sponsored by the Bloomfield Recreation Commission which opens their Civic Center to all their meetings. Membership is open to all who wish to avail themselves of its fine programs. Classes, lectures and demonstrations are held in the Civic Center.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Developments on Newest Developments -- Special Meeting Saturday

Regarding upcoming initiatives on Bloomfield's biggest pending developments, we received this timely release:

The following information will be covered in a meeting on May 12, 2012, 3PM, at Bloomfield College sponsored by the Save Bloomfield Now Group.  4 KILLER Building Projects and more $ surprises!

 4 large residential apartment projects in various stages of approval at critical four points in town.

 At least one project with a 30 year Tax abatement…builder doesn’t pay…you will pay.

 1 development on a toxic site; two developments in flood zones.
Severe impact on our infrastructure with the need to upgrade roads, sewers, schools and the need to hire more police and fire will dramatically increase.

Two meetings we hope you will attend Save Bloomfield Now will be holding an informational meeting on Saturday, May 12, 2012 – 3PM Bloomfield College - College Hall on Liberty Street – Room 16 - FREE parking available in college lot on Liberty Street - Information available: Email or go to

IF you can't make it Saturday, try to come to the Planning Board Meeting on 221-225 Belleville Avenue and 205 Belleville Avenue Tuesday, May 15th at 7:00pm – Bloomfield Town Hall – 1 Municipal Plaza - Council Chambers – 2nd Floor -

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bloomfield's Takes Control of It's Newest Park

It's official. Today, Bloomfield took full control of the Copeck/Ruvio/DeSimone site on Liongate. The property is in a floodplain and defined by water on two sides with the Third River on the east and Spring Brook on the west. Par Gilleran, Vice-Chair of the Open Space Trust fund Committee reflected on the 12 year long battle:
Councilman Nick Joanow amd the Third Riverbank Committee were the driving force that kept this project going. Many residents worked very hard to create the Bloomfield Open Space Trust Fund Committee and many committee members have worked for years on this project. Lois Ross, Mary Shaughnessy, and Susan Hebert come to mind immediately
The township has hired Tim Delorm of Terra Noble Design in Glen Ridge to design the park and oversee the remediation to bring this land back to a natural state.
The section above doesn't look like much now, but soon, the weeds will be pulled, the cyclone fences will come down, and environmentaly friendly landscaping will open the 5.7 acre space to residents for Passive Recreation. The surviving trees will be left in their wild state.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bloomfield to DEP: Reject Liongate Wetlands Permit

By a 4 to 3 vote, the town council authorized the following letter to be sent to NJDEP.
"We the Council members of the Township of Bloomfield strongly recommend that you reject the 5 year extension of the Freshwater Wetlands Permit that is being reviewed by your department. The construction of 104 condominiums [is] on a 100 year FEMA-designated floodplain/wetland located in the Lower Passaic River Basin that has a long and well documented history of flooding…. The Army Corps of Engineers has stated that "Development in the floodplain increases future property losses, threatens the economic stability of communities and puts public health and safety at risk''....
In the interest of public safety, these flaws warrant correction before the department issues any permits to develop this flood-prone site. We are asking the DEP come to Bloomfield to see the site first hand and to hear our concerns about the true nature of flooding in the neighborhood."

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Back to the Present -- Watsessing Park Lawn Bowling

Saturday's annual Watsesssing Park Cleanup was highlighted by an instructional session at Lawn Bowling.  It was  led by members of the Essex County Lawn Bowling Club who have been utilizing the recently restored Bowling green that has been in use since since the beginning of the 20th Century. The sport was brought to the United States from England in the 17th century with the first settlers. Until recently, it was the only Bowling Green in NJ. The event was Sponsored by: The Bloomfield Open Space Trust Fund Committee, The Watsessing Park Conservancy and The Bloomfield Bicentennial Committee. Pictured at right is Nick Joanow; in back is Mimi Michalski; in foregroud, Eric Ihde. (Photo by Doreen Sarcone)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Weekend Bloomfield Event Highlights

Looks like perfect spring weather for a variety of in-town events:

Free Comic Book Day
Saturday, 9:00 am
The Comic Book Market, 28 Washington St.

 Free Paper Shredding
 Saturday 9:00 AM
 1 Municipal Plaza

Watsessing Park Conservancy Clean-Up
Saturdsy, 10:00 am
Maolis Ave & Glenwood Ave,

Kitten Preview at John A. Bukowski Animal Shelter
Sunday 1 to 4
61  Bukowski Place
Come on down to see some of the kittens in foster care
who are looking for forever homes and will be available for adoption very soon!
Don't overlook the adorable adult cats, like Liam(left in photo) either!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May Day for Volunteerism in Bloomfield

Several prominent Bloomfielders attended the April meeting of Bloomfield's Board of Health in the Mayor's Conference Room. Three of the six who spoke are pictured. (l to r) Carol Meyer Humphreys, Doreen Sarcone, and Karen Banda. They each spoke about the issues that have been plaguing the shelter in recent months, culminating in the recent dismissal of nearly all the shelter's longtime volunteers.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several questions were asked of the Board members. There were no answers other than an initial statement that the board was "not allowed to reply" to statements or questions from the public. Doreen Sarcone (center) later noted:
I am very concerned about the manner, in which the meeting was conducted. There was no accountability, no response, no statement of how it will be addressed. I also addressed the quote in the media regarding the Acting Director stating this is a business. The Township is not a private business - rather it is a service organization first and foremost. If the services are lacking or are not effective, they must be re-evaluated, but not removed during this process.
 Having been to other Bloomfield board meeting when interaction with the public occurred,  I later emailed the board asking for the rationale for this rule. So far, there's been no comment on the "no comment" comment.