Sunday, September 30, 2012

Yet Another Open House on Montgomery

Interesting to see there are still 2 townhouses for sale at 102 Montgomery. It has been over 4 years since they listed the first units of their modestly sized development on the MLS. They're in a great location near shops, schools, and RR. They were as good a value then at 339k as they are now at 299k.

Yet Bloomfield's Planning Board is about to vote on a MUCH larger 332 unit condo/apartment complex at 225 Belleville Ave. Unlike the Montgomery units, the Belleville units are at a very isolated location in a flood zone. Care to guess how many years it will take them to sell?

Friday, September 28, 2012

What's Up With Watsessing?

About two dozen Bloomfield residents got together at the Civic Center, last night, for what was billed as an "evening of brainstorming and strategizing to create a plan for land use, pedestrian mobility, traffic calming and redevelopment" in the area surrounding Watsessing RR Station. They were encouraged to take advantage of a recently awarded $50,000 Smart Future Planning Grant from from the state’s Division of Community Affairs. During the initial brainstorming session,  a consensus developed that new apartment projects should be avoided with a preference for commercial or light manufacturing developments. Ben Morse pointed out that RR tracks that cross Bloomfield avenue near Grove could become an asset:
"I asked about the train line that runs past Hartz Mt, and whether it hooks up with the Newark Port.They are expanding the port, so having a container line going to the port could be attractive. The shale gas boom is for real and will facilitate trade to those areas that have logistic capabilities. Not to export gas but finished products."

Attendees were shown slides of visual options for street layout and building types for residents to select their picks for aesthetic and practical preferences. Some of them seemed like visual "push polling"(would you prefer an intersection with more visible or less visible crosswalks?)

Pictured is one of several breakout sessions where map overlays were used to design a better flow of auto and foot traffic. Town engineer, Paul Lasek (r) monitored their progress.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Psst! It's HarvestFest Time!

You'd hardly know if from our local media, but this is our annual Harvest Fest weekend. Both Bloomfield weeklies ran this ad from the Downtown Alliance. Good old Shoprite incorporated reminders of the festival into its weekly back page ad (we love those coupons). But, curiously, we couldn't find any editorial copy about the Saturday and Sunday events. Not even a press release marking the 20th anniversary year.

Even the official festival website is simply a copy of the Harvest Fest poster with links to websites for several of the musical attractions and the major sponsors. But it's guaranteed to provide some great photo opps for next week's papers.

Among the under-publicized attractions are the nonprofits and community oriented groups. They can usually be found on the south end of the Green.

Friday, September 21, 2012


An Open Letter to Bloomfield's Board of Health:

I find it a bit ironic that we happened to be at a Board of Health meeting in the town courtroom, last night.  Karen Lore may have been trying to put Jeff on trial, but in a real sense it's Karen Lore,  F. Michael Fitzpatrick -- and this board -- that are on trial right now.  And the rest of us in that room were the jury -- along with the Town Council.  If you doubt this,  I'd suggest googling "Karen Lore," Bloomfield, or "Board of Health," Bloomfield, and take a look at the "Images" tab.

At your September meeting, you may have set a record for violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. You began by announcing, without justification, that no photography or video would be allowed, and promptly went into an unscheduled closed session before finally allowing comments 55 minutes later. You then announced that a decision had been reached on Memphis that would be announced the next morning.  So we were then allowed to comment on an issue that had already been decided -- except we would be told nothing about the decision. Kafka would be proud!
 Kafkaesque is commonly defined as:
 1. Marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity. Kafkaesque bureaucracies

 1. Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger.

Your continued unresponsiveness to the worldwide condemnation
of your actions truly fits all these definitions.  You've also dismissed Facebook comments on the subject by saying that many of them are inaccurate belying the fact that Lore's misleading statements and refusal to interact with volunteers about shelter issues -- as well as Memphis -- have sparked thousands of passionate reactions in the social media.

Bloomfield residents and animal lovers from throughout the region have pled Jeff's case to a stonewalling BOH.  Joel argued with a Zoning Board member who called attention to your violations of the Open Public Meetings Act.  Maybe it's time for an "intervention" by Bloomfielders on other volunteer boards.  I know members of virtually all of them who are incredulous at the actions of Lore and the BOH: That includes the BOE, Planning, Zoning, Recycling, Open Space, Downtown Alliance, Oakside, Bicentennial, Watsessing Heights, Halcyon Park, Save Bloomfield Now, Bloomfield Neighborhood Assoc., and Friends of Clarks Pond.

 Like many of them, I literally don't have a dog in this hunt. But I react strongly when I see injustice.  As others have stated about their rescued pets,  the dog I rescued as a teenager, would not have passed Crosby's evaluation.

I e-mailed Lore and Fittzpatrick 5 months ago for a legal justification for your continued unresponsiveness to pertinent questions at BOH meetings and got no response.  I assumed she never read the e-mail until I was confronted by your fundraising chair who angrily referenced other Shelter issues raised in the the email. This occurred in the shelter office in early spring when my wife and I were applying to adopt a cat. Of course, our application was never acknowledged. Instead, we wound up adopting two wonderful cats through PAWS.

 In going over the minutes of several of your meetings and watching the last two in person, one gets the impression that your main function is to rubber stamp every item on Lore's agenda. I've been to a number of other board meetings in Bloomfield, and this appears to be the one with the most unanimity and the least discussion. Please advise me of an issue that provoked a divergence of views or a dissent from Ms. Lore, as I'm still looking for one. Undisputedly, the Health Department has a vital role to play in Bloomfield's continued well being. But your arrogant procedures and practices is dragging our town into international notoriety and threatening the security of its taxpaying residents.

Not only aren't they from this area, Lore and Fitzpatrick may be insulated against lawsuits like this one.  They'll get their hefty paychecks and pensions no matter what.  Bloomfield's taxpayers will pay in the end. That said, I still hope Jeff wins it all.  Maybe HE could take over the shelter and begin repairing Bloomfield's severely tarnished reputation.


Geoff Gove

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vote Possible on 225 Belleville Plans at Tonight's PB Meeting

From Save Bloomfield Now: The Township of Bloomfield is considering a massive 5 story 332 rental unit at 225 Belleville Avenue (aka Oakes Pond) leaving taxpayers with a 30 year bill of $2.46 million. Approved by Bloomfield’s town council with the developer, Garden Commercial Properties--headed by Minnesota Vikings billionaire owner Zygi Wilf—it is not only a financial negative for the town, it will worsen traffic jams, and stretch a school system already using trailers to house its ballooning school population.

The project is a precedent setting development, and with over 1600 rental units in other proposals across town, Bloomfield faces choices that will impact more than its fiscal health for years to come. It is a picture of poor planning.
Residents have been against the project and their concerns have largely been ignored, except for a demand to generate a fiscal impact study.

The report will be reviewed at the next Planning Board meeting on Tuesday September 18 at 7pm in council chambers at 1 Muncipal Plaza, Bloomfield. The study has galvanized the town’s Board of Education who will appear at (tonight's) meeting to plead its case. Schools near the project are at capacity and the estimated 33 more students that would live in the development create the need for more costly trailers and buses. Also, with 653 more parking spaces, the anticipation for extreme traffic jams at peak hours has been met with heated discussions and no solutions.

The environmental non-remediation aspect to the project is another issue. The developer was grandfathered in to clean the site to 1999 non-residential standards per DEP, instead of more strict residential standards enacted in 2008. With 150 years of industry and toxic waste on the site, the health of future residents could be at risk.
 Save Bloomfield Now is nonpartisan group of Bloomfield residents committed to keeping Bloomfield an affordable town, with a high quality of life and good schools.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Walking for Memphis

A planning meeting for October's Bicentennial bus tour of Bloomfield kept me from joining the 200 participants in today's peaceful walk around Town Hall, The Green, and the downtown area. (Photo at right by Vishous Rhage; click on photos to enlarge.)
Fortunately for those of us who could not be there, an extensive slide show captures the hopeful and peaceful atmosphere (thanks largely to police support to insure their safety at intersections) of the event on the Save Memohis Facebook page. Memphis supporters are expecting another large turnout at Monday's town council meeting, as well as as Thursday's Board of Health meeting -- at a location yet to be disclosed.

 UPDATE: The Bloomfield Patch has just published a terrific group of pictures with their story -- including a picture of a Memphis look-alike parade participant, Dakota," whose adoption was also discouraged by Bloomfield Shelter staff.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Brookdale Stakeout

Le Taqueria, Bloomfield's popular new Mexican Restaurant is being featured on an upcoming edition of Restaurant Stakeout on the Food Network. A large production crew and their trucks took over a good chunk of Broad and Johnson streets.

The "Reality" show has become somewhat controversial for creating story lines for the staff and owners of the some of the featured eateries. One of it's latest episodes put Montclair's renowned Naunas under the spotlight.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Liongate Developer Blocked by Council

"The latest development in our neighborhood's two-decade long effort to prevent a massive townhouse development on Liongate's flood prone Scientific Glass site is: No Development"

 I wrote the above sentence over 3 1/2 years ago after the previous owner of the 12.7 acre section of Liongate put a For Sale sign on the flood prone property he had bought in 2003 for $3 Million. His asking price at the time was $13 Million.
The current developer bought the property last winter along with its previously approved plans for 104 Condos, for $1.2 Million.

On Monday, Bloomfield's town council stopped the developers plans in their tracks with a 3 to 3 vote. In the past 20+ years, that the property has been a tempting target for several ambitious developers, more 4 legged critters have lived on the site than 2 legged ones. Walking down Liongate Rd. this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of what may have been the same red fox that Pat Ciesla photographed in 2008.

I also saw two well dressed examples of the 2-legged variety, tailgating in front of the padlocked driveway to the site.  Stay tuned....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coltenback vs. Aloia

Before the public comment portion of last night's council conference meeting, Mayor McCarthy acknowledged the town's latest lawsuit against them and stated they were advised by counsel not to comment on the situation because of the litigation. This caveat did not disuade anyone from stating their arguments for returning Memphis to the care of Jeff and Diana Coltenback, who filed the suit on Friday. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard early in October in a County Courtroom in Newark.

The mayor waited for comments on all subjects to conclude before inviting Jeff to state his case and briefly explain the basis for his lawsuit agains the township. The details of the suit are yet to be made public, but one of the incidents that motivated the suit was his frustration at discussing the contract issues with it's author,town attorney, Brian Aloia -- who hung up on him. During Jeff's entire presentation, Aloia(above) could be seen staring intently at his Macbook without glancing up for a second to acknowledge Jeff. The Memphis issue goes way beyond just letting the dog out. Aside from the insanity of firing dozens of experienced volunteers and silencing whistle blowers, Bloomfield's unelected attorneys are the ones pulling the strings that have made us a magnet for costly lawsuits.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sounds For Hounds in Brookdale Park

Music lovers and animal lovers joined forces on Saturday when Sound for the Hounds, a concert/festival sponsored by United Against Puppy Mills returned to Brookdale Park for their second annual fesdtival.

There were dozens of exhibitors from throughout participating in the the day long show including Bloomfield's Bukowski Animal Shelter. Many handed out samples of dog treats to the 4 legged visitors and dog training tips for the two legged ones. The event was devoted to raising awareness about “puppy mills” – large scale breeding operations notorious for putting profits before animal welfare.
The concert climaxed with the The WhiskeyHicken Boys rock band inviting all the attending dogs onto the stage for a doggy "be-in".

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Memphis Forum Now Online at WBMA-TV

Thursday's extraordinary "forum" on the current status of Memphis can now be seen in it's entirety online thanks to WBMA-TV.  This may mark the first time Bloomfield's Station has covered a Board of
Health event. Trainer Jim Crosby's assessment of Memphis's prospects for adoption with additional training helped answer many lingering questions that were left hanging during the last Board of Health meeting in August.

The ultimate irony was seeing Michael Fitzpatrick turn the meeting into a fund raising plea to everyone in attendance and watching on WBMA. In other words, he wants us to pay the Board of Health for the consequences of their decisions; decisions that included firing dozens of invaluable volunteers and separating Memphis from Jeff.  Not to mention the hiring of a poorly trained convicted felon who abused Memphis as a VetTech.  Witnesses to such abuse have been let go while the abusers remain at the shelter.

Lore's insistance on only answering written questions let her to refuse to address many more questions on shelter issues and the contract terms that let to the dog being ordered back. When Fitzpatrick said he didn't have a copy available to refer to, many in the audience offered to supply one -- including Jeff who politely raised his hand. At this point, Lore declared the meeting over, and Jeff served her with the first package of his lawsuit  documents.

To most of the 28,000 animal lovers who signed the petition, continuing to lock up Memphis was an irrational decision borne of spite and insecurity.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Special Forum on Memphis Tonight --- ABC News Coverage

This has been a week of major developments on the Memphis issue.
Bloomfield township has just announced a PUBLIC PRESENTATION section on their main website (NOT the animal shelter site) saying public forum will be held Thursday night.

At Tuesday's town council meeting, the mayor announced that the Board of Health had hired a new nationally known dog trainer,Jim Crosby of Jacksonville, Florida, to evaluate Memphis. There were many public comments by residents including Jeff Coltenback. The Bloomfield Patch published close up video clips as well as stills of the meeting highlights.  The official video of the entire meeting is now online.

 Last night, the bare essentials of the hastily scheduled meeting were posted on the town website -- not on the Main township page but an ancillary Public Notice tab -- the meeting on Memphis is tonight 6pm-8pm Town in Council Chambers. Crosby plans to explain the results of his findings to the public and town council.
"Animal Shelter Public Presentation Evaluation Forum for Memphis 9/06/12 6-8pm 
Council Chambers"
His petition has passed the 27,000 mark.

He now has fully funded legal representation by The Lexis Project.

ABC News 7 has just taped a report for its "7 on Your Side" series to be broadcast either Thursday or Friday at 5.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Repeal the Sewer Ordinance!

Most residents realize that a property owner is responsable for repairing water and sewer line leaks or blockages that occur on their property up to their curb line. Bloomfield recently adopted an ordinance that makes homeowners responsible for repairs in their line that extend out well beyond their property line to the middle of the street. Under this ordinance, the town could force the owner to pay for the repairs.  If they can't afford the bill,  the town could put a lien on the property making it impossible to sell in the future.

On the agenda for Tuesday's town council meeting is the forst reading of a bill by Nick Joanow to repeal this ordinance.