Monday, December 30, 2013

Bloomfield -- 2013 In A Box

It has been a year of changes and adjustments. Promises kept and broken. The New Year promises many more. How many of this year's issues can you recall from just the thumbnails? (Click on graphic to enlarge)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

New Years Hopes on Christmas Eve for Memphis Supporters

Jeff Coltenback posted this update on his Facebook page. It has received 389 likes in 24 hours:
Memphis Update: It's been a while since I last posted anything. But, i did want everyone to know that Diana and I have retained L.I.D.A. Attorney, Isabelle Strauss to proceed with litigation to get Memphis back home. Unlike last time, we now are extremely confident with our position and legal standing. Additionally, we will be retaining other legal representation for issues stemming from the Township's treatment of Diana and me including, but not limited to, civil rights infractions. 
We are not going away and we want OUR dog back home. Oh and the for the record.... any money we are awarded from the courts will be donated to various non-profit animal rescue organizations. Diana and I will NOT be profiting from this at all.... All we want is MEMPHIS back home!!
Either by coincidence or master plan, the South Dakota "trainer," who received Memphis from Bloomfield's Neighbor to Neighbor Network, chose Christmas day to post on Facebook the first photo of Memphis anyone has seen since last winter.
When one of Bloomfield's leading advocates for Memphis politely shared a bit of her history with the dog, the trainer immediately shouted back her intention to keep him:
Karen Banda -- Is that supposed to be Memphis, the dog the Bloomfield Health Dept. had railroaded out of town for no good reason? That dog was a doll from day one, I know. As a volunteer at that shelter I saw him right after he came in. He belongs with Jeff and Diana at home in Bloomfield NJ. PLEASE release him.
2 hours ago · Unlike · 1
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Vet-Gate Welcomes Even More Lawsuits

Bloomfield has become backlogged with so many scandals and lawsuits that it is becoming hard to keep track of them. Bloomfield's latest scandal is still looking for a memorable name. For now let's call it Vet-Gate It's very much a work in progress.
 According to Bloomfield Life Online:
Michael McCracken and Hector Cartagena, who are airmen in the Air Force Reserve, may be fired from the Bloomfield force on administrative charges for allegedly misusing military leave time, said their attorney Catherine Elston at a press conference Friday in Newark. Elston said both are upstanding officers who followed all procedures when they reported for military duty. State Sen. Ron Rice, also speaking at the press conference at the Fraternal Order of Police's union hall, called for the New Jersey Attorney General's Office to investigate the Bloomfield Police Department's actions against the officers. 
 As with other unforced uproars in our town that appear to represent an unnecessary exercise of power over the powerless, this one has most residents wondering "What were they thinking?"

In the first day after the press conference, the story was picked up by The Patch, FIOS1 News, WABC7, Fox News, numerous blogs, and the NJ Fraternal Order of Police who posted:
"In a show of solidarity, we had standing room only participants consisting of the officers’ family, our police brothers and sisters, community leaders, and the press. Kudos to State Sen. Ron Rice for standing with us today. We commend our Bloomfield Lodge President Anthony Argento and attorney Catherine Elston for the awesome work they’re doing on this case." 
Out of state police groups are also expressing support. The Colorsdo FOP commented
"It is not unusual for to see discrimination, intimidation, and abuse of law enforcement officers who serve in the US Armed Forces. It happens far more than it is reported. The sad fact is it does not sit well with employers who are required to make accommodations for our nation’s warriors, and they will take illegal action to remove them from employment. "
Among the factors that may delay a resolution of this issue is the fact that Bloomfield's newly elected Mayor and Council won't meet until early January to address it. It presumably came up in a closed session of the departing Council and it's still not clear what facts were presented to them -- if any.

BPD lawyers may cloud the case if incriminating tapes are not allowed as evidence by a court judge. That may explain the BPD's refusal to comment on the evidence revealed by the vets.
We're wondering how long the BPD can keep up it's Wall of Silence. This may wind up as another lawsuit that gets billed to taxpayers. If the council approved the suspension, they have some explaining to do along with BPD. We know they've been misled in the past by high paid employees trying to cover their mistakes. Transparency is still the best disinfectant.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Why We Need a Butterfly Park

This was my public comment to the Bloomfield Council before it voted, 4 to 3, to reverse it's earlier approval of a Butterfly Park on its recently acquired parkland on Liongate Drive:
As some of you know, my 2nd Ward councilman and I have a long history together,going back about 13 years. I’ve supported him in just about everything he’s advocated and campaigned for. We’ve probably attended a couple of dozen planning board meetings over the years mostly dealing with Liongate. Our main goal as a group, The Third Riverbank Association, was to reduce flooding along the Third River and preserve one of our last bits of open space for passive recreation. 
Here’s where I’m forced to depart from my councilman’s latest campaign to put a soccer field in our newest park. Soccer is NOT passive recreation...and it only serves the needs of a tiny percentage of our residents. This year we’ve had soccer fields available all over town. Huck Field, Demarest School, Brookdale Park, Foley Field, Watsessing Park, Wrights field, Felton Field. Have I missed any? 
My wife and I happen to live a soccer balls kick from Nick’s proposed field of dreams. I’ve seen how many cars fill up the Huck Field parking lots and side streets when games are scheduled. Liongate can handle about 10 more cars than park there everyday. Along with a number of our neighbors, facing Liongate, we have no driveway and have to park our cars on Broad Street. 
I know of no one in our neighborhood -- or the Greenbrook townhouses -- who favors a soccer field here. As a Realtor, I can guarantee you that just about all our home values in this area will be hurt by such a soccer field here as opposed to being helped by a park like the imaginatively designed Butterfly Park.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Dems -- The New Reality

The Democratic sweep in Bloomfield's Mayoral/Council election yesterday can't be blamed on The GOP campaign gaffs or any one single issue.

It wasn't the expensive mailings or robocalls,
It wasn't the yard signs.
It wasn't the unexpected endorsements by Joanow and McCarthy.
It wasn't any of the issues raised from pay to play to forensic audits.
It wasn't high taxes or overdevelopment.
It wasn't the candidates responses to questions during the Candidates' Forum.y

It was demographics. The fact that the final tally showed only small variations in the numbers between the 3 council candidates of each party is further evidence that votes were cast for the party lines rather than any individual candidate.
The last 15 years have seen two national census reports that illustrate Bloomfield's steady shift from a solidly Republican town to a reliably Democratic town.

As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 28,398 registered voters in Bloomfield, of which 11,925 (42.0%) were registered as Democrats, 4,393 (15.5%) were registered as Republicans and 12,061 (42.5%) were registered as Unaffiliated. This reality has been reflected in presidential politics for some time.(Click on graphic to enlarge,) In the last  3 election cycle the Democratic advantage appears to have reached point of no returns for just about any Republican candidate.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New Rules for Wednesday

The Bloomfield Neighborhood Association Committee today announced some major changes to its rules for asking questions of council and mayoral candidates at Wednesday's upcoming 2013 Bloomfield Town Council Candidates' Forum.

The event will be held once again at the Van Fossen Ampitheater at Bloomfield College's Westminster Hall, beginning at 7:PM.

In order to allow time for the maximum number of audience questions and responses, only one advance question will be given for each candidate to respond to, and ALL audience questions will be submitted to the moderator on cards. The can be directed to any or all candidates. All questions will be asked if time permits. the only restrictions will be on personal attacks, non-Bloomfield issues, and duplication. The questions will be anonymous so anyone can ask more than one question.

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED for the following tasks!
• Solicit donations of bottled water and finger food (snacks/dessert) for reception from Shop Rite, Stop ‘n Shop, etc. Gift cards also OK.
• Set up tables/place cards, etc. on night of event
• Greet people at the door/man the table with programs and other information
• Aisle runners to pass out and collect index cards for question
 Set up food/beverages at reception
• Clean up.
If you can volunteer, please contact Doreen Sarcone on Facebook. Please PM her if you need more information.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Unexpected Endorsement for Venezia Campaign

With less than a month left in a local campaign year full of twists and turns, today was highlighted by word of a public endorsement that came as a surprise to many residents. Second Ward councilman Nick Joanow is formally endorsing councilman Michael Venezia's ticket.

“I am happy to endorse the Venezia Team, because we are like minded when it comes to preserving open space," said Joanow. "As an example, they are united with me in a common goal to negotiate in good faith with the developer of the Scientific Glass/ Liongate property to preserve this site and acquire it for recreational purposes.”

For years, Joanow has been trying to find solutions to the flooding that has been a real problem for residents who border the Third River and businesses downstream who are negatively impacted from rain events. In addition preservation of this flood prone property would eliminate a significant number of children from this development(104 townhouses ) who would be enrolled in one of our neighborhood schools which already is challenged for space.

Three of the Democratic candidates visited the construction site on Friday to watch the new developer's tractors and ditch diggers chugging away in the rain.
(Pictured above at the Liongate site are candidates Lopez, Venezia and Davis. At right is Joanow and Venezia campaign manager Gary Iacobacci.)

All residents are invited to Joanow'a monthly ward meeting at 7:30 PM this coming Wednesday at the  Brookdale iHop
The main topic at the meeting will be the past, present and future of Liongate.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eco-Community Fair at Harvest Fest

Be sure to visit the Eco-Community Fair on the library quad, 11-6 pm this weekend during Bloomfield's Harvest Fest.  Located on the plaza in front of Bloomfield Library at 90 Broad St.

You will find the latest information on: recycling, composting, open space and our town's new Butterfly Park.

Brookdale Park Conservancy
Watsessing Park Conservancy
Friends of Clarks Pond

Open Space Trust fund
Bloomfield Recycling Committee

Bloomfield College Greenhearts
Sustainable New Jersey,
New Jersey Hope and Healing

Rain barrel demonstration
The Bloomfield Neighborhood Association Committee
Greener Bloomfield

Historical Society of Bloomfield
(Don't miss Rich Rockwell's historical slide shows from 1 to 5:00 on Saturday)

Community gardens at Oakeside
The Bridge Academy garden
Plans for new community gardens

October 23 Candidate’s Forum,
Halcyon Park Neighborhood Association

Purple Dragon/Community
Bloomfield Bikeability Study

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Not a Slam Dunkin

Councilman Nick Joanow is holding the first of a series of monthly meetings starting tonight at 7:30 in the Broad St. IHop. Tonight's main topic is the application for a new Dunkin Donuts at the intersection of West and East Passaic Aves. Expect many questions from both neighbors and residents. The former Getty station has been vacant for many years and most residents have been looking forward to a new tenant.

The location and limited parking does not make it a done deal at the Zoning Board. Will this one be open 24/7 as are many in the area?  Will there be room for tables and/or counters?  How will the entrance and exits be controlled?

At the same time, a tenant like Dunkin may well increase the neighborhoods "walkability" factor along with home values for much of the neighborhood. It should also be noted that other Dunkins in the Bloomfield or Clifton are not surrounded by single family homes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Developers Play Hardball as Housing Market Improves

The current crop of major housing developments on the drawing boards have several common ingredients. Strains on town services and school populations, traffic and environmental issues, and pushback from local residents.

Developers are increasingly resorting to tactics that might be described as a carrot and stick approach. They've been encouraged to negotiate with the town council for tax abatements or PILOT agreements before going before Zoning or Planning Boards. They've threatened legal action if they don't get their way.

In Cedar Grove, one of the industry's biggest developers is pulling out all the stops to push through a project that would contain 411 units across 53  buildings -- increasing the population of the township by an estimated 8%. Part of Hovnanian's strategy is a lawsuit with the state Council on Affordable Housing that would require the town to house over 300 residents in affordable homes.

Bloomfield's developers are more than likely taking notes.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Would Sharing Services Solve BOH Problems?

Bloomfield's recent disconnect between its Health Department, Board of Health, Neighbor to Neighbor Network, and Animal Shelter has many causes. Among them are the elimination of their most experienced volunteers, the attitude of unaccountability to the town council, and the alienation of overpaid directors who live many counties away from the communities they serve.

During his presentation to the BNAC last month, our new Town Administrator suggested that increasing our level of shared services may be the only way to reduce expenses in future budgets.  Diane Lilli recently reported some of the details on how Montclair and Nutley are successfully sharing their health departments, allowing for a wide range of health services including nursing services.

The Nutley Health Department, in partnership with the Greater Montclair Health Reserve Corps, is creating a Nutley Chapter to train and supplement the existing emergency services in responding to public health and other emergencies. The new chapter will be known as the Nutley Public Health Reserve Corps.

Sharing services has saved both towns significant amounts of money, while also allowing both towns to maximize available services and continuing to meet the healthcare needs of residents.

Animal control for both towns is run by the Montclair office. Many of the Montclair Shelter's most experienced volunteers are "exiles" from Bloomfield's shelter.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Town Administrator Alerts BNAC on Budget Issues

It's a shame that WBMA-TV chose not to cover Saturday's BNAC meeting with Bloomfield's newest Town Administrator Ted Ehrenburg. Residents who attended learned much about the newest economic challenges facing our town and how Mr.Ehrenburg is planning to deal with them. Here are a few of my notes and quotes:
"You can't expect what you don't inspect. So I'm an inspection kind of guy. The minute I can unchain myself from behind my desk, I'll check on all the services that we offer and what they provide. I have this acronym called TRIM -- Total Review Ideal Method. …The only way to add to the budget is by a binding referendum. And you all know that most residents aren't going to vote for that…..When I came here I thought the general rule was you should have a surplus of 10% of your operating budget. We should have had 7.3 million in surplus. To get Bloomfield where it needs to be in terms a fiscal diet, we need to get money back into that surplus. I keep trying to tell people that if you spend every penny you have every year there's going to be nothing in that tin cup in 2014…..We're on a plane with 12 passengers and we have 10 parachutes..."

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Unhappy Anniversary

"I've saved quite a few dogs from shelter life. Well, one year ago today, I took one back to the shelter at the order of the Municipality because I let the dog take treats from my friend's children. It was the worst ride I ever took with a dog... it haunts me every day of my life. And, it will continue to haunt me. Maybe one day he will be returned to us and I can move on. But, i will never, ever do that again....regardless of the consequences..."Jeff Coltenback    
The unfairness of the Memphis affair has continued to drive media updates and comments on websites and internet forums for a full year now. Here are a few of today's comments from Jeff's Facebook page: 
Michele Putyrske Chapman It's just ridiculous already... What a bunch of evil people.... All I can hope is KARMA will get them all! 
Michele Napolitano-Meyer This whole thing is so stupid. I feel like calling there and telling them what I think, but I won't because it won't do any good for the poor dog. 
Kelly Boston Where do u live how can they make u bring him in for taking treats from a child's hand wtf. Ugh so sorry did they say u can at some point get him back ? Sorry don't no the whole story.--Jennifer Sandlin Shepler Every time I see a post from you I take a deep breath and hope its about your baby coming home! Truly heartbreaking and I am so very sorry he isn't home yet 
-- Jean Hamilton They did you wrong and they need to be made to confess and make it right. - 
- Arlene Rowan Ott May We live in an awful MEAN town!!! I wish I lived somewhere else!! Like the mid west! I should have left this mean spirited town years ago!! 
-- Charmain Missy Krukiel Man I am just heart broken!!! It is always right to do right! Why can't they just do right!!! COME HOME MEMPHIS... 
-- Pauline West This makes me cry look at them loving on each other Memphis deserves to be home with his family 
-- Gill Ham Seriously time to start looking at lawsuits against individuals and the city again.... you kept your side of the deal. 
-- Paula Garrison Lazaro Beautiful picture as all the others of Memphis and you . Have you heard anything? Why did he go so far away for rehabilitation? Is it you they have a problem with ? Just doesn't make sense and pray he's happy.You may never get him hope he's healthy,happy and peaceful. Please update if you've heard anything. Don't give up in your heart. Life is so unfair and cruel. Memphis and you had true love and affection and God willing Memphis will be sent back to you , this I pray, Love ya,Paula 
--Bea James ForLennox This is just so very wrong.. and heartbreaking. After a year still no resolution. Keeping you and Memphis in my thoughts and prayers.. xx -
Susan Marit Time for some disclosure Bloomfield. Where is Memphis? Why is it taking so long for this so called trainer to rehab Memphis When Michael Vicks fighting dogs took so little time to rehab and adopt out? Does this so called trainer have any credentials at all? We ALL want answers BLOOMFIELD!!!!!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

That Memphis Kid Speaks Out

It has now been a year since Jeff Coltenback committed the "crime" of demonstrating to the world how domesticated and child-friendly the pit-bull Memphis had become after one week of training. In response to Jeff's evidence, Karen Lore accused him of endangering the public and ordered Memphis back to the Bloomfield Shelter before having him shipped to South Dakota for retraining -- in spite of pleas from 50,000 petitioners from around the world. There have been no details on the training or updates on the "retraining" in over 10 months. On Thursday, Brenda McAndrews, the mother of the nine year old girl whose photo unwittingly precipitated the affair has posted an unsolicited update of her own:
Today, out of the blue, my daughter asked where Memphis was. I had to pause & think about what I was going to say to her. She's only 10. Only 1 year older than when she met Memphis and knew right from that moment what a wonderful dog he was. She was never scared of him. She never felt she was in danger. A 9 year old child knew then what "trained" professionals were suppose to know. I keep thinking of the saying "out of the mouth of babes". 
That was a moment when it applied. I had to tell her that he was supposedly in SD. That he was supposedly getting rehabilitated. That when he was ready he would come home to Jeff and Diana. She just looked at me like I had just said the craziest thing ever. She was right. This has been -- and still is -- insane. There are really no other words for it. 
To this day, we have the picture of Memphis taped to our front door, that our son put there. We see Memphis everyday. We never forget him. We hold on to hope that he is alive and safe. Most importantly, he is loved. If he can't be with his family, please let him be with people who love him even half as much as Jeff and Diana. Please, let him come home to where he belongs.  
This Monday's town council conference meeting has  shelter updates on the agenda.  We can only hope that at least one of those updates will be from South Dakota.

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Push for Township to Purchase Scientific Glass Site

This notice was just received by 2nd Ward Councilman Nick Joanow:

On the Bloomfield Town Council Agenda for Monday, July 22 Resolution for the governing body to direct our legal department to initiate negotiations for the purchase of this site. If the township is able to acquire the property, a number of important issues would be minimized or eliminated.

Currently the township is 98% developed - purchasing this property would provide recreational opportunities as well as other amenities that are desperately needed by our residents. The property known as the Scientific Glass/Liongate, off Broad Street opposite Glen Ridge Parkway has been recently sold to yet another developer.  
The developer’s proposal to construct 104 town houses is particularly disturbing as this site has a pre-existing problems with flooding and serious river bank erosion for those homeowners and businesses who border the Third river. In addition to flooding there are school related issues that will negatively impact all residents in this community. This development will severely impact our quality of life and negatively influence our property values.  
With 104 townhouses ranging in size from 1500 to 2100 square feet per unit the potential for a substantial number of new children attending our local schools is significant. With all of our schools north of Bay Avenue at full capacity, the only options available would be redistricting or trailers, either of which would further jeopardize real estate values. Presently, all students from this development would be directed to Brookdale school.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bloomfield Auto Theft 101 -- Slow and Furious

Official details of Saturday's carjacking at Bella Napoli were finally released this afternoon as part of the Bloomfield Police Department's weekly Police Blotter Report:
On July 13, the valet attendant of Bella Napoli Restaurant, 1640 Broad St. was held up and robbed. At 8:13 p.m., the attendant observed a dark blue Porsche Cayenne SUV come into the lot and immediately leave.
A few minutes later at 8:20, the SUV returned occupied by four black males. When the valet attendant approached the vehicle ,one of the suspects - a black male with shoulder length dreadlocks - pointed a silver handgun at him and told the victim not to say a word.
A second suspect exited the SUV with a black handgun and demanded the keys to a black Range Rover that was parked in the lot. The attendant went to the key lock box and took the keys to three vehicles, which were then stolen.
The three stolen vehicles were: a black 2013 four-door Land Rover with Pennsylvania license plates, a black 2010, four-door E350 Mercedes Benz with New Jersey plates, and a green 2012 four-door X5 BMW with New Jersey license plates. The vehicles were last seen making a right turn onto Broad Street traveling south. The driver wore a black mask and shirt, while another passenger had a stocking over is face, a grey shirt and sweat pants. The other two passengers could not be described.  
The specifics of the incident were similar to others in Essex County and North Jersey. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office Task Force responded to the scene and is investigating the case along with the Bloomfield Police Department's Detective Bureau. Anyone with information about this incident can contact the Bloomfield Police Department Detective Bureau at 973-680-4084. 
You'd think if the local police were seriously looking for witnesses they wouldn't have waited three days to get their information to the media and the public.

The Baristanet wording of the Blotter account varies only in stating that the valet attendant did not cooperate, while the version (above)says that he did.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

When No News is News

There seems to be a media blackout on what is becoming a major crime wave involving an auto theft ring in the area. The latest event happened Saturday night at the popular Bella Napoli Restaurant at 1640 Broad St. At least 3 high end cars were stolen in an obviously well planned robbery by a gang of 4 or 5 perpetrators. Despite the loss of perhaps millions of dollars worth of luxury vehicles in northern NJ, the businesses and valet servies are naturally afraid of losing customers, so the media is silent  -- perhaps wanting to keep their ad revenue --and the organized gangs behind the thefts continue to roam free.

36 hours after it was first reported on two Facebook forums, there is still nothing to report in the Star Ledger's web site,, Baristanet, or the Bloomfield Patch.
Here are some facts supplied by NJ Tomato press editor Diane Lilli, residents. and patrons:
Roger Miliote I happened too be driving by there shortly before the poat here and there were 6 police cars there

UPDATE :  No carjacking in Bloomfield but numerous (3?) cars stolen from Bella Napoli lot; all had been valet parked. Last night. No people taken though - under investigation. Diane,

Carolyn DeCastro well, isnt that nice. They insist that you valet park and then cars get stolen. What were the valets doing while these cars were being stolen. hummmm

Jeanne Talamini DuChemin There have been a lot of carjackings/thefts from restaurants in the area...with valet parking. The insurance companies (this is where my husband gets involved) have been aware of it over the past few months. They target restaurants with valets in suburban areas...there's a whole gang of them! .....Different valet services do it differently. Some take the keys & put them on a board. Some leave them in the car..... Bella Napoli is a prime location for this...just go out to Broad & make a left...right down to Rt. 3 for a quick get away! And yes, Walt Richert, they go right to Newark onto container ships to countries all over the world.

Donato DiGeronimo They put a gun to the attendent's chest, took the keys from the board and stole 4 cars.

Walt Richert Lol! Don't laugh too hardy Jeanne - several Volvo station wagons with the Montclair Beach Club oval have been spotted in Tirana sellling 10 day old goat cheese

Perhaps if there was more media coverage of such crimes, more precautions could be taken by potential victims.
 More updates can be found here:

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Bloomfield's Biggest Little July 4th Parade

Montclair may have the biggest Fourth of July parade in Essex County, but Bloomfield has the cutest, shortest, littlest, and most unique. It has become an annual tradition for The Clark Avenue Crew -- a neighborhood association formed by local resident Mark Sceurman of Weird New Jersey fame and assisted by family members Leo and Michael Sceurman.

Clark Avenue was added to the township 85 years ago to accomodate workers at the bustling Clark Thread Company, which was then located at the end of what is now Liongate Drive. It runs barely two blocks between the Third River and Bay St., parallel to Lakewood and Broad. Despite the small size of the neighborhood, its Facebook page has been followed by over 110 past and present area friends. It could be a model for block associations in other parts of Bloomfield.

The celebration actually starts on the evening of July 3rd with their legendary Bikes and Trikes Parade which circles around the sidewalks just south of Augustus Street(click on photo to enlarge). This year, the parade was led by it's Grand Marshal, Jack McMahon. It was followed by a pot luck barbecue organized by Sarah Johnson and a dip in a neighbor's in ground pool.

Leo Sceurman, who volunteers on the Zoning Board and attends most Council meetings, had this comment on the evolution of a successfull block association:
The Sceurman family has lived in Bloomfield over 100 years and Clark Ave for 64 years but it is our neighbors that make Clark Avenue what it is today. Clark Avenue Crew was started on Facebook because of our annual block parties and to keep neighbors informed on what happening on the street. The "Crew" each year collects money at the block party and donates it to charitable Bloomfield cause. It's knowing your neighbors that make Clark Avenue one of the BEST streets in Bloomfield.
The next National Night Out, on August 6th, offers a great opportunity for neighbors to initiate or reinvigorate block watches as well as block associations.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

End of an Era At BOE

Last night's surprise resignation of Mary Shaughnessy as Board of Education President marked the 4 year mark in an era of remarkable bipartisanship on a board that has been a perennial target for parents, teachers and students.
Looking at her 2012 campaign website, her platform can now be viewed as a list of significant accomplishments that seemed like pipedreams when she first won the presidency 4 years ago:
+ Promote cooperation between the school board, the superintendent, educators, and the community.
+ Create a vibrant, high-quality school system that will benefit all Bloomfield taxpayers by improving our local property tax values.
+ Support curriculum and individualized instruction that demonstrably enhances student achievement.
+ Create more pathways to parent involvement. Increase BOE transparency with more accessible and informative meeting agendas and TV coverage.
+ Work diligently to balance the needs of students with those of taxpayers. Ensure discipline and true accomplishment are maintained and advanced.
+ Work vigorously for Bloomfield’s fair share of state aid. Fight to end unfunded mandates. financial and administrative stress.

Among her most important achievements was the creation of a remarkably bipartisan board by personally recruiting the best and brightest education focussed candidates from all corners. Less well known are her extensive volunteer efforts preceding her presidency. She started the series of televised candidates forums for local council candidates that will be continued this fall. She was a founding member of the Brookdale Park Conservancy and was instrumental in fighting unwise developments such DeSimone's condo application on Liongate that has become Bloomfield's newest nature preserve.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Memphis Blues in South Dakota

Besides being a safe haven for banks and credit card companies, South Dakota has become notorious for having the most tolerant attitude toward animal abuse in the country. According to the ASPCA, it's the only state with no felony statutes for the prosecution of serious cases of cruelty.

The state also has a long history of breaking up Native American tribal families by taking their children away from parents for adoption by white families.

 Could this notoriety have led Lore to exile Memphis there? Her refusal to provide details on the "retraining" of Memphis has led to all kinds of public speculation as to the dog's current condition.
Some were expecting him to appear in a dramatic doggie dance on America's Got Talent. Others are predicting he will perform an the annual Sturgis SD biker rally this summer.

Although the township has taken over control of the shelter since March, the Town Administrator has continued NtNN's policy of not answering questions or providing updates.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Notice Taken!!!

Despite the exclamation marks, this policy is not new. The town has just decided that it's time to be stricter at enforcement. All towns require some form of certification of occupancy. In Bloomfield, it has tended to be a drive by of a code enforcer or spot checks by fire code inspectors for smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.
They can now inspect for an array of issues including basement bedrooms and permits for improvements. The fees for a cco can vary:

Type Fee 
Single-family residential dwelling $125 
Two-family residential dwelling $185 
Three-family residential dwelling $280 
Each additional dwelling unit $95 (not to exceed $1,000 in total) 
Commercial and manufacturing buildings: 
Buildings up to 5,000 square feet $315 
Buildings from 5,001 to 20,000 square feet $625 
Buildings from 20,001 to 50,000 square feet $935 
Buildings over to 50,001 square feet $1,250 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Water Water Everywhere......

This week's Bloomfield Independent Press is reporting that Bloomfield has reach a tentative settlement in its 6 year dispute with the city of Newark. Bloomfield is also expected to sign a 10 year agreement to continue using the Newark watershed as it's sole water supply.

"Newark claimed that during the disputed six-year period, Bloomfield had used more water than its daily allotment of 6.5 million gallons.
The city said this was because Bloomfield’s water meters sometimes weren’t making accurate readings, Lasek said in a telephone interview last week."

Terri Seuss is the guest speaker at this Saturday's meeting of the Bloomfield Neighborhood Association Committee. Terry lives in Newark and has been a leader in the fight against privatizing Newark's water system. The 10 AM meeting will be held in the Mayor's Conference Room on the 2nd floor of ythe Police Building and is free and open to the public.

A lively discussion is also expected in Newark Wednesday evening when the Sierra Club hosts a panel discussion concerning the city's role in "The Water Wars." 

Friday, June 07, 2013

Our Flood Gage Passes Its Latest Test

It'a been awhile since The Third River has hit flood stage. Tropical Storm Andrea pushed the river to it's highest point since Hurricane Irene,.The National Weather Service kees a gage at the bend of the river near Belleville Ave. by The Garden State Parkway which is updated promptly on the hour online. This storm appears to have crested at 5.29 feet.  The link can be accessed here at anytime.

Here are some other recent flood levels:
Historical Crests
(1) 9.97 ft on 09/16/1999
(2) 7.79 ft on 04/15/2007
(3) 7.36 ft on 09/06/2008
(4) 7.34 ft on 10/19/1996
(5) 6.58 ft on 06/05/1992
(6) 6.52 ft on 05/03/1991
(7) 6.48 ft on 03/28/2005
(8) 6.20 ft on 07/19/2002
(9) 6.18 ft on 05/16/1990

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Issues Raised With BPD in 3rd Ward Town Meeting Concern All

News of another 3rd Ward Town Meeting was posted Tuesday afternoon on a couple of Facebook Forums. Many residents expressed surprise at the short notice as well as the fact that the meeting's location was to be in Essex Manor on Broughton St.

Unlike earlier meetings that were chaired by 3rd Ward Councilman Carlos Bernard, this one was moderated by Councilman Michael Venezia who introduced a panel from the Police Department led by Chief Goul.

The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss crime and  security issues in the Berkeley Avenue and Halcyon Park neighborhoods but, as with the February meeting, most of the items discussed were of interest to most residents.

Among the points raised by the BPD:

1. Residents need to be aware that the department has only 8 to 12 police vehicles available to cover the entire town during any given shift, but shifts are arranged so there is an overlap during the most active 9PM - 12AM period.

2, Although speed bumps are not viable on high traffic roads such as Berkeley and Broughton, the township is beginning to paint "parking lines" along these streets. This has been proven to have the effect of discouraging speeding and drag racing.

3. The BPD is actively encouraging most retail businesses and large apartment buildings to install their own security cameras. The town expects to soon deploy a central system for live monitoring of suspicious activity at these locations.

4, Despite the increase of carjackings and other violent crimes, there is no evidence of an increase in gang activity.

5. Neighborhood watch groups remain effective as an early warning sustem for suspicious activity. This a good time to organize one before the National Night Out in August. Do not hesitate to call the PD at 973 680-4141.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Town Meeting at Essex Manor Opens a Busy Tuesday Night Including BOE and Planning Board

The night after an eventful Town Council meeting where the mayor threatened to veto a resolution waiving the residence requirement for our new Town Administrator, three meetings are scheduled concerning issues that should concern most residents.

The Board of Education meeting tonight at 7:30 has been moved to the high school media center to accomodate larger audiences concerned with several issues including the resignation of Superintendant Bing.  The Planning Board meets at 7:30 in council chambers.  Third Ward Councilor  Carlos Bernard has scheduled another meeting concerning such issues as crime and  neighborhood security for 6 p.m. at the Essex Manor at 41 Broughton Avenue. It is organized by the 3rd ward but is open to all,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Flushing Alert from Water Department

The Bloomfield Water Department along with Bloomfield Fire will begin the Spring Flushing of the fire hydrants thoughout the township starting today April 22nd through may 11th.

The purpose of this program is to flush water mains, removing accumulated sediments in the lines and to operate, lubricate and test fire hydrants to insure adequate fire protection.

 There may be some unavoidable discoloration of water and some loss of pressure during flushing in your area. This will be temporary and should cease upon completion of the program. If you experience discolored water, open the cold water faucets on the lowest floor of the house and allow the water to run until it clears.

 Discolored or cloudy water is potable, but not desirable to use. Residents are reminded to make sure that their water is running clear before washing laundry.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rec Director Michael Sceurman to Speak at BNAC Meeting on Saturday

Bloomfield Parks & Recreation and its partners produce a large number of year round and seasonal programs for residents of all ages from toddlers to Seniors. Michael will discuss his role in planning programs that appeal to as many residents as possible including the Memorial Day Parade and summer concerts.  Many of the events are televised on WBMA-TV. In addition, the Rec Center also provides Special Needs programs and shuttle buses to Hoboken and Manhattan.

The Bloomfield Neighborhood Association Committee meets bi-monthly in the Police Building conference room 2nd floor. All are welcome at the april 27th meeting which begins at 10AM.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Scary Tradition on Broad Street

Barely 24 hours after two bombs cut the Boston Marathon short, a caravan of about 11 police cars sped up Broad Street with sirens screaming. Some residents called town hall to see what the emergency was. Others queried neighbors on at least two of Bloomfield's Facebook forums. On one of them, Councilman Michael Venezia explained it succinctly: 
"It is tradition for retiring police officers to get a send off with police cars escorting them to their house or out of Bloomfield. Captain Decker lives off a Broad Street and after 37-years of service to the township retired yesterday."  
Captain Decker certainly earned the recognition of his peers for his long and distinguished career with the BPD.  But, to many, the lack of notification made it seem  like yelling "Fire!" In a crowded neighborhood rather than a theater. The timing couldn't have been worse. Many elderly and infirm within earshot may have been unintentionally terrorized. 
 Here's what a number of residents had to say about the high speed retirement party:
 Are you kidding me? All that noise, sirens, lights, RACING DOWN EFFING BROAD STREET AT 3 PM because someone retired? UnbeEFFINGlievable....If that's the truth someone should be held accountable for the apprehension and fear all of those sirens and racing police cars cause local residents and moms picking up their kids from local grammar schools today - a day after the Boston Marathon bombing.....At 3 PM, speeding up Broad Street past a grammar school when the children were being let out?? What a dangerous & sophomoric thing to do! I don't care if it is a tradition...they certainly should have shown better judgement. Especially considering the incident the day before in Boston. What the hell were they thinking?!....OK, they "escort" the guy home...the rest was completely unnecessary and potentially dangerous, especially with the racing police cars and the time of day. Many local moms were in a panic and ran to their childrens' schools to pick them up....Seriously, NO ONE IN TOWN HALL has a clue. What happened yesterday was in very bad taste and very bad would have been disturbing enough on any day but the day after the Boston bombing a few people asked if we were under attack. It was a completely thoughtless and reckless thing to do. Thank God no one was hit by one of those cars...... Racing at any time on Bloomfield Ave is not good. Too many pedestrians, too much traffic... ....It did look like an escort but it was over the top!!! And scary after yesterday's Boston bombing.... completely unnecessary.Does anyone in town hall have any common sense? It scared the hell out of some local moms who were on their way to pick their kids up from grammar schools.... I was already at the school waiting to pick up my kids when they raced by and I almost ran in early and grab them... scared the CR*P out of me! ....that is that one thing that has kept me out of local poltiics is exactlty this kind of crap. You have to promote from within. What if there is an opening for Chief, and there is a GREAT candidate, from Louisville, or Philly or LA who wants the job....NOPE...we have to stay with outdated and inbred protectionism, known as Civil Service. The result is this "frat house" nonsense.....'Does anyone in town hall have any common sense?' You're serious when you ask that?"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Clarks Pond Cleanup this Sunday

From Lois Ross and The Friends of Clarks Pond:

The Friends of Clark's Pond and theThird River will have their 18th annual clean-up at Clark's Pond Nature Preserve on Sunday April 14 from 1 - 4pm. We will provide gloves and trash bags. Please wear old shoes or boots because it will be muddy. Meet behind the middle school by the footbridge. We will have certificates available for anyone who needs community service hours. C'mon out for the community, open space, and sights and sounds of Spring.

The beautiful yellow "Lesser Celandine" flowers that blanket the preserve will be in full bloom -- and the red-winged blackbirds will be calling out to greet you!

Please spread the word....and hope to see you all there.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Game On!

Besides being the first day of baseball season -- and April Fools day, t's the deadline for filing for township offices for candidates belonging to the two major parties. 

From the Bloomfield Clerk's Office: 

Republican Mayor: Russell Mollica and Richard Galioto, Sr. 

Republican Council at Large: Sharon Soon, Carol Humphreys, Robert Goworek

Democrat Mayor: Michael J. Venezia
Council at Large: Wartyna “Nina” Davis, Joseph Lopez, Carlos M. Pomares

2nd Slate: Democrats
Council at Large: Kevin Lindahl, Russell Youngblood, Chris Diguilio

The Bloomfield Patch has information on all the candidates,

It"s still not certain whether or not Mayor Ray McCarthy plans to run as an Independent candidate.The final deadline for filing for the November election is June 4.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fight or Flight Facts for Bloomfield Taxpayers

News of Bloomfield's 2013 proposed budget for both the township and its schools is sparking doom and gloom predictions on many fronts along with sighs of relief that the worst budget projections were avoided. Many say they now have to prepare to move out of the area or even out of state. Others say they are stuck in unsalable homes since no one would want to move to a town with a semi-vacant downtown and deteriorating schools.

While there may be some justifications for these equally pessimistic points of view, a snapshot of our town's housing market challenges our own version of March Madness. There are early signs of a seasonal spring blossoming in the increased number of homes on the market, yet local inventory is still at the lowest level since the bubble burst in 2006.  There are currently only 201 Bloomfield homes and condos (with 1 or more bedrooms)listed on the Multiple Listing Service -- about half the number listed at the bottom of the "burst". This is resulting in a steady increase in sales prices -- though at a slower rate in the northeast then in the rest of the country.

According to the latest data updates, the median sales price for homes in Bloomfield for Dec 12 to Feb 13 was $229,900. This represents an increase of 1.1%, or $2,400, compared to the prior quarter and an increase of 3.9% compared to the prior year. Sales prices have depreciated 35.2% over the last 5 years in Bloomfield.

The average listing price for Bloomfield homes for sale on Trulia was $276,968 for the week ending Mar 20, which represents an increase of 3.7%, or $9,941, compared to the prior week and an increase of 4.3%, or $11,348, compared to the week ending Feb 27. Average price per square foot for Bloomfield NJ was $157, an increase of 36.5% compared to the same period last year.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Media Crackdown Proposed by Council

It may turn out to be coincidental timing, but last weeks elimination of TV coverage for the Bloomfield's annual Budget planning meeting, turned out to be a prelude to a laundry list of new restrictions on coverage of council meetings.

The planned changes appear to have originated from a complaint by the Mayor regarding the use of cell phones to send text messages during meetings. Some councilmen were even accused of texting each other.

The proposed new rules will make it significantly more difficult for attendees to use audio, still, and video media to document both conference and regular meetings whether they be residents or journalists. Rule number 1 has sparked the greatest concern:
The citizen must provide the Clerk of the municipality with no less than 30 minutes verbal notice prior to the Meeting of his intention to exercise his right to videotape or photograph the Meeting. Failure to provide advance notice of the intent to utilize the equipment prior to each Meeting shall preclude its use at such Meeting.
 Other restrictions include limited the use of such devices to the last 2 rows of Council Chambers, not allowing photographers to move from their initial position during the meeting to get a better angle, and not allowing audio recordings to be transcribed for any purpose. Perhaps the most sweeping and vague rule declares that:
no photographs may be taken or audio/videotape recordings made within a public facility of any person, place or event relating to the administration and/or conduct of official municipal business.
This seems to suggest that no public official could be interviewed or photographed ANYWHERE for ANY reason. At last weeks conference meeting the township attorney Brian Aloia maintained that he was adhering to the guidelines of NJ's Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) The unfortunate reality is that there are still many grey areas in the act that continue to be interpreted the courts.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Attacking Bloomfield's Crumbling Infrastructure

Spring is arriving a bit late this year, but the last deep freeze may deposit it's last pothole on Bloomfield's streets by the end of the week.

Stanziale Construction of Bloomfield, NJ was awarded a contract last year for a number of streets and will complete the following

- Ashland Avenue
- Maolis Avenue
- Williamson Avenue

This work is scheduled to start in two to four weeks.

DLS Contractors of Nutley, NJ was recently awarded a contract for resurfacing of the following roads:

- Bellevue Avenue
- Kinder Drive and Pieretti Court
- Brighton Avenue
- Farrandale Avenue
- Spring Street (Speed Humps)
- Clair Street (Speed Humps)
- Broughton Avenue (From Elston Street to Barbara Street)*

This work is scheduled to start in the early spring.

*A striping/traffic calming program is currently under design for the entire length of Broughton Avenue for
implementation later this year.

Broad Street from James Street to Hoover Avenue will undergo a major streetscape improvement. A bid opening is
scheduled for May 2nd for all interested contractors. Once awarded this work is anticipated to start after Memorial Day.

JFK Drive (north and south), south of Bloomfield Avenue up to the Garden State Parkway Ramps will be
resurfaced this year. Authorization to advertise will be presented to the Mayor and council on March 27th.

Bid plans and specification are currently being prepared for a number of streets with the anticipation to bid and construct later this
year. These streets include:

- Gillespie Road
- Oak Tree Lane

The Township also submitted an NJDOT Local Aid application with the Borough of Glen Ridge for the resurfacing of Essex Avenue
between Benson Street and Bay Avenue. Construction is dependent upon award of these funds.

Any projects not started or completed by the end of the construction season will be carried into next year.

The township is responsible for approximately 85 miles of roadway. The engineering department has prepared a five-year roadway
resurfacing program which is re-evaluated every year. Criteria for prioritizing streets include, pavement surface condition;
condition/presence of curbing, traffic volumes and drainage conditions. All streets improvements are conditioned upon review and
approval by the Mayor and Council for the given Capital Budget Year.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

BOH Rings

Item: Bloomfield's Board of Health has hired a new grant writer and social media consultant.
"The Health Department, with the use of a telephone survey company, is conducting a random telephone survey from March 13-21. If you receive a call you will be informed that it is the Health Department that is conducting the survey. This survey is part of a comprehensive Health Assessment that is being performed so that the Health Department can tailor its services to the needs of the residents. If you have any questions, please call the Health Department at 973.680.4024."