Thursday, September 24, 2009

Official: Senior Center Occupancy Secured

Image: Seniors celebrate a one-day opening of the Senior Center on May 20, 2009.

When the City Council gathered for a special meeting Thursday, (Sept. 24, 2009), it turned out that the matter of a tax abatement for the 63-condo/senior center project known as "The Monarch" had been withdrawn. But officials told worried members of the public, including several seniors, that the proposed tax abatement had nothing to do with the opening of the senior center.

In fact, Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson said Thursday, the building had received its certificate of occupancy for the center just that day.

Image: July 2007 groundbreaking ceremony.

No move-in date was firm, Williamson said, citing unspecified parking issues.

The seniors are still meeting in leased space at 305 East Front Street, about a block away from The Monarch at 400 East Front Street.

Among speakers Thursday, real estate agency owner John Campbell was given extended time to explain his views on a tax abatement for the condo project, which officials say is a bellwether for future downtown development. The developer is seeking a five-year deal in which condo buyers will pay only 40 percent of city taxes.

Campbell complained that he saw few Plainfield residents involved in constructing the four-story building. and also doubted the validity of the sales price for the two-bedroom condos. Set at $300,000 early on, the price is now about $279,000, but Campbell said in a "broker's opinion of value" requested by the developer, his staff found the price too high. Perhaps there was "some happy ground in the middle," he suggested.

A public notice for the meeting listed five topics, including introduction of the State Fiscal Year 2010 budget. But on Thursday only three were listed, and withdrawal of the tax abatement reduced the voting items to two. Councilman Adrian Mapp seemed to take umbrage at the imposition of a City Council vote on his request to attend the Black Issues Convention in October and asked for other council expenses to be made public. Council President Rashid Burney said it was the first such request this year put to a vote. Previously, the city council president signed off on such requests.

Councilwoman Annie McWilliams asked for a written copy of city policy on granting council expense requests.

The only other item up for a vote was an ordinance to exceed budget limits for the 2010 municipal budget and establishing a cap bank. As explained by City Administrator Marc Dashield, the measure would allow the city to exceed a 2 1/2 percent state limit on a budget increase for SFY 2010 and would permit use of any past savings on the cap limit to be applied to future budgets.

Councilman Cory Storch objected to the plan, saying it gave flexibility to strike a budget higher than 2 1/2 percent, thus removing external pressure to stay within budget limits. Storch said calling it "fairly typical" was not a good reason to do it and urged the governing body to exert internal will to keep the budget tight. He voted "no" in the 6-1 approval on first reading.

In another matter, downtown merchant Freddy White complained that he did not receive notice of a two-day fiesta held last weekend in city parking lots 8 and 8-A. He alleged that only Latino business owners were included in the plans and said when he complained to Assemblyman Jerry Green, Green himself said he had no knowledge of the plans. Green has an office on Watchung Avenue and like White, uses the lots that were closed for two days from noon to 7 p.m. for the fiesta.

"No one else knew about it but them," White said, referring to the Latino merchants.

White's remarks contradict Green's claim on his blog that he was involved in planning the event for six months prior to the occasion.

Despite being pared down to two items, the meeting went on for nearly two hours with the added discussions.

The City Council will hold an agenda-fixing session Oct. 5 at Hubbard Middle School and its next regular meeting is Oct. 13 in Municipal Court. A special conference on economic growth is slated for 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at Municipal Court.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the administration has succeeded, by hook or by crook, in reaching a significant political objective in clearing the way for the opening of the Senior Center by disentangling it from the abatement issue. Kudos to them for getting to the heart of the issue and for showing a little creativity.

But will it stick, and will the voters care? First, it actually has to open and be functioning well before the election. A couple of days isn't enough to get the word out.

Second, the whole process has left a bad taste in the mouth of some pretty vocal seniors who will probably keep on talking to their peers about the seemingly endless delays and obfuscations.

Finally, the Monarch is now political poison, and anything associated with it, good or bad, is tainted and subject to yet more conspiracy theories. By delaying the introduction of the ordinance until after the election the administration has no tangible way of quelling the many rumors, all of them negative, and because their spin machine is of questionable utility they're going to have a hard time digging out from the rubble.

On the other hand, there may be so many votes associated with patronage jobs in Plainfield that it just may not matter how the Monarch turns out.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharon should be commended for working hard on an very important project. Us seniors have been around a long time. We can wait a few more days, crabby as we are - but we feel much better knowing that things are moving forward and we will be there in large numbers for the final opening.

We have been through one false opening, and one temporary opening.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I am seriously stunned that someone who will benefit from a well conceived and thought out process that could potentially give our Seniors in Plainfield a place to call their center "home" could even contemplate handing a "commendation" no matter how small and personal to Mayor Jerry's Assistant, Assistant Mayor Sharon...Stunned to be sure.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, I believe the 11:28 comment is a plant or a shill.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey ........

Let's Have a Party !!!

Food paid for by the Tax Payers

1:44 PM  
Anonymous nudeal said...

1:09 You are write. reads like Mr. Green or his TSB wrote it.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes seems everyone else has forgotten the fake opening of May 2005. Damon and the New Dems were all there sporting fake shovels. Oh yes how convinient to forget all of that. Or should I say it is an inconvinient truth.

Let see Sharon delives a real senior center after just 4 years of being in office. After 8 years all the former administration could deliver was some dirt that they shoveld in.

Since you brought it up..

It is OK to try and belittle other commentators - after all that is what you do when you have no real argument.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nudeal: Since you are am expert on writing styles, let this peon humbly offer a bot on the English language:
"Write" communicate or express by writing
"Right" correct: free from error; especially conforming to fact or truth.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Wow...Have to say to Anonymous at 6:58PM - " SHARON "DELIVERS" A SENIOR CENTER...????
--- And then..months later, decides to help give away city income to the developer. Congratulations. Win Win for everyone. Sharon delivers ONLY what her puppet master tells her to. If you don't think that you are either Jerry, Sharon " his personal" Cheshire Cat, or one of the hogs feeding away at the pig slop. Since ignorance is bliss, you must be giddy with joy.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Nudeal said...

7:08 You are right, the crime fits the "perp". By the way the "m" and the "n" are adjacent on the keyboard.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares. Anyone who thinks that getting a Senior Center somewhat opened has a real narrow view of what is going on in this city. If that is all she can handle, which it appears is true, then vote her out. The new mayor can hand out dinners, kiss babies AND get some work done for the betterment of Plainfield.

And it isn't that the senior citizens are crabby, I think they don't get it! Do you realize that if the Monarch abatement is implemented your taxes will not only go up for you, but you will also help to pay the taxes of new people who just moved here? If you have an extra one or two grand sitting around (which is what it will cost after your regular taxes, school taxes (remember Jerry voted to do away with Abbot), and picking up the taxes of the folks at the Monarch, you can send it my way!

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Rob. By calling people "Cheshire Cat" or a pig...let me ask you: do you feel like a man? Does that make you feel better? Does that make you feel more right about an issue?

I am curious. Would love to hear from you.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Per feeling like a man ( oh dear 9:49AM ), don't need any help with that.
- Per hogs... not PIGS.. hogs at the trough is a common political term in New Jersey used by ANY political pundit / commentator / editorial writer.. Definitely NOT invented by me, but used liberally by me when describing the political hanger ons or most elected official in NJ.
- Per Cheshire Cat: Had she an ounce of self respect neither I nor most anyone with an ounce of respect toward others would use such a derogatory term in reference to her. The only motives that she has that aren't self serving are those of her puppet master..MAYOR JERRY.
Don't be fooled into thinking that woman cares about you as a taxpayer, a city employee or resident. The only even more disgusting than her absolute lack of regard for the decorum of that office and our city is her absolute lack of caring in attempting to cloak it to look as something other than self serving. She lays it on the laps of the city residents, "SMILES HER BIG CHESHIRE CAT SMILE" with a total air of "EAT IT" and "LIKE IT". You want to defend her, do it this November at the election and smile to yourself knowing you are either one of those feeding at the trough or one of her's or Jerry's personal pets. And if you notice.. my name is there, but I will be content to call you "ANONYMOUS HANGER ON" .

12:55 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Oh and FYI Anonymous at 9:49 ... if you, Mayor Jerry or THE Cheshire Cat want to "chat me up" .. my email address is there for the world to see. Anyone one of you, feel free to email me. Easily I could mop the floor up with all of you by simply taking you for a few block walk around Plainfield pointing out what needs to be, what isn't being done and end our lovely tour with a stop at the Monarch. Walking circles around inept people who hide behind "their string pullers" is my specialty. So, there is my hand out for discussion.. feel free.. I'll buy the coffee. Bring your antacid tablets because you'll need it when I finally get you and your posse to start choking on your words.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

To Rob,
Blogger had a problem this afternoon and may have lost your comments after I hit the "Publish" button. I must say your comments were a bit strong but normally Blogger does not get dyspepsia from acerbic comments. You could try again. I am not getting error messages now.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Bernice.. appreciate your commentary and even I doubted whether you would post them ( and of course, as always, I would have nodded my head to your judgment ) so I will let everything stand as is. Strong yes, even I can agree with that statement. Is just very sad when people turn a blind eye to Plainfield and those that cause it's misery. Forward and progress are 2 words that don't include doing nothing....our leaderships forte.

7:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home