The needler in the haystack.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Crescent Concerts offers 46th "Yuletide by Candlelight" free concert Saturday

Crescent Avenue Church will be bathed in candlelight
for the annual 'Yuletide by Candlelight' concert.

For the 46th year, Crescent Concerts, the musical ministry of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church offers its annual free "Yuletide by Candlelight" concert Saturday afternoon t 5:00 PM.

The program will feature classical and contemporary Christmas songs and anthems, as well as opportunities for the audience to join in with beloved carols.

There are no tickets for the event; howver, a free will offering will be taken to support Crescent Avenue's feeding ministry -- which provides free lunches every week day.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Parking in the church lot on First Place, on the street, or in the Swain Galleries lot.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Second chance for Craft Fair, duCret art sale this Saturday


Looking for something unusual or handcrafted for your holiday giving? Your search will be eased if you come out to the Holiday Craft Fair and Fine Art Sale this Saturday (December 16) at duCret School of Art. This second opportunity is to make up for last week's lousy weather.

You will find handcrafted greeting cards, art in various media, decorated gift bags, knit goods, scarves, clothing, jewelry, hand-made quilts, hand-painted plates and mugs and much more.

The fair runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM in the exhibition hall at the rear of the school. duCret is at 1030 Central Avenue (across from Cedarbrook School). Take the driveway to the rear parking lot. Entrance is directly off the lot.

For more information, call the Division of Recreation at (908) 753-3097.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Short, if not so sweet, summary of Council hot votes


Here's the concise version of important actions at Monday night's City Council meeting --
  • Mayor's raise to $75,000 per annum. Approved 5-2 after extensive public comment both for and against.

  • Council raise to $25,000 failed on first vote by 3-4. Later reconsidered on a motion by VP Barry Goode to reconsider Councilor Storch's proposed amendment of a raise to $15K per annum. Am ended ordinance passed 5-2, with McRae and Toliver against the motion.

  • Muhlenberg redevelopment tax exemption approved 5-2, with Rivers and Toliver against the motion.

  • Abolishing the existing SID in favor of a new, city-controlled SID was approved 5-2, with Rivers and Toliver against the motion.

  • The proposed settlement with Yates Real Estate for the botched 2015 North Avenue demolition, approved in the amount of $396,000 by unanimous voice vote -- despite considerable opposition from the audience and the revelation of new facts in the matter.
A fuller report will have to wait.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

$396,000 settlement with Yates in North Avenue demolition sure to raise eyebrows at Monday Council meeting

A suspicious fire gutted 117-25 North Avenue
on the night of December 17, 2011. Image by Dan.

The building t 117-25 North Avenue after the fire.
It stood this way until March 20, 2015. Image by Dan.


A resolution on Monday night's Council agenda (R 369-17) proposes to settle all claims in the botched demolition of 117-25 North Avenue, which was damaged in a December 2011 fire, for an eye-popping $396,000.

The whole matter of the demolition of the building caused a huge brouhaha when it was done in 2015 -- the weekend before a special Council meeting that had been called to deal with it.

The late Eric Watson, the Director of DPWUD at that time, was on the hot seat to explain the timeline -- which involved several gaps of time that could have been construed as negligence if there were a true emergency -- and the manner in which the demolition contract was awarded.

The inicdent got extensive coverage on Plainfield Today (see here, here, and here) as well as Bernice's Plaintalker II (see here) and Olddoc's Potpourri (see here). I also posted online a packet of materials supplied by the office of Mayor Mapp containing correspondence, inspection reports, quotes and other matter about this property and the demolition (see here).

The Council -- at that time unsupportive of Mayor Adrian Mapp -- refused in a special meeting on March 23, 2015, to 1) authorize the demolition, 2) appropriate $250,000 for the expected costs as requested by the Administration, and 3) award the demolition contract to Yates.

Plainfield realtor John Campbell, who was present, remarked that he had heard a figure of $50,000 for the complete job (perhaps just for the sub-contractor?).

In the event, the work had already been done, and the Council's refusal to act set the City up for a lawsuit. According to a post on Olddoc's Potpourri (see here), resident Alan Goldstein avers the only invoice the City has received from Yates was for work done up to 3/24/15 for $75,000 (see here).

After Yates' subcontractor caused damage to the adjoining building, the City proceeded to finish the demolition and fill with the services of another contractor -- Yannuzzi.

So, the big question is: How did the City get to a $396,000 settlement when the only records we seem to have are for $75,000? That would equal a markup of 528%.

Not bad from Yates' point of view, I'm sure. But an outrage to Plainfield taxpayers.

Hopefully, all will be explained tonight.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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