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Market is a local treasure

The rise of the farmers market has been a quiet victory of the last 20 years. As communities and individuals care more and more about their food and where it comes from, they have enabled people the ability to shop consciously. They have helped family and small farms bring their products to market, and experiment by growing unique or specialty crops that big grocery chains won’t buy. 

The farmers market here in Montclair is a treasure and always has a bounty of fresh produce. It could be even better, though! In my recent experiences at the market, it has been dominated by a handful of sellers who seem to be going for a breadth of offerings rather than focusing on bringing unexpected and special produce to market. 

I was reminded of this in reading recently about the variety of native northeastern grapes. While the vendors have a quality grape, they do not have the variety I would hope for. The market should focus on bringing new vendors who work hard to show the bounty New Jersey and the Northeast offer agriculturally. Until then, I’ll be sure to see you on Saturdays.

Jacob Nieman

Montclair

Steadfast in service

The library appreciated the coverage provided in the Nov. 18 article on library funding. We would like to provide some additional context so our users can better understand our situation.  

Due to the significant revenue shortfalls caused by COVID the township had to make the difficult decision to cut the library’s originally budgeted allocation this year.  We understood the decision and, as a community partner of the township, wanted to do our part.  We immediately started work to adjust library spending for the remainder of the year.

Everyone involved in these hard decisions, from the library board of trustees to the elected council people and mayor to the township officers are all doing their part to be responsible stewards of taxpayer funds.

The impact on staffing and programs is unavoidable, but we are confident the library will continue to serve Montclair residents well.  With vaccine distribution in sight, we hope for a return to full funding next year, and a return to the exceptional library service Montclair residents have come to — and should — expect.

Peter Coyl, Director

Montclair Public Library

Property group

not monolithic

The Montclair Property Owners Association is giving landlords (like me) a bad name. First, they are hiding behind the “Property Owners” name when they represent landlords. Second, they ran a deceptive campaign to gather signatures. Then, they managed the campaign so poorly that they failed to anticipate what every petition campaign organizer knows: Lots of signatures will be invalid. Finally, instead of accepting responsibility, they tried to shift the blame from themselves onto the township clerk (for following the law!), while also making demands that would essentially gut the ordinance and calling it a “negotiation.” 

I was the landlord of rent-controlled (rent-stabilized) apartments in Brooklyn for more than 20 years. Based on my experience, I support rent control. With its steady but modest increases, rent control allowed me to maintain my building and make a reasonable profit, while also allowing my tenants the security and peace of mind that they would not suddenly be subject to unconscionable and unaffordable rent increases. This predictability also meant that tenants often stayed for long periods — sometimes 10 or more years. As a result, I seldom had to recruit new tenants and rarely had vacant apartments. Rent control had financial benefits for both me and my tenants.

My only concern with Montclair’s rent-control ordinance is that the allowable increases are too high and are likely to be more than landlords need to meet their costs. In New York, increases were based, in part, on an index of landlord costs. If there was high inflation in expenses like heating oil and taxes, the allowable increases were larger, though in all of the years I was subject to regulated rent increases I can recall few if any when allowable annual increases were as high as 4.25 percent. In any case, for the foreseeable future we will live in a low-inflation era. Allowable increases should reflect that.

Finally, I am also a landlord in Montclair. My wife and I rent out an apartment in our house. I note that two- and three-family homes are not even covered under the Montclair law — so only larger landlords would be affected by the rent-control ordinance.

Keith Hefner

Montclair