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Businesses need help on parking

We are the small business owners of Bloomfield and Glenridge avenues. Like small businesses everywhere, we struggled through COVID-19 and 2020. That our businesses have survived is due, in large part, to the support from our wonderful community. We are now asking for your help again.

We are thrilled about the construction of a parking deck on Glenridge Avenue. However, we expected adequate notice about the date of the lot closure and a detailed plan for replacement parking, garbage disposal and pedestrian access for businesses. 

Although the lot was expected to close on Jan. 4, at this point everything seems to be in a holding pattern. But we still have not received any official communication from the town regarding what’s happening, what they’re trying to do, or a definitive timeline. Council member Yacobellis has given the public unofficial updates, but that’s the extent of town communication. 

From the beginning of the Seymour Street project, we were led to believe (as was every town representative that we have spoken with) that the Glenridge lot would not close until the South Fullerton and South Willow street decks were completed and open. 

Those private parking decks were constructed on publicly owned land, and replaced municipal parking lots. There are currently no definitive opening dates for those decks, and the only listed parking prices are blocks of 10 hours for $7 to $20 at the discretion of the developer.

Small businesses have been told that we “must bear the pain” and “just try to get through” until construction is complete. However, construction will take at least one year (and please note that the current Seymour Street construction is almost a year behind schedule). 

Therefore, we ask why already struggling small businesses must suffer without parking, and residents can be charged exorbitant prices, while the developer who stands to profit from our town is not asked to share the burdens and pains of construction.

We are asking for four things:

  • • That the Midtown lot on Glenridge Avenue until the parking decks on South Fullerton and South Willow are fully operational.
  • • Guarantee adequate replacement parking spots in the new decks (300 spots were lost between the three closed lots) at municipal rates, until the developer completes construction of the Glenridge Avenue deck.
  • • Offer small businesses and restaurants an alternative to having dumpsters or garbage piled in front of their buildings for the duration of the construction.
  • • Create a small pedestrian walkway along the edge of the Glenridge lot to allow pedestrian access from Glenridge Avenue to Bloomfield Avenue, just as a pedestrian walkway was created along the edge of the construction between Seymour and South Willow streets.

We are an integral part of the Montclair community. We are asking for your support to ensure that our customers and Montclair residents are not gouged for parking on their own land, and that small businesses are given a fighting chance to survive.

The small businesses of Bloomfield and 

Glenridge avenues

Lost? Tossed? Stolen? Where is my ballot?

Are you familiar with the Department of State, Division of Elections, 2020 N.J. Voter Information Portal?

It is an excellent resource for experienced and first-time New Jersey voters. The site will help you learn how to:

  1. Register to vote.
  2. Determine voter registration status.
  3. Find polling sites and secure drop-box locations.
  4. Set up a voter record account.
  5. Track a submitted ballot.

I eagerly set up a personal voter record account prior to the Nov. 3, 2020, Election Day. I did this to track and ensure my vote was recorded and counted in one of the most highly contested general elections in American history. 

I did this to track the mail-in ballot I completed and submitted Oct. 16, 2020, to a “secure” drop box location in Essex County. I did this to ensure my vote was recorded and counted. As of Jan. 1, 2021, there is still no documentation that my ballot was ever received, scanned or recorded! The Information Portal states that a voter’s ballot status will change to Accepted or Rejected after the Nov. 20, 2020, election certification. Why hasn’t this happened? 

To get answers, I called the Essex County Board of Elections Nov. 2, Dec. 8, 9, 28 and 30. I either left messages or spoke to an official representative. 

With each contact, I was given a wide range of responses: “Your ballot has not been scanned,” “Call back,” “Ballots are being counted manually,” “Your ballot will be found in the box with others from your ward,” “Someone will call you.”  

No one has called, and the N.J. Voter Information Portal indicates that my ballot has yet to be scanned and added to my voting history. Am I the only voter with a ballot that was either lost, tossed or stolen? What happened to my vote?

Jennette L. Williams

Montclair 

Argument against leaf blowers

On New Year’s Day. my wife and I took a walk around Montclair. An unusual peace-filled town. Then I realized why: The gas leaf blowers had gone silent. 

Gas leaf blowers have become the second-hand smoke of suburban life. Their use fills whole neighborhoods with noise. Multiply them by dozens of landscaping companies and the noise fills daylight hours, marring spring, summer and fall. 

The noise enters homes. Its unique low-frequency sound signature travels long distances and penetrates windows, according to Charles Elkins, former director of the federal noise control program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The way the noise goes up and down when engines are gunned makes blowers irritating, the Wall Street Journal reported

Property owners are not doing landscape employees a favor by demanding a blown yard. Strapped to machines emitting more than 100 decibels, workers put their hearing at risk. They breathe uncombusted aerosols of gasoline and motor oil, a design feature of two-stroke engines. 

Declaring that overuse of gas leaf blowers “impairs the economic and social welfare, health, peace and quality of life,” Montclair in 1994 passed an ordinance regulating them. Citizens upheld it in a 1996 referendum. The law still leaves more than half the year wide open for loud blowing. 

Yet it hardly matters. Landscape companies flagrantly violate the law in the months when gas blowers are prohibited. The week after Christmas we heard blowers from blocks away, an apparent last-ditch effort to corral biomass before it decomposed into mulch. It is time to strengthen and to properly enforce our ordinance, then move to require battery-powered technology. 

The landscape industry may complain. Bar owners complained when smoking was banned indoors. Pandemic aside, bars are still in business and are nicer places to have or serve a drink. Our town can be a much nicer place to live and to work if we have the courage to take action. 

Greg Meyer 

Montclair