Essex County Snow Plows leave Montclair’s on street parking spaces untouched, Montclairs elected officials remain Silent.
Early on Monday morning January 25th it was clear that Montclair business districts had all but been abandoned by the Essex County Department of Public Works and it’s multi Million Dollar Snow plowing team. Not a single on street parking space in montclair was cleared of snow a full 36 hours after the end of the mega storm Jonas. It appears that the entire Essex County Department of Public Works took Sunday off and left Montclair’s Businesses hanging without a single on street parking space clear for customers to park town wide. A huge financial blow to all businesses.
Eight feet of snow was left in the parking spots on both sides along the full length of Bloomfield Avenue from the Art Museum on the West end to the Firehouse to the East end of Bloomfield Avenue. Valley Road in Upper Montclair, Grove Street, Watchung Avenue and Orange Road Business Districts were all similarly abandoned by the County of Essex.
To a Business Owner and by extension the Landlords on street parking is a vital component to their Business survival. No business can do without it. The Township see’s on street parking as a money maker and wants to spend as little as possible on maintaining that resource as possible. The County sees snow removal as a complete loss funds and works hard to limit its expense on the snow removal process.
The Montclair Township elected officials all chose to remain silent when contacted about the unplowed conditions. Renee Baskerville in the Fourth Ward, Sean Spiller from the Third Ward and Mayor Robert Jackson, all seeking re election this spring, chose to remain silent when asked when or if the on street parking spaces would be cleared of snow. The Interim Township Manager, Timothy F. Stafford, likewise chose not to weigh in on the subject.
Only Brendan Gill, The Essex County Freeholder representing Montclair responded in the affirmative almost immediately, pledging to look into the issue. Within hours Anthony Puglisi, the Public Information Director for the County of Essex responded. After seeing the image below of the snow piled 8 feet from the curb blocking all parking on both East and Westbound sides of Bloomfield Avenue. ….
Mr Puglisi said:
“ Unfortunately, it is too cost prohibitive to remove snow from the roadway. Our public works crews, however, do a good job in plowing the street curb to curb to keep Bloomfield Avenue open.”
After reminding him that 8 feet of snow blocked both curbs and that the plows that came through Montclair intentionally did not remove snow from the parking lanes on both East and Westbound sides of Bloomfield Ave Mr. Puglisi added:
“ Our DPW continues to respond to areas where additional plowing is needed. I just spoke to our DPW director and he said Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair is one of the areas where plows will be returning to re-plow and push back the snow.”
When and which sides will be cleared is still undetermined.
As late as 7:30 PM on Monday Night the Eastbound side of Bloomfield Avenue had been marked off as no parking. Possibly in anticipation of the County Plows returning to complete the work they were tasked with but failed at almost two days ago.
During the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 the Montclair Police Department simply restricted all parking on Bloomfield Avenue and elsewhere in Montclair rather than remove the snow from the parking spaces. This was done with the blessing of the very same elected officials who are now up for reelection. Only after a surge of complaints from Residents and Merchants alike, during the winter of 2014-2015, did the Township of Montclair remove the snow from the on street parking spaces.
Montclair’s retail, professional and service businesses and their property owners , who pay 100% of the commercial property taxes in Montclair were left abandoned yet again by the very elected officials who are up for reelection this spring. The ink is not dry on the $350,000.00 invoice for new parking meters and they will certainly be asking the very same taxpayers to foot the bill for the new meters.
Update: Just prior to deadline Mayor Robert Jackson was the only Montclair Elected Official who took the time to weigh in on this issue. Mayor Jackson said:
“Bloomfield Avenue is a County Road with the County having curb-to-curb responsibility.
Freeholder Gill, County Engineer Varghese, and I have discussed this issue and hope to reach a course of action in short order. The response to the performance of Montclair and County forces has been overwhelmingly positive and rightfully so. We know that more work has to be done but I am extremely grateful for the citizens of Montclair who appreciate a job well done and patiently understand that our exhausted troops are still working hard to establish “sping-like” road conditions, even after a record-breaking snow storm.”
Freeholder Brendan Gill: BGill@Freeholders.EssexCountyNJ.org
Mayor Robert jackson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interim Township Manager, Timothy F. Stafford: email@example.com
Renee Baskerville, Fourth Ward township council member: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Spiller, Third Ward township council member: email@example.com
All Photos by Scott Kennedy for The Montclair Dispatch