Cranford


Yep. 10 years of this. Granted, 4 posts a year does not a decent blog make, but we’re still here, and the archives have some less cringe-worthy things. Thank you for reading and for your comments over the years.

In the years we’ve been here in Cranford, we’ve made some great friends and have enjoyed ourselves. The quality of life definitely has been more than acceptable.

We’ve had fun at the rubber duck races, the Memorial Day Parade (if it isn’t rained out), the 4th of July festivities, National Night Out, the Street Fairs, some of the Car Shows (they get old after a while), Float Night at the pools, Hanson Park Halloween, Santa by the Gazebo and checking out the Christmas lights where some blocks go all-out. And there are the smaller group activities, the barbecues, and the quiet evening with the firepit in the backyard.

It has not been perfect, but anyplace that seems like it is, is most definitely not. The struggles with big developers, the COAH nonsense and the corruption and inefficiency of Union County are issues that we have to deal with often. The slow pace of implementing flood control and the trials many on the north side have dealt with since Hurricane Irene have made some people anxious.

But overall, I think we’re better here than we would be in most places. I have enjoyed meeting the unpretentious and helpful people that are here, and there are plenty of them.

Will we still be here in 10 years? Maybe, but we’ll see if jobs and the property taxes necessitate a move. Cranford is still in New Jersey, which has all of its problems. But it’s a nice island to be on.

 

 

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Unfortunately I could not attend the Community Center meeting last night. From the sounds of things I would not have gotten in anyway.

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/cranford/articles/cranford-residents-organize-to-resist-750-walnut

For non-Cranford readers, a large parcel near the southern border of town was an office / warehouse park that is owned by Hartz Mountain, the flea collar people. The anchor tenant recently left / was kicked out and they want to rezone for over 900 rental units.

http://www.goleader.com/news/docs/2017-06-05-CF-Hartz/Hartz_Site_Plans.pdf

This did not sit well with thousands of Cranford residents.

Understandably. That’s a lot of units.

Being a southsider, I drive on Walnut Avenue daily. I have an incentive to have traffic be metered or  be not much worse that it is today. It does get busy several times per day already. (An aside: I have long been in favor of a weight-sensitive light with left turn signals on Walnut northbound for those turning left on Chester Lang, but more for cars wanting to turn from Chester Lang to Walnut Ave northbound. They can sit there waiting for quite a while and with these units that wait will be longer.)

With people leaving for work, coming home and driving to stores and activities, this would add thousands of vehicle trips on Walnut per day. You think the backlog at Lincoln is bad now….

Plus I agree that a large residential development (which would add about 10% more households to the town) is likely to stress the schools (I could go on a rant on how the schools probably could do more with less, but that would be every rant ever). It would heavily affect Walnut Ave, Livingston Ave, and Hillside Ave schools since all of those students would be assigned to those schools. Or they’d need to be bused to the northside schools. THAT would go over with the northsiders…

Yes, the development would be paying taxes, but the schools may be at a point of capacity where they cannot accommodate the number of children physically in the space with the additional influx. With capital projects being ludicrously expensive due to inefficiency, paying union prevailing wages, and overruns, any increase in school tax revenue would be heavily offset by the increased costs. Most likely resulting in more bond debt.

Hartz is entitled to see what they can do with the property that would create the most value and generate the most cash. Unfortunately the NJ economy limits the potential uses due to obscene tax rates and regulation. Also, retailing has overcapacity, office space has overcapacity, and residents would be fighting even harder against any heavy or potentially polluting industry so close to homes.

So that leaves residential, nursing homes, and not much else, (I don’t think a hospital could work with one in Rahway so close).

Another issue with residential is that it is very tough for the land use to change once it is residential. Rental units would require eviction and some legal battles before buildings could be razed. A very hard bell to unring. Business buildings are much easier to change and reconfigure (kicking out 5 tenants is easier than 900). So if Hartz gets their wish, we’d have to live with it for many, many years.

I’d be interested to see if any leeching of any materials from the adjacent site (a former GM ball bearing plant that is now Hyatt Hills) is in ground samples of the Hartz site, and there may be contamination from Hartz’s activities from back in the day.

So, in my opinion, pretty much the citizen’s best shot at stopping this is to make it so the numbers could not work for Hartz. Demand that they build a school or expand the current schools. Demand widened roads and traffic signals that are timed to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety up and down Walnut (maybe even at Lincoln, maybe even up to North), perhaps even purchasing additional property to accommodate the widening. Demand traffic management by Walnut Avenue School with a parking turnout for people’s safety. Insist they test the living heck out of the soil. They need obstacles. Bad press is not enough.

That would be tough to do…Renting 905 units is going to be pretty stinking profitable. Lets say they have a 10% vacancy rate and rent them out at an average of $2,000 per month (that includes the cheap COAH units). Assuming 815 units are rented, that’s $1.6 million in revenue per month. Or almost $20 million a year. We’ll have to come up with a LOT of obstacles.

But, if the expenses to get it built and rented impact the numbers so badly it hurts the potential profitability for the next 10 years, they will look at another use.

But that means we as residents have to permit another use. Hartz owns the property and is entitled to do something with it. If we are against every last thing we’re just NIMBY idiots that show that Cranford is hostile to all business, and that is not a reputation you want to have.

Hard to believe it has been 15 years. Today I was away in New York state and away from a computer. So I didn’t have a chance to post until now.

It also let me beg off from a “day of service” project, which I had no interest in doing. Not because I am not for performing service and being part of the community, but a “service day” on September 11th is hollow to me. A distraction or a minimization of what happened.

I don’t want to remember a day of service. I don’t want to forget this:

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From My NYC Apartment Window

Coming home tonight I first noticed the lights from downtown NYC shining into the sky a little north of Poughkeepsie. A high cloud ceiling helped. And I could see them as the Thruway and Parkway bent around the curves and around the hills. And I could see them in Cranford without any trouble, provided there is a high enough spot or large enough clearing.

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Taken near the Walnut Avenue School 9/11/2016

Been a fun summer, with some of it spent here in town.

With the rain at the July 4th fireworks, my thought was that they didn’t want to make the mistake that they made with the Memorial Day Parade.

Verdict: They are 0-2. We got soaked to the skin. Decent show though but unfortunate that they started early. The next night we went to Clark and had a dry and enjoyable experience. They put on a pretty long show over there and there was plenty of room. Tip: The bridge over the pond on Raritan Road by Madison Hill Road is THE viewing place for those wanting to avoid traffic. There had to be 150 people there.

We have sampled some of the new-ish restaurants. Here are some notes:

River and Rail – Nice atmosphere, meh service bordering on clueless and forgettable food. But it looks like the clientele doesn’t really care as long as they have their Margarita or Coronita in their hands. I don’t understand why the owner is upset about the renovations to the substation, you really can’t see it with the trees lining South Avenue. Maybe he’ll want to be without power for 13 days sometime in order to have the preferred aesthetic.

By the way. RIP to the 1902 trolley station on the PSEG substation property.

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Ciao Bello – Doesn’t this mean “Hey Guy” in Italian? Pluses: The eggplant parmesan was floured, not breaded (breaded eggplant parm is a heavy, greasy mess and is a major minus to me when eating Italian). The service was acceptable as was the food. The personal pizza came with a mound of arugula, which was good while being a bit of a surprise for the person ordering it.

Mr. Bin Sushi – They had good quality fish which we enjoyed; they are open surprisingly late. We’ve already been back.

A couple more weeks are left, maybe we’ll hit a few more places before the hordes come back.

So today I get a sponsored post  in Facebook from the Cranford Democrats…nothing wrong with that.

Clark-Commons

But I thought it really odd that they would use their sponsored ad to tout their (and specifically Kevin Campbell’s)concern over traffic and stormwater runoff. Uh, little late for that.

If they were concerned, why didn’t they raise the concerns at the 2012 and 2013 Clark planning meetings before the project was approved?

The stormwater runoff, unless if affects the drainage on Raritan or Walnut, will be downstream of us, and with the Rahway widening a lot within Clark, will the increased impervious surface be significant enough to be a factor?

I’ll be interested in seeing how much worse the Raritan and Central intersection will be. The widening could help, and if done right it could provide better flow for the left turn signals. It will probably take us a little longer to get to ShopRite, but this also will cut a few trips to Linden, Watchung and Union to do shopping.

I will admit, I was a little disappointed to see all of the big evergreens bordering on Walnut go down. I was surprised that none would/could be saved. It’d be a plus if they plant more trees than your average shopping center, which they may since they also have that cesspool ornamental pond and a gazebo…

The tenants (with some restaurants I didn’t expect):

  • Whole Foods (which will include its own restaurant and pub)
  • Home Goods
  • L.A. Fitness
  • Panera Bread
  • Panda Express
  • Chipotle
  • Applebee’s
  • Noodles & Company
  • Smashburger
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Red Mango
  • Dress Barn
  • Carter’s
  • Oshkosh
  • Petco
  • Michael’s
  • Five Below
  • Modell’s Sporting Goods
  • Party City
  • Sleepy’s
  • Visionworks
  • Ulta
  • Torrid
  • Hallmark
  • Vitamin Shoppe
  • Verizon Wireless
  • PNC Bank

The way they’re slapping this thing up I would bet it is open before August.

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/02/see_the_27_stores_leased_for_clark_commons_shoppin.html

 

Leonard Lance is re-elected, and here are the Town Council results:

TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE
Two three-year terms
Brian T. McCarthy (D) – 2,947
Robert V. Salvatore (D) – 2,734
✓ Lisa M. Adubato (R)* – 3,451
✓ Andis Kalnins (R)* – 3,414

Congratulations to the winners.

The Star Ledger hasn’t bothered yet to update the Board of Ed results.

Update: They got around to it:

BOARD OF EDUCATION
Three three-year terms
Michael C. Caulfield* – 1,770
✓ JoAnn Boyle* – 1,822
Trevor Shaw* – 1,057
✓ Lisa A. Carbone – 2,509
✓ Daniel DeMarco – 1,868
Jacqueline Carr – 1,516

Back in the 70’s, before sitcoms withering in the ratings basement got started doing “very special” episodes about some disturbing topic, there would almost always be the obligatory “she’s gonna have a baby in the living room now!” episode. Or the elevator. See what I mean? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umqyXDm8ohs

It was never a plot used in the first season when the writers still had ideas.

Well, in a feel-good story, CPD Officer Nelson Hearns helped a Cranford family do just that for real.

Congratulations. We’re glad everyone is doing well.

http://cranford.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/cranford-police-officer-assists-with-special-delivery

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