Cranford


I saw this on the Cranford Families Facebook page this evening. The Zerbini Circus, a small family outfit that has the animal equivalent of a petting zoo (a camel being the largest) is now no longer welcomed at the Hillside Avenue School grounds due to “Public Pressure” to “protect the animals”.

What?

A video is posted of a handler with an elephant.

The Zerbini Circus doesn’t have elephants. Elephants cost a fortune to feed, and the Zerbini outfit wouldn’t have the means to transport them anyway. They rely on vehicles and trailers. The Ringling Bros. could do the elephants because they traveled by rail.

This whole thing is stupid.

And no, I am not pro-animal cruelty.

But I am not okay with Raymond Lesniak, who could probably be accused of political cruelty for his decades of misrepresenting the needs of his constituents and wasting our money while enriching himself and his friends, telling us who we can and can’t have performing in our town.

He is not the arbiter of what is proper and improper.

Raymond Lesniak is ANTI-PETTING ZOO.

His phone call should not be euphemistically called “public pressure”.

Interested, I looked at the Zerbini Circus website. To see if they had a gap during the last week in June when historically, they would come to Cranford.

They don’t.

They will be performing in Fonda, NY.

You can see for yourself.

https://zerbinifamilycircus.com/

Coincidentally, I know Fonda, NY. It is about an hour west of Albany and they have a popular fairgrounds and dirt race track that is often busy. They also do things like demolition derbies.

And every August they have a huge fair that includes many things Mr. Lesniak would find reprehensible.

Like the judging of rabbits, pigs, cows and chickens of local 4H member children. The animals are kept in pens, cages and stalls for the duration of the fair so people can look at them and judge them for themselves (what this does for the animal’s self-esteem must be beyond psychologically damaging).

Racing piglets around a track.

Equestrian events including jumping.

Rodeo events, including calf roping.

If he got worked up about the Zerbini Circus, he’d have an absolute episode if he saw this.

Or what rural upstate New Yorkers would call it, “normal”.

So I am trying to reconcile this. The whole late June period the Zerbinis will be performing in upstate New York. I’ve never paid much attention to their schedule in the past, I would just notice when they would be setting up at Hillside. I’ve gone a few times and found it harmless and somewhat kitschy; and appropriate for little kids. In our travels, I have seen their ads elsewhere for local shows. One time I noticed one in Shippensburg, PA only a day or two before they came to Cranford. So they get around.

Did someone tell them they weren’t welcome anywhere in NJ?

And obviously, New York does not seem to think that they are brutal masters of their animals.

So we continue here in NJ with meddlesome and worthless politicians who are anti-fun, and come up with thin reasons for being that way.

I will remember this: If the wind was right in the evening, we could hear the ringmaster announce “Annnnd may all your daaaaysss be circusss daaaaays” from our back porch which was a considerable distance from Hillside.

 

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You know they won’t. Not now. The state is too broke and Murphy would never push for it.

But Phil, we’re better than this, remember?

There was a fatality today at the Union toll plaza, a place many of us go through quite often.

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2018/03/one_dead_as_toll_plaza_crash_brings_parkway_to_halt.html#incart_2box_nj-homepage-featured

More than a decade ago, Acting Governor Codey had the plazas limited to one way and the tolls doubled. Union plaza northbound survived so it could capture all of the people getting on 78 East, and several years later, 78 West. Too much money to pass up to leave the toll plaza only for southbound drivers coming off of 78.

It is horribly engineered. The northbound GSP from 138 to the plaza has some badly designed exits. The short, sharp ramp at 138. The disaster merge for 22 then the loss of a lane just before the rest stop. Next you have the confused tourists coming out of the rest stop and getting rattled at the mouth of the toll plaza because only the right four booths can get you onto 78 East, and the split there often freezes drivers. The crossing over between lanes 3 and 6 is maddening because people are trying to figure out how to get to 78 but all of a sudden realize they don’t (no wait, they do!) have EZ Pass.

The poor signage, poor design and high speed of the locals who know where they’re going make a dangerous mix for the unfamiliar driver.

Like many taxes in New Jersey, tolls were often supposed to be temporary. The temporary income tax started by Brendan Byrne is another example.

As PA has gone to high speed interchanges, perhaps NJ can move to them too. We can rip out the booths, fix the signage and lives will be saved.

Because you know fixing a toll is better than removing them.

 

 

Cranford

Township committee

Two will serve three-year terms.

Patrick Giblin (D) — 4,157

Jean-Albert Maisonneuve (D) — 3,728

Andis Kalnins (R) — 3,452

Richard Buontempo (R) — 3,435

Board of education

Three will serve three-year terms. 

Rita Della Valle — 2,491

Lisa A. Carbone — 3,634

Kristen Mallon — 2,737

Kurt T. Petschow, Jr. — 2,995

One will serve a one-year unexpired term. 

Daniel DeMarco — 3,204

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2017/11/nj_general_elections_2017_union_county.html#incart_river_index

 

The Dem death grip on the Union County Freeholders continues, as it does with Sheriff.

And the winner of the Governor’s race is Jon Corzine’s Legacy.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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:

p91100131

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.

WP_20160712_001

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.

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