The agenda fixing meeting was attended by about 30 residents. I once thought that televising the meetings would decrease attendance but that does not seem to be the case, a credit to the citizens of Plainfield, who really care about what happens in their city.
Public Safety Director Helwig gave a very brief report on the recent shootings. I was disappointed that the entire focus was on police enforcement. We really need a Mayor who can rally the community around a comprehensive approach to public safety. Police enforcement should be one aspect along with a coordinated public education, jobs training, mentoring and recreation strategy. Mayor Bloomberg recently announced a program for minority youth that combines jobs with educational commitments and mentoring. Just what Plainfield needs. I would love to see such a program in the Mayors next budget. That would have my support.
Spotshotter - my ambivalence comes from the lack of an overall public safety plan. I hope this isn't just an expensive gimmick, presented to mollify public concerns. It appears to have enough Council support for approval so time will tell. If the administration is really serious about Spotshotter, don't send the vendor to tell Council how great the program is. We need an objective analysis of data.
PMUA Taskforce - the fifth and sixth members will be added: Wilbert Gill and Marion Clemons. These are Annie McWilliams and Vera Greaves appointments, respectively. There is still one more appointment to make because the seventh nominee was a PMUA employee and was turned down by the Council. This group needs to get started and I will push for that by the end of August, seventh member or not.
The item generating the most discussion was the Lampkin House on Terrill Road. The majority of Council members felt that this is a financial responsibility the city just can't handle at this time. I have no argument with the Council majority on the fiscal concern. The $92,000 match for the county grant would be hard to justify for the city at this time. And time is short because the house is in danger of falling down.
It is a real shame because this could be more than just another proposed history house/museum. The only way to save this opportunity is for a group of citizens to convince the city that they have the staying power to find private grants that can combine with county, state and federal resources to make this project successful. The city would have to make a contribution but it would have to be a small part of the fiscal package. Could the Drake House board of trustees expand to become a larger entity to bring the Lampkin House under its wing? Is there private money available very soon to bring down the purchase/stabilization match the county requires? How much of a commitment can we get from the county for the Lampkin House? We have all heard stories of how an old property was rescued and made into an important community asset. It takes a lot of work by community volunteers. If there is anyone who is serious about discussing these questions and making a commitment to the Lampkin House, please contact me.