Wednesday, August 19, 2015

South Ave Gateway project

Plainfielders are asking if there are any legitimate reasons for the City Council to not approve the Gateway project.   The answer is no.  Here are the reasons given by my colleagues and why they don't add up:

1. "We were not adequately informed"
We have been talking about this for more than a year.  Reports to Council have been made by Carlos Sanchez.  I've made reports to Council as Planning Board representative and have personally offered to go over the project with several of my colleagues.  The developer presented to the Plainwood Square merchants and Councilwoman Taylor and I were at the meeting.  Planning Board meetings are advertised and open to the public. This project has been on their agenda numerous times.  Could the administration have given more information more often?  Yes they could have.  Could any Council member have asked for this project to be on the agenda for discussion at any meeting.  Yes we could have.  Council members have a responsibility to seek information to their questions.  If a new Council member begins a term in the middle of a major project, it is his/her responsibility to come up to speed and not hold up the project.

2. "The 30 year payment in lieu of taxes is too long".
This is a highly technical matter and needs guidance from experts.  The Council has a right to ask these experts questions to inform their vote.  But for a Council member to propose changes without expert advice makes no sense.  To a Council member who makes such a statement:  what do you base it on and who are your experts?  Did you seek out your advice as part of the Council as a whole?  If so, I wasn't included.

3. "We are bringing yuppies to town" 
So what.  We are bringing a whole lot more property taxes to town.  To pay for the rising costs of police and fire services, to offset all the tax appeals that are lowering our tax base.  A few hundred new residents of any description aren't going to change the demographics of Plainfield.  And if they did, is that a problem?  I welcome to Plainfield yuppies of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

4.  "What about our public schools"
The apartments are designed for single people and couples, not families with children. 

There is always a reason not to change.  Even if every other town along the Raritan Valley line is changing.  We can continue to lose tax ratables but what will the Council say to residents who want adequate police services when we can't afford them.  Or to seniors who own homes who can't afford Plainfield's tax increases.

Here is what I think about this project.  The developer, the city administration and the planning board have worked hard to design a quality project.  It can be an asset to the neighborhood and a benefit to the whole city.  If we blow this opportunity, it will be so much harder and take so much longer to do successful projects on East 2nd Street, downtown and on the west end.  Developers will continue to take their projects and investors to other towns.

This is a crucial moment for Plainfield and its City Council.  A turning point, no matter what we decide.


Anonymous said...

Can you appeal to the Developer to be patient in hope the next election producers a Council favorable to the plan? Bill Kruse

Elizabeth Faraone said...

I applaud Council Members who refused the tax abatement. There were many problems with this proposal and I believe there has been a lot of deception, starting with the alleged cost of the building. It doesn’t look like a $50 million project.

Plainfield is an extremely desirable city, with gorgeous architecture and close proximity to one of the greatest cities in the world. I don’t think we need to entice developers with tax breaks and I don’t think we need additional housing. Plainfield has a vacancy rate of 12%.

Growing up in Plainfield in the 1970s, I experienced a Plainfield that was much quieter with lighter traffic. With the building up of surrounding communities since then, there is much more traffic throughout the main thoroughfares of Plainfield. Let’s not consider adding traffic. Let’s consider preventing our city from becoming far too congested.

Let’s work together on re-establishing a hospital in Plainfield. Bad decisions by elitist political officials along with the nationwide problem of intense racism against poor black people and poor immigrants has financially destabilized the lives of most people living in Plainfield. The illegal closure of Muhlenberg hospital has led to the premature deaths of many.

As Adrian Mapp stated in the above video, his agenda is to “stabilize” property taxes, and so he is appealing to the desires of the well to do. He is a fiscal conservative. And now he is attempting to rule as a dictator with his proposal to replace the Planning Board with a private entity in the guise of saving money.

If we think creatively, we can improve Plainfield without displacing and brutalizing the poor and working class but instead, ensuring their basic needs are met.