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Lackawanna developers debut website, Facebook page

in Business/Commercial development/Community
Screenshot of Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment website.

By LINDA MOSS
moss@montclairlocal.news

Facing community opposition to their proposal, the developers of Lackawanna Plaza have launched a website and Facebook page outlining their plans “to revitalize” the site, which includes a historic train station and nearly vacant shopping center.

Pinnacle Cos. of Montclair and Hampshire Cos. of Morristown issued a press release Thursday about the new site, www.lackawannaplaza.com, and page, www.facebook.com/LackawannaPlaza.

The site “offers community members a new resource to learn more about the vision consistent with the objectives outlined in the Draft Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan, which was prepared at the direction of Montclair Township’s Master Plan,” according to the press release.

The Facebook page aims “to keep residents informed of updates and ways to show support for the dynamic new vision,” the release said.

“The developers expect that area residents will visit the new project website to learn more and connect on Facebook to support the transformation of what currently exists as a barrier in the eastern end of Montclair Center into an attractive, inviting center of activity that facilitates the economic and social benefits of sustainable growth,” according to the press release.

The site says that the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment “will breathe new life into the Lackawanna Station shopping center and its adjoining parcels,” with “a new mix of uses, including residential and supermarket space to add vibrancy and connectivity to the area, while respecting the historic character of the original Lackawanna station terminal building.”

It also describes the proposal, which includes 350 residential units with a roughly 65,000-square-foot supermarket,” which will replace the Pathmark that closed in November 2015.

The press release on the new website was put out by Public Strategy Group Inc., a Boston-based public relations firm “specializing in issue advocacy and land use entitlement campaigns,” according to its website. The firm’s clients include Comcast Corp., The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Publix and AvalonBay Communities Inc.

The redevelopment plan has met opposition from residents who fear it will dwarf the historic train station, now occupied by the Pig & Prince restaurant, at the site. Opponents of the proposal also claim it has too much bulk and residential density for that part of Bloomfield Avenue, and that it will create traffic congestion.

The Township Planning Board is holding a meeting on Monday on the first draft of the site’s redevelopment plan, but it has said that it will not permit public comment at that session. The Township Council has asked the board for its recommendations on the redevelopment plan, and the planning board — on the agenda for its Monday meeting — says that the council will be the forum for public comment.

“Please note that the discussion is limited to the Planning Board and there will be no public discussion of the plan,” the board’s June 26 agenda says. “Public comment will be provided at the public hearing which will be scheduled by the Township Council.”

The Lackawanna Plaza website has a form and letter message in support of the redevelopment that people can fill out, which will then be forwarded to Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, as well as the council and planning board, according to the site.

“As a resident of Montclair Township, I urge your strong support for the Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment proposal,” the form says. “This proposal will enliven the eastern end of Montclair Center by creating a vibrant mix of new uses within a walk-able community to provide housing variety and a convenient, affordable supermarket that area residents need … I respectfully urge your strong support to help this high-quality redevelopment proposal move forward to enhance the community for years to come.”

The Lackawanna Plaza website notes that “over two years of planning meetings and community input have informed the evolution of the Draft Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan, which recommends specific objectives to support revitalization of this area.”

According to the website, “This redevelopment enhances an underutilized property in a key location by fulfilling competing objectives of preserving important historic elements while introducing residential uses, two acre open space public plaza, pedestrian connectivity and a new supermarket to replace the vacant Pathmark supermarket. Most importantly, the plan synthesizes the township’s connection to its historic past and vibrancy with a new center of activity to ensure these elements resonate for generations to come.”

 

 

Montclair YMCA president, CEO to step down

in Community
Jo Ann Short

 

 

 

 

 

 

By ERIN ROLL

roll@montclairlocal.news

The president and CEO of the Montclair YMCA is reported to be stepping down at the end of the month.

Jo Ann Short will be departing effective June 30, according to a letter that Victoria Herzberg, chair of the YMCA board of directors, sent to members on June 6.

Timothy Weidman is acting as interim president and CEO, the letter said. His prior experience includes 20 years as the CEO for the Summit Area YMCA and a resource director for the national YMCA, New Jersey region.

“Since 2010, Jo Ann has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish to thank her for her seven years of dedicated service that involved many significant accomplishments,” Herzberg wrote.

Herzberg could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Montclair Police Lt. Tyrone Williams Jr., also a member of the board of directors, confirmed Short’s pending departure on Wednesday, but deferred comment to Herzberg.

Follow Montclair Local for more information on this story.

Send us your summer snaps!

in Community
Wikimedia Commons.

We’re keeping it local and neighborly — what are you doing on your summer vacation?

Send us one of your favorite pics of you and the family (furry family included) enjoying the summer. We’ll add a gold star if you’re holding a Montclair Local!

Let us know where you are and when, and who’s who, left to right. Please send images of at least 150KB to 3MB. Remember, to run in Thursday’s paper we need pics the Friday before. Keep them coming; we’ll run what we get, through Labor Day!

Write to us at culture@montclairlocal.news!

Vision Montclair group, fighting development, gets off the ground

in Business/Commercial development/Community/Fourth Ward/Pinnacle Cos./Planning Board/Public Safety/Seymour Street redevelopment
Adriana O’Toole

By LINDA MOSS
moss@montclairlocal.news

Concerned residents have formed a new community group, Vision Montclair, that is circulating a petition opposing two controversial major redevelopments in the township.

The group has scheduled a meeting for Thursday evening, June 22, at 7, at 1 Cloverhill Place, which is on the corner of Cloverhill and Glenridge Avenue, said one of its organizers, resident and local real estate agent Adriana O’Toole. So far Vision Montclair has gathered roughly 140 signatures on the petition that was sent out by Beth Calamia Scheckel, another co-founder of the new group.

“I’d say that Adriana and I have been instrumental in organizing our own neighborhood group and trying to keep up the momentum, and then we recently connected with residents in the Cloverhill/Lackawanna area who have their own neighborhood group with a few community leaders, and it just seemed natural to bring ourselves together since we all are working toward the same goal,” Scheckel said in an email this week.

Both she and O’Toole have appeared at recent township meetings to raise objections to two mixed-use redevelopments, one at Seymour Street adjacent to the Wellmont Theater and one at Lackawanna Plaza, the site of a historic train station and a shopping center that once housed a Pathmark. The projects, both on Bloomfield Avenue and proposed by Pinnacle Cos. of Montclair, have significant residential components, 200 apartments at Seymour Street and 350 at Lackawanna Plaza.

Vision Montclair’s goal is to support “sensible development” and to rally opposition to the proposed redevelopments because of the traffic that they will generate and their impact on local quality of life, according to O’Toole. Traffic congestion in the midtown area is going to spill over and clog local streets, she said.

“We (the neighbors around Seymour Street) don’t see this as just a neighborhood problem but something that affects everyone in Montclair,” Scheckel said. “This is why we have come together with residents of other neighborhoods to protest these untenable developments. There are other groups in town with similar sentiments, too, like Save Montclair and the Justice Coalition (which is particularly interested in promoting affordable housing, which is a whole other unspoken issue with these plans). There is strength in numbers, and everyone’s voice should count.”

Last week the Township Planning Board, dissatisfied with what was presented, told Pinnacle to gather additional data for a traffic-impact study regarding Seymour Street. Scheckel was critical of the board.

“In our almost two years of attending Planning Board meetings, we have found that the board belittles and disrespects attendees during public comment, creating an atmosphere of intimidation,” she said. “Their meetings … often go on for five hours, with public comment sometimes starting after 11 pm. It should not be us against them. Because Montclair residents need to participate in municipal affairs but often can’t within the structure of board and Council meetings, we hope that through this and other Montclair-first groups we can allow everyone’s opinion to be heard and to count.”

Vision Montclair also claims that township schools can’t accommodate the influx of students these developments can bring, and that “Montclair is allowing Pinnacle to build on town-owned property.”

Defending the projects, Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson has cited a study done by township planning officials that found that dwellers in new apartments haven’t burdened the school district, averaging just six school-age children for every 100 housing units.

And Pinnacle President Brian Stolar said his company will be giving the township payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOT payments, for both the Seymour Street and Lackawanna Plaza redevelopments that are more than the properties are currently generating for the municipality. In addition, Pinnacle will be paying to lease the Seymour Street land from the township, according to Stolar.

Updates from Montclair’s Lyric Gibson

in Altruism/Community
Lyric Gibson on an independent service project at Heifer Ranch n Little Rock, Arkansas. Courtesy Lyric Gibson.

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

Lyric Gibson, the 2016 Montclair High School graduate working with AmeriCorps NCCC, sends us exciting news.

We profiled Lyric back in March. From that article: “Whatever she does, she wants to serve. Seeing a house grow from the ground up and meeting the homeowners has been an emotional experience, she said.”

Lyric has taken that joy she felt and is going forward: she will work as construction crew leader with Habitat Kaua’i, through AmeriCorps State and National. In that position she will do hands-on carpentry, and lead groups of volunteers. She writes:

“As my 10 month service in AmeriCorps NCCC wraps up, with four more weeks left serving in Ferguson, Missouri, and a week following in Denver, Colorado for Class 23 graduation, corps members take it upon themselves (with additional training from campus) to plan for Life after AmeriCorps. Members continue to go through college, some of them choose to go home and start their careers, and some choose to further work as an AmeriCorps member.

“During my second round in San Antonio, Texas, while working with Habitat for Humanity, I discovered the joy, love and curiosity of working with this organization, with a special thanks to those within the staff who my team worked with every day, and volunteer interaction every weekend.

“This led me to search for jobs around the country with Habitat and about five weeks ago, I found a nearly perfect position with Habit Kaua’i through AmeriCorps State and National.

“I applied to work as a Construction Crew Leader. After waiting a long period of time to hear back, on June 8th, I received an email saying that I have been selected to serve.

“On June 9th, I accepted an official offer to serve in the position. I would not have been as successful in applying to this position in the beautiful state of Hawaii without receiving amazing recommendation letters from two Habitat San Antonio staff members who became my teachers, friends and supervisors while serving in Texas, as well as a recommendation letter from Montclair High School Assistant Principal Clifton J. Thompson, who encouraged, supported and advocated for me through my last years of high school, helping me complete senior year and graduate!

“I am most thankful to not only those people, but everyone who has supported me through and after graduation, as I make my way through my first adult years out of the town of Montclair, New Jersey!”

Thank you for your service, Lyric!
Do you have updates about a story? Send us your news at culture@montclairlocal.news.

Council hears more on town traffic issues

in Community/Fourth Ward/municipal government/Pinnacle Cos./Planning Board/Township Council
LINDA MOSS/STAFF 
Beth Calamia Scheckel, a co-founder of Vision Montclair, spoke at Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting.

By LINDA MOSS
moss@montclairlocal.news

In the wake of an accident that killed a woman taking an evening walk, residents voiced their concerns about local road safety, particularly on Grove Street, as well as other traffic problems to the Township Council on Tuesday night.

Also at its meeting, the council declined to approve four liquor-license renewals, for Tierney’s Tavern, Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant as well as two inactive licenses held by developer Dick Grabowsky and New Montclair Entertainment. Tierney’s and Trumpets haven’t received the tax-clearance certificates that they need for their approvals from the state yet. Those liquor-consumption licenses expire June 30. The council approved eight other renewals.

At the meeting, over a half-dozen people addressed the local governing body, with several calling for better lighting on Grove Street following the June 7 death of Mary DeFilippis, who worked at Montclair State University. Pat Kenschaft and her husband, Fred Chichester, both talked about what they consider dangerous, dark stretches on Grove Street.

DeFilippis, 73, sustained fatal injuries while crossing Grove Street at its intersection with Chester Road. Since her death, the township has asked PSE&G to install additional lighting at that site. Kenschaft said she lives on nearby Gordonhurst Avenue three houses in from Grove, and that both she and a neighbor have been involved in car accidents at their corner.

“Both of these accidents were due to a slight rise between us and Chester Road, in the road, which makes it hard for cars to see and cars come much too fast,” she said. “It would help if we could enforce the speed limit, but I think a sign, something like ‘Warning: Dangerous Intersection Ahead,’ or something that indicates to people that this is a worse situation than we normally have on Grove Street.”

But Kenschaft said she is opposed to reducing the current 35 mph speed limit or putting any kind of median in the center of the county road. At the council meeting, Beth Calamia Scheckel and Adriana O’Toole, co-founders of a new group called Vision Montclair, once again complained about the traffic problems that they believe two new redevelopment projects, at Lackawanna Plaza and Seymour Street, will cause along the Bloomfield Avenue corridor.

“I’m representing about 100 of my neighbors and other residents who have given me permission for me to speak for them tonight,” Scheckel said.

Michael Stahl also came to the podium to ask why Orange Road must remain closed in one direction during construction of The MC Hotel on the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Valley Road. He said that Valley Road between Church Street and Bloomfield Avenue, by the Bloom & Valley apartment complex, is an uneven stretch, and when trucks drive down it, local homes shake. That problem is exacerbated because Orange Road is closed in one direction, forcing trucks and buses to detour onto Valley instead, according to Stahl.

“Right now it seems we ceded a lot of roadway to the developer, probably to make it simpler for them to do their construction … It could be managed by the police instead, allowing at least on weekends buses and trucks to go that way,” Stahl said.

Frelinghuysen challenger Sherrill woos supporters in Montclair

in Community/Local politics
DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI/STAFF
Mikie Sherrill, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the 11th Congressional District against Rodney Frelinghuysen, meets with the public at a meet-and-greet at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair Monday night.

By LINDA MOSS
moss@montclairlocal.news

Township resident Mikie Sherrill, who seeks to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen from office, on Monday fielded some tough questions from potential voters who lauded her on one hand, but also voiced concern about the obstacles she faces.

Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and ex-federal prosecutor, spent two hours at a meet-and-greet at Watchung Booksellers wooing about 100 attendees, seeking their support in fundraising and in volunteering for her campaign to run in the Democratic primary next year.

She spent a good amount of time criticizing Frelinghuysen, the Republican incumbent she hopes to run against in the 11th Congressional District, which includes portions of Essex, Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties. During the session Sherrill also said that she is considering ways to address the fact that at this time she doesn’t reside within the district.

At the gathering, hosted by Montclair resident Selma Avdicevic, Sherrill said that she has already started her fundraising and going out to meet the public, including attending a recent event in Parsippany. As part of her strategy, Sherrill said that she plans to hold town hall meetings and to invite Frelinghuysen, who has raised the ire of some of his constituents by refusing to meet with them and by supporting a number of initiatives championed by President Trump — including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“People are holding Rep. Frelinghuysen accountable now in a way I don’t think he’s been held accountable in the past 22 years by the majority of the district,” said Sherrill, who kicked off her grassroots campaign six weeks ago.

Calls to Frelinghuysen’s Washington, D.C., and Morristown offices for comment weren’t returned, nor was an email.

A number of attendees at Monday’s gathering expressed concern that Sherrill’s non-residency in the 11th District is a liability. They also brought up Frelinghuysen’s long-term incumbency and past popularity, the difficulty of raising funds to campaign against him, and the issue of what other Democratic contenders will want to oppose Sherrill in the Democratic primary.

In turn, Sherrill told the group that Americans are disappointed with the Trump presidency and his administration, with its lack of support for the middle class, veterans and the nation’s allies in Europe. And rather than act like a moderate Republican, Frelinghuysen has moved “more and more to the right,” supported the president’s agenda and is vulnerable, she said. The whole country will be watching the 11th District’s race to see how Frelinghuysen fares, according to Sherrill.

LINDA MOSS/STAFF
Selma Avdicevic, left, hosted a meet-and-greet for Mikie Sherrill, front center, who hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.

“This is one of the critical swing districts that we really have to win back if the Democrats want to win back the House,” she said. “We need 24 seats, maybe after tomorrow 23. So this is a critical one. There’s a lot of national attention on this district.”

George Martini, a Verona resident, made remarks and asked questions that were echoed by a number of the attendees on Monday. He even suggested that Sherrill get an apartment in the district.

“I’m here to find an alternative to Rodney,” he said. “I’m totally frustrated. I’ve been to his office in Morristown and gotten the same garbage back. He won’t even explain why he won’t meet.”

Then Martini added, “The only thing I see as a possible problem is I understand you don’t live in the district, which to me is not a problem. But knowing how entrenched Rodney is, we need like the perfect candidate and I’m worried that that’s something that some people will just disqualify you [for] … Can you move?”

“We’re looking at that,” Sherrill said, while joking a bit. “That’s something I’m talking over with my husband. We’re looking at different things — first we have to get the house painted, the basement cleaned out. But we’re definitely considering that option.”

In terms of her platform, Sherrill said she “just sees a different future for this country” than what is being pursued now, and supports green energy. She criticized Trump for the way he has treated and “belittled” U.S. global allies, civil servants, veterans and intelligence officers.

“As I said, Frelinghuysen has been 100 percent in lockstep with him, and hasn’t stood up to any of these bad policies,” she said. “I have stood and watched as President Trump has torn down a lot of the things that I believe in. And every single day I’ve watched Rep. Frelinghuysen to refuse to stand up and do anything about it.”

Sherrill, whose nickname “Mikie” is short for Michelle, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994. She was in active service for 10 years as a Navy helicopter pilot, leaving the service in 2003 to get a law degree from Georgetown University. She went into private practice before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.

Her husband, Jason Hedburg, is a fellow Naval Academy graduate, and they have a family of four children ranging in age from 5 to 11.

LINDA MOSS/STAFF
Mikie Sherrill’s 11-year-old daughter, Maggie Hedberg, was on the campaign stump for her mom on Monday night.

Sherrill told an anecdote about her grandfather, a B-22 bomber pilot in World War II, being shot down over occupied France and rescued by the free French, avoiding capture by the Nazis.

“And it occurred to me when I was listening to these stories that we Americans, in my grandfather’s time, were the heroes of the world,” she said. “And as a little girl listening to these stories I wanted to be one of those heroes. And so then as I grew up a little bit I started to hear stories about life behind the Iron Curtain. I heard about how people weren’t able to worship how they wanted to worship, how people weren’t allowed to travel where they wanted to travel.”

Sherrill said that she wanted to fight against that oppression.

“And now we have a president in office who is tearing apart the bedrock institutions that my grandfather fought for and that I have spent my career fighting for,” she said. “And we have a representative in Congress who refuses to stand up and to be the leader that we really need him to be right now.”

Avdicevic said she has known Sherrill for about seven years, meeting through their children in school.

“When she decided to run, she reached out to me … I said I couldn’t think of a better person to run,” Avdicevic said. “Considering what happened in the General Election of November 2016, I think we’re all looking for inspiring and inspired leaders, people who will answer the call to public service … She, I believe, is one such person. She possesses the strength and poise of someone who has been in public service her entire life.”

Sherrill also got a shout-out from her 11-year-old daughter, Maggie Hedberg.

“I don’t know much about politics, but I do know it’s very hard to start something that takes a lot of effort and work and not know if you’re going to succeed,” Maggie told the group. “I know that she [Sherrill] has amazing ideas and she has been through a lot to help our country and I know that she loves it.”

Sherrill estimated that it will cost at least $3 million to $4 million to finance a campaign against Frelinghuysen, noting that the congressman “has deep pockets.”

Sherrill said that she has met with the Democratic chairmen for the four counties represented by the 11th District, seeking their endorsement to run on the party line in the primary next year. While noting that no other Democratic contender has announced plans to run yet, Sherrill did say that she has heard the name of fellow Montclair resident Jim Johnson bandied about as a possible candidate. Johnson lost his bid to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination earlier this month, but performed better than expected at the polls.

George Togman, 13, brought his father Jeffrey Togman, who teaches political science at Seton Hall University, to the Sherrill event. The teen read about the meet-and-greet in Montclair Local and wanted to come.

“I’m very interested in politics, and when I grow up I want to be a representative in Congress,” George said. “So I’m interested to see how someone who is running for office handles themselves and what they do.”

His father Jeffrey said, “I would like to see Mikie Sherrill win.”

 

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Mikie Sherrill’s daughter.

Friends express heartbreak over death of Montclair State faculty member

in Community/Pedestrians/Public Safety/Streets and Roads/Transportation
LINDA MOSS/STAFF
The program for Tuesday night’s memorial for Mary DeFilippis at Union Congregational Church.

By ERIN ROLL and LINDA MOSS>
roll@montclairlocal.news
moss@montclairlcoal.news

This week still-stunned friends, family and colleagues continued to mourn and memorialize Mary DeFilippis, the Montclair State University faculty member who was struck and killed by a vehicle on Grove Street last week.

More than 400 people gathered on Tuesday night for what was called a celebration service for DeFilippis at Union Congregational Church in Montclair, where she was eulogized by her friends and colleagues as a warm, witty, whip-smart, professional and caring woman who made a mark wherever she went.

DeFilippis, academic adviser for the MBA program at the university’s Feliciano School of Business, was out for her evening walk last Wednesday, June 7, when she was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Grove Street and Chester Road, according to Township Police Lt. David O’Dowd. DeFilippis was taken to Mountainside Medical Center, but died of her injuries. The incident happened not far from her home.

“Last Wednesday night our hearts broke,” said the Rev. David Shaw, pastor of Union Congregational, said at the memorial service. “I come here tonight in trust that God’s heart broke, first … Mary’s death is the definition of tragedy.”

At the service the speakers also included one of DeFilippis’ three sons, her childhood friend from their days of mischief-making growing up in the tiny country town of Wynantskill, New York, and Richard Peterson, a professor at the business school. They joined with DeFilippis’ other friends and fellow churchgoers who this past week expressed their grief and shock over her death.

Montclair State honored DeFilippis in a special way last Friday, according to Peterson.

“Something I do not remember ever happening on the campus as a tribute to a university staffer: Our flag [flew] half-staff in honor of Mary,” he said.

At the service DeFilippis’ husband, George, and her three adult sons sat in the front pew of the church. One son, John, briefly addressed the group.

“So, I don’t think I can stand up here for more than 30 seconds,” he said, trying to keep his composure. “If you knew my mom, you know she was always worried about how you’re doing, if you were happy, or not. And if you weren’t, she wanted to know what she could do to make you happy. She wanted to force you to be happy, sometimes.”

That comment prompted laughter from the audience. And while it was obviously a time of grieving, there was laughter at the service several times as the speakers related anecdotes about the deceased Montclair resident, who was 73.

Mickey Clement, in a sometimes halting voice as she grew emotional, said she had known DeFilippis “for a lifetime,” almost 70 years, and she had the most stories to tell.

“There may be people who know Mary better than me … but no one has known her longer or loved her longer than I have,” Clement said. “Picture this skinny little girl with Coke-thick glasses and sausage curls all over her head … Even then she was funny, smart and more importantly, kind … we bonded.”

Clement described DeFilippis as always the smartest girl in the room, but said that “she also had a little attitude going on. … She was a bit of an imp.”

For example, in elementary school DeFilippis found a sly way to stick her tongue out the side of her mouth at her teachers, so they wouldn’t see it.

“And she never got caught, or so we thought,” Clement said. “Years later my mother, who was a teacher in our school, told us that all the teachers knew what she [DeFilippis] was doing. … And they let it slide.”

LINDA MOSS/STAFF
People start to arrive for the memorial service for Mary DeFilippis that was held Tuesday night at Union Congregational Church, where she worshiped.

In fifth grade DeFilippis also decided she was going to marry Mickey Mantle.

“And for the next two years, and I’m not making this up either, she wrote ‘Mrs. Mickey Mantle’ all over her assignment papers and handed them in to her teachers,” said Clement, who noted that the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center was just “down the street” from lifelong Yankee fan DeFilippis.

Peterson said he met DeFilippis when he interviewed her for a job in 2002.

“Within 30 seconds into the interview I realized Mary had to become my secretary,” he said. “Yes, you are probably saying, why did it take you so long to figure that out?”

DeFilippis would eventually end up being an adviser to students at the business school, according to Peterson. Earlier in the day Tuesday, he said, several cleaning employees stopped by his office and asked him to convey their condolences to her family.

“She cared for the faculty, she cared for the staff, and most of all, she cared for the well-being of the students who needed our advice and counsel,” he said. “To say that she was loved and appreciated only begins to describe her influence. In the 15 years I’ve known Mary, there was never a harsh word, a raised voice, or a snide comment. Mary found, and brought out, in each of us the best.”

The university this week announced that it is starting a scholarship fund in memory of DeFilippis.

She lived in Montclair for 34 years, and had many friends in town.

“Mary was the kindest, most gentle lady,” Gregg Monsees said. “She was always upbeat, cheerful, and happy to see you. She always had a smile on, and a wonderful infectious laugh. A new grandmother, she loved to talk about her grandchild.”

Monsees, his family and his former spouse Polly Monsees are all members of Union Congregational, where DeFilippis worshiped. Polly Monsees said she had been friends with DeFilippis for 37 years, after meeting when their respective children were in the church’s nursery school. DeFilippis acted with the Union Congregational Players.

“Many people might find it surprising, she was quite a comedic actress,” Polly Monsees said, adding that DeFilippis could have the audience “in stitches.”

Gregg Monsees called DeFilippis’ death “horrible, an utter shock, senseless,” adding, “It is a tremendous loss to everyone: family, friends, church, work … and Montclair.”

Michele Trevenen was also shaken up by DeFilippis’ death.

“I will so miss catching up with her at church, our breakfast group, and chatting on Polly’s porch,” she said. “I almost lost it in ShopRite this morning as that was one of the places I ran into Mary the most.

DeFilippis began her career at MSU as the secretary of the Hispanic Institute for Applied Psychology in 1993, according to the obituary prepared by MSU. Over the past 24 years she worked in the Psychoeducational Center and the Educational Opportunity Fund Programs before joining the business school in 2002, the obituary said. Her first duty there was as Peterson’s secretary for the Department of Information & Decision Sciences and Management & Information Systems.

DeFilippis loved traveling to Paris and enjoyed summer vacations in Cape Cod with her family, according to her obituary.

“Above all, Mary adored spending time with her family, especially her grandson Dylan,” her obituary said.

After receiving her baccalaureate degree in history from Russell Sage, she studied for her master’s degree in international relations at Columbia University.

The online guest book for the Allwood Funeral Home in Clifton, which handled arrangements for DeFilippis’ burial, was full of comments, many from her work colleagues.

A number of her MSU colleagues posted condolences, including Olga Dembicki.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of Mary’s passing,” she wrote. “She loved students and children, especially her grandson who she always spoke about so fondly. I was happy to catch up with Mary when we spoke for a short while at work the day she passed away. She was so excited that Mr. Softee was coming on campus, since she loved ice cream. I will truly miss Mary and I am so very sad she is gone.”

Montclair’s Fourth of July parade returns for 67th year

in Community/Holidays

COURTESY OF MONTCLAIR TOWNSHIP
The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps band will once again perform at the township’s Fourth of July parade.

Montclair’s annual Fourth of July parade with return for its 67th year on Tuesday, July 4, as will the township’s fireworks display. Montclair Celebrates announced on Sunday. That community-based organization was formed to preserve the municipality’s Independence Day celebrations.

The parade begins at 11 a.m. along a 1.6-mile route traveling west on Bloomfield Avenue to Midland Avenue, continuing to Watchung Avenue, west to Valley Road and ending at Edgemont Park, where the annual Family Picnic will be held.

The fireworks display is being held at Yogi Berra Stadium at the Montclair State University campus. The stadium admission fee is $3 per person or $10 for a family. A family is up to six people, with $2 per person beyond six, and free for kids ages 5 and under.

The gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Free parking will be available at the Carparc Diem deck, adjacent to Floyd Hall Arena and at the Red Hawk parking deck. Overflow vehicles will be directed to other parking areas. Concessions will be available; no outside food, water or other drinks may be brought into the stadium.

In terms of entertainment, once again this year the Fralinger String Band of Philadelphia Mummers fame will perform.

“This year the band’s ‘Spellbinding’ theme will see a sorcerer’s spells take the audience through a wondrous and wizardly world,” according to the parade announcement. “When the Sorcerer sees himself in his crystal ball, illusion shatters into reality and a spellbinding performance unfolds. See an amazing performance with talented musicians in fabulous costumes.”

Another parade highlight will be the return of the award-winning Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, which has been has been seen by millions in such diverse appearances as a parade to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington’s Inauguration, a performance in a church basement in Brooklyn, concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and the New York City Veteran’s Day Parade.

Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps — a nationally competitive drum corps based in Burlington, N.J., that was founded in 1990 — are also part of the parade lineup, as are Caporales San Simon, a Bolivian dance group, and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Band.

The parade’s participants will also include local favorites such as the Montclair Community Band, community groups and organizations who will have floats and marchers, fire engines, antique cars, and “Elvis.”

Montclair Celebrates chose the Montclair Community Pre-K as the Grand Marshal of this year’s paradee. The nationally recognized Pre-K program, whose mission is to offer all three- to five-year-olds in Montclair a high-quality preschool education regardless of the family’s ability to pay, enters its 20th school year this fall.

“Just like Montclair’s 4th of July parade, the Montclair Community Pre-K is one of our township’s greatest institutions,” Paul Brubaker, chairman of the Montclair Celebrates 4th of July Committee, said in a statement. “It has touched the lives of countless families during the past two decades and it is truly interwoven into the fabric of Montclair. We are thrilled that the Montclair Community Pre-K will be leading the parade when nearly everyone in town joins together for the event of the summer season.”

The township family picnic at Edgemont Park will follow the parade, and feature barbecue and ice cream from Applegate Farm.

Button sales for the fireworks are being offered at: the Montclair Recreation Department, 205 Claremont Ave., Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Investors Bank, 536 Bloomfield Ave.; Kings Supermarket, 650 Valley Rd.; Grove Pharmacy, 123 Grove St.; and Yogi Berra Stadium the night of the event starting at 7 p.m.

In the event of rain, the parade will go on, the picnic in Edgemont Park and fireworks at Yogi Berra Stadium will be canceled.

Rain cancellation/postponement announcements will be posted on the Montclair Township website and on TV34. A rain information phone number will be available: 973-509-4914; alerts will be sent out to Montclair Events and Township Services (METS) alert system subscribers (mets.montclairnjusa.org/Subscribe.aspx).

 

Montclair’s PlanetCivic goes statewide

in Community/Environment/municipal government/State politics/Township Council

Just in time for the November election, the Montclair-based group PlanetCivic on Friday expanded beyond taking on just local issues to statewide ones. The group, founded by township resident Javier Guardo, has set up a New Jersey page on its website and will be seeking feedback on state issues.

“This means you now belong to PlanetCivic’s Montclair community as well as its New Jersey community, and you can cast votes and propose initiatives in both groups,” Guardo said in an email on Friday.

He launched PlanetCivic earlier this year as a mechanism for residents to bring issues to the attention of the Township Council, but has now decided it is time to go statewide.

“Our state political system has been at a stalemate for too long,” Guardo said. “As New Jersey heads to the polls this November, voters deserve action on the issues that matter most to them. PlanetCivic provides a way for you to demonstrate to your candidates and elected leaders the level of support behind your ideas at this pivotal moment.”

The group’s New Jersey page already has information regarding proposed initiatives regarding “stopping the PennEast Pipeline, resisting the Concealed-carry Gun Reciprocity Act, fast-tracking the Gateway Project, re-entering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.”

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