In Montclair, Leon DeVose II makes a statement regarding the Ted Maddox-Mayor Ed Remsen feud strong difference of opinion. From the Montclair Times‘ letter column:

I am not surprised by Mayor Ed Remsen’s removal of Councilman Ted Mattox from the Board of School of Estimate. It is part of his modus operandi, and the anticipated consequence of electing nearly his entire slate to the Township Council. However, I am very disturbed at the mayor’s express intolerance of and contempt for Councilman Mattox’s views. Mattox’s proposal to preserve the Washington Street “Y” is at least worth considering. The Bible says it is a foolish thing to judge a matter without hearing it. Yet, from its very first public introduction, the mayor and his most loyal council members expressed nothing but contempt for his proposal. Mattox was also damned by his two votes against the Board of Education’s budget. He rightly differed with the Board of Education’s spending plan. He was doing what nearly 3,000 Montclair voters asked him to do last year – act in their best interest. There could be no more of an advocate for our schools, but to differ with the board, its policies or actions is to commit political suicide. This is unfortunate, since the best interests of our children are not served by an unaccountable political juggernaut or a committee of nodding heads, but by the illumination of error, innovation and ideas that arises out of debate. Ousting Mr. Mattox from the Board of School Estimate was nothing less than a political pogrom designed to cleanse the board of dissent. If only Mayor Remsen would respect us enough to not deny it. Mayor Remsen’s imperious power play, especially the way it was done, was transparently vindictive and demonstrates contempt for dissent, this unsurpassed advocate for Montclair school children, and the people who voted for him.

Also in this week’s paper, buried at the bottom of page seven, word that a historical assessment report received by the Montclair School District indicates that the Washington Street Y is not siginificant to Montclair’s history.

“No architectural resources were identified on the subject property that are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places,” the report indicated.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.

3 replies on “About More Than Just The “Y””

  1. There are two issues in play. One is the historic factor and the other is losing a town-owned recreational asset.
    The historic issue is a political decision. Saving or incorporating the building for use purposes is a fiscal one.
    The fact is that there has really not been a proper planning-based due diligence done for this building — the services and physical plant of which clearly cost millions to replicate.
    Removing a pool and a community center from the new school design saved $11 million. In the Little Y, we have a building that already has at least some of the physical framework n existence for those requested services.
    I am amazed that people who do not know anything about the subject are suddenly construction experts. The Y’s pool use to be much deeper. It was reduced to accommodate the kiddies. It can certainly go back to it’s original depth and maybe even deeper.
    It’s really very simple. The council should have required the BOE to allow the town planning department and controller’s office to undertake a real cost-benefit analysis. Instead, we had the usual ‘feelings and opinions’ and architectural estimates put forth by people without real experience conducting multi-dimensional use type reviews. It means counting beans and numbers every which way possible — with and without a historic designation to show what the monetary benefit is if the town designates the Y a historic stucture to avoid all of the modern-day code issues. Yet, the people waving around these code problems as the basis to get rid of the structure, don’t even know that with a historic designation –most of the code issues would be eliminated. Still, this is just one of many factors and issues.
    It is only after a detailed review for heat costs, leasing, renovation expenses for what purpose etc. etc. etc. — can one really determine if the town should use or keep the building, or if the costs potentially involved are just not warranted, or might be picked up by a third party.
    The final decision could have been to eat just the moth-ball costs to keep the building dark for the future, or to lease it out for a dollar just to keep the pipes warm — pending some ancillary use. We won’t know.
    However, those who really do know governmental economics — like governor elect John Corizone — will tell you as he did during the campaign, that government should not get rid of capital assets unless you selling them to buy another asset. That’s not the case here.
    Here we are destroying a capital asset, paying for those demo costs and then paying money to build another capital building without replacing the very services being thrown away in the process.
    Our town’s track record in managing long term capital assets is abysmal. We’ve sold off buildings we now have to replace with millions lost in the process. Similarly, there is no one at the BOE with a development or construction management background to really make this kind of detailed planning analysis. The BOE too, has terrible track record in the capital arena filled with waste and inefficiency.
    In the end, the bean counters might have said the Y is really not worth it. However, not doing such a full review for this multi-million dollar property — is just foolish and bad process.
    Martin Schwartz

  2. You are missing some important points:
    1. The old Y is, for many people in this community, a symbol of the racism that made it impossible for them to join the “regular Y” on Park Street and for these folks, letting the building go is getting rid of a symbol of a bad time for this community; this is a very emotional but very real issue.
    2. You don’t have to possess an engineering degree to understand the extremely poor condition of the old Y on Washington Street AND, it’s right smack in the middle of the school construction site. The BOE needs the full three acres to build a school for 550 kids and enough parking so the local neighborhood is not choked with cars.
    3. The YMCA is developing a wonderful new, two-story Y on Glenridge Avenue (with private money) that will offer a lot of services for youths and families.

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