Approaching fast are the winter school break, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and more, but Montclair news keeps on coming. Did it ever stop?


Boring Isn’t Alluring

Only once, in 1492 — just before Christopher Columbus and his ships coincidentally came ashore at Montclair’s corner of Christopher and Columbus.


Your middle name must be “Don’tknowmuchabouthistory.” Let’s first discuss the Township Council’s unanimous December 21 vote to require everyone to wear masks in indoor public places for at least 30 days. Do you agree with that measure?


Winter Solstice Poultice

Very much so. COVID’s Omicron variant is unfortunately spiking in Montclair and elsewhere. And now that it’s winter, it’s nice wearing masks with built-in mini-furnaces.


Wow! Where do you buy your 50-packs? Anyway, the main force behind this smart, welcome resolution was of course…


Credit Bureau

…Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis, who takes the initiative on so many things. He’s at Montclair’s tri-corner of Competence, Conscientiousness, and Communicativeness.


There’s also been a scramble for COVID tests — with reported waits of six hours at some places for walk-ins. What book about a Democratic U.S. Senator can test-seekers read to pass the time?


Long and Winding Mode

They can read “When Joe Manchin Doesn’t Act Like a Right-Winger,” and then figure out how to spend the remaining five hours, fifty-nine minutes, and fifty-nine seconds.


Yes, that book is quite short. In related news, Montclair High learning went virtual December 22 and 23 because of the COVID spike. Good or bad decision?


I Walk the Online

Okay for a couple days, but I don’t want it to become a trend like Furbies in the late 1990s.


Weird analogy. What about the talk of more virtual learning after winter break to give students who traveled a chance to quarantine?


Trip Sync

Don’t like it — in-school learning is much better and Omicron is said to be not life-threatening for most vaccinated people. If post-break online happens, it should be no more than a week or two — a time span that includes schooldays, weekend days, and Furby meet-ups. They talk, you know.


Moving to a different topic, what about the county’s wish to build an approximately twice-as-big Wally Choice Community Center in Glenfield Park?


Near Maple, Mabel

On balance, I’m for it. The new building could accommodate all but one of these things: an after-school program, activities for seniors, office space, a computer room, and an immense hangar for Montclair Airlines and its jumbo jets that fly hourly to Cedar Grove.


Bonus “Frequent Liar Miles” for you — even as the first four things you mentioned, and more, are envisioned for the building. But does your “on balance” phrase indicate some misgivings?


Ms. Givings

Well, the larger building and additional parking would sadly doom some green space and trees. Would that be done to Edgemont Park? Anderson Park? MacArthur Park?


Your mention of that last park leads to the question of whether a cake left out in the rain gets too moist. Anyway, are you still in favor of a bigger Wally Choice building?


Dampened Dessert

The design does look nice, but making the building one floor taller with a smaller footprint might perhaps be considered — with a good elevator or two, of course. As for your cake question, I defer to Little Daisy Bake Shop.


Anything else to add on this topic, even if seemingly minor?


United Minor Workers

Football players practicing in Glenfield Park get to use the Choice building bathroom. But when girls play travel softball in that park, the building is closed if the football players aren’t in Glenfield, too. All that’s available is a not-that-near porta-potty close to Woodland Avenue where it’s poorly lit at night. Perhaps a bigger Choice building could be open to softball players — a win-win, especially when sweeping a doubleheader.


Snore…zzzz…um…I’m awake after that endless answer — and I agree two wins are a win-win. In one last piece of news, Radio Free Montclair plans to officially launch during New Year’s Weekend. Thoughts?


Hear Hear

Thrilled about this exciting effort from Petia Morozov and others. It also got me thinking of songs like “On the Radio,” “The Spirit of Radio,” and “I Ate My Radio Thinking It Was Radicchio.”


The first two songs are by Donna Summer and the band Rush, but who sang the third one?


Visit from the Croon Squad

Not sure, but I think they’ve sworn off salads.



Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.



15 replies on “MontClairVoyant: A Vote for the Mask. And a Building Ask”

  1. The new, improved Wally Choice multi-genration community center will be the same square footage as the new, improved, single generation, k-5 Watchung School playground. My only quibble is the parking, e.g. the barrier-free spaces, seems a little light.

  2. I’ve been wondering about our park’s community center ever since I saw the one in the Cedar Grove county park– it’s a beautiful building, and I am glad that Montclair could get something similar (although it seems like ours would be smaller, which is fine). It seems like it might be a welcome addition and it would be great if there could be a senior center there.
    But, um, could you elaborate on the curent issue with the bathrooms only being open when football players are in the park, and not when other athletes are there? Do know how that works?
    Thanks for your writing and happy holidays!

  3. Thank you for the comment, Frank!

    In comparing the bigger proposed Wally Choice Community Center to the Watchung playground, are you saying that the bigger proposed center might still not be big enough? Or saying something else?

    Happy Holidays!

  4. Thank you for the comment, Eileen!

    Yes, the bigger proposed Wally Choice Community Center seems to have a lot of positives, even though there would be some environmental consequences and even though some towns have larger community centers. And I agree that seniors in Montclair need a better and larger space.

    Re the Glenfield Park bathroom situation, there’s a porta-potty near Woodland Avenue that seems to be the sole facility in the park when the (current) Wally Choice Community Center isn’t open. I’ve been in the park many times to drop off my younger daughter to her travel softball practices and to watch her home games. The only time I see the community center (and its indoor bathrooms) open is when football players are also practicing there. Night softball practices and games are especially “interesting” as players and spectators have to take a not-short walk toward Woodland with poor lighting near the porta-potty. (The community center is much closer to the softball field.) Some visiting players and spectators express a bit of surprise that there isn’t a more convenient bathroom available when the community center is closed. I’ve certainly seen better and more-convenient facilities in most other towns’ parks when my daughter plays away games.

    I’m not sure who makes the decision to close the Wally Choice Community Center when only the girls’ softball players are there, and why they make that decision.

    Happy Holidays to you, too!

  5. Eileen, I should add that my experience is anecdotal; I’m only going by what I’ve seen when in Glenfield Park on softball days and nights. I’ve been there many times, but I’m of course not there many other times. 🙂

  6. Dear MontClairVoyant,

    Don’t know if you noticed, but before dawn this morning (Dec. 24) with a bare dusting of snow, plows came through our streets and laid down carpets of industrial grade salt, most of which landed on lawns, gardens and walkways. The salting of Carthage had its rationale but the Carthaginians weren’t paying the Romans for the privilege of having their lands destroyed. Any idea to whom we report these contractors who are charging the township by the ton to spread sodium across our yards and into our watersheds? And if it’s not contractors but the town itself, why are we using such an environmentally retrograde practice in such “dire” times of global catastrophe?
    Just curious in Deer Lick, NJ.

  7. “Dear Brigattista,

    So much salt that Mother Earth needed to buy high-blood pressure medication, and had trouble pulling a COVID-protection mask over North America before entering Grove Pharmacy.

    (Funny Carthage reference. 🙂 )”

    But, seriously, that does seem like overdoing the salt when there was so little snow. As you say, not great environmentally and not great budget-wise. Of course, when there are larger and/or more icy storms, salt is an important safety thing.

  8. Dave,

    Most importantly, a very Merry Christmas to you and all at Bnet. What a year!

    I offered the comparison to provoke thought about users & uses. It is a government project, so form follows function…and the function – aside from a state-of-the-art illuminated playing field – is so nondescript. I bristle at these offerings, but I get the why.

    What I don’t get for one minute – and Montclair should be embarrassed about this – is the building concept. It reflects a basic ignorance of Montclair’s land use principles, strategies and practices. In brief, the architect & its client are proposing a design more suitable for Morris County than Essex. It’s biggest flaw is it’s 1-story, 40-space, facility on a half acre that treats Open Space as plentiful and appropriate for development.

    For the better part of twenty years Montclair has favored building vertically, not horizontally in our commercial areas. Why on earth would we want to flip that to building horizontally in a park? Someone, besides a bean counter, preferably someone with land use acumen, needs to explain this to us.

    I liked the original, 2-story Woodman field house because of its appreciation & intelligent allocation of space by uses; and the architect built up rather than unnecessarily take increasingly precious recreational/open space.

    This is typical 20th century’s suburban design. Us seniors should understand it well and not care about the land use impact. The rest just don’t know any better.

    Excuse me for being so sharp on a merry day, but you asked.

  9. Thank you for the reply and explanation, Frank. You eloquently made a very good point about building the proposed new Wally Choice Community Center higher with fewer square feet covering the ground (something I also mentioned, perhaps too briefly, in my column). Park/recreation space is indeed precious.

  10. Dave,

    I hope that you and your family have had a happy and healthy holiday. You and I disagree on some issues, but I heartily respect the way you respond to disagreement.

    With regard to the mask mandate, I’ve been wondering about a few things. If it’s necessary, why do you suppose Governor Murphy hasn’t mandated it statewide? Why have so few New Jersey municipalities adopted a mask mandate? Were businesses in Montclair clamoring for the Council to do this, and what do you suppose the town has done to communicate its decision to business owners? Specifically with regard to restaurants, do you know anyone who has thought “I’d really like to dine out in Montclair, but I’m not doing it because the town isn’t requiring people to wear cloth masks while walking from the front door to the table”?

    From what I’ve seen, most folks in Montclair already were wearing masks while shopping in town. Great. What I’d rather not see, all things being equal, is residents berating store employees for not enforcing the mandate against the few people who aren’t masked. I’m sure you agree with that, but what’s to be done about it is the question.

    Best wishes for the new year,


  11. I agree. I think anyone should, if they are so inclined, berate a mask offender directly. Of course, I am hypocritical in I also believe in the MADD drunken driving model over direct patron involvement. The model where a community requires the bar owner and bartenders to enforce serving alcohol to just adults – and cut them off when they become a potential threat to the community.

    It’s just the day in, day out balance of choices of community versus self-interests. I find it more tolerable if one just lowers one’s expectations. Actually, it is frequently results in a win-win outcome.

  12. Thank you for the nice comment and kind words, Jeff!

    You’re right that most shoppers and virtually all store employees in Montclair have already been wearing masks. And, yes, diners wearing masks in restaurants is kind of wonky given that they obviously have to take them off to eat.

    Yet I’m in favor of Montclair’s new mask mandate even though apparently only a small number of NJ towns have a similar mandate. (Gov. Murphy, in his hesitancy to enact a statewide mask mandate, might be thinking of more mask-averse NJ towns.) Even a few more people masking in Montclair can’t hurt with the Omicron variant spreading so rapidly, and wearing a mask in a store is such an easy thing for most people to do.

    I agree that store employees (often overworked and underpaid) are put in a difficult position adding “please, customer, put on a mask” to their responsibilities. 🙁

    Happy Holidays to you and yours, too, and best wishes for 2022!

  13. Frank, you brought up an interesting question of whether shoppers as well as store employees could ask mask-less shoppers to put on masks. If done VERY diplomatically, the shopper-to-shopper approach could be worth a try — but of course one has to first sense/guess whether or not the response will be hostile.

  14. My experience is confrontation often lead to threats, e.g. Mona Lisa Vito’s response to Vinny’s behavior, , or actual hostile behavior, e.g. Bugs & Elmer. And it may devolve for reasons we will never understand into a Roadrunner & Wyle E Coyote situation (full disclosure: I own stock in Amazon which was founded as W.E.C.’s Acme Company, the first integrated supply chain company).

  15. Ha, Frank! 🙂 For cartoon-y mayhem, there’s also Dagwood Bumstead’s frequent accidental crashes into mail deliverer Mr. Beasley in the “Blondie” comic strip. (BTW, I assume Dagwood takes off his mask to eat his famously massive “Dagwood sandwiches.”)

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