I hear the Edgemont Park bridge, closed since Hurricane Ida damaged it during the summer of 2021, might not be replaced until the summer or fall of 2023 — if then. Two long years to get another short walkway?


Two Years Before the Cast

Heck, it took fewer than five years in the 1930s to construct the gazillion-times-larger Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco with the Golden Chinese Gourmet restaurant on Grove Street.


Remind me not to have you as a bridge partner. The Edgemont overpass replacement was one of the SLOW projects under the problematic oversight of…


Lee Dershipmess

…the now-on-leave township manager who was also sued twice for hostile workplace behavior toward women, including women of color. He shares two initials with T.S. Eliot, whose poem “The Waste Land” is about the dumpster area of my apartment complex.


Is not. Moving to monetary waste, I can’t get over the ridiculously high $187,750 cost to replace such a small footbridge. Are you equally stunned?


Grouse of the Rising Sum

Yes, for that money you could almost buy a new Lamborghini — or 93,000 vegetable spring rolls from the Golden Chinese Gourmet restaurant on Grove Street.


Gonna need a bigger reusable takeout bag. Meanwhile, employees at the Church Street Starbucks were among the workers at many Starbucks across the country to stage a one-day strike on November 17. Comment?


Something Was Brewing

Good for them! Those now-organized employees deserve better working conditions from the “liberal” coffee chain, whose CEO is so anti-union he considered opposing the union of espresso and steamed milk in a latte.


Hope he won’t prevent coffee from uniting with coffee cups!


Caffeine Jean

The alternative of getting hot “java” poured directly into one’s cupped hands would be even more painful than riding up Bradford Avenue on a tricycle with an elephant on the handlebars.


Trike and trunk. Anyway, I’d like to end this column by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


A Rising Tide Lifts All Gravy Boats

I, too, would also like to end this column by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


But you write both the questions and answers in your columns, so you personally just wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving twice.


Talking to Yourself

Sorry, I’m feeling a bit muddled after eating 93,000 vegetable spring rolls.



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.



42 replies on “MontClairVoyant: An Edge-ucation About the Edgemont Bridge Delay”

  1. Perhaps when/if the bridge actually gets replaced, it could be named for the late Randolph “Perry” Doerr, former director of parks and recreation and township manager under 10 mayors, who frequented senior activities at the Edgemont Park House.

  2. The Bridge is but the tip of the ol’ Edgemont Memorial Obelisk. The past 3 years the park (which is the logo of our town) has been ignored by our Council barring a sue-able emergency like the giant hole in the playground. There are those non-functioning Goose lights in the pond and field that have been broken for years, the metal ramp bars near the pond are broken and lying on the ground, one of the fountains has dislodged from its footing and now sprays water near the War Memorial…There is literally a cat corpse floating face down in the pond amongst the debris as I write this.

    Totally with everyone who has had it with this council and have used the broken Bridge as a symbol of their incompetence, but the entire Park is broken unfortunately. Not sure what we as a town can do.

    PS: Dave love your column and Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Dave,

    A lot of people contributed to the Edgemont bridge problem. It started with the Fried Administration making only partial improvements to Edgemont Pond and foregoing 2nd River. It continued in the Jackson Administrations that ignored the problem. The Spiller Administration just continued to ignore it.

    Two things you need to understand:

    The first is about the collegial rules of Deference passed on orally by Council to new members. Deference is the understanding that members would defer to the position of the ward councilor on ward specific projects unless there were other, superseding interests.

    This was a foreseeable political & managerial corruption when we went to our current form of representation. It is a truly stupid practice on many levels. I have called out the practice before, most recently when Councilor Cummings reiterated the need to respect the privilege.

    What I like best about the Edgemont Park is we justify great expenditure there because it is a township asset, not just a neighborhood asset. So, basically most of the Council sits on their hands…including the At-Large guys. Again, truly stupid stuff. Again, constituents allow this. Actually embrace this corruption because it either best serves their narrow interests or doesn’t involve their direct interests (which they will have on some future need).

    Second, and the part that amazes me even more about this Township, is the Edgemont bridge was failing before Ida. Did anyone report out on this? Nope. Nada. Never.

    Ida just finally dislodged a critically failed section. In other words, we could have saved a bunch of money numerous points before Ida if we had just been proactive in making repairs or much less costly improvements.

    This is just one more reason why I think so little of the Friends of Edgemont Park. It is a little club that gets disproportionate influence under the Deference system that Council practices.

    So, we already had a failing bridge years before Ida and now we will spend $200K for a new, improved bridge which should never had been a capital priority. As I have said many times before, constituents are careless about their tax dollars. We don’t do even a modicum of oversight of our representatives and what they sell & do.

    We can change our form of governments every year, but the problem is still us. We truly suck in our role as masters of our elected representatives.

  4. And the part I truly love is how the rest of Montclair below Edgemont has yet to connect the dots on the concept of stormwater management and the concept of upstream. And we will almost certainly build a new bridge that will be obsolete on the drafting table. But, we will always have hubris, thank God. That is always more entertaining than smarts.

  5. Thank you for the detailed, well-crafted comment, colossus1313, and for the kind words in your PS. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

    I didn’t realize quite how many issues there are with Edgemont Park. (I walk in there occasionally and will take a closer look next time I do.) As you note, rather symbolic given that the partly beautiful park is a symbol of our town. Some Montclair elected and non-elected officials, as well as the on-leave township manager, clearly are/were not doing the job they should — whether it involves Edgemont, the Glen Ridge fire deal, the nine-month-late opening of the Midtown parking deck, two municipal pools being closed last summer, not streaming Council conference meetings, being very late in posting Council minutes, etc., etc. And not keeping adequate tabs on the aforementioned on-leave township manager.

  6. Thank you, Frank, for your wide-ranging thoughts relating to Edgemont Park. Whether or not there’s deference to ward councilors to oversee stuff in their wards, the 2nd Ward councilor clearly didn’t push hard enough to get the bridge replaced more quickly. But, yes, Edgemont is a town-wide (partly tarnished) jewel, so other Montclair officials should also have been more proactive — including of course the on-leave township manager who was making (and is still collecting) a full-time six-figure salary, compared to the modest part-time “salaries” of the mayor and other councilors. (Of course, Council members voluntarily sought election; no one forced them to. 🙂 So they should all do their Council jobs as tirelessly as possible even as they juggle other responsibilities in their lives.) And, yes again, the current Council is not unique in its problematic “leadership”; its predecessors had their issues, too. If the Edgemont bridge needed some fixing before Hurricane Ida, not good that that didn’t happen.

  7. In under 4 years, on or about Wednesday, July 16, 2026, the Mayor and the BoE President will excavate a time capsule buried 50 years prior that contains written comments by their 1976 predecessors, Mayor Gille & BoE President Ramsey. The Mayor’s comments were hopeful about the town while the Board President expressed concern whether educational equity will ever be achieved in our public schools.

    I hope they didn’t place the capsule in the base of the bridge.

  8. Ha, Frank! 🙂 Skillfully stated. 🙂

    I didn’t know about that time capsule; I assume put together to mark America’s Bicentennial? Where is it buried? In/near the Municipal Building?

    2026 will also be the 100th anniversary of when “Anne of Green Gables” author L.M. Montgomery saw “The Blue Castle” published. That latter novel was not about the Municipal Building in mostly Democratic Montclair.

  9. 1. No, not Town Hall. It’s in Edgemont Park! That was the connection. I don’t know where buried in park. I guess I also have to explain that the cast of candidates that run for 2024 Council will have the contents to constantly speak to.. And yes, the current Council will have the symbolic yoke of Edgemont problems & its time capsule around their necks. This thing is just blow-my-mind entertaining.

    2. Sorry. Didn’t proof. It’s 57th anniversary of that Mass weekend with Alice.

  10. Frank, the time capsule is in Edgemont Park? Interesting!

    Saw Arlo Guthrie perform a number of years ago at Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Festival.

  11. Edgemont Bridge is emblematic of Spiller administration’s incompetence. However, it’s just a little bridge – a simple “mechanical” problem to solve, so to speak. (If Schlager can’t handle THAT, he should just go, the sooner the better.)

    Now, what about issues with greater complexity, such as those originating from the Montclair Fire Department?

    No 1.
    Shared fire suppression agreement with Glen Ridge. Question to the Acting Manager Scantlebury: why don’t you extend the existing agreement while renegotiating the new one? You have time until December 31st. My understanding is that the terrible deal brokered by the Spiller & Stafford team has not been formally signed yet. If it has, where do I find it on the Township website???

    Tangentially, can we please, please, PLEASE get the Montclair Municipal Clerk to make those docs available to residents without having to resort to OPRA? (rules of which she brazenly violates time after time!) It’s insane that we are paying this township employee to never answer the phone and to violate OPRA and OPMA instead of serving our needs as intended!

    No. 2
    What is up with the Montclair Fire Department promotions? There seems to be a big stinking problem here. To wit:

    Now what?? Stafford and Fire Chief created this sorry mess and now Scantlebury somehow supposed to sign off on this?

  12. The Township Clerk is the Montclair official that is exposed on the GR Fire Contract. She has to sign her name to the legal notice to Trenton.

    The challenge is not to the Acting Manager Scantlebury. He is the managing agent for the contractor, Montclair, who is the receiving entity of payments made by Glen Ridge and authorized by their Council’s memorializing resolution. We are the financial beneficiaries.

    The “contract problem” is solely on Glen Ridge’s governing body and their Township Attorney.

    Yes, I think Montclair is not bound by the contract, but we can elect to perform and take payment without legal penalty.

    When was the last time you heard of a winning bidder declining a municipal contract because of deficiencies in how it was awarded?

    Ps: You should pay attention to the CDBG award process underway and to be finalized this month. It’s only $300k of funding, but these 6-figure decisions are starting to add up.

  13. Thank you for the comment, Scriberman. Excellent points! I agree that the mayor, some (not all) other members of the current Council, and some non-elected Montclair officials (including the on-leave township manager) have acted incompetently or not competently enough. I also think renegotiating Montclair’s pathetic fire deal renewal with Glen Ridge would be a GREAT idea, if a renegotiation is possible. In addition, that controversial fire department promotion process does seem fishy. And it’s dismaying that OPRA requests and such are being slow-walked. Yes, the Edgemont Bridge delay and overpricing nonsense on top of all that. Ugh.

  14. Frank, you’re right that Glen Ridge has little incentive for agreeing to a possible renegotiation of its sweetheart fire deal renewal with Montclair. Other than the incentive of being a better and fairer neighbor, but that kind of sentiment is usually trumped by the almighty dollar. 🙁

  15. Nothing to do with being a fair neighbor. Current Glen Ridgers will gladly screw future Glen Ridgers because of the mighty buck. I believe the current GR governing body knows this, but they, along with most of the residents that voted them in will not be around in 10 years. And it is all in the contract now for all to see 10 years later. The art of the long view.

  16. Frank, the year 2032? That will be almost the 100th anniversary of the New Deal — and the 10th anniversary of the bad new fire deal.

  17. F. Rubacky:

    When you say CURRENT contract, do you mean the one that is in force until December 31, 2022?

    Or do you mean the new one that would kick in on January 1, 2023 school it get signed at some point between now and December 31, 2022?

    If you meant the latter, please explain how that would “screw future Glen Ridge residents because of the mighty buck”?

  18. Continued to F. Rubacky:

    Further, I believe that the Municipal Clerk (as lame as ours is), does not “have exposure” for the contracts the town enters into. I believe it is a managerial/administrative decision, not a clerical one. She signs her name next to Manager’s or Mayor’s signature, that is all.

  19. e. dellisanti,

    My posts did not reference the current contract.
    I never said, nor do I believe the Clerk attaches her signature to any municipal contract.
    I do believe our Council should authorize funds for independent legal representation to our Clerk.
    I think you would be well served to also form an opinion on the usefulness of your borough attorney.
    I would direct you to re-read the GR resolution and agreement clauses so when the finalized contract is in force, we can have that conversation about who may get screwed down the road.
    Lastly, over the course of Montclair’s next three elections, I believe the fire services contract will be front and center of any viable candidate’s platform. There may even be another E. Birmingham-type active in our future- possibly with a sense of humor.

  20. @ Scriberman,

    Due to a $2.2MM conflict in Montclair’s bid language, the Acting Manager can modify the contract terms in Montclair’s favor. I think our CFO would have caught the calculation error if she had been given a chance to proof the bid offer.

    Let’s see if the Acting Manager relies on his expertise alone or if he decides to run it by the CFO.

  21. See how easy it is to make a mistake when one uses pen & paper to make calculations. My $2.2MM number, subjected to the rigors of spreadsheet software, reduced the conflict to only $141,971. Sorry for not checking my work before posting. However, we should take any additional dollars we can… and my stupid error only further argues for CFO review.

  22. Frank!! What a treat on this gloomy day to see that you have name-checked me! I can’t tell– in a good way? or a bad way? Are you suggesting i don’t have a sense of humor? Are you saying I “need to smile more?”

    And then you followed it up by making a math mistake?

    For the record– I found that funny.

    I mean, *seriously* Frank, we don’t even know each other but we already have inside jokes. Could someone without a sense of humor do that??

    PS: Interesting about the GR contract. I know we both wish the CFO had been more involved. Also, for the record, I will always appreciate you because when I first started calling the council about this (with points that others had made 10 years earlier, so I’m not taking credit for an original idea), you were the first one in public comment to also acknowledge the deal was maybe not so great for Montclair, when the Council insisted “it was a model contract.” (I’m still waiting for anyone to show me an example of another similar contract anywhere else in the country.)
    Maybe someday we will get to hear you in public comment again. Our work is not done! We need public meetings to be accessible to as many people as possible.

  23. It was a compliment.
    We all are who we are.
    I don’t see the inside joke. I told you when Councilor Y disclosed to you my email address that nothing between us is off the record.
    My comment last year was one of many. Was that the “public library $” meeting when I called in to angrily chastise those participating in throwing the CFO under the bus and/or demeaning the CFO in an obvious sexist manner? I will take some credit for that… but, take even more blame for not following up for what I witnessed & called out. That was much worse than any math mistake I have made or could make. In both cases, whether other people caught it doesn’t matter. I did.

  24. Thank you, Eileen, for your seriocomic comment! When you mentioned that Montclair’s way-too-favorable-to-Glen Ridge fire deal was called “a model contract,” I had to laugh. 🙂

  25. This is M. Moose Jr. reporting from the future. The Township of Montclair today finally celebrated the opening of the long-anticipated Edgemont Park Bridge. At a price of slightly more than $4.6 million, some local residents were critical of the cost overruns and long delays, although members of the Council agreed that the ornamental nature of the new structure allowed townspeople and visitors alike to appreciate its beauty without ever having to use it for pedestrian purposes. Councilor Emerita Schlager emphasized the point, stating, “We have grown used to not having a bridge since Hurricane Ida nineteen years ago; with this new structure, we can continue our beloved tradition of keeping a critical part of the park inaccessible for another unjustifiably long period of time.”

    Also marking the occasion, Governor Sean Spiller’s twenty-five car motorcade arrived ninety minutes late, having had to return to Trenton to retrieve his official ribbon-cutting scissors, which he left on the kitchen table in his official residence of Drumthwacket. The Rubacky/Schwartz/Astor Memorial Choir, conducted by Township Manager P. Yacobellis, provided entertainment in the ensuing delay and was broadcast live from the 32nd Floor of Steven Plofker Towers on the southern part of the park, atop what was once known as the World War I Memorial.

    In other news from Montclair, the Mills Reservation Re-Education Camp is pleased to announce it is accepting nominations for candidates for reprogramming. Notable nominations in the past year included such colorful local characters as Flipside, Colossus, Eileen B. and Liz George, the former proprietor of the long-shuttered Baristanet B&B on the corner of Bloomfield and South Mountain where once stood a public library.

  26. F. Rubacky:

    1. There may be exceptions, I suppose, but Clerk’s signature is affixed to 4 town contracts I have OPRAd and received from the Clerk’s Office.

    2. “Independent legal representation to our clerk”? I don’t know what you mean by that. Is Municipal Clerk getting the town sued again or something? If so, then (a) too bad for the town, and (b) her “legal representation” as individual defendant would be the same as that of the township as corporation, i.e. either by town attorney (as was done in the past), or by paid outside law firm (as seems to be the new paradigm).

    3. I do not understand the meaning of your sentence #4. (Quote: “I think you would be well served to also form an opinion on the usefulness of our borough attorney.”) If you are going to write stuff that is this unclear/confusing, perhaps you should work for Montclair government and get paid for it instead of confusing folks for free. Wasted talent.

    4. As far as engaging in a detailed conversation regarding the long-term financial impact of the Glen Ridge fire agreement, while I have a rudimentary understanding of the topic, I would defer to the town CFO whose breakdown of numbers is refreshingly clear and “un-confusing”. Or even to Ms. Birmington, as she seems to have become a volunteer expert on this. Would you like to have a debate with one of them? Your earlier hilarious confusion on numbers is a great preview.

    5. While I appreciate the value of wit and laughter, why is anyone’s sense of humor relevant? Also, does it mean we can reasonably expect that you will start walking the walk on this anytime soon?

    Lastly, to quote Alan Sorkin, “Would you do me a favor and speak to me with a little more condescension?” In the alternative, perhaps you can petition the town and get them to put in the 2023 budget that padded milk crate so you can hold court at Krauszer’s on Church Street as Flipside aptly (and ‘sense-of-humorly’) suggested a few weeks ago. Now, that guy has a killer sense of humor, don’t you agree?

  27. Some very funny stuff, MyrmidonMoose! 😂 I just have to say that, choir or no choir, I would not set foot in any “Towers” named after a builds-for-the-affluent developer. 🙂

  28. e. dellisanti, I agree that things would have went a LOT better with the renewed Glen Ridge fire deal if Montclair’s CFO and Eileen Birmingham had been listened to.

  29. e. dellisanti,

    YPT 1: C’mon, I meant as a signatory, not as an attestator. I’m quite sure the Clerk has attested hundreds of assorted documents.
    YPT 2: Maybe ‘Or something’. Maybe nothing at all. This Council did it before.
    YPT 3: It was a simple, clear suggestion since you had taken the time to form an opinion on the Clerk.
    YPT 4: I assumed, and now you have confirmed, you only had a rudimentary understanding so (condescension warning!), I just wanted you make sure you could be prepared to follow and participate in any explanation. Ms Birmington (sic) is up to speed. I have no reason to believe the Acting Township Manager, the Council or its Finance Committee has reviewed the fire services agreement with the CFO. Yes, my math error was embarrassing, but I doubt you would have caught it without me telling you.
    YPT 5: Huh? You began with “why is anyone’s sense of humor relevant?“

  30. Moose:

    You and Flipside should write a comedy show together! Our “leadership” is supplying a ton of material and you two have a knack for capturing it with wit.

    F. Rubacky:

    Re: point #3 from my comment above. I’m actually curious what you meant when you suggested that I form an opinion on the usefulness of “[my] borough attorney”? I live in Montclair so I don’t have a “borough attorney”. Montclair is a township and Glen Ridge is a borough. Were you inviting me to form an opinion on the usefulness of John Malayska (Glen Ridge Borough Attorney) or Paul Burr (Montclair Township Attorney)?

    At first glance – based solely on the shared fire suppression agreement deal – I would say that Mr. Malyska did an absolutely spectacular job for Glen Ridge – I would give him a raise just for that. I’m less impressed by Mr. Burr; not sure how long he’s held this job but it seems things took a dive in this town over last year.

  31. Noted you are a Montclair resident.

    Thank you for offering an opinion on the attorneys. Base on Glen Ridge’s RFP, various contract clauses and the resolution language, I don’t believe Mr Malyska would be an improvement over Mr Burr. I think this means we half-agree!

  32. F. Rubacky:

    Oops, I don’t know how I missed the comment you posted yesterday at 8:33AM. Thank hank you very much for formally recognizing my residence in town! Whew! Your initial hesitation made me wonder if I would ever blend in and be accepted in the community (which, apparently, is done by a written confirmation from F. Rubacky, LOL)

    As to our respective opinions re: Borough and Township attorneys, I was losing sleep over your agreement or disagreement with me on this or the ratio thereof. Now I can finally breathe freely.

    Jokes aside, I can tell you honestly that all I know about Malyska is that his oversight/tactic resulted in a great fire deal for the Borough. If he stinks otherwise, I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t care. Granted, it’s also possible that the deal was not so much the result of Malyska being a brilliant strategist who planned it all out, but rather of our own manager, mayor, and council being clueless leaders who voluntarily bent over.

    As far as Burr, my tentative opinion was slightly south of “meh”. After watching some of the archived council meetings, it went further south. It sounds like he could use tutoring not only in the art of public speaking, but also in the art of… law. One jarring example: why in the world did he tell Councilor Schlager that she had personal liability if Montclair voted down the fire deal? I don’t have a J.D. but it seems like total BS. Can someone with more knowledge weigh in on this? I’m really curious. That said, my opinion on the guy is still not definitive. Who knows, maybe he is good at some stuff that’s not immediately obvious to an onlooker?

    Still, however unimpressive the town attorney, nothing and no one beats the town manager slamming his fist on the pulpit at a public meeting and publically screaming that he is a polite gentleman and – if you don’t believe it – just ask his mom and dad. Has anyone sent this to Comedy Central yet?

  33. e. dellisanti: Per your statement above, re: Frank R’s daily mash of comments that keeps us on our toes (nota bene: I am using my legal knowledge, derived from the MTC Legal Handbook to communicate via use of ‘per’ and ‘re:’ and an intimidating academic resume justifying the employ of such terms as ‘nota bene’) as well as lots of colons (:) and parantheticals, to applaud you for getting to the point in your point number 3 above, which really is all we need to bear in mind when weighing a response to almost any point made by our esteemed colleague Frank R:

    “3. I do not understand the meaning of your sentence #4.”

    (Nota bene: substitute any number for “#4” above to satisfy the editorial/clarification requirements of this comments section)

  34. Come on guys, leave Frank alone. In time you will learn to decode his tomes. Sure he speaks from a dimension that is all his own but he provides a great service. Does anyone else want to learn the rules, regulations, and building codes in this town? Not like anyone follows them but at least we have Frank to point when they don’t. What a lot of newcomers don’t realize is that the tax bill you get is not for services the town provides but for entertainment value. Court side seats aren’t cheap.

  35. MyrmidonMoose,

    Are you trying to take my unpaid position with your numbering thing?
    Are you referencing my original, unnumbered point # 3? Or e. dellisanti’s point #3? Or my reply, YPT 3, to “your point number 3 above”? And are you suggesting anyone can take any numbered item, including yours, and substitute it for my #4 and get the same result? Why focus on 3. Lastly, if 4 still follows 3, how is 3 even relevant? 4 could apply to any numbered item…forming a circular logic? Very unclear on you part. And I thought numbering my thoughts would actually help.

  36. I think I’m actually to blame for introduction of numbering, guilty as charged. I’m new to this and – I’ll admit – sometimes I have hard time understanding Frank Rubacki’s comments. He seems to know all sorts of arcane details and precise numbers. At the same time, more often then not, I find myself scratching my head and having no idea what the hell he is saying. It may be my limitation as a newcomer, I don’t know. Anyway, despite some “loss in translation” it looks like we still do agree on some basic stuff:

    1. GR agreement sucks and ought to be shredded*.
    2. Town attorney needs substitution.
    3. Town clerk needs intensive training before the council gives her tenure.
    3. We should all have a party to celebrate the exit of town manager. 🙂

    * Question to the community: Since the new universally decried fire agreement was not signed yet (as far as I can tell), what stops Interim Manager Scantlebury from extending the existing one into the new year and renegotiating the deal? Is there anyone on this forum who can tell me why this is not feasible? From what I understand, threat of litigation from GR is yet another bluff, just like putting it out for a bid in the first place. Thoughts?

  37. Serious points aside, I can’t help but imagine Frank Rubacky sporting a buffalo headdress sitting on a town-sponsored padded milk crate by Krauszers on Church Street. Yes, I have a juvenile sense of humor, so sue me. LOL!

  38. @e. dellisanti,

    I have to give you credit – I found your 8:29pm yesterday funny and not at all juvenile.

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