Keep graduation at MHS

I read in the Montclair Local about possibly getting a larger space for future Montclair High School graduations. I know there are issues about the size of the audience and this year even some with tickets couldn’t get inside the amphitheater.

Is it possible to have portable bleachers used on the grassy wings on the north side of Toney’s Brook?

This amphitheater is a treasure and a unique part of MHS. I would guess that it is the finest amphitheater on a high school campus in our country. This is steeped in tradition and the crossing of the bridge so well closes one chapter of the graduates’ early years through high school and welcomes them as young adults with an unknown future awaiting.

I hope MHS and the Board of Education can reckon the importance of this stunning part of MHS and its graduation ceremony. Please let us keep graduation at MHS where it is.

Peter Giuffra



Speak up against health bill, Rep. Frelinghuysen

The New York Times reported on Tuesday, July 4, that a subcommittee of Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen’s House Committee on Appropriations has drafted language stripping 100 percent of the funding from the Internal Revenue Service that could be used to enforce the requirement that most individuals have health insurance.

While the jury is still out on the hugely unpopular bill passed by House Republicans in May to repeal most sections of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the draft of similar legislation by Senate Republicans, it seems that the House GOP members are wasting no time in trying to kill the ACA by other means.

So far, Congressman Frelinghuysen, the overall committee chair, has made no public comment on the draft language produced by the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

By preventing the Internal Revenue Service from taking any steps to enforce existing laws that require insurance coverage, the Republicans in Congress are directly increasing the uncertainty that health insurance providers are citing as the reasons they are raising premiums on individual insurance plans and on health insurance generally, and that some health insurers are citing in withdrawing from certain markets. It is well known that only when both those currently healthy and those currently suffering from illness are all participating in the health insurance system can the system work properly and the cost of insurance be controlled.

Before the Trump era, and even earlier this year, Congressman Frelinghuysen has spoke of his support for constituents’ healthcare needs.

Will he use his power as chair of the Appropriations Committee to speak out now and block this new attack on health insurance and healthcare?

Mark Lurinsky



A thank-you to Robin Erlichman Woods

To be direct here, this letter is written much less to the editor than it is to Robin Erlichman Woods in reference to her Town Square opinion in the July 6 issue of Montclair Local. And just in case bona fides matter, we’ve been homeowners in town for 40 years having raised two children here, both of whom proud products of the Montclair Public Schools. In all of this time, I have never sensed the vitality, the youth, the commerce or the pride which accompanies life in the Fourth Ward today. Admiringly undeterred by the “natives,” people such as yourself support the part of town that 40 years ago as 28-year-olds would have not considered living; a harsh reality of course, but a reality nonetheless. While there no doubt was (and is) a vibrant Fourth Ward community, it looked run down and neglected … perhaps because it had been. To us it seemed in its own way, exclusive. But this has changed and my family is proof of it. My daughter has returned.

Having lived in Seattle with her husband and child for five years, it was as much Montclair, specifically the Fourth Ward that tempted her back. She and her husband (a former Long Islander) wanted an integrated street that was a true testament to Montclair as the West West Village, or the West West Side of Manhattan.

They wanted one car, they wanted shops and restaurants to walk to and they wanted schools where their children will learn about differences from teachers and classmates.

After living with us for a year and looking all over the NYC commuting locations of New Jersey, Westchester County, Connecticut and New York, they bought in Fourth Ward Montclair.

And to be clear, they bought for what it is now, not for what it was. They bought in the Fourth Ward because they see a future. They bought in the Fourth Ward because of Robin Erlichman Woods and the work that she does. Robin, the “you’re welcome” at the conclusion of your article did not go unnoticed. So, to be sure, thank you.

David R Sirota



Questions about Seymour St. redevelopment

The Seymour Street Redevelopment Plan has many questions and uncertainties. The first is how will the proposed large urban 200-unit apartment building with retail stores and parking on the site of the former Social Security Building on Bloomfield Avenue between Seymour and South Willow Streets affect the nearby residential areas? The garage entrance and exit of the proposed building will be on South Willow, a largely residential street.

The planned arts plaza will begin at Bloomfield Avenue facing the Wellmont Theater and continue halfway up Seymour Street. The remainder of Seymour Street will be a two-way dead end entering and exiting on Roosevelt Place. The traffic on Roosevelt Place is estimated to double if the plaza is built. Both Roosevelt Place and the southern portion of Seymour are well-kept multifamily residential areas.

A seven-story building which includes a five-story parking garage is proposed for the present parking area facing Seymour and behind the Wellmont Theater. The entrance and exit to this parking garage will be on South Fullerton Avenue across the street from The Crescent, another largely residential section.

South Fullerton is already a busy street with restaurants, shops, small office buildings, three houses of worship, the Public Library, the Social Agencies Building, a number of multifamily buildings as well as private homes in addition to the Crescent Parking garage with an entrance and exit half a block away from the proposed Seymour Street parking garage exit and entrance. At busy times of the day on South Fullerton, there is now a line of cars waiting to proceed into Bloomfield Avenue. With the increased traffic from the proposed parking deck, it is likely that drivers will use the residential streets, such as the Crescent and Plymouth, to avoid the line of traffic going toward Bloomfield Avenue.

Across Bloomfield Avenue along North Willow Street, there are plans for a number of new multifamily buildings, which will also increase traffic going into Bloomfield Avenue or up Glenridge Avenue. An additional parking garage is planned for Glenridge Avenue in place of an existing ground level parking area. This traffic will exit onto Bloomfield Avenue almost across the street from the potential increased traffic coming from South Fullerton. If all of these plans are approved, the traffic along Bloomfield Avenue would encourage drivers to use other routes and thereby increase traffic on such residential streets as Union Street and Claremont Avenue.

The Seymour Street building developers hope that Essex County can obtain federal funding to redesign some aspects of Bloomfield Avenue.

Other uncertainties are the arts aspect of the Seymour Street Project. Will Montclair Township allocate funding toward the arts and entertainment events that are proposed for the Art Plaza? The apartment has designated 10,000 square feet of space for the arts, but there has been little contact with Montclair Art Groups as to how this space will be used or how much it will cost.

Where will the people, who now park in the lots being taken by the proposed building, park while construction is happening?

These are some of the questions about the Seymour Street Project. Mainly how will the increased density and traffic change a number of residential areas of the quality for which Montclair is well known and which make it a special suburban community.

The next Planning Board meeting is in the Municipal Building at 7 p.m. on July 17. Please consider attending if you wish to express an opinion about these developments.

Terry Reilly