Is Montclair fading away?

I think there is a misunderstanding about the anger and frustrations of the people of Montclair regarding the over development in the town, especially the Fourth Ward. Montclair was always a quaint town noted for its diversity, beautiful homes, and safe and serene atmosphere. It was a town where most people owned their own cars; but had the enjoyment of driving through town without encountering bumper to bumper traffic and weather beaten roads.

There was a time when garbage men would come into your backyard and carry your cans out to the truck and bring them back. If there was a heavy snow storm it wouldn’t be long before you would hear the plows coming through your streets. Yes, it was a time you could see where your taxes were going.

This is slowly changing. Our once quaint town, with beautiful homes and historic buildings is turning into a city of cookie cutter townhouses, condos, apartments and even hotels. Worse yet some of these developments are lured in by PILOT programs (payment in lieu of taxes) where they are making annual payments far less then what they would pay in normal property tax without a payment in lieu of taxes. While the town keeps a higher percentage of the PILOT money than of ratable tax dollars, most of our tax dollars are earmarked for schools, while there are no stipulations for PILOT participants.

Recently the residents received notice that the sewer rates were increasing to repair the 100 year old sewer system. When I recently received my quarterly water bill I noticed my usage went down from the previous bill, however the charge went up. I called the town and was told by a clerk in the water department, water bill rates increase from April to October to encourage conservation of water. So the townships answer to these growing problems is to put up more developments, bring in more people, which in turn brings in more traffic and puts even a bigger strain on our infrastructure at the expense of the resident taxpayer?.

This is what we are angry about. Yes, some things change; but we don’t have to “Make Montclair Great Again”, we were always great. Montclair was not meant to be New York City.

Inez Whitehead Dickens



Get active with Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Montclair has an active group of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby that meets monthly. CCL lobbies for legislation to put a fee on all carbon, both produced in this country and imported, and to distribute the proceeds equally among all United States citizens. It seems to me like an auspicious way to curb humanity’s greatest threat.

At last week’s meeting we watched a tape of Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive. He said that over 40 countries have similar legislation or a legislation that sets a price on carbon where each company that contributes to the carbon total at its source is given a limit on the carbon it may emit. There is a loop of “good behavior” with reductions in carbon leading to energy efficiency and lower energy demand.

Jones also said that of all the ideas suggested to address climate change, the most powerful is to put a fee on carbon. It encourages the use and development of non-fossil fuels and also spurs energy efficiency and decreased energy demand. When a price is put on the creation of carbon pollution and consumers benefit in a dividend that is returned to households, which is what CCL recommends, it also seems to maintain equity among consumers from the very poor to the wealthy, but, of course, the poor benefit most from an equal payment.

He observed that one hope for CCL’s prospects is that movements start slowly, but then suddenly pick up; he reminded us of the civil rights movement. Instead of concentrating on elite leaders, CCL is working in congressional districts locally, district by district, in an effort to make change instead of pushing from the top. Each of us can help in a small but important way. However, to make significant change, we need a carbon fee and dividend. Please check out the Citizens’ Climate Lobby at and join.

Pat Kenschaft



Recognizing Fourth Ward’s distinguished history

In the July 13 Montclair Local opinion section, David R. Sirota wrote that, “it looked run down and neglected, perhaps because it has been.” He was talking about the Fourth Ward (South End). I take umbrage to that statement.

After marrying a third generation Montclair resident, I moved to the South End in 1979, because this is where my husband wanted to remain. Even if some people have discovered the Fourth Ward, it has always been home to us.

The South End was the home of many African American professionals. They were doctors, lawyers and business owners. Just to name a few: Dr. Darden, who built the garden apartments on High Street and Orange Road; Albert B. Cook, who built the Lincoln Gardens Apartments on Lincoln Street; John Rudd and his partners built apartments on Gates Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road, and it was the home of the first Montclair African American mayor, Matthew G. Carter.

Forty years when you did not think about moving to the Fourth Ward, these prominent African Americans lived here: Doctors Douglas, Clark, Ross Lapeyolerie, Thornhill, Cowan, Rice, Ford, and Thompson: Aubrey Lewis, Wally Choice, Larry Doby, Commissioner Maynard Catchings, former councilwomen Dolores (Bobby) Reilly, Audrey Fletcher Lee and Sandra Lang; U.S. Representative William Gray, state Senator Nia Gill, Gil Noble, Councilman Brian Scantlebury, Mayor Robert Jackson,Councilwoman Dr. Renée Baskerville, former deputy fire chief John Sterling, former police chief David Harmon, former fire chief Kevin Allen, former deputy fire chief Jarvis Hawley, The Rev. Buster Soaries, former library director Cheryl McCoy, and the list goes on and on.

Entertainment was at the Sterling House with top name entertainers, the Willow Lounge and the DLV Lounge. For years Montclair talked about diversity, but not in the south end of town because they did not want African Americans as their neighbors. This is my opinion.

I also feel that the people who are moving in are finding it is better than where they are moving from, this is also my opinion.

Ruth C. Taylor