On the closing of the Bellevue Theatre

The abrupt closure of the Bellevue Theatre is disappointing. The theater has been part of the Upper Montclair landscape for generations.

I hope that it can continue doing business as a movie theater under new management. I wonder if the venue might be usable for additional theatrical purposes: live music, theater, lectures, live streams of the Metropolitan Opera, and the Montclair Film Festival, to name a few.

Though currently subdivided into several theaters, the walls conceal a beautiful auditorium with a balcony. That theater happens to be at a hub of rail and bus lines, and it’s near two parking lots, with many restaurants nearby.

South Orange built a successful performing arts center, SOPAC, from scratch. The Bellevue, while not as large, might be re-purposed;  modified to be a mini-SOPAC; a multi-purpose, not-for-profit theater that brings people to Upper Montclair’s business district, that complements the crafts fairs that  are staged in Anderson Park, keeps the Bellevue as the centerpiece of Upper Montclair Center.

Montclair has a film festival, an orchestra, Jazz House Kids, Outpost in the Burbs, it’s a suburban cultural mecca. If we’re losing a movie theater, let’s not abandon the theater building.

Robert Mellman



Against the legalization of marijuana

Recently the media has been featuring stories of an outgoing governor professing an opioid addiction crisis in our country, while a newly elected governor has made a campaign promise to legalize marijuana if elected.

I don’t profess to be an expert as I have been out of the arena for several years, however, my credentials are impressive. I was an original member of the Montclair Police Department’s Narcotics Bureau, along with Bob Cummings, Tom Sobers, Herman Hartsfield and Gwen Pines as our secretary. We were established in 1970 by virtue of a federal grant issued to the township. As a member of this unit I attended and graduated from the New Jersey State Police Narcotic School in Sea Girt.

As a student I lived in the barracks at Sea Girt 24/7 while in training. I also attended many seminars relative to narcotics, becoming so proficient that I was able to give lectures in schools, service clubs, hospitals and private homes. As a unit we prepared affidavits for search warrants which led to hundreds of arrests, including street arrests.

It is my personal opinion that if our newly elected governor makes good on his promise he would be making a serious mistake, leading to serious consequences for both our youth and adult population.

Marijuana (pot/grass) derives from the hemp plant. When the plant is fully matured its leaves (dark green on one side, lighter green on the back side, with serrated leaves, always an odd number) can be harvested by grinding up the leaves, flowers and seeds into a fine powdered substance which can then be rolled into a cigarette also known as reefers, joint and stick. Which can then be smoked.

The effect of these cigarettes is one of a stimulant that can cause some people to go into a delirious rage and thus commit serious crimes that they normally would not commit, while under its influence. While marijuana itself is not habit-forming, it is used as an “introductory step” leading to more serious drugs. I speak from experience; 90 percent of the hard-core addicts I came into contact with started by smoking a joint.

I know what you are thinking: “If alcohol is legal, why not marijuana?” At this time, it seems to me it would be more logical to deal with our millions of alcoholics than to add another mind-altering chemical of unknown long-range use because of individual tolerance levels, to our problems. Should we or should we not allow another intoxicant to be accepted by our society is the question. It’s your decision but I advise against the legalization of marijuana.

Thomas J. Russo