Parking problems plague Montclair downtown

I was terribly saddened to learn that Craig Brady Fine Jewelers was closing, though, not saddened enough to want to shop downtown.

We had purchased a lot of jewelry from him before he moved to Bloomfield Avenue.

Business owners of retail establishments and restaurants (and members of the Business Improvement District) need to completely understand that the only thing leading to the demise of establishments such as Craig Brady Fine Jewelers is the lack of parking… period.  Sure, new businesses open when one fails, but how long do they last?

I have lived in Montclair for over 31 years and you will not find a greater proponent of someone who tries to “Shop Locally” than me, but no more.  At least not “Downtown.” After receiving my second parking ticket in as many months (the last one for being six minutes past the metered time) I am done with driving around for 20 minutes and competing with other frustrated shoppers trying to patronize local shops.  I am not alone. Most people I talk to swear that they will not waste their time anymore, but would rather shop or dine where they don’t have to park a ¼ mile away.

It is hard enough to convince people to avoid the allure and ease of Amazon but toss in too-few parking spots and zealous ticketing, and it is easier to start in areas where driving to the store or restaurant isn’t a daunting ordeal.

Our town council or municipal planners aren’t going to do anything about this on their own; they only care about big mixed-use buildings of offices and condos (and, of course hotels).  I believe the only way to help is for the business owners to unite and bring pressure. Until then, more and more of us are shopping elsewhere while more and more businesses shut their doors.

Michael C. Vassallo


Get real on climate change

I wonder how anyone can deny climate change, given the floods in California, the droughts in the Midwest farms, and the super-rain in northern New Jersey. We need to stop it for the good of all human beings!

Idling a car for more than 30 seconds damages the engine, and is inexcusable except in the coldest weather. Heating takes a lot of energy, so we should open our dishwashers for the dry cycle and hang up our wash inside or on the line. I heard one congressman observe that if we truly care about climate change, we will ban all power-lawn machinery nationwide. That audience of hundreds clapped uproariously. I’ve read about a study that indicates that about a tenth of those using leaf blowers in their careers go totally deaf; many of the others lose lots of their hearing.

However, we will truly thwart climate change only if we take government action, such as in the pending HR 763, which would put a significant tax on all carbon emissions and distribute the take evenly among all U.S. adults. We need similar legislation for other climate-change-causing chemicals.

I understand the two pending causes for impeaching the current president, but they seem to me minor compared to his denial of climate change. Admittedly, that is not written into the constitution, so I have to content myself with the current approach. The important goal is to attain leaders next year who will address the climate crisis. Climate change will eventually affect all people, regardless of political party, so we must all unite to thwart climate change as much as we can.


What’s happened to mail boxes?

I have been a resident of Montclair for 27 years, and in that time I have seen the five closest U.S. Postal Service mailboxes disappear. At least seven have been removed from Upper Montclair — including the most recent blue victim, adjacent to Northeast School.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like to take a short walk and drop my stuff into a mailbox that offers a reliable morning pickup. These days, the closest box to my house is about a mile away.

I know the Postal Service has a tight budget, but this is ridiculous. If we are to abide such vanishing acts, why can’t it be the leaf blowers and security company signs on front lawns that disappear?

So says this snail-maily codger. Give me my boxes!



Watching the watchers

The Essex County Freeholders recently voted to establish a Civilian Oversight Task Force for the Essex County Correctional Facility in response to abuses criticized by ICE itself. This is a good first step in enforcing norms of ethical behavior inside the facility. It is not enough.

To have effective oversight, the Task Force must be open to community response, especially formal recommendations from the community on membership. The Task Force cannot be made up of members appointed by the County Executive from among his familiars. Furthermore, to guarantee full transparency, the reports issued by the TF must be made available to the public immediately. To ensure accurate reporting of conditions inside the facility, TF members must have access to its video and audio recordings. Likewise, inmates and detainees must receive a written description of the TF in their primary language. This description must include clear directions for contacting the TF in a manner that is actually available inside the facility.

I would say this isn't rocket science, but justice is harder to come by than engineering here in New Jersey. Let's change that. Contact your freeholder and insist on real oversight.