History Center trustees urge preservation of Lackawanna

The Montclair History Center considers the Lackawanna Terminal site one of the most historic in our town, not only for the notable design and construction of the station but for the transformative role trains played in Montclair’s development into the town we recognize today.

Additionally, the structure, constructed in 1913, represents one of the most significant time periods in Montclair’s history. We urge that a structure this integral to our history be appropriately incorporated, yet not overshadowed either figuratively or literally by the current redevelopment plans.

We would like to thank Kathleen Bennett, chairperson of Montclair Township’s Historic Preservation Commission, for making a July 6 presentation about the Lackawanna Terminal to the public at the MHC. Education is a central tenet of our mission statement, and Ms. Bennett’s informative presentation was eagerly received by the standing-room-only group of attendees. Her presentation is available on Channel 34.

We appreciate the work of Ms. Bennett and the Historic Preservation Commission and agree with their position that the town and the developers take a most thoughtful approach to the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment, preserving not just one significant building on the site, but the essence of the site and its role in our town’s history.

Elizabeth Hynes, president

Helen Fallon, vice president

Board of Trustees, Montclair History Center


Maintaining a lawn

I’ve been maintaining my lawn at 56 Gordonhurst Ave. for 42 years and feel called to share three pieces of advice.

First, I have never watered it. There are far more important uses for water in metropolitan New York. It’s essential for human life, but not for lawns. After water bans, my lawn greens up much faster than surrounding lawns; its roots go down deep and it doesn’t miss the rain as much as lawns spoiled by watering.

Even more lamentable to me are sprinklers that put water into the air where it evaporates without nourishing the lawn, a person, or any other animal.

Secondly, I believe there is no justification for leaf blowers. When they first arrived, I timed myself using alternative tools for comparable jobs and found no difference. Since then more careful studies have verified that  leaf blowers do not save time. One famously publicized a grandmother with a rake who cleared a lawn faster than a young man with a leaf blower.

Leaf blowers generate climate change needlessly, and distract or torture the neighbors with noise. I feel especially sorry for those who work at home (as I once did) against such an obstacle.  It’s bad for the economy.

Thirdly, I greatly recommend Great States non-powered lawn mower, easily available online for about $100. A friend tells me that if you buy it from South End Hardware, they will put it together for you.  I’ve never touched a power mower, but someone who borrowed mine reported she could mow faster with mine than a power mower because it’s much easier to maneuver.

I’ll admit to being an environmentalist, but I like to have an attractive property. I hope others will join me in abstaining from watering lawns, leaf blowers, and power lawn mowers.

Pat Kenschaft



Seymour worries

New housing developments create more traffic. Essex County along the Bloomfield Avenue corridor from Bloomfield to Verona is experiencing a rapid growth in multi-family housing. Most places along Bloomfield Avenue cannot be widened. This situation creates traffic congestion on Bloomfield Avenue as well as traffic using alternate routes along the smaller streets in the suburban communities. With these large developments and traffic, the formerly suburban nature of these communities, especially along Bloomfield Avenue, will become more urban.

Montclair is experiencing these changes as seen in the two six-story apartment buildings at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Valley Road. The Montclair Planning Board is in the process of hearings on the Lackawanna Plaza and the Seymour Street Redevelopment Plan. Both of these projects face Bloomfield Avenue.

The Seymour Redevelopment Plan includes a two-hundred-unit apartment building, retail space and parking on the site of the former Social Security Building. The building entrance and exit will be on South Willow Street. The plan closes the northern half of Seymour Street to create an Arts Plaza facing the Wellmont Theater with a seven-story parking garage in the back of the Wellmont Theater.

The Montclair Planning Board has had three public meetings on the issues of traffic and parking involving this project because the project has been given permission to build  on two currently well used public parking sites. One of the sites is between South Willow and Seymour streets and the other is between Seymour Street and South Fullerton Avenue. The current issue is to find alternate parking for the cars using these lots while construction is underway.

The closing of Seymour Street and creation of a 200-unit apartment building and the seven-story parking garage which includes two floors of office space will create more traffic on South Willow Street and South Fullerton Avenue. The residents of South Willow, the southern half of Seymour Street, Roosevelt Place, Union Street, South Fullerton and the Crescent are all concerned about the increased traffic and congestion in their residential neighborhood.

The large parking garage on Seymour Street will exit and enter on South Fullerton across the street from the Crescent and a half block south from one of the exits and entrances to the parking garage behind Church Street. The redevelopment planners have suggested widening the exit and entrance into the South Fullerton parking area and creating three lanes of traffic on South Fullerton from the Crescent north to Bloomfield Avenue. Creating three lanes of traffic on South Fullerton will mean fewer parking spaces and the loss of a loading zone, and will create problems for a number of restaurants and the retail stores on the street. The developers have also proposed taking away parking spaces on Bloomfield Avenue to have a smoother flow of traffic.

The reason that the Planning Board has had so many meetings on the Seymour Street Project is that the project has potential for a negative effect on the nearby residential and business streets by creating more traffic and congestion. The proposed new apartment building and parking garage are too large and too close to the neighboring buildings. The proposed arts aspect of the Project has not been developed and funding is uncertain. There are difficulties replacing the many parking spaces that are needed while constructions are underway. This large ambitious project is not appropriate for this site because of its density and its potential for traffic delays and other problems.

More multi-family housing has been constructed on Bloomfield Avenue east of Grove Street. Similar housing has been proposed for North Willow Street. Montclair has not chosen to wait and see how all this additional multi-family housing is impacting the community before approving other large-scale developments which are changing a pleasant suburb community into a more urban area.

Lucy Fitzgerald