All posts by brigidmcmenamin

Heard about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

It doesn’t exist. Not even in Post Office Plaza. The sooner we realize that the better off we’ll be.

Check out this piece by a neighbor who knows what he’s talking about:

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/articles/misdirection-and-opacity-from-council-member-mathiasen-about-fiscal-responsibility

What you can do

Q: Is there any way to dissuade our Mayor & Council from building a big, 100+ commercial, rental apartment block behind our Main Street Post Office, clogging up our streets with hundreds more cars?

Come to the Council Meeting Tonight

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 7:30 pm,

Borough Hall, upper level, 54 Fairmount Avenue.

To attend virtually: see www.chathamborough.org. Scroll “News and Events” down to “Notice of Mayor & Council Meeting.”  Click “more.” 

Q: Discouraged by the Mayor’s 25-person limit on in-person attendance? Fed up with the technical difficulties that plague virtual participation?

Tell the Mayor

to hold Council meetings in a place

that can accommodate everyone.

Email:mayor@chathamborough.org  cc cdempsey@chathamborough.org, swilliams@chathamborough.org and brigidmcmenamin@msn.com

Miss Dickinson’s Garage

The Chatham Borough Council’s plans to overhaul Post Office Plaza will mean the loss of an historic structure built more than 100 years ago by feminist trailblazer Edna Dickinson (1885-1954).

Miss Dickinson was a graduate of Moravian College, a crack shot, world-class collector of mounted birds and animals, a tireless volunteer, a whiz at selling World War I bonds, a founder of the Chatham Trust Company, and our town’s first female real estate broker, known for driving her clients around in a Chalmers at a time when cars were a novelty.

New York Tribune, 14 Dec. 1919

In 1911 – years before women were even allowed to vote – Miss Dickinson, 26, built the two-story structure at 31 South Passaic Avenue, near the train tracks, to house her real estate business and an auto repair shop. Upstairs would be The Chatham Press, whose only entrance was on a nameless side street that ran along the railroad tracks.

The Chatham Press, 19 Aug. 1911, p.1

Before long, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad decided to raise those tracks for safety. The Borough allowed the railroad to build an embankment, with a retaining wall in the the side street, only a few feet from Miss Dickinson’s building, permanently blocking the entrance to the upstairs offices – as well as a residence in back of the lot, which the DL&W fenced with wire – over the objections of Miss Dickinson, and without compensating her.

Just look how close the tracks come to the building:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/31+S+Passaic+Ave,+Chatham,+NJ+07928/@40.7394433,-74.3827375,3a,75y,83.37h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s8mJ_YxEmpCycaEpv8dCcNA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c3af72d5e15273:0xcb10e740d81b723f!8m2!3d40.7394466!4d-74.3825504

Tenacious, young, businesswoman Edna Dickinson battled them in court for four years. She ultimately won a series of jury verdicts, culminating in a 1918 damage award totaling $8,332, which would be worth some $150,000 today.

As of 2021, Miss Dickinson’s Garage is the home of Glenn’s Automotive and Towing, a hometown business, whose owner – a third generation Chatham resident – just happens to share Miss Dickinson’s love of animals.

glennsautomotiveandtowing.wordpress.com

You can find the fascinating history of Miss Dickinson’s Garage in My Town by a River: Vignettes of Chatham, New Jersey,* published in 2005 by the Chatham Historical Society, and in many old clips from The Chatham Press.

* https://books.google.com/books/about/My_Town_by_a_River.html?id=cHsHpHcD53IC

Time for our Mayor to do the right thing!

Tell our Borough lawyers and experts to come up with ways to allow enough affordable housing – without destroying one of the last few open spaces in town.

Our elected representatives deny having plans to stick a 100+ apartment development behind our Main Street Post Office, clogging up already congested streets, displacing the popular Cottage Deli, and destroying our free, public, parking lot.

They claim that whatever they decide to build in Post Office Plaza will be small scale and low density.

Now we know that isn’t true. So stop wasting time. Tell our lawyers and experts to come up with alternatives.

Our Mayor & Council have already taken steps to facilitate swift construction of a 100+ unit, rental housing project in Post Office Plaza.

The proof is in an agreement the Mayor signed – and the Council approved – on June 14, 2021, agreeing to tight deadlines calculated to lead to a final deal with the developer by June 1, 2022.

(See for yourself in Sec. 8.b.iii, 12. & 13 of that agreement, shown in the Sept. 18 post at www.chathamchoice.org; and discussed at https://chathamborough.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=55, 34:22 through 35:38)

Contrary to what you may have heard, that June 14 agreement does NOT limit the size of the project at Post Office Plaza. Just the opposite!

In effect, that agreement requires construction of at least 100 rental apartments at Post Office Plaza, as our professional planner Kendra Lelie conceded at the Sept. 27 Council meeting.

(See for yourself at https://chathamborough.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=56, 1:44:00 through 1:44:26. In theory, they could substitute 75 for-sale units, but that’s out, as it’s less profitable for the developer.)

Only way we can avoid getting stuck with that eyesore is for the Mayor to step up, invoke the “or” clause in Sec. 8.b.iii, and persuade the powers-that-be to accept another way to get enough affordable housing.

A 100-unit rental development will bring in hundreds of new residents, driving at least 130 additional cars, plus many more carrying employees and patrons of the new retail shops and restaurants.

(See Sec. 4.4.3 of the 2019 Redevelopment Plan, http://www.zumu.com/zumu/chatham/Post%20Office%20Plaza%20Redevelopment%20%20Plan%204%209%2019.pdf).

We’ll be forced to replace our free, convenient, public parking lot with a dangerous garage that’s sure to attract crime – in return for a mere 15 -17 affordable apartments – and with NO significant benefit for residents or taxpayers.

The actual size of the project could exceed 200 units, given the lax 2019 Redevelopment Plan.

Sec. 4.4.2, http://www.zumu.com/zumu/chatham/Post%20Office%20Plaza%20Redevelopment%20%20Plan%204%209%2019.pdf)

The developer will be eligible for taxpayer help financing the project and a 30 year break from paying normal property taxes!

(See Sec. 5.11 of the 2019 Redevelopment Plan, http://www.zumu.com/zumu/chatham/Post%20Office%20Plaza%20Redevelopment%20%20Plan%204%209%2019.pdf).

There’s no need sacrifice Chatham. Our experts know many ways to allow affordable housing. Ms Lelie calls them “mechanisms.”

Some possible mechanisms include:

  • subsidizing existing apartments;
  • converting old office buildings to residential use, as resident Fran Drew has proposed;
  • building assisted living or senior housing, perhaps near the train station; or
  • some combination of the above.

Tell our Mayor & Council to have their experts show us Chatham residents and taxpayers some “mechanisms” that will preserve our free, convenient, public Post Office Plaza parking lot – and without condemning anyone’s property.

E-mail the Mayor & Borough Council:

mayor@chathamborough.org mayorcouncil@chathamborough.org

Link to more contact information:

https://www.chathamborough.org/chatham/Government/Mayor%20%26%20Council/

Can our Mayor still save Chatham’s Post Office Plaza?

In June 2021, Mayor Kobylarz settled a lawsuit that sought to impose a big apartment block on the Bradley properties on the west end of Main Street. He settled that case by committing our Borough to many other obligations – including commitments for Post Office Plaza, just off Main – in exchange for a temporary break from similar litigation and the promise of a few units of affordable housing.

In effect, the Mayor temporarily preserved one small part of Main Street –  and only until 2025 –  by promoting rampant over development that will increase traffic, and compromise the quality of life in our whole town forever.

(Drop down to Civil Part. Enter Case County: Morris, Docket type: Civil Part (L),    Docket Number: 1906, Year: 15. Then hit Search).

  • Listen to what the Mayor’s planner Kendra Lelie told the judge – under oath – at an Aug. 6 hearing: (Code: 1234. Requires Windows.) 

https://njcourtsrecords.awsapps.com/workdocs/index.html#/share/document/0a668e50137df72cb0456120446e7c75702c233d54845c8dbe86f0234877d5

OR

https://njcourtsrecords.awsapps.com/workdocs/index.html#/share/document/0a668e50137df72cb0456120446e7c75702c233d54845c8dbe86f0234877d52b


It’s time to face reality – and insist on clear answers:

  • What changes is the Mayor required to make to the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment Plan by January 1, 2022? (See the June 14 settlement agreement, p. 6, Section 8. b. iii.)
  • How can the Mayor meet the public demand to preserve the dedicated, free, open, surface public, Borough-owned and controlled parking on almost 2.2 acres of Borough land in POP?
  • When will the Mayor exercise the “or” clause in Sec. 8. b. iii, and try to get a better deal that would preserve 100% of the public land in Post Office Plaza, and NOT include a parking deck?
  • When will the Mayor consider creative ways to provide more affordable housing, such as converting existing housing and vacant commercial space on Main Street?
  • Is it still possible for the Mayor to turn POP into a public park and surface parking lot, as suggested by community leader Fran Drew?
  • What options, if any, do we still have for Post office Plaza?

Come hear our Mayor, Borough Council, and Planner face those questions and more at the next Council meeting, this Monday, September 27, 2021, 7:30 pm at Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue, third floor.

(Start at minute 29:46.) https://chathamborough.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=55

Here we go again!

Myth:  Our Mayor and Borough Council wouldn’t plop a giant apartment block in the middle of town without first airing some options.

Reality: Behind the scenes, they’ve already sacrificed our options. Now they’re all but bound to :

  • build a 100+ rental unit, high density apartment block that will
  • put hundreds more cars on Main Street and
  • replace our free, open Post Office Parking Lot with a dangerous, multilevel parking garage.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Get the facts.

Come to the next Borough Council meeting: 

Monday, 13 September 2021 

7:30 pm 

Chatham Borough Hall, 3d floor 

54 Fairmount Avenue 

Would you like to see even more traffic in Chatham Borough?

How about a dangerous, hulking parking garage?

less open, public parking?

More empty storefronts?

More crowded schools?

Rising taxes for police, firefighters, water, sewer, etc?

Lower property values?

That’s exactly what you can expect

if our borough Council lets the Kushner real estate developers

build a corporate welfare, commercial apartment/retail project

behind our Main Street Post Office.

Get the facts before it’s too late!

Come to the next Borough Council meeting:

7:30 pm

Chatham Borough Hall, 3d floor

54 Fairmount Avenue

Don’t sacrifice Chatham to the big developer!

Now we have a great alternative for the 5 acres behind the Main Street Post Office!

It includes more surface parking and a pretty public green space.

Longtime Chatham businesswoman and civic leader Fran Drew conceived this idea as an alternative to the proposals offered by the big Kushner developers, who stand to profit by using corporate welfare PILOT tax breaks to build a project that will destroy our little Chatham Borough, with big expenses and even more traffic on Main Street.

Chatham residents are excited about this fresh idea, which is aimed at preserving and enhancing our community.

Are you tired of ever-worsening traffic on Main Street?

Make sure this idea gets a fair hearing before our Mayor and Borough Council.

Let our Mayor and Borough Council know what you think: mayor@​chathamborough.org

For more information, contact Fran Drew: algarts@aol.com