Sunday, March 15, 2015

3/15/15 Plainfield City News: From the Office of the Mayor

This week's Women's History Month tribute goes to local historic figure M. Elizabeth Chitty (1928-1998), an outspoken Black woman who challenged segregation policies in the City of Plainfield, created a literacy program for troubled teens, and founded the Black Librarians Network of New Jersey. The Plainfield High School Library was named in her honor. Ms. Chitty worked as a librarian with the Department of Veterans Affairs and served three terms as president of the Plainfield Board of Education.
My weekly updates:
  • President Obama and First Family Visit Selma
  • Anti-Tethering Ordinance Passes
  • Plainfield Education Update
  • Administration and Finance Update
  • Economic Development Update
  • Department of Public Works and Urban Development Update
  • Recreation Division Easter Egg Hunt Scheduled
  • Public Affairs and Safety Update
  • Workforce Development
  • Arts and Culture
  • Resources

President Obama and First Family Visit Selma
President Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama on Saturday, March 7, 2015 with an appearance at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, one of the most prominent symbols of Blacks' struggles for the right to vote. In his remarks, he laid out plans for a post-presidential period in which he will try to address socioeconomic challenges in the world including economic empowerment for the disadvantaged, expanded opportunities for girls, and the programs that help young men in a project he calls "Becoming a Man."  In addition to the First Lady, First Daughters Malia and Sasha traveled with their parents to hear the president discuss his vision for the country. 

Anti-Tethering Ordinance
At Monday's Council business meeting, many supporters of this ordinance filled the Municipal Courthouse.  Animal activists came to the council meeting in support of legislation eliminating extensive tethering and leaving our canine friends exposed to harsh weather without appropriate shelter. The ordinance passed unanimously on final passage.

The new law limits the time of tethering. Owners cannot leave an unattended animal outdoors for more than 30 minutes when temperatures are below 32 degrees or over 85 degrees, or when storms are in the forecast. There must be adequate water, food, and a dry, shaded area for the animal. Violations may result in seizure of animal and placed into adoption, and owners may be fined from $100.00 to $1,000.00 for violations. Plainfielders love their furry companions, and this ordinance will help ensure the safety of our family pets.

Plainfield Education Update

In demonstrating this administration’s commitment to ensuring a quality education for the children of Plainfield, I am continuing to partner with Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles to get the word out on a number of important items. 

Kindergarten Registration 
Kindergarten registration for the 2015-2016 School Year will be held at Plainfield High School Cafeteria, 950 Park Avenue, on Saturday, March 14, 2015 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. All children who will be 5-years-old by October 1, 2015 should register for kindergarten, as well as all current preschool 4-year-olds. Families are encouraged to register their children so that they may attend Kindergarten in September 2015. If you miss registration by March 14, there will be evening hours available at the District Office (located at 1200 Myrtle Avenue) on Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  For additional information and registration requirements call 908-731-4321 or visit the website--click here

Superintendent's 300-Club Celebration 
Superintendent of Schools Anna Belin-Pyles will host a special event for 50 elementary and middle school students who excelled in the classroom and achieved perfect scores on the standardized test for 2013-2014 school year. “This is a great achievement by our students,” said Superintendent Belin-Pyles. “We planned an earlier event but were delayed by scheduling issues. Nonetheless, we want to take this opportunity to recognize our students for their outstanding work and encourage them to continue to succeed!” The students will be honored at a luncheon to be held Friday, March 20, 2015 at Maxson Middle School. The event was delayed because of scheduling conflicts and weather issues. 

Kenny Carter signs with Syracuse University 
Kenny Carter, a defensive end football player for the Plainfield HS Cardinals, signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Syracuse University. The 6' 4", 250-pound Carter was excited and relieved. He is looking forward to joining the “Orange” at Syracuse. He described it as a “…dream come true.” Carter, who also had a scholarship offer from Temple University, became an official Syracuse Orange at a ceremony held at Plainfield High School. His mother, Cathy, and Plainfield Coach Jason Glezman were by his side. Although primarily a defensive player, Carter could have different roles at Syracuse. He said, “They said I could play in the defensive line or the offensive line and maybe even right end.  I’m just excited to be going to Syracuse.” “This is a great day for Kenny Carter and for Plainfield... It’s exciting to see such a great young man work so hard for four years and to have it pay off like this,” said Coach Glezman.

2015 Union County Mountain Conference Division Bowling Champs 
Congratulations to the Varsity and Junior Varsity Bowling teams for winning their first-ever Division Championships in the 2015 Union County Mountain Bowling Conference.

Congratulations to Varsity Bowlers Nathan Thomas, Shaquille Privott, Kayla Chance, Davone Carter, Isaiah Boone and Alicia Glass, and to Junior Varsity Bowlers Kelvin Alvarado, Mikaya Harris, Askiaa Nash, Deysi Solano, Ahmad Hodges, Asia Smith, Jennifer Peralta, Betsy Contreras, Jackeline Fonseca and Jessica Fonseca for doing such a great job. You make us all very proud!

The champions won the Union County Mountain Conference Division where participating schools included Dayton, Union Catholic, Plainfield, St. Mary, Summit, Oratory Prep, Roselle, and Hillside.

Administration and Finance Update

Moody's Announces an Improved Outlook for Plainfield 
Moody's Investors Service released a ratings report March 12, 2015, assigning an A1 rating to the $14.5 million 2015 General Obligation Refunding Bonds the City is planning to sell. Moody's also removed the City's underlying negative outlook. As Mayor of Plainfield, I am pleased with the A1 rating, and look forward to the sale of the refunding bonds. We can now save our taxpayers over $400,000 in interest charges based on this upgrade and on the refinancing. The removal of the negative outlook demonstrates and affirms that my administration has the City moving forward and in the right direction.

Economic Development Update

Service Providers Directory 
On Monday, March 9, 2015, my administration introduced the first citywide Service Providers Directory to members of the Plainfield City Council. The directory includes contact information for more than 200 service providers within the City of Plainfield, including, but not limited to, those working in the areas of Education, Childcare, Youth, Food and Nutrition Programs, and Emergency Assistance. The directory was compiled by an intern, Ms. Jensine Wright, who worked with the Department of Community Development in conjunction with the Rutgers University's Internship Program. This is one of the many initiatives my administration has undertaken to ensure that residents will have access to adequate information, as needed. Electronic copies are available in English and Spanish and are available by clicking on the link, Plainfield Service Provider's Directory in English and Spanish or you may find the directory on the Plainfield website: For additional information regarding the directory, please contact Ms. Elaine Dunn-Brown, Office of Community Development, at 908-753-3233. 

Comprehensive Economic Development Maps
On Saturday, March 7, 2015, there was a joint meeting of three Plainfield boards and one commission: Planning, Zoning, Historic Preservation, and the Shade Tree Commission. After thanking the volunteers that serve the City of Plainfield with their many hours of service, I took the opportunity to speak on my vision for economic development, its importance to the future of Plainfield, and the need for our city to be more business friendly. Important elements of a business-friendly administration are improved processes, resources for developers, and the selection of organizations wanting to do business in Plainfield. To that end, Assistant Zoning Officer, Ronald Johnson, introduced a set of comprehensive development maps of the following areas: Downtown Plainfield, the North Avenue, Historic District, and current development throughout the city.
To view these maps, click on the links. These comprehensive maps illustrate current development and project status. These are examples of the tools and resources to come that will assist developers and business partners with current information.

Department of Public Works and Urban Development Update

Pothole Action Plan
It has been a tough winter for all of us. As expected, recent temperature changes have exposed severe potholes throughout the city. Since the beginning of the year, the Department of Public Works has been repairing potholes between snow events and as weather allowed. Crews were only able to use cold asphalt material due to the unavailability of hot material at the asphalt plants and extreme weather conditions. Crews applied a total of sixty (60) tons of material. Starting this week, the Department of Public Works will begin an aggressive plan to address the many requests that have been received concerning potholes.


  • Road inspections are being done on a daily basis with a high priority on emergency routes and main arteries of the City.
  • Repairs are prioritized and crews are dispatched to ensure that all required repairs are responded to in a timely fashion.
  • Requests from the public are being responded to according to their priority.
  • Roads requiring additional work will be noted and included in the upcoming road projects.


  • Plainfield's DPW staff is working closely with the County Road Division to make certain all requests are being forwarded and completed.


  • Extra staff has been assigned to pothole repairs and they are being strategically deployed throughout the city to address the increase in pothole requests.
  • The two new 4-ton asphalt hotboxes will allow for proper application temperatures and better compaction. In addition, the new boxes have a larger load capacity allowing staff to increase the amount of material to be picked up. This will reduce travel time to and from the plant, which will reduce fuel cost and response time. 
Pothole Notification 


All calls from the public regarding pothole repairs will receive a response. My staff will return all missed calls and provide an update on the actions we are taking. 

County roads are identified by their blue route signs, which include the letters "CR" followed by a three-digit number. To report a pothole or any other issue with a County road, click on the link to use the online form available through the Union County Department of Public Works and Facilities Management. Persons without Internet access can report potholes on Union County roads by calling 908-789-3660.

Plainfield Historic Preservation Commission 
Our team at City Hall continues to work with the Plainfield boards and commissions to help further economic development and the preservation of Plainfield's architectural heritage. At the February 24th meeting, the Historic Preservation Commission elected William Michelson as its new Chairman, replacing Sandra Gurshman. Commission member Larry Quirk was elected Vice Chairman. The Commission also selected Barton Ross as their new historian, replacing long time (30 year) historian Gail Hunton, who has retired. I greatly appreciate the many volunteer hours of service to the City of Plainfield by all the residents who serve on all of the Plainfield boards and commissions.

Recreation Division Update

Plainfield Easter Egg Hunt 

Saturday, March 28, 2015
10:00 am to 12:00 Noon
Cedarbrook Park (Cricket Field near Shakespeare Garden)

Department of Public Affairs and Safety Update

Community and Youth Engagement
In my administration’s efforts to engage our community and youth, the Police division participated in the celebration of the 100th Day of School. Students at Evergreen Elementary School collected and donated items to the Plainfield Police Division’s Domestic Violence Unit.  Sgt. Lisa Burgess, Sgt. Johnny Henderson and Detective George Rivera were on hand to receive the donation on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Students collected over 150 small stuffed animals, miniature cars, and other toys. The Domestic Violence Unit will use these toys to help children in crisis situations. Director Carl N. Riley and the Department of Public Safety would like to thank Ms. Natapoff, Mrs. Marrone, and all the children of Evergreen Elementary School for their generous donations. I am pleased to see such wonderful engagement and collaboration between our youth and police force. 

Workforce Development

Job Fairs
Click on the link for a list of upcoming job fairs--many are for this week, and some are in our area:

Arts & Culture Update

The Plainfield Symphony  

The Plainfield Symphony's 95th Season opens with the presentation of "Bernstein on Broadway" at 7:00 pm on Saturday, March 28th, 2015, featuring special guest Jamie Bernstein, conductor Charles Prince, Grammy Award Nominee Alexander Silber, and Will Reynolds. The program includes symphonic dances and vocal selections from West Side Story, On the Town, Wonderful Town, and Candide. Click here for more information.

Frontiers International Westry Horne Cultural and Heritage Series Schedule 

The purpose of this series is to educate and provide space for inter-generational dialogues on topics of African American history and culture. Click here for more information.

Plainfield Public Library


The Children's Library will now open at 11:00 am on Mondays through Thursdays. Click here to be taken to the library website.


United Way Internet Essentials

In partnership with Comcast and Union County College, United Way of Greater Union County is proud and excited to announce the launch of Internet Essentials Computer Classes in Plainfield. With the help of our partners, we will successfully increase computer literacy among our residents. Classes are free to all Plainfield residents and will consist of (10) 3-hour hands-on workshops focused on the following:
  • Introduction to Computers
  • Introduction to the Internet 
  • Keeping Children Safe on the Internet
  • Essential Email Skills 
  • Basic Microsoft Word Skills

To register, please call 908-353-7171, Ext.137 or Ext. 100, or email 

AARP Tax Preparation

AARP tax counselors will provide local members with free tax counseling services from Monday, February 2nd to Wednesday, April 15th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Appointments are required. Please Call 908-753-3506 make your appointment. 
Bring the following to your appointment:

  • 2013 federal and state income tax return if you filed
  • 2014 federal and state income tax booklet
  • 1099 SSA and/or 1099 Forms
  • W-2 Forms per employer
  • 1098 Form if you own a mortgage
  • Social Security card for all dependents
  • ID for anyone ages 18 and over.
  • All child care and dependent care provider info, including employer's name, SS #, or EIN #
  • Your 2014 Tax Receipt
  • All rent receipts or total annual rent paid if you are a tenant
If you’re interested in having a Property Tax Reimbursement done, please have your proof of taxes paid completed by the City Hall Tax Office prior to making an appointment.
Carpooling to school has benefits

For many families, the school year is a very busy time. Between making lunches and taking the children to and from school, it may feel like you're always in a hurry.

But weekdays can be more manageable if you share the school driving responsibilities with other families, otherwise known as"carpooling."

What is carpooling?

Carpooling is a type of ride-sharing that allows busy people to take turns with other neighborhood parents. Carpooling helps you:

  • Save time and money.
  • Minimize the wear and tear on your car.
  • Reduce traffic during peak hours.
  • Get to know other parents and community members.

Choosing carpool drivers

  • Share the idea of carpooling with responsible parents also interested in participating.
  • Try to make sure that participating drivers have cars that are in good condition and all valid documents (registration, insurance, etc.).
  • Figure out how many children can safely ride in the car, depending on its capacity.
  • Keep the phone number and address of each parent in case of emergencies.

Recommendations for drivers

  • Leave your house early, with enough time to pick up all the children on time.
  • Have children under age 13 sit in the back seat, and make sure they wear their seatbelts. Children younger than 8 years old must ride in a booster or car safety seat.
  • Before driving to school, make sure that all the car doors are closed properly and use the child safety locks if your car has them.
  • Never leave children alone in the car, not even for a minute.

Advice for driving in school zones

  • Drive slowly when you're in a school zone and always obey the speed limit.
  • When driving behind a school bus, make sure to stop when the red lights flash. Never try to pass a bus.
  • Try not to block or park in front of the school entrance or exit.
  • Drop off the children in specified loading/unloading zones. Wait until you see them go into school before leaving. Notify the teacher who will be picking up the children after school each day. 

Until next time...

As the snow melts we can all look forward to spring and to brighter and better days in Plainfield.  Have a wonderful week!

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