Tag Archives: Lambertville

🦊 The Long Twisted $7 Million History of Mayor D and Ely Field

Why would anyone want to be mayor? Well, for one, although it’s practically a volunteer job, it’s a job that’s swimming in money. Is that a “conflict of interest” if your business is construction? It’s a great way to make and use connections, and to direct business to those friends and connections. Even if everything is on “the up and up”, just imagine all the free meals and other “amenities”!!

Our former Mayor D 🦊 claims one of his accomplishments is that he “restored Ely Field”.

Seven million dollars is a conservative estimate for “restoration of Ely Field”, based on the numbers of outlays listed in the source articles (below). Where did that money come from?

The Mayor and council relied greatly on the Lambertville “Open Space” tax, approved at first only for acquiring the Buchanan property. But over and over they went “back to the well”; they revised Open Space to cover other purchases. There were referenda, and strangely the magic words “Ely Field” could insure approval of yet another extension to Open Space, the tax that in the Mayor’s own words, “…was supposed to end when the Buchanan property was paid for”. The gift that keeps on giving! The mayor who claims “we kept taxes down” is responsible for the largest ongoing tax increase in Lambertville History. $300,000 a year, by his own estimate in 2008. And with yearly increases in home assessments, the number keeps going up, and at this writing, in 2021 residents are still paying.

And yes, it wasn’t always the city taxpayers who footed the bill. The Mayor knew how to work the system. Sometimes “the State” stepped in with grants and inexpensive loans and/or forgiveness. But where do state funds come from? The money was spent. It doesn’t grow on trees. Not even on ancient, beautiful old trees. Millions of dollars. If you ever wonder why New Jersey taxes are the highest in the country, look at Ely Field. Because for the amount of money that has been poured into it, it should be made of gold.

(Some might claim offset from rateables or other sources of income for the City in this process, to which I say you could just as easily discover hidden and related costs, overruns, delays, and so on to add to my total.)



He sure didn’t do it alone—and what does “restoration” mean in this case? What’s the whole truth?
It’s a long and complicated story, one that’s difficult to piece together as a whole. Not unlike a popular movie from the 1970’s, and unfortunately ending like a children’s book. I’ve provided an overview with a timeline and sources.

“Ely Field”— Located on Lambertville’s Main Street, donated to the city by the Closson family, is thought by most to be part of the adjacent Lambertville Public School. It is in fact a separate park, once mostly an open field with volleyball/tennis/basketball courts, in recent decades it has become primarily the realm of Little League Baseball and Pop Warner-type football, which together require fences, dugout, goal posts and other constructions which circumscribe portions of the field.

It’s “preservation” or “restoration”—whatever this is—seems to have a lot more to do with the streets and land surrounding the field, than changes to the field itself. This is a tale of streets torn up, streams redirected into pipes, hillsides condemned, 129 homes built, millions and millions of dollars spent, the City burdened with debt, and one beautiful ancient tree destroyed. In the end, Ely Field was “restored”. Whatever that means. In the process Lambertville Got Way Bigger— “Better” is debatable—and we’re still paying for it.

After three years out of office, waging a guerrilla campaign against his successor in the guise of a largely anonymous “whistle blower” group, Mayor D now wants “another chance”. Really? To do what? Repair the parking lot at Ely Field?

Twenty-seven years of this is enough. No more.

Ely Field Restoration, how did it happen? Taking his cues from the movie “Chinatown” and the true story of Mulholland and the development of Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, former Mayor Delvecchio worked for twenty years to develop—which, by his actions, appears to be a synonym with “acquire”—the hillside above Lambertville and to cultivate “Ely Field” below it as his legacy. This, as in the movie, was all accomplished at the expense of others—especially local and state taxpayers.

Drainage – A big chunk of the expense of Ely’s restoration was in fact a long, large, and expensive drainage project. It required the upending of Main Street, the disruptive chopping of trees, modification to sidewalks and widening of Delaware Avenue, all to redirect water via new pipes from the hills above Lambertville and the lowlands behind Ely field and the Lambertville Elementary School, beneath Delaware Avenue, and from there, into the Delaware River.

The project began with some concerns about mismanagement. After a false start with one construction company in 1998, work was halted. The project gained steam with a different company in 2001.

Development – With drainage issues resolved, development became viable, enabling construction of 129 Townhomes on “Lambert’s Hill”. At one point the Mayor expected the high-end homes to contribute 25% to the City’s real estate tax revenue! But gambling relies on chance, and unfortunately, the home developer went bankrupt. The City was saddled with repairs to unfinished roads and sidewalks and legal efforts to recover expenses.

Condemnation – The drainage and Ely Field improvements consisted of many projects over roughly twenty years. In the end, the land above Ely Field was acquired through a “redevelopment” project and condemnation by the City which paid a controversial amount for the properties. The dollar figures accumulated over that time are staggering, roughly $7 Million*.

Almost as staggering, the number of times “improvements to parking at Ely Field” are listed as part of the projects, (long time residents will know that Ely Field parking issues are still a problem.)

“Fiinal” improvements to Ely Field, spearheaded by The Friends of Ely Park, are not listed here, as these occurred into 2019, after Del Vecchio had left office, but details of “the expensive fence” (as some call it), snack shack, improved bathrooms and artwork are available online . Was the skateboard ramp promised at one City meeting ever built? I don’t see that mentioned anywhere.

The Giving Tree – Sadly, I mark the end of the project with the destruction of one of the oldest and largest trees in Lambertville, the two-hundred plus year old London Planetree, which had the misfortune of being located at the Center Field used by the high priority Little League, and was chopped down with neither warning nor ceremony in 2014. Friends of Ely Park created a project to memorialize the tree in woodworking art, calling it “The Giviing Tree”. Ironically the name derives from the title of Shel Silverstein’s book about a boy who continuously, persistently, and selfishly over many years takes everything from the tree, until all that’s left is a stump.

The Truth is Out There

— Christo

The timeline below is an outline of the events, and may include other activities and projects from the same period. The information is all taken from public sources, which are linked, and may reflect inaccuracies on the part of those sources.


TIMELINE & SOURCES

1992Mayor Del Vecchio begins his first term as Mayor of Lambertville. (After living in town for 2 years.)

1997 Jan. David Delvecchio joins Joseph Jingoli & Son
In “Business Development” at Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc. “JINGOLI is a nationally ranked contractor / construction manager with 95 years of experience servicing power, industrial, healthcare, gaming and educational clientele.”

https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-delvecchio-64aa9517b/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/joseph-jingoli-&-son-inc./

1998 – Ely Field/Delaware Avenue Drainage Project (pt. 1) – First Contractor starts and fails in beginning of drainage project, cannot complete a tunnel under Main Street. Work halted.

2001 – Ely Field Improvements, phase 1 to cost approx. $175,000, requires drainage, includes parking improvements.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2001/04/18/rec-group-unveils-plans-for-ely-field/

2001 – 2002 – Ely Field/Delaware Avenue Drainage Project (pt. 2) “Contractor Carbo (sic) https://carbroconstructors.com/leadership/ awarded $4.7 MILLION to complete:

  • Delaware Ave. drainage from Ely Field to Delaware river.
  • Connaught Hill through the Delaware drain – State funds additional $300,000 to fund drainage.
  • Alexander Ave. runoff—Left to be completed: from Phillips Barber tie-in to Delaware Ave. drain.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2002/04/17/delaware-avenue-drainage-project-nears-completion/

2004 – Referendum passes for “Open Space” tax, 2 cents for every $100 of assessed value”, for the sole purpose of preserving (acquiring) the Buchanan property behind Ely Field.

2005
February – City begins planning of Redevelopment of Connaught Hill (includes Buchanan properties).

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2005/02/23/tenants-vacant-lot-owners-concerned-about-condemnation/

June$400,000 DEP Grant goes toward $1.4 Million purchase of Buchanan property.

“The city also might be able to reduce the total to be raised by another $250,000. That’s the amount of a loan Green Acres made to the city, originally intended for improvements to Ely Field. The city now has asked permission to shift the money to the open space purchase, Mayor Del Vecchio said.”

In the meantime, Ely Field will not be left bereft of improvements. The city has received a $50,000 Livable Communities Grant from the DEP for the field’s improvements.

The funds could go toward “improved bathrooms, getting more playground equipment, a whole bunch of things,” Mayor Del Vecchio said.”

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2005/06/29/city-to-use-grant-for-land-buy/

2007 – July – 16.5 Acre Buchanan property purchased for $1.4 Million, (ONLY $575,000 from local taxpayers using “Open Space tax” after 3 “Green Acres” grants—paid for by state taxpayers et al.)

2008 – City tries to buy 1 lot of 1.082 acres at Jean Street at Music Mountain, referred to as “the McCann property”. (To be payed for by modifying the purpose of the “Open Space tax” in referendum).

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2008/03/26/city-wants-to-acquire-jean-tract/

“The point is, the last referendum was so specific it pertained only to the Buchanan property,” Mayor Del Vecchio said. “It was supposed to end when the Buchanan property was paid for.” – In other words, the Mayor changed a short-term “Open Space tax” in to a PERMANENT “Open Space Tax”, which residents continue to pay in 2021.

“The city collects about $300,000 a year from a 2-cent open space tax voters approved in 2004 for the purchase of the Buchanan property at $1.4 million.”

Lambertville voters agreed in 2008 to expand the purpose of the tax. The tax remains at 2 cents per $100 of assessed property value, but the voters approved the city’s use of the tax for maintenance of parks and open space as well as the purchase of the 1.082 acres of undeveloped land that is referred to as the McCann property.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2009/11/11/lambertville-officials-seek-state-money-for-mccann-land-buy/

2010City plans, purchases North Union half acre lot from Allied Village Square for $200,000 using funds from City’s Open Space tax. (The tax at this time is halved to 1 cent per $100 of assessed property value, at the discretion of Council.) In a survey, residents suggest it be used as a dog park or an open space farm market, the Mayor states his preference of a public Bocci Ball Court. The unfinished site comes to be known as “Cherry Street Park”, used as a pay parking lot by the American Legion(?) during the annual Shad Festival.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2010/08/26/question-should-city-buy-plot-2/

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2013/07/25/lambertville-north-union-project-open-space-buy-ready-to-go/

2012 – South Franklin Street Drainage Project
Lambertville city council unanimously approved borrowing $795,000 for the South Franklin Street drainage project and for improvements at Ely Field.

“The New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission are giving the city $170,000 and $248,365 respectively for the projects on a reimbursement basis, according to Mayor David DelVecchio.”

“The bond ordinance council approved Monday will pay for construction and materials for drainage improvements to South Franklin Street, which DelVecchio said would help drainage problems on Main Street. The city will also repair the parking lot at Ely Field and install new light poles and fixtures for the field.”

https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/hunterdon-county/express-times/2012/07/post_18.html

2004 – 2012 Lambert’s HillConveniently for someone… this hill, formerly owned by the Closson family, could be DEVELOPED because drainage issues which would have made it impossible, have been (or will be) resolved and paid for by state and local taxpayers. Considered a jackpot by Del Vecchio, because the 129 homes “provide the city with 25 percent of its real estate tax revenue”. But then the developer went bankrupt, leaving unfinished roads and sidewalks, and the City had to help BAIL them out. At what cost? Unclear.

https://www.nj.com/mercer/2011/08/residents_of_lamberts_hill_dev.html

In 2012, Del Vecchio reluctantly turned over a “performance bond” check for $147,000 to the Lambert’s Hill homeowner’s association after the development was approved by the city Planning Board. (The photo is worth seeing.)

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2012/07/26/lambertville-lamberts-hill-can-finish-needed-projects/

2013 – City Condemns, pays $750,000 for “McCann tract” , agrees to pay $750,000 for land appraised at $410,000. The “McCann property” now consists of 2 lots for a total of 6.7 acres. Controversy over condemnation, appraisal, agreed price.

https://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/2013/04/discussion_of_condemnation_for.html

City passes ordinance to pay for McCann property. “The ordinance covers $750,000 for the appraised value of the property, plus $15,000 for fees incurred for getting the ordinance ready for the council.”

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2013/06/27/lambertville-mccann-property-to-be-kept-as-open-space/

2014 – Huge London Planetree Felled, over 200 years old, cut down to clear Center Field for Little League Baseball at Ely. To be commemorated as lumber for artists.

https://friendsofelypark.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Giving-Tree-Project.pdf

🦊 Mayor D Endorsed by Booker?!

Reactions- Wha? Why? Who cares?

Mayor D’s web site announces that Mayor D is endorsed by popular NJ Senator Cory Booker. The endorsement reads like it was written by D or one of his minions. There’s even a picture with the Senator’s arm around D’s back! (Not a great idea, given D’s health issues.)

The D Campaign must believe that Mayor D’s political allies, back-room deals, and connections to big money and big businesses and the “Democratic Machine” after 27 Years as a PROFESSIONAL POLITICIAN is something that the average Lambertville resident would like to see obfuscating the transparency of local government once again. How well does Booker know D? Well, you could ask…

How enthusiastic is the endorsement? You might want to read it from a Cory Booker source, just to be sure. If you Google “Cory Booker” and “endorses”, you’ll see lots of endorsements, but nothing about Mayor D. So let’s go direct to Senator Booker’s web site and search for Mayor D there.

Here’s what you get:


But there is a photo, right?

That’s right. There’s a photo of Mayor D with Sen. Booker from the Senator’s Twitter feed from August of 2016. (That would be, almost five years ago.) And let’s remember, that was back before D, as he claims, “became a better person” in ways, as yet, not revealed to the public. Does Cory know “the old D” or “the new D”? Or does he know the difference?

How well does Senator Booker really know Mayor D?

Does he know that Mayor D was a big proponent of using “inmate labor” to haul trash, to keep down costs of the City’s overworked, underfunded and mis-managed Public Works Department? -It’s not that CONVICT LABOR is a BAD THING, well maybe it is… Or that it’s a RACIST THING, well maybe it is… But it sure helped to keep our City Public Works expenses down!! And that’s a GOOD THING. Right?

The next time you see Mayor D, or Senator Booker, ask him what his feelings are about convict labor and the 13th Amendment, and if he supports it.


Meanwhile, you might consider how the strangest, ugliest, and most untruthful bits of information conveniently come out at the very end of a political campaign, when there is only a week or two left before the election to prove or disprove the controversy, lie, or accusation. (Residents know, there is no viable Republican candidate for Lambertville Mayor. The election is determined by the Primary.) I’m actually talking here about Mayor D’s latest (of way too many) campaign flyers, and what he suggests, implies, or states about his opponent, and about the current mayor. And this is how D runs. And how he helps his minions run. And how he ran the City. Usually some truth, but rarely the whole truth.

Like stating his total support for a marijuana dispensary—allegedly because the City voted overwhelmingly for legalization of marijuana. Did the residents vote overwhelmingly to have a large, traffic-producing, odorous complex on the canal path? No. A supposedly huge jackpot of tax money to bail out Mayor D’s previous gambles and legacy of debt? No. I don’t think they were voting for an Alcohol Distributor, already wealthy enough to silo the prime River Horse property for TEN YEARS, to cash in on our little town with the help of Mayor D. Was that what the referendum was for??

Just sayin’.

He is the 🦊 fox and your City is the henhouse. Do you really want him back??

— Christo

🦊 Mayor D and The City’s Unmanaged Green Can Program

Another of Mayor D’s so-called “accomplishments” – The Green Can Compost program, GREAT IDEA, which potentially brought income into the City, but instead cost the taxpayers. Once nominally in place, the program was essentially abandoned, running on auto-pilot with existing participants.

What was ignored, unmanaged, undone??

  • Promotion of and communication about the program (What was it? Half the city had no idea!!)
  • Additional applicants-The web page said people could participate, but no, you couldn’t.
  • Contamination issues – Plastic dog poop bags, cans, and bottles do not go into compost, and pedestrians kept dropping these and other items into the green cans sitting at the curb awaiting pickup.
  • Pickup schedules and non-pickup by Public Works – Was your restaurant pickup 3 days a week? 2 days? What if the truck never comes?
  • …and of course there were issues with the maintenance of the vehicle(s) used for pick-up.

—these issues were all un-budgeted and left to simmer and be solved “down the road” by the next administration. From the New Hope Gazette:

In addition to the parking concerns, there was alarming news about the city’s curbside compost program. The city lost its contract with the current compost collection company. Business administrator Alex Torpey secured a short term deal with Waste Management, so the collection on Mondays will remain uninterrupted.

Fahl asked Torpey to detail why the contract was terminated and Torpey said, “In our compost stream, there was a lot of material that can’t be in the compost, some actually that can’t be in the regular trash which included things like bleach containers, broken glass, a coffee pot, metal forks, a bag of ice melt … which ended up seeping into the entire load and contaminating everything.” The city has since posted photos to their Facebook page.

Torpey mentioned this, along with the market for regular recycling, as a “wake up call,” and indicated the city is in conversation with other municipalities and farms and hoped that a permanent solution could be “really local,” mentioning that Princeton borough’s composting initiative had trucks hauling compost all the way to Delaware.

— Read on www.newhopefreepress.com/2019/06/21/parking-concerns-dominate-lambertville-june-governing-body-meeting/

Think long and hard before you put another fox back into the henhouse. A mayor of 27 years doesn’t need another chance to show us what he can do. We have some notion of what he can do. If you don’t, read about it. The truth is out there.

—Christo

Lambertville City Meeting to Vote on Closson Preservation Project?

🌎 The CITY is supposed to vote on Thursday March 25th at a 6pm meeting, on whether to buy the Closson Property or let it to be DEVELOPED. Council Persons Stegman and Benedetta are rumored to be voting AGAINST buying the property, in spite of huge community support for the purchase revealed in a survey from the Community Advisory Team <https://www.lambertvillenj.org/cat >. (Why are they against it, if true? Is it just to undercut Mayor Fahl? They campaigned to “stop over development”—on that issue a timely Closson purchase is a no-brainer!)

The increasingly mis-named “Lambertville United” “watchdog and First Amendment group”—which during the last City Council election functioned as a mouthpiece for Stegman and the previous regime—has posted an opposing opinion in an unsigned letter from a “concerned citizen”. <https://lambertvilleunited.org/ >

LU posts lots of “information” from behind a curtain of anonymity, no names attached, so you can’t challenge assumptions, statements, innuendo, or blatant lies, or engage in conversation with a real person, or ascertain if the “author” has any qualifications at all. Anonymity has been their modus operandi from the very beginning, but now they claim it is to protect their members from threats and harassment 😐, and “property damage”. <https://lambertvilleunited.org/resident-comments >

Small town drama is so entertaining!

Please try to attend the Zoom meeting (see below). If only to see who votes for what! If you want to make comments at the meeting, you will be expected to provide your name to the public. Duh.

Peace Out

— Christo

Description

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Mar 25, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 03-25-2021 Special Session

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86263773745
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +19292056099,,86263773745# or +13017158592,,86263773745#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
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See related post— https://christoplummer.com/2020/11/23/🙄-making-lambertville-better-stopping-over-development-are-only-acceptable-if-achieved-by-lu-former-incoming-councilman-stegman/

I Remember Sandy (Installment #2)

20121118-011922.jpg

I didn’t say when I’d get to this unpublished continuation from Super Storm Sandy in 2012. So here it is. It is 2021 right? 😷

Monday – That first day
I kept wondering when the worst would hit. There had to be more, right? Where was the so-called “Super Storm”? Were we just in the eye? But there was no more wind, no more downpours; it never got worse, just overcast, with occasional drizzle. Okay. I thought I would be fine for a couple of days without electricity, even without heat. And I knew for me the hardest thing would be to go without sleep.

I had a dull, deep, throbbing headache at the base of my skull and down into my shoulders. This is the sleep apnea headache that comes from lack of oxygen and lack of real rest. If you know about Apnea at all, you probably associate it with snoring. It amazes me now that I managed with it, undiagnosed, for years, and that anyone would try the CPAP solution and choose not to use it. It makes you look like Darth Vader in bed, but who cares? The CPAP mask, pumping filtered air into your face, stops the apnea and the headache. And thanks to Sandy, I wouldn’t be able to use my CPAP again until I had electricity. I was anxious about the lack of sleep and the potential for an incapacitating, whopper headache, so I located my migraine prescriptions, found the one with codeine, spilled one into my hand House-like, and swallowed.

The apartment was still warm, and luckily, I had city water. But I was isolated. No Internet. I didn’t have a radio. One of those funny little hand crank radios in the LL Bean catalog suddenly seemed like a great idea. I went outside.

The town was quiet; in fact, except for a couple of shell-shocked dog walkers, the streets were empty. I sat in my car, engine running, and charged my phone and iPad. I tested the CPAP. (It worked.) I listened to the reports. Apparently with no damage to the building, no giant tree limbs covering my car, and for now the Delaware river not flooding, for a change, I was in better shape than many. Sandy had slammed into the Jersey shore and ricocheted up the coast to cause major damage in New York and Long Island. The disaster at the Jersey Shore was yet to be fully ascertained or appreciated, but it was clear that my little town had done “well”.

Lambertville suffered downed trees, but it seemed the city had been largely spared. Throughout the damaged areas, time and again, evidence remained of a lucky event – a huge wreck of a tree, lying by the side of a house safely between walls and car, slumbering horizontally, in the driveway, house and auto, untouched. Among the downed lines and smashed and exploded transformers there were many of these near misses. All the stores and shops were closed, of course, but I didn’t see any broken windows. In the street lay the roadkill of two dented “Dish” satellite antennas, the likely source of night-time screeching, as metal was bent, bolts pried from brick and concrete by the wind, until they fell like crashing, grey, sea birds, to be gashed deeply by the concrete and asphalt that broke their dives.

I tried my iPad, but of course there was no WiFi. My iPhone on the other hand, had a good signal – 4 bars of LTE. Who would have known? Later in the week I learned that around a 3rd of the cell towers in NJ had been knocked out, one way or another, but at my location, 4 bars. Then and there I decided it was worth investing in a one month data account on the iPad. I signed up for it, and was off and running, with full access to my email, magazines, newspapers, and other junk on a device with a ten hour battery – if I could get a full charge.

On the radio, in the papers, on Twitter, everybody said, “Don’t go out. Stay home. The roads are a mess, there are wires down.” I had nowhere to go, the office was closed, our network was inaccessible, and that’s what I did. I cleaned, I gathered and arranged candles, I thought about how to eat my food before it all spoiled. Pendar was at his brother’s house up in the hills. My kids were in the South. I checked on them via Text. They were fine. I had a late breakfast.

20121219-154309.jpg

With one burner, and one frying pan, I cooked a small omelette with some sliced turkey, a little Irish cheddar, a veggie sausage, and an English muffin. I was glad that I had assembled my butane camp stove the night before. I had good coffee, and creamer – which I regard as a necessity for my coffee. It was a hearty breakfast. Much better than the bagel and cream cheese from the local deli that I’d been eating every day for the last week or two. I had nearly a dozen eggs to get through, one was broken, and I used two in my omelette. If I kept at it, I could get through them in a day or two. I had some smoked salmon and lots of crackers. At this point the goal was to use up all the food, so as not to waste it. It began to dawn on my just how much food I kept in my small, and largely empty, pantry. I figured I had plenty to last a few days, and if it got bad, there was always pasta, canned tuna, and oatmeal.

Tuesday I enjoyed another morning omelette and coffee. I started to get antsy, but decided to stick around town anyway. Two nights so far with no CPAP meant that I had to get up and move around and take drugs before I could do much else. I was still optimistic that I would have electicity soon. There were plenty of emails from my work colleagues around the world. They obviously had little or no concept of the magnitude of the crisis. “Hope you are well.” Well wishes along with requests for work that needed to be done. I spent a lot of time answering emails.

I set up a little cellphone workstation in an effort to save electricity, as well as to use my work phone for my work email. I paired my Mac bluetooth keyboard (because my iMac was useless without electricity of course) with my iPhone, and set the iPhone on a little Kensington iPad stand. Voila! A very serviceable workstation. Now I could type, leave the screen in landscape mode, work quickly through email as I located news about the state. New York City apparently was clobbered. Knocked out. The pictures were stunning, especially of the Brooklyn power station explosion and subsequent fire.

By the afternoon, it was clear that I had no heat, and the house was getting cold as the sun lurked behind the autumn clouds and the temperature dropped.

I had offers. Several friends from work had offered their homes. Marc had no electricity, but he did have a generator and a fireplace. I could plug in my CPAP. Robert had lost six big trees, but none had hit his house or car. He had electricity AND he pointed out, FIOS. That was tempting, but he lived pretty far down river. I opted for a third night at home, while the house was still not too cold. As I explained, this could go on for a long time. I would hold out as long as possible.

Wednesday was my day to break free and look around. My third day after a night without CPAP was okay. I wore the mask all night, and maybe, even without the airpump, I breathed differently – that is, in some healthy way. The tube to the mask was dripping with moisture from my breath. My back was getting tight from skull to hips, but there wasn’t much pain on Wednesday. Are you getting the CPAP issue here? For me, everything was pretty much okay, but my big anxiety was about the medical condition. I don’t normally think of myself as a person with a disability, but besides the headaches, apnea can kill you. Usually with heart failure or a stroke. I was just worried about the headache turning into a full-blown migraine. I’d been managing my migraines for almost a year, and the idea of rolling around in agony on the floor in the freezing cold didn’t appeal to me.

I drove North to Flemington. Rt. 202, normally a highway with fairly light traffic, now a disaster because of the huge numbers of cars lined up at the few gas stations that were open. Ten, twenty, thirty, or more cars. I learned quickly to stay in the left lane to avoid tail-ending someone. With almost a full tank, I wasn’t going to worry about gas. Presumably the stations were mobbed by all the people with generators. Lots of people with big red gas cans. Flemington appeared to have power. Chilis, Fridays, Applebees, all the “ees” were open. I drove to the County Library, for the WiFi. A lot of other people already had this idea. The folks at the library had set up a conference room full of tables and extension cords, and these were all occupied. I found a single power outlet and a chair upstairs in Fiction. I worked for hours, until my butt hurt, and I had to move. A young woman claimed my seat before I had packed my backpack. Something was going on in the parking lot as I started to pull out – lots of cops and flashing lights and a big truck. I ignored the hubbub until I saw the woman standing at the exit holding a big sign, “ICE AND WATER”. “For me?” I asked. “Sure,” she said, “If you need it.”

My frig had been off for 3 days. I still had food, and was anticipating dumping a lot of it in another day or two. I made a loop around the lot and the cops threw a sleeve of ice in my trunk. I waved off the bottled water. Just when I thought I was going to lose the rest of my food, I had a chance to get by for another day or two!!

Dropped off the ice, rearranged my food, and headed to Doylestown to find out if gasoline was truly hard to get, and to go to Starbucks and free WiFi. Despite horror stories I’d heard from neighbors and on the radio about standing in line for 4 hours to get gas, there were virtually no lines once you got to the Pennsylvania side of the river. I passed a short line in New Hope, and with nothing unusual in Doylestown, I filled my tank. I headed to Starbucks, and hunkered down with a sandwich and iced coffee and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

When I got back, my apartment was dark. I had hoped there would be a light in the window, but NO. No electricity for me. About that time, Marc texted me that he had electricity at his house in Solebury. Man. Why couldn’t I have electicity? He offered a room and a bed. I told him I would be there around 9. I got my stuff together, grabbed a bottle of wine, and headed over. Sure enough, all the lights were on in his neighborhood…why couldn’t all the lights be on in my neighborhood?? I thanked him for his kindness, he told me I didn’t have to bring the wine, I insisted, and I begged off on his offer for dinner, coffee, and anything else. I just wanted a shower and to go to bed, and I did. It is great to have people who are generous enough to share their homes in a crisis, but I hate to impose, and I didn’t want to interfere with his family life or routine. I slept well, with the CPAP on, and sneaked out the door before 8 AM the next morning.

Now, let me say, all the while that I was just making meals, and staying warm, and keeping my devices charged, it was clear that much of New Jersey and most of Manhattan had suffered tremendous damage and was still dealing with phenomenal hardship. I didn’t have much to complain about, just a great deal of inconvenience. I kept that in perspective, but I was cranky. It wears you down. It makes it hard to focus.

To be continued…

Written on my iPad.

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🙄 “Making Lambertville Better” & “Stopping Over-Development” are only Acceptable if Achieved by LU & Former/Incoming Councilman Stegman

LU’s Supposed “Survey” about Closson Farm Leads you to Oppose It

Lambertville Mayor Julia Fahl, proposes that the City purchase the Closson Property and protect it before it becomes another tract of houses and condos on one of the last remaining open spaces in Lambertville. Her proposal includes purchase using existing funds and partners to limit the taxpayer cost to .63/household/year. (That’s cents.) Housing conversion estimates of the idyllic and historic farm vary from 12 units (current zoning) to 28 units (with variances). The property is currently on the market and could be purchased by a developer at any time. (See the City’s FAQ.)

Self-proclaimed “watchdog group” and 1st Amendment advocates “Lambertville United” apparently think this is a bad ideaespecially if it is done before former Council Person Steve Stegman returns to his seat on the Council. Stegman you may recall, after many years on Council, and serving as Council President, resigned “to spend more time with his family” when the Fahl administration’s budget work revealed years of mismanagement, incompetence, and hidden costs in City budgets resulting in a crushing debt burden for at least the next ten years. (Many details available on the City web site.) With the endorsement and support of LU, Stegman, and his conveniently-named running mate, Benedetta Lambert, won election, returning the fox to the henhouse starting in 2021.

In mid-November, the “watchdog group” distributed a “survey” requesting feedback on “the Mayor’s Closson Farm” proposal.

I have screenshotted the entire survey (LU Closson Survey Questions) if you would rather not subject yourself to the trackers associated with it.

As in previous “surveys” from the Stegman, er, LU group, the very leading questions are intended to rile and misinform people about an issue, as opposed to actually getting feedback. Please read the City’s FAQ first.

For example the first real question in the survey begins with:

“In the past, all City of Lambertville purchases blah, blah were put to a vote through public referendum…”

REALLY? ALL? IS THAT TRUE? I’m not sure that is really true. Are we talking about the hills above Ely Field? Maybe this just doesn’t seem right due to the way it is phrased, because:

“Voters in November 2008 approved, by almost a 3-1 margin, extending the city’s open space tax, in part to purchase the McCann tract.”—NJ.com, (see link following)

BUT that referendum was not specifically on the purchase of the tract, it was about extending the tax.

The City condemned the hillside above Ely field, so technically the City didn’t purchase it, the city was obligated to pay market value, and you might recall there was a big controversy because the City paid way more than market value…another of Dave and Steve’s expensive adventures requiring a Google search to reveal the details: <https://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/2013/04/discussion_of_condemnation_for.html>

But was there a referendum about every other purchase?

Nevertheless, the “survey” doesn’t let me say, “You idiots, the Clossons aren’t going to wait for your stupid referendum, time is clearly of the essence!”

And the next question leads with assuming higher taxes, bonds, and debt, and uses the term “redevelopment” without mentioning “open space” or “historic preservation” or even suggesting that there are some creative options for buying the property. (Again, I suggest you read the FAQ—the truth is out there.)

Someone needs to ask LU to be honest about what they really want, because when you offer them something that—based on their anonymous public statements, press releases, and lawn signs all over town—it seems we all could agree on, their concerns appear to be way more about personalities than issues or facts. It would be good to get clear on that.

But, uh, oh yeah, they don’t have any names on their web site. You can’t actually talk to anyone from LU. They’re not a public non-profit. They’re a secret society. Darn.

If you’d like to participate in the City’s public discussion of the topic, where speakers are required to reveal their identities, the meeting is Monday evening…

https://www.lambertvillenj.org/component/dpcalendar/event/2011

Peace out,

— Christo

Life in the Age of Covid – Friday August 14, 2020

Friday August 14, 2020 11:38 am

“This rotten time wouldn’t seem so bad to me now. If I didn’t die, I should be satisfied, I survived. It’s good enough for now.”— “Sky Blue Sky”, Wilco

Winding down the summer of 2020. It’s 86 degrees in Western Central New Jersey with 98% humidity—that’s pretty swampy weather, even though it’s cooler by 5 degrees than most days for the last few weeks. I’m listening to the Goldfinches chirp as they fly overhead in between feeder stops. A Kingfisher chatters his way north up the river, while the nattering Nuthatches explore the walnut tree from every angle—upside down, sideways—jerkily walking the bark in three dimensions without hesitation or fear of gravity. They do sidestep the big yellow wasps, who have a nest in a hole in the tree. While one guards the entrance, wings buzzing incessantly, the others come and go quickly with a sense of purpose.

Too late to go for a cool morning ride.

We’re six plus months into this Covid thing. I haven’t been to GIANT market, where I now appreciate leisurely strolling, relaxed, picking through the corn chips, looking for the healthy ones, and trying to find the sliced wild salmon with no sugar or flavorings. In all this time I haven’t returned to the gym where I taught T’ai Chi—not since that last Saturday morning, right before lockdown, when only four students showed. I haven’t met my friend Pendar for dinner at Bell’s Tavern, a habit we’ve maintained for over thirty years. No tuna sub from Valpariso’s for lunch on work days. I have bought a few dozen bagels from Hee San at Bagel Delite, had a few TLT Sandwiches from Jess’s Juice Bar, sushi from Ota Ya, and the grilled chicken pesto panini at Liv and Charlies, all from curb-side pickup of course, no sit-down restaurant meals anywhere. Not happening. I miss the social ease of dropping into Rojo’s coffee shop and reading at a table, or treating myself to cookie-dough ice cream at Oh Wow Cow.

I wear a mask whenever I go out, and ALL DAY at work – and a bandana when I ride my bike. I used to say I did it to set a good example, which is still true, but I really do it because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t need to hear or make any arguments about it. My mom was an O.R. nurse. I know intuitively this is the right thing. I get pissed at people who don’t wear masks – including my neighbors with their small children. But I don’t say anything. When someone sneers some comment at me for wearing a mask, I resist the urge to shove them into the canal, where they belong. And to be fair, I have recently witnessed my neighbors and children rolling the downtown sidewalks, all masked. Not consistently, but at least around town.

This is serious business, and most of us will get through it – eventually – and some won’t.

Do what you need to stay sane and healthy, be excellent to one another, and for God’s sake, vote and vote early!

— Christo

#5G RU TV Drama—is the controversy really about Russian Trolls??

back1Saturday May 25, 2019 — The New York Times published a front page article, Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise.” It reads like a marketing piece for Verizon. Maybe because NYT has a 5G Joint Venture with Verizon?? Then, the Wall Street Journal, responded, with “Russia and the 5G Cancer Scare—America’s cell-phone industry couldn’t be happier about the Kremlin’s meddling.” And you can’t read the whole article unless you have a WSJ subscription…but you can read it if you go to the link the WSJ provides in their “CIO Journal” newsletter, where the WSJ article is described as “debunking” the NYT article.

But does the WSJ really “debunk” the NYT? Or just stir up the drama pot? Let’s remember, the WSJ is a Rupert Murdoch paper. That is, it might as well be a Fox News paper. Reading the “debunking” article takes you to a site called “Fierce Wireless“, clearly a marketing mouthpiece for the telecom industry, which seems to end each article with an explanation that there is no definitive proof of the dangers of cellular radiation!!

Do you feel “whipsawed”? Does jumping around from article to article remind you of trying to figure out what happened in the final weeks of the election in 2016? Does all this drama remind you of reality TV? Do you feel like you need to wash your hands? Do you have that uneasy feeling in your stomach like the one you get when you have been spending too much time on Facebook? That queasy feeling that you’re being used, or played, and that something you are doing is wrong? Pay attention to that feeling, and spend less time on the Internet!

Because have you ever had to work this hard? To find out the truth? To get people to see that you are calm, and reasonable, and believe in facts and science? Had to work this hard to get your friends, neighbors, colleagues to understand that you agree with them? That you have common ground? Mutual goals? Our opposition—the trolls, the haters, the deceptive marketers, the monopolists and corporate shills, I lump “them” all together—they would like us to just say, “Screw it! I have no control, the monopolies are gonna ram this through, I don’t know who my representatives represent.” The opposition have managed to make us distrustful and antagonistic even of people who AGREE with us!!

Now take a deep breath. Fortunately, distrust of others, including of our own government, is one of the seeds of our (mostly, still) democratic system!! There are processes and inputs and options. Wahoo. Really. So hang in there and talk to your neighbors. And I mean talk, not text, not email. And go to meetings. You won’t agree about everything. Who does? And you can always back off, regroup, compromise—the opposition wants you to quit—but don’t, don’t give up!

Now, let’s get back to facts and articles…

I like the Environmental Health Trust. They may have a slightly slanted view, but the “slant” is towards facts and health and safety! EHT Founder Devra Davis, PhD. responded to the clearly biased NYT drama-mongering piece with a thorough link-laden article of her own. Now, before you dive down that rabbit hole, READ THIS ONE.

After searching and reading until I am sore in the head (can you tell?), I found one article that I recommend to everyone. This is really for the skeptics. There’s a ton of great material on my 5G page, but just read this one article. After that, if you are so inspired, then off you go. Here it is, and please read ALL the words:

A comprehensive guide to the messy, frustrating science of cellphones and health” from VOX.  https://www.vox.com/2018/7/16/17067214/cellphone-cancer-5g-evidence-studies


I am about to retire from this topic, I hope…
Peace Out — Christo

The Lambertville Swallow Sign Decline

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Whatever happened to the Cliff Swallow colony that lived under the Lambertville-New Hope Bridge??

Friday, April 19, 2019— This Spring I saw Cliff Swallows at Center Bridge (at Stockton) and Bulls Island, but are there any Cliff Swallows nesting on the Lambertville-New Hope Bridge any more?

In short, yes. At around 10:00 am today, I counted 10 Cliff Swallows plunging from the underside of the Lambertville New Hope Bridge, flying erratically and quickly out, and up, and away, as they do, before you can snap a photo. That’s good.

But as recently as 2013 there were 75-100 Cliff Swallows nesting under the bridge and following those crazy flight patterns to catch insects and return them to waiting chicks. I’ve checked a couple more times, at different times of the day, but the news is no different. There is a small colony beneath the bridge. I will, check again later in the Spring. Meanwhile check out the slide show.

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Here’s what happened in the six photos above:

  1. The Frame started to come off the sign.
  2. Someone pushed the frame back on, and stuck a brick under it to hold it in place.
  3. The frame came off completely
  4. Something happened to the sign, it was removed, and the supporting panel remained.
  5. The metal panel attracted stickers and graffitti
  6. The graffitti-ed metal panel was removed, leaving just the sign post.

May 1, 2019 — I promised an update. In March I wrote a query on the Contact form at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission web site.

DRJTBC Contact Form – Christopher Plummer Submitted Web Contact Form

Submitted 2019/03/05 9:13 PM on:

Regarding the New Hope – Lambertville Bridge: Around 1981 the DRJTBC placed an informational sign for pedestrians on the Lambertville side of the bridge that commemorated the bridge as a home for the Cliff Swallows (birds) that have maintained a colony under the bridge, returning every Spring. (The Center Bridge- Stockton Bridge also has a similar sign.) The sign in Lambertville has fallen into disrepair in the past few years and has now disintegrated into a shiny steel rectangle plastered with stickers and graffiti. There is a DRJTBC number and barcode on the back of the sign by which it can be identified.

As a long time resident of Lambertville, I would very much like to see the sign restored with the art and information about the swallows that it once had. (I have photographs I’d be happy to share.)

Is it possible that DRJTBC could find a way to repair this sign?

Thank you.
Christopher Plummer

 

And then on April 1 (I’m not laughing), I got this response:

From: Joseph F. Donnelly jdonnelly@drjtbc.org
Subject: Response to your inquiry to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge CommissionDate: 04/01/2019 at5:53PM

Christopher Plummer:
Thank you for visiting the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s website and using the “contact us” portal.
Please be advised that the New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge sign you referenced in your message no longer exists and was not produced by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC).
As I recall, the sign promoted how proceeds from the New Jersey Wildlife Income Tax Check Off were utilized to place artificial nests at the New Hope-Lambertville Tax- Supported Bridge after the bridge’s concrete walkway was replaced by a laminated timber deck walkway in 1982 (subsequently replaced with the current walkway in 2004). (Note: The formal name of the bridge in 1982 was the New Hope-Lambertville Tax-Supported Bridge since it was jointly owned by the two states until July 1987, when its ownership was transferred outright to the DRJTBC.) The Commission, which controlled the bridge at that time on behalf of the two states, cooperated in the post-project remediation efforts regarding the migratory swallows.
Please understand that there is nothing in the Commission’s meeting minutes or in our engineering department’s records that support your assertion that the sign was placed at the location by the DRJTBC. I found nothing in the official record that shows the Commission requisitioning, procuring, or paying for the sign. Regrettably, it’s unclear who exactly produced the sign.
What I can tell you is the following:

In conducting research for an historical account that I compiled on the bridge crossing’s200th anniversary in 2014, I noted that the sign had the headline “Cliff Swallows Benefit from NJ Wildlife Income Tax Check Off” and its content explained a swallow-nest remediation effort that took place at the bridge back in the 1980s (over 30 years ago). For your edification, the sign’s credit line said the illustration and design were by Doreen Curtin with a copyright of 1984, suggesting the sign was placed at some point during or after that year. It also said “Screen Printing by Aztec Graphics.” But the sign did not cite what agency or group produced it.

That said, the Commission is not in a position to repair the sign for the following reasons: 1. It had fallen into disrepair and had outlived its purpose in promoting a project that took place more than three decades ago. 2. The Commission did not produce the sign. 3. Whatever entity did produce the sign never maintained it after its installation.

While I can’t speak unilaterally for this agency on a matter such as this, it’s certainly conceivable the Commission would be open to considering installation of acceptable signage referencing the bridge’s swallows and/or swallow nests if some organization or entity were to again shoulder the time, effort, and costs of design and production.

– Joe Donnelly
Deputy Executive Director of Communications DRJTBC
New Hope, PA.

 

So…we have more information. I had forgotten the initial connection of the sign to the appreciation of the nests disturbed beneath the bridge and the careful restoration of ceramic nests in the hopes of maintainting the colony. I am quite sure that subsequent “upgrades” to the footpath over the bridge—which is now some kind of plastic-paint-covered metal—were not so attentive to the colony.
The sign disappeared mysteriously shortly after I sent my query. I don’t believe in coincidences.
Maybe we can get someone to step up and restore the sign as suggested by Mr. Donnelly? But first, I think it’s more important to restore the appreciation for the birds themselves, the Cliff Swallows of Lambertville, which appear to be in decline to the point of non-existence.
Peace Out,
— Christo

 

Ready or Not

Friday, March 15, 2019
Work continues on clearing the rails for the Lambertville Tourist Train. No estimates on actual arrival of an engine with cars. Maybe they want to have one on display in time for Shad Fest? But maybe the crumbling canal walls and collapsing roadbed should be shored up first?


“You call it progress. I call it destruction.”— Comment of an anonymous five-year-old on watching the take-down of large tree.


 “They took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum…”

—🚕 “Big Yellow Taxi“, Joni Mitchell

PEACE OUT

— Christo