Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Maryland Overtakes NJ in Income

Essex Co. map based on 2000 Census (click to enlarge)
From Bloomberg:
New Jersey is no longer the wealthiest U.S. state, losing that distinction to Maryland in 2006, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers.

New Jersey's median household income increased 1.1 percent to $64,470, while Maryland outpaced that, rising 2.2 percent to $65,144, according to the Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey.

The U.S. median household income was $48,451 in 2006, up 1.6 percent from a year earlier, officials said. Mississippi was the poorest of the 50 states with a median household income of $34,473.

The city of Camden, New Jersey, shed its distinction as the poorest among communities with a population of 65,000 to 249,999. It had a median household income of $25,961, making it the eighth-lowest nationally in that category, the Census Bureau said. Brownsville and College Station Texas both have higher poverty rates. Youngstown Ohio and Muncie Indiana have lower incomes.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Put a Chicken in Your Tank

This may seem like a chicken$#it fuel alternative, but it's beginning to produce results. From and other sources:

You can't stop progress: turning chicken droppings into electricity is one thing, but developing transportable pyrolysis units to convert poultry droppings into bio-oil on-the-go? A team of scientists from Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is working with a coalition of poultry growers to test a transportable unit that would convert poultry litter — a mixture of manure, feathers, bedding and spilled feed — into bio-oil (or pyrodiesel), producer gas and fertilizer.

It would do so by first heating the litter until it vaporized; the vapor would then be condensed to make the bio-oil. At the same time, a form of slow release fertilizer could be recovered from the pyrolysis unit.

If more immediate results, there's always this.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Way to Waywayanda

Although it's less than an hour from Essex County, there are many scenic drives and loop trips to Waywayanda State Park.
Forested hills surround the large lake creating a peaceful backdrop for canoeists, boaters and fisherman, while a variety of trails from old farm roads (dotted with remnants of the old iron mines and Lenape Indian shelters) to steep mountains delight casual as well as serious hikers. A twenty-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, while the top of Wawayanda Mountain offers sensational views. More than forty miles of trails are marked. If you're desperate for a dip when the beaches close or after Labor Day, you can follow the trail around the south shore of the lake to a refreshing waterfall (at your own risk).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

From Toxic Passaic to Llewellyn Estates

Montclair's preeminent historian, Frank G. Godlewski, contributed this historical insight on the influence of Passaic River pollution on Llewellyn Haskell, one of N. Essex County's leading aristocrats, leading to the development of the region:

From Baristanet:
Mr Llewellyn Haskell lived at his estate, "Belmont" in North Arlington, designed by A.J. Davis. The drinking water was piped up from the Passaic River and stored in water towers in this castellated villa. Due apparently to river pollution from nearby Patterson industries, Haskell's wife and children (except one son) died of diseases (in the 1840's). Mr. Haskell was one of the richest men of NY and his chemicals trade then became MERCK. Devastated by the deaths in his family, his architect took him to healthier land that promised itself to be a romantic and picturesque paradise...Bloomfield.
A. J. Davis's family homestead, once on the Morris Canal, is now the Bloomfield Steak House and the land now the town green. A.J.'s grandfather, Deacon Joseph Davis, (husband of Anna Crane of Cranetown (Montclair)), founded the First Presbyterian Church and the Bloomfield Cemetery. Davis encouraged Haskell to buy land to pursue a project of creating an ideal community of likeminded, illuminated individuals.
Haskell was a Swedenborghist and a staunch abolitionist. Davis adapted an existing farmhouse for him calling it Bloomfield Villa, still standing on Llewellyn Road. Haskell may be considered on of the first real estate developers of our area and Davis the first architects. Davis's house designs in the 1840's country house pattern books that he did for Downing, includes several local house designs. Llewellyn Park originally began on Llewellyn Road in Montclair to 280 and then extended up from Orange Road to Eagle Rock Reservation.... Llewellyn Haskell's son was a general of an all African American troop in the Civil War.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Birdseye View of Foreclosures

The recent "boom" in the foreclosures has resulted in new tools for tracking the rapidly changing marketplace.

The latest score in North Essex is Bloomfield 42, Montclair 19, Glen Ridge 3.

Realtors and investors have always had access to updates on latest neighborhood to host a home in early to final stages of foreclosure. The newest wrinkle, introduced by Yahoo, adds aerial views of the neighborhood to the equation. It's really a bit of a tease since it requires at least a trial subscription to RealtyTrac to zero-in on the home and full info sheet. But a little detective work can narrow it down. Or not. One wonders how the neighbors feel. The 1.5M Montclair mansion on Llewellyn, is listed as up for auction on 8/28.
The new tool provides online users with this information by matching the addresses of the properties in RealtyTrac's foreclosure database to Microsoft Virtual Earth images. It offers users “photos of each property, zoomed in and cropped to show the property in clear detail−and from multiple angles.....buyers and investors who use our service now have a significant advantage over other buyers and investors in the market for foreclosures. These photos will give our users a good sense of a property's layout, condition and neighborhood−key factors in determining value and investment potential−all from the comfort and convenience of their computer.”
Although savvy investors can do well, there are many cautions.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Hop, Skip, & a Jump in the Lake

Nine miles in length and covered by 2,500 acres of freshwater, Lake Hopatcong is the focal point of the park. Hopatcong State Park is at the southwest end of the lake and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming. It's just north of I-80, off exit 43, about 33 miles from Bloomfield. There's a Bloomfield connection, since The Lake was originally created as part of the Morris Canal, the 90-mile waterway that ran from Newark to Phillipsburg. As with many popular state parks, it can fill up early on weekends, so call ahead.
The water temps are comfortable in August, but if the air seems a bit too cool this Saturday, you can drive a few miles due south to the annual Chester Black River Music & Arts fest. It's free!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Snaking Down the Passaic

Why our Swimmin'Hole Survey will NOT include the Passaic River:
From the Herald News:

Ancient ritual met with modern consequence Monday, as state environmental authorities said they were searching for a religious group that released hundreds of live reptiles into the Passaic River on Sunday as part of a Buddhist rite.

Members from a New York sect of Amitabha Buddhists -- devout vegetarians who believe in the sanctity of all living creatures -- said Sunday they had purchased the creatures in New York's Chinatown for the purpose of setting them free.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Toying With Tools

Not having a garage or tool shed, our tools tend to get buried under tarps or left out to rust in the rain. We've yet to find a shed big enough for our collection. Ever lose track of where you left that weird tool you haven't used in years? How about a trip to the library?


There is nothing new about tool libraries. The famous Berkeley Tool Lending Library was established back in 1979 and now contains over 2,500 tools, but it is easy to get entranced by the siren song of new gizmos. Our consumer society is predicated around us owning all this 'stuff.' When really what we want is not so much to own it, but to use it. Libraries are perfect examples of this. We read books without having to buy them. Community toy libraries provide the same delightful function. Little Johnny tires of that train set, so you swap it for a box of Lego. A tool library is no different. For those rare times when you need a ladder, rubber plunger or circular saw you just borrow it from the library.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mortgage Rates Decline

from National Realty News:
Freddie Mac reports that the current 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.59 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending August 9, 2007, down from last week when it averaged 6.68. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.55 percent.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Trips123 -- The Ultimate Hub For Transit Issues

A Day late and a dollar short, we REALLY could have used this site this morning.
Trips123 is a one-stop center for daily and long term transit & travel info for the Metro Region. It links to all transit lines(even DeCamp)with interactive Google based maps and live webcams with few noticeable ads. For Realtors, it can save a lot of time for buyers & sellers who need to know their commuting options with links to free commuter info & car pooling sites like CommuterLink.If you go into the city more than once a week, this should be on top of your favorites list.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Swimmin' Holes for the Dog Days of Summer

When it gets as steamy as it has been, we're forced to deal with our local lack of a swimming outlet here in Bloomfield by searching out the nearest cooling pond. We'll have many to share with you in the coming days. We're not bothering with The Shore since they're well known to most and many of their beaches are subject to closings. Let's start with Ringwood State Park's Shepherd Lake.
The spring-fed waters of the 74-acre lake are brisk and invigorating [although water temps can reach the mid-80s by mid August] and offer swimming from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 10 am to 6 pm. Boating and fishing are permitted with boat rentals available. A network of trails surrounds the lake leading to rocky vistas.
It's an easy drive --about 35 miles from Watchung & Broad. A downside for some: roped off swimming area is barely 4 feet deep and crowded on weekends. Go midweek.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Montclair School Wins Safer Routes Grant

Montclair’s Rand School has been awarded $324,000 from the N.J. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. The elementary school is one of 29 in the state to be selected by the DOT to receive the SRTS grants.

The primary goal of the Safe Routes to School grant program is to enable and encourage walking and bicycling to school while enhancing the safety of these trips. The program helps the environment by easing traffic jams, curbing air pollution, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and further improves children’s health by providing regular physical activity.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal, state and local effort to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school - and to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Grounded for A Day and A Night Out

New American Dream's website is giving folks a great incentive to make a difference in carbon emissions.

Look at your calendar for this week and find one day when you can take public transportation, bike, walk, or just stay home. If you'd rather call it a Boycott against Big Oil, that's OK too. Have fun with it – plan activities to do with your family at home or within walking distance of it. Or have a get-together with your neighbors. [you could even combine this project with Tuesday's National Night Out!]

As a reward for getting other people involved in this campaign you could win...
* Grand Prize: A one-week Bike Tour of Oregon for you and a friend, provided by Sustainable Energy in Motion
* Second Prize: A Villager U-frame Breezer Bike
* Third Prize: A $200 carbon offset from Native Energy (and a snazzy t-shirt as well)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Move-in Day at Crisco

This lucky new resident lives at 3 Christopher Ct., although it's not yet listed as a closed deal on the MLS. You can keep checking this link for automatic updates. Looks like they're setting up a dish across the street at #6 -- the only formally closed sale. Meanwhile, "buyer's remorse" apparently hit the prospect for # 9 -- it's back on the market. The other contracts are hanging in albeit well past their announced closing dates. Might be some haggling going on.