Sunday, August 30, 2009

Treeless Tree City?

For many years, Bloomfield has been praised as one of the most prominent Tree Cities in New Jersey. This image has been tarnished in the past 2 weeks by the rapid cutting of about a dozen of it's older trees on Broad St Between Bay and Haines. Apparently no one in Bloomfield was notified in advance -- not even the town Forester or Council. Since the trees are all located inside the sidewalk line, County spokesperson initially told me that they couldn't have done it since they "had no jurisdiction". Bloomfield's 2nd Ward Councilman and environmental advocate was finally able to reach someone familiar with "The Project" and received an email late Friday: "...the decision to take down a County tree is made solely by our Arborist, Dennis Beury. I was informed that 12 trees were removed in total and that our right of way is 66 Ft along Broad Street. I believe Dennis will be sending you a comprehensive list of our removals along with an explanation for each on Monday."
The explanation is expected to be that they may have been diseased. Among the questions that remain unanswered are: 1) Is this a contagious disease that is affecting nearby trees not under Essex County jurisdiction? 2) What types of trees are still vulnerable? 3) Why wasn't Bloomfield's Forester consulted? 4) Will this have a negative effect on property values in affected areas? 5) At what point will we lose our Tree City designation? Stay tuned...
Monday morning update:
The Essex Couny Director of Roads & Transportation, Sal Macaluso, called me this morning with some clarifications in leu of the Arborist's report. He wasn't certain all 12 were diseased, but they were "compromised" in ways that threatened to eventually fall on Broad St. Plans are to replace them next spring with 50 - 75 smaller trees. BTW, Essex County's jurisdiction on county roads is 75 feet from across the road. So if the road is 60 feet wide, they can go 12.5 from the curb.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Watching the Sun Go Down -- In Price

For solar shoppers these days, the price is right. Panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year, driven down partly by an increase in the supply of a crucial ingredient for panels, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray.

The price drops — coupled with recently expanded federal incentives — could shrink the time it takes solar panels to pay for themselves to 16 years, from 22 years....(from The Times)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Open House in Little Falls

A great day for showing Tulip Garden Condo, Hot muggy weather to weed out the time A great day for showing Tulip Garden Condo, Hot muggy weather to weed out the time wasters. Loud stereo next door to show off the sound proof walls. Great turnout balanced between first-timers and downsizers. Guess the 8K rebate isn't the only reason buyers are venturing out. Rain held off until last 15 minutes; car full of younger buyers flagged me down as I headed back to my car and pleaded for me to reopen. They were very appreciative. Then to BestBuy to help the Ms pick out a new PC Tower. Looking forward to not sharing my laptop and mixing up Gmail and Facebook pages!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lights On! No More Excuses

The phase-out of incandescent bulbs in the European Union begins next month, so it’s time to get prepared for a new round of excuses about the "inconvenience" of using more efficient lights. Lane Burt of the Natural Resources Defense Council answers the most common complaints about the new bulbs for Grist.

Here in Bloomfield are the final stats from the Greener Bloomfield/Project Porchlight event of 8/15/09 where volunteers perserveered through the blistering heat.
35 Volunteers gave out 1,650 Lightbulbs to just as many homes

Resulting in:$50,000 in energy savings

544.5 tons CO2 emissions prevented of entering the environment

94.05 Cars removed from the road in the form of Green House Gases(GHG)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bouncing off the Bottom

August's Dog Days have been full of encouraging news from a variety of sources. From and USA Today:
Home prices rose across a large swath of the country during the second quarter, adding to the growing list of signs that the housing market has stabilized. Out of 155 markets included in the survey, 125 showed median price increases compared to the first quarter of this year.

Overall, the National Association of Realtors reports a nearly 4 percent rise in the median sales price for single family homes since the first quarter of the year, from $167,300 to $174,100.

In addition, several distressed markets are getting some much needed relief from the quarterly hammering they've been taking since the housing market peaked in the second quarter of 2006.

At the same time, 30 year mortgage rates are up for the third week in a row to 5.49%.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Housing Prices Rise 5% in 2nd Quarter

From All regions saw quarterly gains as of July, with the Midwest soaring 11.2%, the South rising 5.3%, the Northeast posting a 2.4% increase and the West gaining 1.1%, according to Clear Capital.

“As with any housing recovery,” he added, “small pockets of neighborhoods and specific price tiers are leading the way and posting gains."

More than half of the highest performing local markets doubled their quarterly gains from last month’s report. Clear Capital said the gains reflect improving market demand, allowing banks to receive a higher sales price for REO properties(foreclosures) which represent up to 60% of all sales in some regions.

Monday, August 03, 2009

NJ Environmental Groups Call for DEP Investigation Following Corruption Arrests

"New Jersey's air, land and water are major victims of political corruption in this state. If we want our state to be green, we need to make politics clean," stated Dena Mottola Jaborska, the Executive Director of Environment New Jersey. "These reforms will help to ensure that government leaders make environmental policy decisions based on science and the law, not money and influence."

The reform agenda was developed by "CleanGreenNJ," a new consortium of environmental and public interest organizations which includes Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Environment NJ, NJ Environmental Federation, NJ Environmental Lobby, NJ Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and others.

"We can never have clean air or clean water without clean government," said Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director. "Just like we have to clean up toxic waste sites, we have to clean up government and that is why we are forming this coalition. In New Jersey, development has become part of enterprise corruption: you take a worthless piece of property, use pay to play to change the zoning and get permits and then make millions. We have to stop this cycle of corruption that leads to sprawl and overdevelopment"

CleanGreenNJ's platform calls on Governor Corzine and the NJ State legislature to:

Investigate DEP operations and enforce ethics rules
Empower DEP whistleblowers
Bring transparency for citizen watchdogs
Fix the campaign finance system
and prohibit legislators from receiving outside sources of income Rein in recent developer initiatives

"DEP conducts public business behind closed doors, and provides routine daily access to political players and corporate lobbyists," said Bill Wolfe, Director of New Jersey PEER. "This access is used to influence science and regulatory decisions and weaken protections. DEP then conceals these liaisons from the public by refusing to publish visitor logs, honor OPRA requests, or disclose meeting schedules. In fact, they even retaliate against conscientious employees who disclose corrupt practices."

"This is not just a few bad apples," added David Pringle, Campaign Director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation. "This is systemic corruption."

More points of view on the problem can be found at