PLAINFIELD, NJ - Supporters of the city's 9-1-1 operators spoke at Plainfield's council meeting on Monday, asking members to vote down a resolution that would authorize a layoff plan.
The meeting kicked off with Council President Joylette Mills-Ransome presenting resolutions to historically Black fraternities and sororities for their contributions to the Plainfield community in recognition of Black History Month:
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Nu Lambda Chapter
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Theta Phi Omega Chapter
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Plainfield and New Brunswick Alumni Chapter
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Omicron Chi Chapter
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Chi Sigma Chapter
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Eta Omicron Zeta Chapter
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Psi Omega Chapter
Administration heads were on hand to give council members updates on technology training and abandoned properties, and a demonstration of Plainfield marketing strategies.
Director of Finance Ron West summarized technology initiatives, including the city's Cisco certification program.
"We're currently running six classes per week, with four in the evening and two during the day. We've got 34 students currently enrolled." West said students will need to complete up to 280 hours of class time to complete the curriculum. There are two class locations, at the Plainfield Union County College campus and New Covenant Church.
West also talked about digital literacy training classes that run eight weeks, and Internet core computer competency classes offered at the Plainfield Public Library.
Shep Brown, Director of Health & Social Services offered an overview of the city's abandoned property initiative, started two years ago, with a goal of getting the properties back on the tax roll.
Brown said, "Currently we have 302 properties on our abandoned properties list; of those 302 properties, fifteen percent of those are in the process of being returned to occupancy."
Director of Communications & Technology Jazz Clayton-Hunt said, "What I'm going to show tonight is a major part of the marketing strategy where the marketing dollars go, but it's not the complete strategy. I just want to give an overview of what we have in mind in in terms of branding Plainfield. As Plainfield grows, we want to appeal to different demographics. We want to make sure that investors stay aware about changes that are here. And we also want to reach out to the new potential residents that we want to bring in."
However, there were technical difficulties, and neither the council nor the residents at the meeting were able to watch the presentation. Nevertheless, the council voted in favor, with Councilwoman Ashley Davis abstaining, to authorize $125,000 in UEZ funds to be used "to continue the marketing, strategic rebranding and promoting the City of Plainfield."
The resolution to amend the Sleepy Hollow designated neighborhood to include parts of Fernwood Lane and Watchung Avenue was approved 5-1, with only Councilman Charles McRae voting no. (Councilman Storch was not present.)
There were a number of individuals who commented in public session on a resolution to authorize a layoff of 9-1-1 operators, including Destiny Eastwood, Teeya Monroe, and Kelly Newsome.
Sheldon Green, a retired fire department lieutenant, said, "Our dispatchers are our lifeline."
By moving to a private company, the savings, according to Corporation Counsel David Minchello, would be two million dollars over five years.
When it came time to vote on the motion, the only councilperson to approve it was Charles McRae. Council President Mills-Ransome asked for a second, and there was none; therefore, the motion failed.
In general public comments, Nancy Piwowar alerted the council to the Courier News cover story about an upcoming hearing by the North Plainfield Zoning Board for Davita to propose a new dialysis center on Route 22.
Piwowar said, "Davita does occupy a space at Muhlenberg, and my concern after reading this article is, has anybody contacted Davita from the city, Economic Development, City Administrator, the Mayor, to find out if they're moving out of town if they get this in place?"
The Plainfield City Council next meets on March 4 at Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.