The Montclair government and police force may have a new home in the future.
The township council appointed seven residents on Thursday to head the Facilities Task Force to analyze where and how a new headquarters for Montclair’s municipal building and police department could be consolidated into one place.
“One of the things we want to take a look at is having our municipal complex all in one location, if possible,” said Mayor Robert Jackson. “These buildings are antiquated — to say the least — and don’t serve their purpose.”
The mayor and council suggested Lackawanna Plaza as a possible location. The large building, at 294 Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair's east end, houses more than a dozen businesses — including a Pathmark and newly installed Pig & Prince Restaurant.
The move to Lackawanna Plaza in the 4th Ward would not only revitalize the area, said Jackson, but add a strong police presence in the “heart of [Montclair’s] more problematic area.”
Jackson also said if the move does happen, there would be no shortage of buyers interested in developing the municipal building, at 245 Claremont Ave., and the police department, at 647 Bloomfield Ave.
“These are prime locations for other types of development that we can put on the tax rolls,” said Jackson. “The idea is to consolidate, move [the municipal and police buildings] back on the tax rolls and have a municipal building that fits our needs.”
A new, larger premises for the township government could also be a source of added income. By having larger facilities to provide for offices and a jail, among other things, Montclair could be courted for more shared services by surrounding towns.
A Lack of Diversity?
While 4th Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville was in favor of moving the municipal building and police department into the 4th Ward, she questioned the lack of diversity of the all-male appointments.
“I love the idea [of the move],” said Baskerville, “but I am extremely concerned that no one on the [task force] is in or from the Fourth Ward. I find it offensive.”
The creation of a task force was brought up during a July council meeting. At the time, Councilors Rich McMahon and Rob Schlager and Deputy Mayor Robert Russo were appointed to oversee the soon-to-be assembled task force of residents. In addition, Jackson said he sought appointments for the task force for months from council members.
The task force meetings will be open to the public, so input can be added by residents and other council members.
Baskerville said she will encourage other residents — especially those in the 4th Ward — to join the public discussion and contribute what she can to the task force.
“I’m going to continue to encourage to look for diversity in all of our groups, because I think it adds a sort of richness,” said Baskerville.
Task Force Appointees
The following residents were appointed to the Facilities Task Force:
- Brian Clarkson
- Mitch Heisler
- Jim Jacobs
- Jonathan Moore
- David Stith
- Harvey Susswein
- David Trout