In the latest Plaza Voice newsletter, the cover story dealt with updates to the Shoreward Drive/Welwyn Road Transportation Enhancements Project.
The area is very much in need of a facelift, and the mayor is to be commended for procuring a grant to pay for the lion’s share of the work. That is where the compliments end.
Part of Jean Celender’s plan is to pave the area sidewalks with her beautiful bricks — those most attractive bricks—that are slippery in the rain, hazardous in the summer when they expand and become deathtraps in the winter.
And then there is her “4500 square feet of outdoor ‘public plaza’ space [with]…seating for the community to enjoy [as well as the creation of]… additional public parking spaces.” However, Celender neglects to mention that this project also removes at least six existing parking spaces.
Celender held a public meeting at the inception of the project, asking for input from the community.
In response to her idea of building a park in front of the post office, residents gave her a resounding “No!” citing the problematic nature of providing “seating for the community to enjoy,” and the unnecessary addition of another park when there are already two lovely parks with great amenities within a block or two from the site.
So what did Mayor Celender do?
She changed the name from “park” to “public space.” Who does she think she’s kidding?
The protrusion of a 4,500 square foot area into the street in front of the post office will make it even more difficult than it already is for the unwanted 12 or more buses per hour to make the turn-around safely; it often takes two or three tries for the buses to turn in the existing space, and only last week a bus took out the left rear quarter panel of a car parked in front of the post office.
Given the many delivery trucks that block up and unload their merchandise on the street on a daily basis, along with the negligent way that many drivers in this area operate their vehicles, the narrowed street space will also be ripe for accidents.
The benches in the park/a.k.a. public plaza that “will allow residents and visitors alike an area for rest and relaxation” will also provide a resting place for a good number of homeless folks who call this neighborhood home; a place for smokers to further pollute our air and litter the lawn with their cigarette butts; more opportunities for those who persistently pervade the area with garbage from their Shop Delight take-out meals; and the extra activity in the park will exacerbate the already-existing levels of noise pollution.
A perfect parody of Shakespeare’s “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet,” might read, “What’s in a name?
That which we call a public plaza, by any other name would still smell as foul.”
The “Jean Machine” has ignored the needs and wishes of its constituents for too long.
It’s too bad that no one stepped up to run against them in the March 20th election.
But that’s not surprising, as former candidates have all sadly learned that every Plaza election held during Jean Celender’s regime has been a fait accompli for her and her team because of the hundreds of absentee ballots that she faithfully procures each year from residents of the two local Atria facilities.
Given the honor of having the only mayor in the country to have her own built-in electoral college, perhaps Jean Celender should proclaim herself “mayor for life” and spare the village the expense of holding future elections.
Muriel and Leo Pfeifer
Village of Neck Plaza
(We want our “Great” back!)