Montclair

Find Your Community Walkability Rating

What Is Your Community Walkability Score?

walking in Montclair neighborhood

walking in Montclair neighborhood

I'm a big fan of the rating website, www.walkscore.com, but its algorithm relies mostly on the proximity of a house to stores and community resources.  But to find walkability rating, it's not just about distance -- it's also about the quality and ease of the walk.  Factors like wide sidewalks, shade trees, good lighting and flat topography matter a great deal in determining a walkability rating.  I downloaded this walkability checklist from www.walkinginfo.org and walked through my own Watchung Plaza neighborhood in Montclair.

Here's what I found, both good and bad.

What makes Montclair a Walkable Community?

Montclair NJ

walking in Montclair neighborhood

  • Lot's of large trees to keep the sun off your back
  • Most streets not to wide to cross
  • Most streets have sidewalks
  • Streets and sidewalks are free of litter and debris
  • No loose dogs
  • Curb cuts in many sidewalks (for strollers and wheelchairs)
  • Flat heading East toward the train station

Things to Improve...

  • Many sidewalks uneven and cracked from tree roots
  • Spotty lighting - some areas well lit, others not so much.
  • Steep hill heading West toward the "Mont" of Montclair
  • Tricky intersection at Park St. and Watchung Ave

How walkable is your neighborhood?  Download the checklist and let me know.

Brookdale: Best Park in Montclair and Bloomfield

Park in Montclair, Bloomfield. Tennis, soccer, softball in Montclair

Relaxing in Essex County's Brookdale Park

It's unusually cold for this time of year, but since it is in fact April, I assume that we'll see warmer weather soon. For me, that means more time outdoors, specifically in Brookdale Park.

I've been going to Brookdale Park since my kids were babies: I spent many afternoons pushing their strollers along the paths and later helped them navigate the equipment on the two playgrounds. Several years later, I found myself at the park again, cheering them on from the sidelines of the soccer and softball fields with fellow Montclair moms.

My kids have moved on to other activities, but I still love the park. Whenever I get a chance, I meet a friend for some tennis (there are 11 courts). I  also love the art shows held there in spring and fall, as well as the free summer concerts and July 4th fireworks. Note to gardeners: there are dozens of  different species of roses in the gorgeous rose garden.

Brookdale Park was designed by the Olmstead brothers, who also designed New York City's Central Park. Since I grew up in the city and spent a lot of time in Central Park when I was young, I really feel right at home here.

Airing My Clean Laundry

I'm feeling very retro these days. A couple of weeks ago my dryer quit after a long and useful life.  Engrossed in my washing, I hadn't noticed that the dryer was not keeping pace with the washer and so 4 loads later I found myself with 80 lbs of wet clothes. A quick run to Mr. Charlie's (aka American Royal Hardware on Park Street in Montclair) and I was back on track.

40 foot retractable clothesline:  $19.99 50-pack of wooden clothespins:$ 5.99 2 stainless steel screws:$.0.50

A basket full of dry, sweet-smelling clothes: Priceless

I find myself actually enjoying this activity which my mother did on a regular basis, every Tuesday, weather permitting.  Besides feeling nostalgic, I feel virtuous and thrifty for allowing the sun and wind to do for free for what I usually pay PSEG.  My 14 year-old son - not so much.  He's mortified that his friends might see his skivvies from Valley Road.

How Not to Sell Your Montclair Home

For all homeowners tired of advice  from realtors on how to sell your home, here is something different--a list on how not to do so.

Ten Things Not to Do When Selling Your Montclair Home

1. Price your home with "room to negotiate." Sellers think that the more they ask for, the more they will get; study after study has shown that this is not the case. It is ultimately the buyer, not the seller, who decides the price. Pricing your home "slightly higher than what it's worth" will only serve to keep potential buyers from even looking at your house.

2. Take too long to respond to an offer. Potential buyers read a lot into your actions; they will think you are not interested in their offer and thus turn their attention to other prospects.

3. Refuse to counter a low-ball offer. You can't take it personally; this is a business transaction. Come down a little bit in your asking price just to keep a dialogue going. And if another offer happens to come in, you now have some leverage on both ends.

4. Follow buyers around, pointing out your house's charms. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves and their belongings in your house. They need to make an emotional connection first; your chatter is a distraction.

5. Contact buyers directly. There are too many opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstanding if you do so. This is what real estate agents and lawyers are for.

6. Convince yourself that it's not worth painting the house because the buyers will want their own colors. This is a classic case of being penny-wise, pound-foolish. If your goal is to sell your house, remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. A neutral color and a fresh coat of paint are always best.

7. Refuse to address home inspection issues because your house is "as-is." If  problems such as mold, asbestos or termites are discovered during an inspection, the buyers will expect you to fix them; In this market, with so much inventory to choose from, buyers do not have to accept a house with major a safety issue. Moreover, once a problem is discovered, you are legally required to disclose it to all potential buyers in the future.

8. List your house as an "office exclusive." Unscrupulous agents may try to convince you that only the agents in their particular office are trustworthy; this is an attempt to keep other agents from getting the sale (and the commission). Obviously, the more agents trying to sell your house, the better - go with an agent who will "multiple list" your house.

9. Make your house difficult to show. Many homeowners are conflicted about selling, so they limit the days/hours that agents can get into their home. If agents can't show your house, they can't sell it.  Your house must be competitive not only in price and condition but also in ease of showing.

10. Try to conceal problems you know exist. First of all, this is fraud. Secondly, whatever the problem is, it will ultimately be found. A freshly-painted basement, for example, immediately suggests to a home inspector an attempt to cover up water damage.

Montclair, NJ Wins Main Street Award!

johari

Montclair Center

Well, this is big news: Montclair Center has been named one of three award-winning "Main Streets" of 2015 by the National Main Street Center! According to its website, "The Great American Main Street Award winners have succeeded in making their towns an exciting place to live, work, play and visit."

Award winners distinguish themselves by their success in preserving the historic nature of the area while still making it vital, vibrant and appealing to the community. I don't think anyone here is surprised that Montclair has been recognized for that particular feat. Whether it's the cobblestone charm of Church Street or the grandeur of a Masonic temple turned day spa, most of us continually marvel at the beauty that surrounds us here. This video, created by Notice Pictures, is a truly lovely tribute to all that is magical about our walkable suburb. If it piques your interest and you'd like to hear me wax poetic about Montclair, I'm always ready to oblige.

 

Crossing the Freedom Threshold; Staying in Montclair

Slide11

I just came across this graph of the Freedom Threshold and thought it provided a great visual for what I've been telling my clients for years: investing in this community is often more than just an investment in their childrearing years. The Freedom Threshold is the point where you no longer need to live somewhere for family obligations (say, a great school system) and can now live wherever you choose. The graph shows age 61 as the point at which most cross the threshold.

In addition to being a town of nuclear families (about 30 percent of the families here are raising children), Montclair is home to many households of young adults (because of our reasonably priced rental housing and easy access to New York City) as well as older adults. People here don't necessarily move out of town when their kids have grown and left home, and those who stay have plenty to fill their days.

With two movie theaters, a matinee club, an art museum, a smorgasbord of art classes, a vibrant and affordable adult school, performance spaces for dance, drama, opera and music, dance classes, meditation classes, exercise studios, book groups, discussion series, writing groups, garden clubs, knitting circles, martial arts, volunteer opportunities, tennis courts, three town pools, manicured parks, woodsy trails, and restaurants to suit every imaginable palette, this town offers almost everything you could want short of a hot, sandy beach - and much of it easy to access on foot.

May in Montclair!

magnoliaMay in Montclair is hard to describe...but I'm going to try. First, it's incredibly beautiful. The magnolia trees and all the fruit trees are in bloom, so it's pink and bright, and when the wind blows, petals rain down like confetti. Gardens blossom, parks fill up, people stroll leisurely after their dinner. But that's just the beginning.

May in Montclair is a "thing." So much so, there's a web page devoted to it. There are so many happenings and events it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. For example, there's an Herb Sale at the Montclair Historical Society, a Plant Sale at Van Vleck House, Hawk Watching at Mills Reservation, a May Day performance at Watchung Plaza, a Digital Scavenger Hunt for teens, a performance of "Hair" at the college, a Walking Tour, a Street Fair, a Jewelry Making Workshop at the art museum, an Author Event at the library, and that's just one weekend!

The first weekend in May also opens the Montclair Film Festival as well as the high school production of "Rent." And May 8th marks the opening ceremony of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, a public garden displaying a world-renowned collection of irises. This list goes on and on.

If you're visiting Montclair this month, to look at houses or just to get to know the area, I urge you to take a little extra time to see for yourself what May in Montclair is like. It's really pretty magical.