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New Bulletin Board Creates a Brouhaha

The Maplewood Village Alliance thought to help the Civic Association clean-up a perceived eyesore. A tempest has ensued.

Updated: 4:23 P.M. April 27 to include a statement from the Maplewood Village Alliance Board of Directors.

Patch has a come a little late to this party.

But the party shows no signs of ending.

Last month, the and installed a new glass-enclosed bulletin board at the entrance to the Village Coffee/Baker Street parking lot. The new bulletin board replaced an old wooden one that community members used by posting fliers applied with tape, push pins and staples.

The new bulletin board can be accessed only by key. The keys are held by the Maplewood Village Alliance, the non-profit that manages the downtown special improvement district, and the Civic Association.

The installation of the board has provoked a highly impassioned response (mostly of protest) on MaplewoodOnline. Read it here.

On the MaplewoodOnline thread, Paul Survell's comment seemed to encapsulate the complaints of many others:

Maplewood has been robbed of an important part of its public square, a part of its democratic process. The history of Maplewood's resistance to the Iraq war and many other local causes was written on that board through dozens of posters and announcements.

The old board was vibrant, full of life. It had character, it was people-friendly and its was enjoyed and relied on by tens of thousands of Maplewoodians and visitors over the year.

This gratuitous insult to the people of Maplewood needs to be reversed.

Surovell plans to display a petition to reinstate the board at South Mountain Peace Action's table at this Saturday's Green Day festival in Memorial Park. The petition will read as follows:

To: The Maplewood Township Committee, The Maplewood Village Alliance, The Maplewood Civic Association: We, the undersigned residents and taxpayers of Maplewood, NJ, call upon you to return the wooden Community Bulletin Board near the Post Office on Maplewood Avenue that was recently removed without public input. The Bulletin Board empowered all individuals and organizations of our community to freely publicize events and activities in a central location, thus serving as an important component of Maplewood’s vibrant community activism and democratic process, and as such should be returned immediately.

In response to a citizen who complained during public comments at the April 17 Township Committee meeting about the new glass-enclosed community bulletin board, Mayor Vic DeLuca noted that older wooden bulletin boards are located in several locations throughout town and were installed and maintained by the Maplewood Civic Association — not the Township.

The resident complained that the new board was not "a community use." She said, "You can't put up anything and there's practically no information on it."

DeLuca said that the Civic Association had enlisted the help of the Maplewood Village Alliance to help maintain and clean this most heavily utilized of the board — other, less highly trafficked boards are located in Memorial Park, on Baker Street in the Village, and on Springfield Avenue near the Hilton Branch of the library.

DeLuca said that there had been many complaints about the old board — including its shabby appearance and the fact that the postings constituted "a lot of commerce" rather than community news.

The mayor noted that the new board was "neater" and that there were plans to post a map to show where businesses are in town.

However, he thanked the resident for her testimony and said that there had been similar complaints about kiosks on Springfield Avenue when they first appeared. "You're right," said DeLuca, "We have to find out what is the process [to post], what's right."

"But we are not in control."

On April 27, the Village Alliance Board of Directors released this statement:

The new sign was developed in partnership by the MVA with the Civic Association. The goal was to create a space that will allow us to provide a map and other information for people who may be unfamiliar with Maplewood and our shops, restaurants and public spaces as well as to provide the Civic Association with a space to list events and other activities of interest to residents and visitors. The sign and the installation were donated to the Village and the sign was installed in a way that will allow it to be moved should expected construction begin at that site in the future.

As a point of clarification, keys to the Board are held by both the Alliance and the Civic Association. The Alliance is developing the business directory/map content for the sign and the Civic Association maintains responsibility for posting community flyers.

Sarah May 08, 2012 at 01:59 PM
What's wrong with having local commercial postings on a community bulletin board? Many residents would like to know about babysitters, handymen or products that are offered by their fellow townspeople. Eliminating that type of post is snobbish and discriminatory against those who make ends meet with home businesses.

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