No Really–Why OhNo60?

“OhNo60” grew from a December 2014 attempt to significantly change the height and mass parameters of the project after the Redevelopment Plan had been approved.  Our Facebook page describes that background and why we have held on to the phrase and balloon images as the project logo.

From our Facebook page (11/28/16):

The OhNo60 project was started in January, 2015 as a focused effort to publicly share information regarding the Maplewood Post Office demolition and re-construction proposal. The project is sponsored by the Engage-Maplewood organization, founded in May, 2013 with the goal of improving the vibrancy and effectiveness of civic discourse in our community.

In mid-January volunteers placed balloons at the proposed heights for the new structure and photographed them from six vantage points around Maplewood Village and Memorial Park. The results of this preliminary study can be seen at here. Our original Facebook cover photo was taken at that time. The building as approved is about eight feet lower, but this photo remains as a reminder of the need to remain diligent in important civic matters.

Since January we’ve focused on sharing as much information about the existing building, the Township process, and the proposal as we can. We’ve also done additional balloon demonstrations, and staffed tables in the Village every weekend the weather allowed us to do so…in a humane way. We’ve attended more meetings than we care to think about!

Much more is available on, and at our “oh no 60” Facebook page. Growing on social media and good old fashion discourse are the most important challenges we face–despite two years of effort, on a typical day only 1 in 10 people we meet have current information on the project. Please help us by sharing our work with everyone that is impacted!

Occasionally we are asked “Why OHNO60? What does that mean??” The origin of the name in January 2015 occurred shortly after Maplewood Township proposed changes to the zoning for the Post Office site that were a direct response to requests made by JMF Properties. One of these was an 18% height increase that would have allowed structures to be nearly 60 feet high. Including all factors, and consideration of the slope of Maplewood Avenue, the facade height at points could have been well over 60 feet.

Since then community pressure has brought the roof height back to 45 feet (where it started), with the total possible height being approximately 56 feet when all allowances and roof top structures are included–and that’s just based on an average value around the four sides of the structure. The July, 2015 proposal reaches 57’8″ above grade at its southeast corner (near train tunnel).

Yet we feel the “ohno60!” has broader significance. For us, it recalls startling experiences watching Mayor DeLuca discuss the JMF requests before an empty committee room in December of 2014, and subsequently the Committee’s attempt to accommodate these requests with a new ordinance–rather than a formal public hearing before the Planning Board, as all other property owners are required to do. To those annoyed by the “60” in “ohno60” we would respectfully suggest that they also consider the “ohno!” and the role we all have in assuring effective sharing of important information.

And then there were these ohno60 balloons.  We spotted them on-line, and they were just too much to resist. The communications regarding major public projects such as the Post Office proposal are very important to us. But having some fun doing it is also!

So “OhNo60” is not an attempt to mislead, or exaggerate. It has its basis in historical fact, and the realities of modern-day media and branding. Don’t judge a cause by its cover–study the information we offer and make your own conclusions. We will all be better for it. Thanks for your attention!