Sunday, May 7, 2017

How Lakewood became a worldwide destination for Orthodox Jews

A  more positive article on the Lakewood community the author previously wrote about Lakewood here. The article discusses the growth of Lakewood and the challenges that come along with it.

"The problem is that the (township) infrastructure has not caught up with the growth,' Kotler said.
At its current growth rate, Lakewood will become the third-largest city in New Jersey by midcentury. As such, Kotler says, it will need better public transportation for a population forbidden to drive on the Sabbath, higher density housing for the thousands of rabbinical students and their families, a remake of the aging downtown. 

"We need smart planning that make sense for everyone," he said.

From NJ. com-  by D. Ionno 
It is Friday in Lakewood.
A few thousand young men in black suits and wide-brimmed black hats are rushing toward Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG), the world's largest yeshiva outside of Israel. Parking in the vicinity of the school is as impossible as finding a spot in Hoboken or Jersey City. Students circle in their Toyotas, Nissans and other compact cars, looking for a place to edge in. Most driveways are filled, too.  In the parking lot behind the school offices, cars are tripled-parked, covering both fire lanes. While the men are in school, their young wives are in the downtown, a few blocks away. Most have a one or two children in tow, and are pushing a stroller. They are shopping for Shabbat, the day of worship, rest and traditional meals that begins just before sunset on Fridays and ends after sunset on Saturday evening. At Gelbstein's Bakery, women and children squeeze through racks of cooling challah bread. The bakery has been in business since 1934, the heyday of Lakewood as a resort.


The other stores catering to Orthodox clientele along Clifton Avenue, the town's main street, are busy, too. At "His Place," a men's and boys' clothing store, owner Gedalia Tomor watches his sales staff hustle to fit customers with suit jackets of navy blue, dark gray and black.

His family has been in Lakewood 42 years and his father, Herschel, owns the locksmith shop next door.

"This is a great business," Tomor said, standing before shelves of only white shirts. "There're no seasonals (changeover for summer or winter clothes), no closeouts (sales) and where else do you see so many kids wearing suits?"

Tomor manufactures his own brand in China, using Italian and Chinese fabrics, and his expertise in fitting kids has stretched to Hollywood, where several child stars have worn his suits on award shows. He, like all Orthodox men, wears simple black suits and white shirts.

"I'm a normal guy with a normal business," he said. "When I'm in China, people look at me as an American. I'm cool to them. But here, in my own country, people look at you a certain way because of what's going on."

What's going on is the increasing population of Orthodox Jews in Ocean County. For the most part, they are not Hasidim, many of whom have long side hair curls called payot and wear round fur hats. In Lakewood, the Hasidic population is growing, too, but makes up only about 15 percent of the Jewish population.

Tomor recently moved his family to Toms River, because Lakewood is simply getting too crowded.

"It was a lifestyle choice. I wanted my kids to have space to play," he said.

But he feels the icy stares of his new neighbors who, he said, feels "their blocks are getting taken over by Jewish people."

Lakewood's population has grown exponentially in the last 40 years. In the 1980 census, the 25-square-mile town's population was 38,464. By 2015, it had increased to 99,249.

The township, once a popular Jewish resort nestled in the Jersey pines with three lakes providing year-round recreation, is now the state's fifth largest city - crowded, congested and still growing.

"You can't move around here," said Tom Gatti, who lives in an over-55 community and is the chairman of Senior Action Group (SAG), formed to combat what many feel is Lakewood's unabated growth.

The biggest jump of 32,000 residents came between 2000 and 2010, when the population grew from 61,000 to 93,000.

"I don't think anyone dreamed the town would grow this large,'' said Aaron Feldman, who has owned a small kosher grocery on Clifton Avenue, which dates back 45 years. "But it's good. It's good for business."

This population growth is reflected, if not directly traced in part, to the expansion of Beth Medrash Govoha. The yeshiva has about 6,500 students, equal in enrollment to the College of New Jersey.

I don't think anyone dreamed the town would grow this large. But it's good for business.'' -- Aaron Feldman.
Schneur Kotler, the son of founder Rabbi Kotler, took over the yeshiva after his father died in 1962 and in the following 20 years quadrupled the student body from 200 to 800 until his own death in 1982.

"My father had a secret sauce," said Rabbi Aaron Kotler, 50, current CEO of the yeshiva, whose brother, Malkiel, 65, is the roshiva or head rabbi. "He didn't want to mold his academic views on everybody. He encouraged diversity in (study) styles. It was an intellectual approach. Less monolithic. He built a model that connected to a lot of people from around the world."

And they began coming to Lakewood to immerse themselves in the study of the Babylonian Talmud. From Israel, of course. And Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, as expected. But also from every country in Western Europe, Canada and Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, and as far away as Australia. Read More at  NJ.com


47 comments:

  1. More spin, the fact is youngeleit have been priced out of the Lakewood market. Most kolell guys or young couples under 35 are moving to Jackson and Toms River. The housing density n Lakewood is only marketed for Chasidim from Brooklyn. All this need for housing and density is only to line the pockets of developers and not going at all to help kolell guys in BMG.
    Oak street core will be home to chasidim, speak to the agents they wont even show you a home in any new chasidishe development.

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  2. Very Surprising that Hershel was not interviewed for this article, the reporter was on Clifton ave and hershel's the store is only a block away..hmmm

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    1. Harold HerskowitzMay 7, 2017 at 9:49 AM

      Most reporters call me when they do an article. This was an obviously commissioned piece by Aaron Kotler. It had no purpose to be written considering the articles that have covered this very same topic recently.
      I'm surprised, AK is usually much more subtle.
      The recent articles about Aaron Hirsh are Aarons subtle way of getting the opposition vote split. That was smart. But this?
      C'mon, you can do so much better. I'm sure you read some good books by Dale Carnegie that deal with this stuff.

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    2. Hershel, it's not always about you.

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    3. Harold HerskowitzMay 7, 2017 at 11:15 PM

      Not always , but usually. You just made this about me.. YOU are creating a Monster!!

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    4. So HH you think every article about lakewood must speak to you? Lakewood has 150,000 plus ppl and and what are the spokesman? Maybe dont always be negative about everytging? Ppl are realizing your just a kvetch! Even the media ia getting sick of you! Start thinking positive and talking positive and maybe media will call you!

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    5. No. I didn't make it about you. You did. You always make any discussion about you about you.

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    6. anon 4:10 am Hershel IS THE spokesman for the community he stuck his neck out for all of us and he even paid a heavy price.
      You obviously are new and don't know ow the history.

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  3. Harold HerskowitzMay 7, 2017 at 9:43 AM

    Yes,we do need high density in certain areas. If we wanted to solve some traffic and growth issues we should have used cedarbridge 10 years ago as the place to grow the yeshiva. The new study centers that are in the middle of town could have been built there. The students on that side of town could have had a shorter commute. The ones on this side of town would have had less traffic and more parking . They could have built a campus with dormitories and kollel housing. Yes tax free. What better project to bring money into Lakewood, but without causing any quality of life issues with residents.
    But that is not what happened. Why? Because certain people weren't going to get money from that. IT ALMOST SEEMS THAT the main goal of those in charge of BMG do not care about the klal or Torah at all. It almost seems that money is the main goal .
    The infrastructure isn't keeping up? Are you serious?

    We need new committee members NOW
    THAT WILL HAVE THE GUTS TO ENACT AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM ON ALL LARGE DEVELOPMENTS. THAT WILL REPEAL ALL CAMPUS ORDINANCES AND ANY SHENANIGANS FROM THE PAST 17 YEARS.
    WE NEED
    FOR DEMOCRAT
    GRUMAN
    RAITZIK
    FOR REPUBLICANS THAT WILL NOT VOTE WHAT THE VAAD SAYS
    SHARABY
    TRAVIS
    We don't have time for petty politics. Unless you plan on moving to Toms River, if you plan on staying in Lakewood, We can still save it. But you need to vote
    JUNE 6th

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  4. Can't confirm but apparently the yeshiva wanted to put up 2000 homes in cedarbridge and flood the market but the developer/investor friends asked that they wait a few years so they can all cash out on their investments before the housing bubble bursts.

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  5. Why is he taking credit for the Blue claws? And how does that help Lakewood??

    And why why why do we need higher density housing????

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  6. Qupte from article:
    At its current growth rate, Lakewood will become the third-largest city in New Jersey by midcentury. As such, Kotler says, it will need better public transportation for a population forbidden to drive on the Sabbath, higher density housing for the thousands of rabbinical students and their families, a remake of the aging downtown.

    "We need smart planning that make sense for everyone," he said.





    Higher density? Why?????

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  7. Harold HerskowitzMay 7, 2017 at 10:01 AM

    "My father had a secret sauce"? Did the Alter have a poodle? Did the Rogatchover have a favorite song? What the ---- are you talking about?
    And the infrastructure couldn't keep up with the growth?
    THAT is not how IT works. Sometimes there is no way to add infrastructure. That is why if BMG needed to grow, cedarbridge was the answer, and it would have brought in income to the town and existing business. But by adding many more strip malls and more housing for people with no connection to Lakewood, you accomplished nothing, other than to make money for yourself at our expense.

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  8. The only ones benefitting from density are new yorkers moving to Lakewood. For locals it's more traffic and less quality of life.
    The bnei hayeshiva can't afford to buy these new homes in the density areas.Satmar belz viznitz klausenberg Bluzhev are all coming to these density developments no one looked out for the yeshivaleit who are the heart and soul of Lakewood.
    Reb Shmuel Kamenetzky spoke out against what is happening now in Lakewood.

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    1. When did Reb Shmuel Kamenetzky speak out against what is happening now in Lakewood and where?

      Of course like everyone else I oppose those developments that are only being sold to outsiders but when did RSK comment about it?

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    2. RSK did not comment about the olam from Brooklyn he spoke about the current township and vaad control and development going on. You can speak to R' issac akerman for more info.

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  9. Personally, I think the Litvish will move out of Lakewood. A word of caution for those paying $650k for a house in Jackson, make sure you can afford it before you move in.

    There are no basement rentals in TR or Jackson, so a house for $650K is the equivalent of buying one in Lakewood for $850k with a rental basement.

    You also need to take into consideration the property taxes in those towns. Not all of TR and Jackson have seen their property values increase, in many areas, the property values have been dropping, so when their is a reassessment, unlike in Lakewood, where all the property values go up, and the rate is lowered, the people moving into the hot neighborhoods are going to get slammed, in some cases, paying double what they are now.

    There is a lot of space and homes in these towns, no need to rush into a hot development or few blocks and purchase a house at an inflated price.

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  10. "The problem is that the (township) infrastructure has not caught up with the growth,' Kotler said"

    I strongly disagree with that statement.
    The real problem is, that few individuals in the community go all out to oppose shuls from being built. Families are trying to set themselves up in this town with a place for them and their children to pray and learn. But some individuals with egoistic intentions prevent shulls from expanding. leaving no room for children to have seats in shu. Families cant function in peace locally on Shabbos. So it is not the township, it is the orthodox community themselves that is not allowing shuls to be built. I.E. Avrechim and Westgate.

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  11. This is not what the Roshei yeshiva zatzal had in mind. This is revision of history to fit a personal hadhkafah.

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  12. Harold HerskowitzMay 7, 2017 at 4:12 PM

    We are having a serious issue creating a united front to elect new people to the township committee.
    It seems that they are using Aaron Hirsh to confuse those that want to see change by using him to dilute the vote.
    On paper he comes off as part of the movement that opposes irresponsible development. In reality he can easily end up becoming a puppet of the VAAD and will not be able to oppose their wishes. That is why they are putting him in articles in the voice and shopper.
    We need a united vote
    Democrats
    Gruman
    Raitzik
    Republicans against the status quo
    Sharaby
    Travis

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    1. HH, so glad that you are feeling a little better this week. You keep talking up your candidates, what qualifications do any of them have to do the job besides for your saying so?

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    2. Aaron Hirsh goes to town meetings, There is a phone # were you can find out his issue. I don't know who Sharaby, and Travis how to reach them and what are there issues are

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    3. Aaron Hirsch has only lived in this town for 4 years. He has only known Lakewood in it's present form, so how would you expect him to fight to restore Lakewood.

      Additionally, in his self bio, he concedes future density in Lakewood, and puts the blame on infrastructure, which is the builders talking points. Unless he is going to drain the Lake, put roads through Rockefeller and Ocean County park, and knock down houses for thru streets, infrastructure is not going to solve the problem

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    4. Shhhhh, no one tell HH who the vaad endorsed last year for the board of ed.....

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    5. Can anyone please tell me who the Vaad endorsed last year for the board of education?

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    6. sorry to burst your bubble but if you would have been in Lakewood long enough you would know that Raitzik was thrown under the bus by the vaad years ago and they even got the Yated to print something agianst him. The support for Raitzik is in spite of the Vaad. Juat like Mayor Ackerman last year the vaad threatened that they wont endorse him he told them go right ahead i dont need your endorsements in the end when the vaad saw that Akerman had major support they jumped on the band wagon to take credit by supporting him.

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    7. It's called building the paper streets, that are still on paper. Perhaps Hirsch is a little quicker learner, and can teach you. We can always see him at every meeting in town. Why aren't any of the other candidates showing up regularly and actually getting up to speak at these meetings. Do the other candidates actually know the issues? Why did some of the candidates back out of a debate/round table? Perhaps they really don't know the real issues.....

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    8. Most of the paper streets now end in dead ends. Sure, they should stop giving them away to the builders, but it isn't going to help much, particularly if they keep building.

      FYI, only someone with a lot of time on their hands would show up at every town meeting. They are all available to be viewed online

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  13. FYI, HH you are endorsing a vaad candidate. Who did the vaad endorse last year for BOE? Who became a BOE member because of the many thousands of votes that the vaad got him? Yes, it's Raitzik.You think that Ratitzik will turn on the vaad after that? Can't believe that I'm saying this, HH is endorsing the Vaad candidate. HH, I think that you need to sit back and pay closer attention. You only lost 3 elections, apparently you don't know what it takes or how to win an election. Lakewood wants change, but you don't understand that they aren't choosing your change. If you really want your people to win, let them show their experience, and record, and stop hurting their chances by endorsing them.

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    1. Harold HerskowitzMay 8, 2017 at 10:19 PM

      I hate to show off, but I beat the VAAD every time I ran. I got the Jewish non senior votes by a large margin against the VAAD. You Mr.anonymous for all I know may be a severely mentally ill child who has nothing better to do than criticize people trying to make our town a better place for everyone. Crawl back in your anonymous cave now and enjoy the thought that you got under my skin, because that will probably be your biggest accomplishment in your sad life.

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  14. Does anyone fall for all this non sense?

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  15. Shhhhh, no one wake up HH and tell him who the vaad endorsed last week.....

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  16. I used to think that the people running this town, had some kind of long term plan. Sure they changed zoning put in place boards that favored those with influence, set up the LIC as a slush fund at taxpayers expense, however, I thought there must at least be some overall plan to mitigate the damage to Lakewood residents.

    Well, by now it is obvious that it was just not true. There is no "Master Plan" there is no backstop to prevent Lakewood and it's taxpayers from facing complete ruin.

    We know the President of the BOE has been vocal in trying to pressure the state to rectify the State funding Formula that has crippled Lakewood. i haven't heard anything from the Township committee, other than them claiming that "it's not our fault", "we have a budget surplus", as if the decisions they make don't effect the school board.

    As if the property tax abatements they are handing out don't further cripple the BOE, as if the industrial properties that they are allowing to come off the tax rolls aren't affecting the BOE, as if the housing density has no negative impact on the BOE.

    The least they could due is lobby the state to right the wrong in the State funding formula. But all you hear from them is crickets. I wonder why? Maybe they want to save their favors at the State level for other uses

    To be honest, I don't think the crop of opposition candidates, at least the ones I know, are the strongest candidates, but they will be better then D'Elia and Coles, we know where hey stand, and it's not with the taxpayers of Lakewood. Hopefully that will be enough for them to win against the 2 weaker incumbents.

    We are going to need better candidates to take out Miller and Lichtenstein

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    1. Harold HerskowitzMay 7, 2017 at 9:57 PM

      I have no idea who you are but you just explained all of our problems succinctly and intelligently. We need someone like you to run against Menashe and Mayer. And there are others like you out there. Let's hope you step up to the plate next june. You would have all of our support.

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    2. the LIC should be investigated lots of stuff going on there family members profiting off it high slaries

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    3. Harold,

      I am the anonymous who wrote the earlier column. This isn't the first post of mine you have agreed with, although I must tell you, I have also had posts that you haven't agreed with. I also wrote the letter to the WSJ regarding their biased article that I posted here.

      I have traded e-mails with takebacklakewood, although he has no idea who I am when I post on this site. I have had people privately ask me to run, but my business keeps me very busy and I don't have time to be on any committee. Aside for that, I will lose money by taking time away from my business and being on the committee.

      To be honest, I have been tempted to move to one of the neighboring towns, and just avoid the looming disaster. You can't always save the world, but at least save yourself. The fact that I like my neighborhood, and have lived here for a long time, has held kept me in Lakewood for the time being.

      One concession I will make is that I will post from now on with this user name. That way, if I change my mind in the future, people will know my views.

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    4. Harold HerskowitzMay 8, 2017 at 7:04 AM

      you seem to have a grasp of all the underlying problems that are eroding our quality of life, while making it seem that we are a shining diamond of progress. You seem to get it. That is what we need, people that get it . It's not what it seems. There are people in charge that really don't care about you or Lakewood. And that is very sad. And some of the new people trying to get on the committee just want to be on the committee because they want Respect or a side job. We don't need that. We need fighters. People that will stand up for the good of this town.
      Democrats and independents
      Gruman
      Raitzik
      Republicans that are not voting Vaad endorsement
      Sharaby
      Travis
      JUNE 6th
      RIGHT AFTER SHAVUOS

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  17. HH,

    I have always supported you but now I am doubting you. In the past you never held back and now you are. You say Hirsh is bad but you refuse to say why. When speaking to Hirsh you see he is engaged. Sharan seems like he may care. Travis seems like a kid that has no clue and wants to he popular. Hirsh had a clear message. Sharaby and Travis don't.

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    1. Hirsch is completely clueless from what I have seen. He spoke tonight and made a fool of himself. Saying that UPS was going to move out because of density, when the real reason is because of the school across the street.

      Droning on about paper streets and through streets when that ship has sailed, as paper streets no longer connect and additional through streets are no longer possible.

      Maybe Hershel is being polite, which is why he is holding back.

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    2. Harold HerskowitzMay 8, 2017 at 9:47 PM

      Oy . I am on a gluten free diet but I am liking this bagel guy more every day. Thank you .You hit the nail on the head. I want to help effect change for the better and fix what has been wrong for far too long. But I make so many enemies on the way and I just can't handle any more. I dont want to hurt anybody, including Hirsh, but he is getting in the way and causing problems . He is being used by Aaron and friends to ruin everything we want to accomplish. I won't say he is clueless or a neophyte wannabee looking only to gain stature on the back of a movement he knows little about, but others do. We need everyone to focus and stay together united to accomplish what we started.
      Democrats
      Gruman
      Raitzik
      Republicans not listening to the VAAD
      Sharaby
      Travis
      All of these candidates know what needs to be done and have the ability to do it. None have met with Aaron Kotler numerous times and have no ulterior motives other than to help Lakewood.

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    3. Harold HerskowitzMay 8, 2017 at 9:59 PM

      You know your stuff. Yes UPS did not renew their lease. They are moving to Barnegat. They are moving because the schools are both blocking the roads with buses and their insurance went up because they are near a school. Many businesses have moved for the same reason. We turned good ratables and jobs into schools that were needed because we didn't plan where the schools will go for all our homes.
      Now we will be the school town that will be servicing Toms River and Jackson. Those towns will have a hard time making schools because we scared them into thinking they will end up like Lakewood.
      Who in their right mind would want to be on the Township Committee with all the mess that was created? Oh right, Hirsh. That in itself is a good enough reason to be wary. The other candidates are running with much apprehension and were asked to run. They are not going it for any glory. Let's help them help us .
      Democrats and independents
      Gruman
      Raitzik
      Republicans that don't want to listen to the VAAD
      SHARABY
      TRAVIS
      Let's help them keep Lakewood, Lakewood

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    4. Ups has no lease. They own the building. So I guess you are really reporting the facts only.

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  18. Developers and real estate agents are building exlusive, segregated developements for certain groups, and refusing to sell to locals. This is not only illegal but insulting. Their purpose is to raise the prices and they are succeeding. Never in the past 30 years has any developement said no Chasidim. They were welcomed and everyone lived side by side.. Now they come and make exclusive Chassidish only ? Disgusting.

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    1. Actually this problem was started by the "Yeshiva light". Elm wood Villiage, Chesterfiled commons, and a number of other developments ( if I am not mistaken there is a development on James st ongoing as well ) that had a " vaad " to decide whom can purchase a house there and who wasn't their type et. Then the housing market burst and by magic everyone was allowed to purchase

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    2. I know for a fact anyone could buy in Chesterfield. And both Elmwood and Chesterfield have streimluch and blue shirts. Someone has been taking you for a ride.

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  19. Harold HerskowitzMay 8, 2017 at 7:24 AM

    And as a side note. I am all for seeing more positive articles about Lakewood in media. But this article was made to promote one person's agenda. It's so obviously sad. An article that discusses the problems and challenges and how the public really feels is more appropriate then this fluff. It seems there is no in between. We either get damning articles that focus only on the negatives( no matter how much I have tried to discuss the positive things in lakewood), or this piece of fluffy,self congatulatory, nonsense.

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  20. as an option for mornings and afternoons can we build a one way lane across the lake from say sunset or even by central by the light onto northlake drive? (even central park and prospect park have cars driving thru certain hours of the day). I know it was probably brought up before, it would definetly help aleviate some of the issues. the cost would be high but that is something the State could fund with the new roads budget.

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