Sunday, June 3, 2007

Plainfield's Assets

Plainfield will reach it's full potential by building on strengths. Highlighting our problems without working on solutions will only bring us more bad Courier News coverage. So beware politicians who only play to your frustrations and fears...on the national and state levels and on the local level.

What are Plainfield's assets? Lets start with people. We are much more diverse than any surrounding towns. When our downtown reflects that diversity ethnically and socio-economically, we can make the central business district a regional destination point, a place where cultures meet. A place for people looking for interesting shops, restaurants and cultural/arts experiences. Let's stop saying that we can't compete with Blue Star and Watchung Mall shopping centers on Rt 22. Yes, they offer convenience but there is no excitement up there, no real appeal.

Can we really create some excitement in our downtown? If you realize that we are part of the way there already, the answer is clear. Some of our downtown assets are ethnic restaurants, North Avenue Historic district architecture and eye catching streetscape design. We have Swains,the best art gallery/frame shop in New Jersey,on the edge of downtown. We have a college campus. We have a beautifully restored train station with 900 riders per day. These are assets to build on.

^^who says we don't have downtown nightlife

The news media make much of our crime problems. We can get caught in the trap of learned hopelessness when we accept the outsider view of Plainfield. We should know better. We have some of the best residential neighborhoods in the greater Union County area. If you haven't looked around, take my word for it. I drive and bicycle across the county to Elizabeth 5 days a week. I've seen the whole county, nearly every block of it. Plainfield has the best residential areas, bar none.

We know what we have to do in Plainfield: improve ourselves, one child, one house, one block at a time. We have to start from strengths. No young person ever became successful through constant criticism. It takes a celebration of what's good, coupled with thoughtful constructive criticism. It takes persistent action over time. That's how Plainfield has come back this far and it is the only way we will continue to move ahead.

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