Saturday, March 27, 2010

Visioning Charette a Success

70 people came out to the community visioning meeting today at Washington School. The presenters from NJIT described opportunities for development along the Raritan Valley rail line. The opportunities for investment in Plainfield's underutilized properties will increase as we move closer to dual powered locomotives and the completion of the new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Participants included residents, business owners and local officials including Planning and Zoning Board members, Council members, the Mayor and our Assemblyman. An informative presentation by the NJIT graduate students set the stage for the "charette". Participants circulated around 6 tables where they offered input on what development should look like. There were tables for each proposed development opportunity:

1) Grant Ave around the old train station
2) Clinton Ave around the old train station
3) Downtown station north - North Ave, Gavett Place, East 2nd St
4) Downtown station south - the area bordered by Watchung Ave, Park Ave, East 4th St and East 6 St
5) Netherwood Station
6) South Ave between Terrill Road and Leland Ave

I thought the participant input was excellent and will help Plainfield achieve several objectives. First and foremost, citizens need to be a part of the planning for important Plainfield decisions. When development deals are strictly behind closed doors, resident quality of life concerns take a back seat to outside interests. Involving all stakeholders in Plainfield's future is the only way forward.

Citizen involvement increases buy-in for critical land use and financial decisions. Translating our vision into reality means confronting the real world. What are investors willing to risk on downtown projects? What prices are home buyers, renters and new businesses willing to pay to become part of Plainfield. Taxpayers and voters may be asked to support tax abatements and will only do so if they feel there is something in it for them. They will need to feel confident in the decision making process, to be part of it.

Next blog will address the question everyone has asked me about the vision study: will it actually lead to real action or just sit on a shelf?


Rob said...

Let's hope, since 70 people were involved that we have 70 voices, mine included who will not let it all disappear. My idea of removing most if not all the one way streets downtown has been successful in reducing speeds and increasing business in areas of cities in economically deprived Upstate NY. It returns a calmer, quieter feel to some of the city streets. Would love this idea to be one of the first out of the box.

Rebecca Williams said...

Excellent work by all the students! They deserve an "A" in the class! If I were their professor, that's what I'd give 'em!


Jeff said...

Thanks to Cory and all those involved in putting this together. It is frustrating to see the city where it is and to know where it can be. This was a great opportunity for those of us that live and work in the city and care about it to make a difference. I cant wait to see the reports!

Anonymous said...

I actually think that during the course of the day there were more like 100 + people there.

Hope is what keeps things alive. Let's keep this alive. And for those sceptics who say that they have heard this before and have all the negative comments, if it wasn't for people with vision, hope and stamina to do the right things, blacks and women would not be voting today. Along with many other things that people said "would never happen." Positive about Plainfield should be our motto.