Sunday, July 14, 2013

Plainfield's Opportunity

Now that the all important Mayoral primary is behind us, there is a strong possibility for new leadership to take the reins of city government.  I have felt for a long time that Plainfield's success has been held back by a lack of leadership and that a good leader can make a world of difference for our city.

The job of City Council for the next 6 months is to find ways to achieve small victories and to make sure that bad decisions are not made.  The City Council wisely budgeted in 2013 for the hiring of experts to bring us best practices in municipal government.  We want our new leadership to start in 2014 well armed with ideas to move Plainfield into the 21st century.  To use a baseball analogy, we have been a minor league farm team for too long.  Its time to join the majors. 

Code enforcement, building permits, recreation and economic development all need a makeover.  I will blog on each of these subjects in 2013.  We need to make city hall a friendly place for residents and business people.  Change needs to occur and change is never easy.  But when the opportunity arises, we need to embrace it.  We have turned away from opportunities too many times. Let's get ready for new leadership and be a part of the changes that will make us all proud to be Plainfielders.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Elmwood Gardens

Elmwood Gardens is an important project on the west side of Plainfield, actually just west of downtown, between West Front St and the train tracks.  It is also an indicator of what Plainfield can be and how its potential to overcome its problems can be realized.

This apartment complex, operated by the Plainfield Housing Authority, has been a crime hot spot for many years.  Its design is not conducive to residents safety.  To access your apartment, you have to pass through a main entrance and walk down a hall to your unit.  Cities across the country have been demolishing these types of apartments and replacing them with townhouse style living units, usually with a lower population density.  We can see that this has happened in Newark and Elizabeth, notably in Elizabethport where revitalization began when Miglori Manor and Pioneer Homes were knocked down.  These were designed much like Elmwood Gardens and were dangerous places to live and visit. 

                          view of the three Elmwood apartment buildings

 Some of us have been asking why Plainfield was not following the trend and finally we are hearing that progress will begin soon.  I contend that this project is as or more important than the redevelopment projects slated for downtown.  New projects add to our city in many ways but the new Elmwood Gardens also will remove conditions that drag down its residents, its neighborhood and the whole city. 

                      from a community focus group on the new Elmwood design

The new Elmwood Gardens will be a credit to the Housing Authority and its partners including city government.  It brings hope for more revitalization and momentum for private investors to join with the limited resources of government to bring Plainfield into the "major leagues"  where it once was and always belongs.