Thursday, February 20, 2014

Raritan Valley Rail Coalition Report

The coalition meeting was well attended in spite of poor road conditions and lack of parking anywhere near the Westfield municipal building.  That was due to the featured speaker, a NJ Transit representative, who spoke about the one seat ride to Manhattan.
You will find better images for the new schedules elsewhere but I couldn't resist putting these on my blog.  After all, this is part of local history.
The top image shows the four off peak hours one seat ride trains in-bound and the second is for out-bound trains.  These trains begin service on March 3. 
The coalition meeting had excellent representation from Plainfield.  Besides yours truly, Mayor Adrian Mapp, City Administrator Rick Smiley, Deputy City Administrator Carlos Sanchez, Chief of Staff John Stewart, City Planning Director Bill Nierstadt, Netherwood Neighbors stalwart Jim Spear and Jeff Dunn were in attendance.  We missed you Pat!
NJ Transit is still calling this a pilot because they have not yet worked out the details for phase two and three.  These phases will entail weekend and evening one seat service to and from Manhattan.  They will be monitoring ridership for each phase and the number of riders will influence future decisions.  I am hoping that some Plainfield commuters are able to adjust their work schedules to take advantage of the one seat rides. We will see beginning in March.
Much of the discussion centered on publicity so that people know about the one seat ride.  I urged Plainfield officials to begin a publicity campaign.  We will need to get the message out in many ways so residents hear it over and over from different sources.  Word of mouth is important as well as print media the city website, television and social media.  I hope to see banners at the train stations.  You are invited to show up at the Netherwood station March 3 for the 9:08 train - to be photographed at this historic moment.
The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition is about improving rail service in many ways.  Other subjects discussed at coalition meetings include triple tracking, the Hunter Fly-over and the future of the new tunnel.  These projects need our advocacy for future action but now is the time to keep pushing towards our first priority  - peak hour one seat service to and from Manhattan.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Economic Development Report

Netherwood Bar and Grill, previously Vivace, on South Ave, is doing good business and I like the remake.  Lois and I went last night and it was full, with people of all ages. I like the age diversity, reminds me of the Antone's crowd in Cranford, before the family closed the restaurant.  Antone's was replaced by a so called Irish Pub.  Many of the new Irish Pubs only resemble the real thing with the imported woodwork, stripped from neighborhood pubs in Ireland.  The Netherwood's new menu includes a decent selection of craft beers, something Plainfield has been lacking for many years. Live music will be featured in the near future.

Just Turkey is opening soon on South Ave, where the old Natale Bakery was.  The inside has been updated and turkey based menu items will be featured.  Good food, less cholesterol, a sound idea.

Dunkin Donuts received site plan approval and we should soon see construction of a new location on West Front St. West Front is ripe for development and a site plan was just approved in the 700 block for a mixed use building - retail and 20 apartments.

If attendance at Planning Board meetings is a leading indicator for development, take note of the fact that all 11 board members were in attendance.  Welcome new members Emmett Swan and Sean McKenna.

I expect we will be hearing soon from Plainfield's new Economic Development Director.  Carlos Sanchez brings a track record of successful development in Elizabeth. 

The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition will be meeting Tuesday morning at 8:30 am at the Westfield municipal building. This is open to the public.  I will give an update on my blog.  Meanwhile, do your part for the one seat ride by signing the petition at