Scott Miller, whose daughter lives in Hoboken, wants to see more parks and open spaces in his town rather than overpopulating an already congested area. He came to a meeting of a nonprofit planning group at Hudson County Community College in Union City on Wednesday, May 1, where New Jersey residents were encouraged to give their opinions on the future of development locally and throughout the state.
The meeting was run by Together North Jersey, a voluntary partnership of cities, towns, counties, agencies, non-profit organizations and others that have agreed to work together with the input of the public to plan for the region’s future.
“We’re thinking of the year 2040, what we’d like the region to be in 25, 30 years beyond were we are today.” – Jon Carnegie
Funded by a $5 million dollar Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant and an additional $5 million in leveraged funds from project partners, the group represents a consortium of counties encompassing Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Morris, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren counties.
“They keep building and building; soon they’re going to put buildings in the river,” said Miller.
Jon Carnegie, project director for Together North Jersey and executive director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, said at the meeting, “We’re thinking of the year 2040, what we’d like the region to be in 25, 30 years beyond were we are today,” he said.
“Together New Jersey felt that there were many challenges the region faced that we couldn’t really do much about individually, town by town,” he explained, listing “declining prosperity in the region, high cost of living, fiscal uncertainty in a variety of ways, underperforming nature of some of our urban centers in the region, long commutes and traffic congestion, the issues related to the recovery from the Hurricane Sandy.”
The regional plan, scheduled for completion by January 2015, is expected to help secure additional funding for groups to help work toward planning goals.
Their latest workshop held in the Multipurpose Room of the Community College branch in Union City had over 50 attendees rotating to different stations to discuss issues related to living conditions and getting around in their communities. Each person was told to envision their community and say what they liked and disliked about it. Then each person was given a chance to write down what he or she thought should be changed and what the focus of future projects and funding should be.
Union City resident Adriana Rincon, who attended the workshop, said she would like her town to focus on security because she felt walking alone at night was getting increasing dangerous.
“Maybe they could put more cameras and streetlamps on certain streets,” said Rincon.
Transportation a popular topic
A reoccurring topic was transportation and how it should be improved. People mentioned that they can see the increase in business and development in their community because it is reflected in increased use of local bus and train stops.
Speakers at the workshop encouraged feedback from the community and urged attendees to share their website, www.engagenorthjersey.com to get further input on future projects.
Christian Diaz may be reached at ChristianD@hudsonreporter.com.