Editor’s note: Election Day is Nov. 4. On the ballot in Rahway will be elections for mayor and three at-large City Council seats in addition to the remaining two years of an unexpired term for 6th Ward City Council. The three mayoral candidates were invited to present their platforms on redevelopment and will appear this week. Samson Steinman appeared yesterday.
I’m going to start this article with a little trip down memory lane.
In the early sixties they called it Urban Renewal. Many downtown businesses closed and buildings were torn down. Rahway had 3 shoe stores, 2 hardware stores, several clothing stores and 3 butchers just to name a few of the downtown businesses. There were streets filled with residents and homes on Barry Court and Haydock Street, which were eliminated fifty years ago.
In the latter part of James Kennedy’s administration, Rahway Redevelopment took off. The Special Improvement District was incroporated in the downtown, the Redevelopment Agency came into being, and then the Arts District took over the Special Improvement District. Residential units were built attracting people who wanted a glamorous life in a desolate downtown. This was all apart of the City Agency Plan. The recession in 2008 brought many projects to a stand still. A slight upswing in the economy has started construction again.
Redevelopment is good but there are always drawbacks. It is a long process and involves many phases. Redevelopment has impacted the residents of Rahway in the following areas: Property Taxes, Police, Parking, and Flooding.
Let’s not give all the incentives to the builders. In one of the most recent negotiations, the City of Rahway gave one developer a 30 year PILOT Program (payment in lieu of taxes). Many home owners in Rahway are unhappy with the high property taxes and some are very upset that they have to pay their taxes while others don’t have to pay their fair share.
Another issue that Rahway residents expressed discontentment with is parking. There are several apartment projects being built. One specific area being impacted by new apartments is Central Avenue, Hamilton Street and Esterbrook; there are four churches that hold services on Sunday, a football field where games are played sometimes on Sunday, UCAC that has programs on Sunday, and the Black Box Theater. The increase in apartment buildings has taken street parking away.
It was not a surprise to hear the residents of Rahway say they don’t see Police in the downtown area. Even though there is a command office on Cherry Street, they complain that no one is there and they don’t see them walking downtown. The redevelopment has brought more people downtown abut there is less Police visibility.
The flooding in Rahway is not new; but when townhouses are built in flood prone areas, it makes you wonder WHY? One several occasions I have seen the impact that high tide and heavy rains have on our streets, they become impassable due to flooding.
As Mayor I plan to reevaluate the above concerns of the tax paying residents of Rahway. Finances will be checked to see that redevelopment plans and cost reflect their budgets. Re-examine the fact some people get tax breaks and others have to pay more. Contracts will be reviewed to ensure proper order. Redevelopment will be an agreed upon project by City Council on behalf of the community of Rahway.