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.
A healthy and vibrant downtown boosts the economic well-being and quality of life in a community. In the City of Rahway, we have used redevelopment as a tool to revitalize our downtown, stabilize our tax base, and create a sustainable arts and culture atmosphere. Although the early stages of redevelopment proved to be slow; we are now seeing continued successes and signs of new and exciting growth.
Redevelopment’s main goal is to make Rahway a destination town, a transportation hub, and an energized city in which to live, work and visit. New businesses continue to invest in projects and we welcome their innovation and enthusiasm. In addition to providing new housing in the downtown, redevelopment should create a diverse mixture of people, uses and activities to make the downtown vibrant. I believe we are at a critical point and we need to place additional efforts in promoting our successes, initiating a formal business recruitment effort, and facilitating smart growth.
As mayor, I have formalized an Office of Planning and Economic Development by reorganizing our existing professionals and staff. It is important to help small business owners navigate through this challenging economic environment. Therefore, we need to establish programs of support for our potential and existing businesses. In addition, I have started an inventory of available building spaces and sites; developed a business recruitment strategy to attract the optimal tenant mix; and will start to market the advantages of locating in Rahway.
Furthermore, I believe city wide events are important for their long-term benefits. Attendance at special events makes people aware of businesses or other activities that they might see out at a later date. It is essential to bring a sense of identity and pride to our city.
In conclusion, redevelopment is an overall tool which can be used to revitalize our community. It needs to support the whole city development agenda – the human, social and economic dimensions as well as the physical. It should include not only new housing and commercial businesses, but also government and public facilities, arts and culture, recreational opportunities, and public transit.