Surveying the future

In case you’ve somehow missed all the signs around downtown, check out the survey that the Rahway Center Partnership is conducting. As it says on the site, “Participate in the future of downtown Rahway.” The survey only takes about 12 minutes to complete and you’ll notice a direct link in the Local Links section, to the right.
In the spirit of the Rahway survey, check out the latest poll question.
As for the last poll, it was overwhelming in favor of video surveillance as long as it makes the area safer, with 15 of 20 votes (75 percent), compared to just three against (15 percent), and two (10 percent) who said it doesn’t matter to them.
Thanks to all who voted, and set a new Rahway Rising poll record, with 20 votes cast!…compared to 14 in the inaugural poll last month.

Irving-Fulton realignment

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Intersection improvements at Irving Street and East Milton Avenue are expected to begin next month, and wrap up by April, the same time the hotel is scheduled to open. Improvements will include the realignment of Irving and Fulton streets, as well as signalization. The winning bid came in at about $875,000, which the City Council on Monday night officially accepted from Rahway-based Berto Construction.
For the realignm
ent, Irving Street will be shifted west slightly, taking a portion of Train Station Plaza — City Administrator/Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier estimated “up to the first planter.”
alization also could be coming to the five corners intersection on the other end of Irving Street, where it crosses Main and Hamilton streets and Central Avenue. The city engineer has been asked to determine the costs of signalization, Pelisser said, which could come later this spring or summer.

Zoning Board KO’s plan for 12 condos at Koza’s

Uncomfortable with a density of 12 units on a three-quarter-acre site, the Zoning Board of Adjustment Monday night denied a concept plan for condos to replace Koza’s Bar, 197 W. Scott Ave.

Continue reading Zoning Board KO’s plan for 12 condos at Koza’s

Rahway’s ‘Ring of Steel’?

London has its “Ring of Steel,” New York City is looking into getting its own version, and now a pilot program will bring surveillance cameras to downtown Rahway, starting with the Rahway Center Partnership offices.

The city’s crime rate has dropped considerably in the last decade, according to data from the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), taking a similar pattern to countywide numbers. Compared to 10 years ago (39.1 incidents reported per 1,000 residents), the crime rate in 2006 was down by a third, and has dropped each year since 2001. To put it in perspective, Rahway’s 25.8 rate in 2006 was similar to Union County’s overall figure (25.3), slightly higher than Roselle (23.6), but lower than Union (28.7). It varied compared to its immediate neighbors: Clark (14.7), Linden (32.9), Edison (26.1) and Woodbridge (31.0).

Given all those data, there are still more than a few people I know who aren’t comfortable walking downtown at night. Will cameras help? If something were to occur, you’d think there would be a better chance of getting it on video, but the NFL’s instant replay hasn’t exactly solved every problem. Cameras won’t be much help in the dark, and they didn’t stop the Hat Bandit. At least taxpayers aren’t picking up the tab on this one. It’ll be interesting to see the results of the pilot effort.

With cameras also popping up at intersections to catch motorists running red lights, it seems as if life is getting a little more Orwellian every day. A step closer to life imitating art? And how about the acting police chief’s sounding like a character right out of 1984: “It’s only scary if you have something to hide.”

What do you think? Will cameras help?

Senior housing proposed for St. Mary’s

City Council members were presented Tuesday night with a plan for a four-story, 50-unit affordable senior housing development to replace the former St. Mary’s convent. Use of the church, gymnasium and school buildings at the complex on Central and Esterbrook avenues would not change.

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Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark initially needs approval from City Council, which would include a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), before even applying to the Planning Board. The project would be funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which looks for need and support for such projects. The Archdiocese has built five such projects through its Domus Corporation, a single-asset corporation that brings together government funds with parish properties, said Catholic Charities CEO Phillip Frese.
“The administration is more than convinced of the need for this,” said City Administrator Peter Pelissier.
Council members had some concerns about parking and the size of the new structure. The project would include 49 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit (for a superintendent on site). The existing building would be demolished and some parking spaces and the driveway to Esterbook Avenue would be realigned, said Steve Cohen, an architect for the Archdiocese.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Wenson-Maier disagreed that a new four-story building would fit into the neighborhood, and expressed concerns about parking and that three adjacent residences were not yet contacted by the Archdiocese. Some creative redesign of the layout, she suggested, could allow the building to be pulled to the right, “making everyone happy.”
The population of such a project typically is associated with the municipality in which it’s developed, said Don Lubin, a consultant for the Archdiocese. He estimated 50 to 60 percent of residents have some connection to the municipality. Applicants for the affordable housing must meet three requirements: they must be someone in the household; someone older than 62; and income requirements of less than about $30,000 annually. The typical applicant to such senior housing projects in New Jersey are single females about 75 years old, he said. Individual units are about 540 square feet.

All in favor say aye

Readers of this blog prefer two-way traffic downtown by a margin of 2-to-1, according to a poll that concluded Friday.
Responses to a poll asking “Would you prefer two-way traffic downtown” came in 10 for and five against, making for a two-thirds majority, 66 percent. Keep in mind, this is not a scientific poll, and one that can be easily manipulated by someone who has nothing better to do.
Still, the results are similar to a survey of merchants the city conducted a couple of months ago, which had 24 of 39 (61.5 percent) in favor of two-way traffic. The City Council eventually will be responsible for approving any plan to designate new traffic patterns.
Any suggestions on a new poll question?

Third story to rise from ashes

Boarded-up windows and a charred facade could be transformed into a renovated three-story building along East Cherry Street by April. The Planning Board unanimously gave minor site plan approval Tuesday night for the former wig and beauty supply store that went up in flames in the summer of 2005.

The plan adds a third floor to the existing building, which would be set back to allow for a balcony, and also maintain the existing scale and proportion along East Cherry Street, said Michael Nelson, architect for Dornoch Rahway. It minimizes the impact of the addition, and gives more of a two-story look from street level, he added. Dornoch has two other projects downtown: The Savoy and The Westbury.

The first floor would have 1,402 square feet of retail, with another 2,863 square feet for three residential units on the second and third floors. A variance was necessary because zoning regulations require six parking spaces (1.8 per unit). The Rahway Parking Authority, which held ownership of the building until a plan was presented, will sell the property and as part of the sales agreement will designate the necessary parking spaces.

The second floor will have two 700-square-foot, studio-type apartments with “very open floor plans.” The remaining roughly 1,400+ square feet on the third floor will feature a two-bedroom, two-bath unit. All three units are expected to be for purchase, not rentals.

A blog about all things redevelopment

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