Friday, June 24, 2011

PHOENIX WHERE ART THOU

There are three reasons that I still subscribe to the Courier; The first is to read Mark Spivey's reporting on Plainfield affairs, the second his to read his beer column and the third is to check the obituaries. Since there are only a few of my peers left ,my checking now is to make sure my name is not listed.

To learn that #1 will no longer be a factor is in effect an announcement that for all practical reasons Plainfield is now worthy of only an obituary notice.

The trend  continues. Decades ago the Newspaper set its sights on Somerset and Hunterdon Counties and wrote off Western Union County especially Plainfield. In fact the only news published were usually of a criminal action which encouraged people not to come into Plainfield's commercial district. That was followed  by the closing of the Macy's and other retail chain stores. The Malls were blamed for the unprofitability of merchandising in  Plainfield, but in reality it was the reputation that became the straw that broke the camel's back. Deterioration in  the school system and two to three decades of city government that appeared to be more interested in staying in power rather than improving the city accelerated the process.

The final nail in the coffin was the closing of Muhlenberg Hospital and the loss of available quick state of the art medical care. The Corzine government wrote Plainfield off as of no value.

Phoenix rose from the ashes. Plainfield may be able to do so if our leadership would take the needed steps to avail itself of all expertise living in  the city. I can not see that happening under the present administration which is locked into cronyism and has no regard for those that object to its inadequacies.

There has been a history of leadership that has shelved any imaginative program instead of implementing one single unique object to revitalize the city. It may not be too late to stop the talk and walk the walk, but we will n ever know if the Administration and Council are not willing to take radical steps.

The present plans for the Armory is not one of them.  It may or may not have a place as a public building in our future; but once more  a non political task force should be assembled by Mayor & Council collaboratively to look into the situation.

The City has to be committed to do something that may be risky. I for one feel that the Wood property should be the site of an extensive recreational for all ages facility. If we had the Grants men we need  it might be possible.

Likewise, we need a task force to see what  should be the focus on redevelopment along the railroad corridor. What light industry can be attracted with replacement of old antiquated structures using PILOT bait. Plainfield needs rateables more than Transit Villages focusing on residencies.

2 comments:

  1. Two years ago there were many people pressing for a census count that would put Plainfield over 50,000 since money would allocate to the city in a better way. Consider an alternative what if Plainfield only had a population of 45,000. Remove all of the dense public housing projects and replace them with safer less dense facilities. Be selective in only allowing people with no criminal record to live in the new housing.
    People objected to the segment done by CNN last week but it was correct. Given the large number of people in Plainfield that rent (estimates are above 50%) chances are a large number of the homes in foreclosure are owned by investors. Lets complete the foreclosure process as quickly as possible, let the mortgage holder take a haircut, and get new owners that at the right cost will work to keep the properties up and occupied by good tenants. An even better process would be to offer the foreclosed properties to qualified people at below market interest rates, and with limited downpayments, on condition that they live in the house. Clearly the new owners would have to have some skin in the game and have sufficient income to maintain the home. Make the right deal and hardworking people will respond and its a good bet that these new people will be less tolerant of crime in their neighborhoods.
    You mentioned light industry, the area along the railroad tracks on North ave would be perfect. Rip down all of those old building and replace them with smaller facilities that could be leased to a wide variety of businesses. Make it worth their while with below market rents perhaps tied to the number of employees they hire. Lets face facts no large employer is going to open up in Plainfield, so the only solution is to attract smaller companies clustered in new light industrial parks with new facilities on well maintianed streets.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a great example of how you can attract light industry to an area and make it as friendly as possible to smaller businesses and manufacturers. But this type of project has to be managed with active public-private partnerships and with significant expertise and professional management. This model would also require a meaningful investment. It isn't the built infrastructure itself that is holding the city back, but the political situation that Old Doc describes.

    ReplyDelete