CRANFORD, NJ – Cranford’s District Management Corporation presented its strategic plan in a public meeting last week at the Cranford Community Center. For those who could not attend, the full presentation is available now on TV 35.
The presentation, led by DMC Chairman Anthony Durante, proposed a five-year plan that set goals and a vision for the downtown within that timeframe. Under each goal, Durante listed a sampling of strategies that could be used to reach the relevant goal.
The goals include:
Promoting a vibrant downtown environment
“This is our first and arguably most important goal,” Durante said. “Having a downtown that’s active, vibrant and safe for residents and businesses. We want a downtown that we can all take pride in.”
Strategies to implement those goals include creating a Downtown Cultural Arts Committee, permitting temporary pop-up businesses in vacant spaces, identifying land to create new spaces like a playground or dog run and creating a business attraction plan that could be used to solicit new businesses.
Prioritizing safe and accessible active mobility
“This is important because this is a town of all ages and abilities,” Durante said. “We have lots of independent students who may not be of driving age yet and a lot of people who may just want to spend more time walking around. Foot traffic is also very important to small businesses. We want to encourage this kind of mobility in town.”
Strategies to implement safe and accessible mobility include installing new bike racks, amending the land use development ordinance to require a minimum of 15-inch sidewalks for all new development, working with the county to evaluate and investigate pedestrian safety conditions and requiring bike-shared lane markings for any future street reconstruction or repaving.
Providing parking that meets the needs of existing and future uses
“This goal was lifted right from our municipal master plan,” Durante said. “We live in a suburban county. People drive to Cranford from all over. We need to provide parking for them. We also have commuters who need to store their car during the day. We need to accommodate them as well.”
Strategies to implement this goal include hiring a firm to conduct a parking study, managing existing parking supply through technology and digital signage, creating a parking benefit district so parking revenue is reinvested back into downtown and replacing or augmenting parking in at least one surface lot with a parking garage.
Empowering government to proactively plan for the future, make investment decisions and implement projects
“This is a town served by elected officials and boards who are volunteers,” Durante said. “This is really about giving the elected officials the tools they need to make investment decisions and make decisions wisely for the future of Cranford.”
The strategies include hiring a grant writer, engaging planning professionals as direct hires or consultants, establishing clear building design standards and evaluating current permit fee structures to ensure competitive alignment with neighboring municipalities.
“Are we going to get it all done?” Durante said at the end of the presentation. “Maybe, maybe not. The point is that this is a flexible, living plan. As long as we stay focused on the vision and the goals, that’s really the main thing.”
Following the presentation, participants left stickers and Post-Its with feedback for each goal. An online survey for those not in attendance is available here.
The DMC will vote on an updated plan after feedback is gathered, Durante said. From there, the strategic plan will be given to the township committee for a vote and adoption of the plan.