CRANFORD, NJ – The heart and pulse of Cranford is found in its downtown, where shops, restaurants and community spaces intermingle. Gabe Bailer, the new Downtown Director of Cranford, would agree.

Bailer previously worked as a project manager for a developer, a municipal planning consultant and a neighborhood planner. He has experience in neighborhood planning and revitalization, grant funding and social media.

“By wearing these different work hats, I have a great perspective of what makes a great downtown,” Bailer said.

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Now, Bailer is filling the shoes of Kathleen Miller-Prunty, the previous downtown director for 20 years.

"I’m excited to continue and build upon all the great things Downtown Cranford has to offer," he said. “I was drawn to Cranford’s active, walkable downtown, the historic architecture and the great community feeling you have walking the streets of Cranford.”

Bailer moved to Cranford with his family two years ago. Last summer, he worked with the Downtown Management Corp. on the public piano in Eastman Plaza.

“I don’t think of Cranford as a suburb,” he said. “It has a town center, walkability, great selection of shops and restaurants and transportation both bus and train to New York City. I called Cranford a 'Midburb'- an in between from Urban to Suburbs.”

As he takes the reins of downtown Cranford, Bailer asks that the residents get involved by providing feedback on the downtown’s strategic plan, sharing their ideas and telling him their thoughts. The plan is the framework for downtown Cranford, he said.

“Community involvement and communication is such an important element as you want to have the community feel they are connected in bringing great things to Downtown Cranford,” he said.

In his spare time, Bailer runs a blog, NJ Urbanthinker, which provides news related to urban planning throughout the state.

“I’m always thinking of new ideas and reading what other towns across the country are accomplishing to make their downtown’s great,” he said. “Maybe now I’ll be the Cranford thinker."

To take a survey in response to Downtown Cranford’s strategic plan, click here.