Downtowns are often described as the heart and soul of a town where people meet, shop, dine, live and work. Cranford is fortunate to have a traditional downtown that has all of these uses and can boast about being the “Best Downtown in NJ”. As the Downtown Director (DMC) for 20 years, I can tell you it wasn’t always easy getting to this point, but there were dedicated people who shared a vision and confidence that downtown Cranford could be better. I absolutely believe that downtown Cranford can be even better, and I am ready to bring my experience and support to realize the goal of a really dynamic downtown.
During my tenure, the DMC did extensive community outreach that was the basis for the Downtown Vision Plan with recommendations for creating or improving public spaces, making the downtown more walkable, identifying deteriorated properties for rehabilitation or development, making local government more efficient and friendly to business investment and providing parking to meet current and future demands. This Report was our guide to downtown revitalization that resulted in more than $90 million of private investment in projects large and small, new businesses and putting Cranford in a favorable spotlight.
Downtown Cranford represents a significant portion of the tax base, is home to hundreds of employees, including countless local teens, and is a big supporter of schools, teams, clubs, charities and more. It is more than a place to shop or dine. It’s an important part of Cranford’s history and its future. Future success demands that we are receptive to innovation, new ideas and are willing to face both our obstacles and opportunities in the quest to be vibrant, interesting and appealing to prospective businesses.
Before retiring in 2018, the DMC did another exhaustive community outreach campaign to get public opinion on a wide range of topics from residents of all ages. The results confirmed there is strong support for the downtown as well as smaller neighborhood business areas. In order to go from idea to reality requires perseverance, a belief that success is possible and willingness to hear many voices, not just the loud ones. Being the Downtown Director often meant finding solutions by balancing the needs and demands of hundreds of business and property owners, Township professionals, DMC Board and Township Commissioners. That’s an expertise I will bring to every important discussion.
It is not difficult to be the most efficient, business-friendly municipality when the tone and attitude are set at the top. When elected officials value downtown, show the same confidence as businesses investing here and demand excellence, we will be well on the way to a really great downtown. I am so proud to run with Brian Andrews, who shares this view and desire to make sure downtown and all business areas are successful. We share the belief that change and updates are necessary to be relevant, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the character that defines Cranford. When we define a vision and show leadership, we can achieve the changes that propel us toward really being the “Best” Downtown.