MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Township committee is taking advice on downtown revitalization. In order to get a fuller perspective, the committee heard from Joseph Getz, the founding principal of JGSC group, who presented at the meeting on Tuesday.
As Getz explained, he was presenting at the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, and his work there led to him being asked to come and present to the township committee.
Getz covered a basic plan that he said would allow the Millburn downtown district to be revitalized.
Among the key points Getz hit in his speech was that in prior years, traditional business models allowed downtowns to thrive. But now, with the changing Millenial and Gen-X demographics, towns need to change the way they go about their downtowns.
Speaking with TAPinto after the meeting, Getz said that the goal of his presentation was to start the wheels turning on this topic.
"[The goal is] to create awareness about the need to be proactive in driving the downtown economy," he said. "And to hopefully stimulate conversation, which I think we did."
That is where Getz and his company step in. In recent years, they have helped nearby towns such as Orange, West Orange, Maplewood and Springfield with their renovation plans. Getz also said that the company would help with creating a strategic plan to grow business in the downtown area.
Several committee members asked questions of Getz, including Sam Levy. Levy noted that with the dissolution of the Downtown Millburn Development Alliance (DMDA) last year, his concern was that there was no functioning body that could act as an intermediary between the property owners, their potential renters and other groups in town.
Levy also said that the committee should not be in the business of deciding which landlords get the report from the consulting firm. Speaking after the meeting, Levy stated that
"Like esteemed members of the community, I agree that it should be at a minimum a public-private organization," Levy said. "And to the extent that we implement this plan, there needs to be both financial and public buy-in by landowners."
Getz said that he feels he provided a reasonable proposal that the town should consider.
"In New Jersey, many communities need to become proactive about their economic base. It's not something we do a lot of in new jersey, and in part, it's because the sales tax doesn't flow through to municipalities in New Jersey, unlike most other states where it does flow through.
Getz added, "But it's not enough to stand by and watch the market take over...communities that are active in their downtowns and their economic growth will be successful, and those that stand on the sideline are going to be in for a shock because there's just not enough consumers or businesses to go around anymore."
The next township committee meeting is scheduled for March 19 at 7:30 p.m.