NUTLEY, NJ - Topology representatives Philip Abramson, founder and CEO and Christopher Colley, a development analyst gave an update on the data they collected and conclusions from the survey responses on the On3 site, formerly Hoffmann-La Roche during the Tuesday, Dec. 17, Nutley Board of Commissioners public meeting. Commissioners Steven L. Rogers and Mauro G. Tucci were absent excused.
Topology held a community engagement meeting on Nov. 6 at Nutley High School, where the residents were able to participate in surveys questions about the site and Nutley itself. In December, Topology launched the website courb.co/roche where residents are able to participate in an ongoing survey. In November, Topology was also stationed outside near Nutley Park ShopRite and Nutley Diner to speak with residents and in December by the bus stop on the corner of Kingsland Street and Darling Avenue. During all three outings they engaged with 130 people.
The online survey has, as of the BOC meeting, yielded 181 responses — 80 percent from Nutley. The community engagement data focused on residents’ main concerns and objectives; what community benefits should be prioritized; and what land uses will best serve Nutley in the long term.
Colley showed slides of the results thus far. Residents showed concerns about taxes, overcrowding in schools, and traffic. Residents were also asked to rank what they would like to see built in the On3 space. More tax revenue, and retail and dining options, ranked one and two respectively. Other questions related to housing, walkability, and open space.
Topology’s survey also came to the conclusion that residents are not in favor of new housing in the township. Participants in the survey also would like to see a new center of activity in town.
The survey also showed that people move to Nutley for accessibility to New York however the residents responded that transit accessibility is deficient. However, according to Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli, on Kingsland Street and Darling Avenue during the week between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. there is a bus every 10 minutes. There are also a few bus stops along Kingsland Street and a bus stop on Route 3.
Scarpelli asked Colley if from the conversations he had with people near Route 3, it was the commuters who said the transportation was inadequate or if non-commuters said this as well. Colley said a lot of people complained about getting to the bus stop. “It does seem there’s disconnect for the people who are commuting, […] that’s one of the reasons they moved here, because the access into the city. We do seem to have quite a few bus lines […] And 25 minutes and you’re in the city,” Scarpelli said.
One hypothetical question asked residents if they had $5 million what would they spend it on. The top answer was Nichols Park improvements and a township pool. Transportation, parking and schools also made the list.
Topology plans to have focus group meetings in January with the Nutley Chamber of Commerce, Nutley Rotary, and the residents in the surrounding neighborhood of the On3 site. Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans asked that these meetings be more open to allow the community to come.
Colley said Topology would also like to have a more detailed conversation with the residents sometime in February on the next steps for the On3 site, in terms of the design, land use, and impacts. Topology plans to hold this meeting, as they did in November, at Nutley High School. Evans would like the meeting to happen sooner to help people feel grounded on what all the issues are. “I do think that type of meeting will influence what people really have to say about the site because they will have a better foundation,” Evans said.
“Ultimately to start all of that gets transformed into a redevelopment plan,” said Colley.
There is also a link to the survey on the township’s website nutleynj.org – titled “Roche Redevelopment Survey and Info.”