PLAINFIELD, NJ - Calvary Baptist Church hosted Tuesday night’s listening session on economic development in the Plainfield Vision 2025 series. Despite an earlier change in venue from the library to the church, the session was well attended, and breakout groups consisted of residents and business owners, with developers, city officials and members of city boards and commissions sprinkled into the mix.
After opening remarks by the church's Rev. Clinton Parker, III, Chief of Staff John Stewart, Jr. explained to the crowd how the evening would progress, with participants first writing down their thoughts and concerns. The action team created six 'buckets' based on the feedback, and the crowd then dispersed into smaller groups to further brainstorm.
Topics ran the gamut from employment, planning and zoning improvements, city-scaping, marketing and tourism.
Group reports noted how increased lighting, restaurant-friendly areas in the downtown, enforcement of code, and restrictive auto traffic in certain areas would lead to a greater level of beautification in Plainfield.
Resources for the youth are needed, participants said, and should include the development of a youth recreation center that provides classes and workshops in robotics, debating, and more, that help to build up a child's self-esteem.
Obstacles? The necessity to shift the public mindset from one of a lack in public safety to one of a city rich in resources is one; those resources include the Donald Van Blake tennis courts and the Shakespeare Garden, which was designed by landscape architects Olmsted Brothers of Boston, and much more.
Additional remarks from the breakout groups suggested that school curriculum should include Plainfield history lessons, and house tours, festivals, art shows, and food crawls would help to promote the assets of the city to both residents and surrounding communities.
On employment, presenters continued, residents need experience with soft skills that include exposure to mentors, tips on how to properly network, and tools to overcome fears of public speaking in conjunction with the hard skills like computer training. Resources at the Plainfield Public Library, rotary clubs, Union County and Toastmasters should, presenters said, be more widely promoted.
The second of the three Public Safety listening sessions is next on the Plainfield Vision 2025 agenda, at Cook School on Oct. 12. Following are the remaining topics, dates and locations.
- Public Safety:
- Oct. 12, 7:00 pm, Cook School at 739 Leland Avenue
- Oct. 16, 7:00 pm, Washington Community School at 427 Darrow Avenue
- Workforce Development & Adult Learning - Oct. 17, 7:00 pm, Washington Community School, 427 Darrow Avenue
- Connecting Community/Community Arts & Culture - Oct. 23, 7:00 pm, duCret School of Art, 1030 Central Avenue
- Municipal Government & Essential Services Performance - Oct. 25, 7:00 pm, Plainfield Library at 800 Park Avenue
- Plainfield Vision 2025 Community Playback - Nov. 4, 10:00 am, Plainfield High School at 950 Park Avenue
The Plainfield Vision 2025 Executive Committee will present a final report to the Mayor in January 2018. Information on Plainfield Vision 2025 will be available on the city’s website, www.plainfieldnj.gov, and social media platforms. You can follow along on Facebook @PlainfieldVision2025.