PLAINFIELD, NJ - Drive along Woodland Avenue towards Watchung Avenue and you will notice a 12 foot black metal pole sign adorned with the words “Sleepy Hollow Historic Plainfield” in gold lettering above a majestic buck. Two years after a handful of Friends of Sleepy Hollow (FOSH) members approached the City Council and the various Boards with their idea, it has come to fruition and the proposed nine signs now dot the borders of what is known as the Sleepy Hollow District.
Bernice Paglia’s blog Plaintalker II first reported on the idea back in 2015, and later in 2017, when it appeared on the Historic Preservation Commission’s agenda for consideration. Despite the approval of 200 residents, the idea was met with opposition and questions from some residents. The initial project sought approval for the expansion of the Sleepy Hollow area which some believe was not clearly defined to include such streets as Highland and Evergreen Avenues.
Read more on Bernice’s Blog:
Here is a recent update with FOSH on their accomplishments:
Q. How many signs were erected? (Nine were proposed.)
A. Sleepy Hollow is not a designated historic district, so FOSH initially sought to erect 9 Sleepy Hollow signs over a larger area to include more Plainfield residents in between the various designated historic districts that have a high density of historic homes. The idea is to promote a culture of preservation and upkeep so we can keep these beautiful homes in great condition. However, after receiving feedback from city officials over the past two and a half years, the signage area was pared back and we ended up erecting 7 signs.
Q. Who designed the signs ?
A. Patrik Florencio, the President of FOSH, initiated the sign idea and selected the sign design with the approval of the FOSH board. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the City and residents on the design.
Q. Have you also placed planters at the ends of the streets as proposed?
A. Planters were not part of any formal proposal submitted by FOSH to the Planning Board. They are another FOSH idea shared during one of the hearings. Now with the signs installed, FOSH will reconvene to determine what next steps would best serve the neighborhood.
Q. Will you be holding any house tours in the near future?
A. This will be considered by FOSH as a potential next step if residents are willing to open up their homes.
Q. One stated purpose of the signs was to market the neighborhood. Have you put up a web site as mentioned in your proposal?
A. We have a few key purposes. Promote the upkeep of homes and beautification of the neighborhood. Preserve historic homes. And market Plainfield’s historic neighborhoods to bring positive attention and commerce to all of Plainfield. We had designed a neighborhood website to showcase the beautiful stock of historic homes, but that went on extended hold pending the outcome of sign negotiations. Now, with the signs just implemented, we hope to revitalize and then post that website.
Q. What reactions have you had so far, from residents or folks in general?
A. Feedback to the design of the signs has been universally positive. We hope to make additional neighborhood improvements over time with a primary focus on beautification and historic preservation, but also to engage in other charitable activities such as providing scholarships to Plainfield students depending on the generosity of donations to FOSH to fund these projects.
Q. Any advice for other neighborhoods on the process?
A. The process started in early 2015, so it can take longer than expected, but it was valuable in obtaining helpful input from the Plainfield City Council, Planning Board, Department of Public Works and Historic Preservation Commission. We especially want to thank Councilman Cory Storch for his guidance and support for the project, and the Department of Public Works for generously installing the signs. No taxpayer dollars were used to purchase the signs, which were paid for solely by individual tax deductible contributions to FOSH.
Q. Next steps?
A. FOSH will now reconvene to determine what next steps would best serve the neighborhood. An attractive website is probably next in line, but we’ve got lots of great ideas. What we’d really like is to get the neighborhood as engaged with FOSH as possible. This would allow us to further increase the size of our Board and participating members, which will increase the number of great ideas along with energy and funding to implement them, which in turn will increase the attractiveness of Plainfield as an exciting and sought after place to live.