UNION, NJ – Business owners, residents and township officials attended a Stuyvesant Avenue Streetscape informational session on Monday morning, sponsored by the Special Improvement District and hosted by ConnectOne Bank.

Plans are in place to update and reconstruct the sidewalks along Stuyvesant Avenue “in order to create a more unified downtown district feel,” according to a handout at the event. “The goal is to foster economic vitality and create more foot traffic to the stores.” The project includes new seating, street trees, new curbs, corner treatments and a raised mid-block crossing to accommodate pedestrians crossing the avenue.

“This is an exciting time for the SID (Special Improvement District) and the Township of Union,” said SID Chairman Joe Leo, who said the investment in the center will enhance the aesthetic appearance of the center, revive the center for new opportunities for local business, improve the functionality for shoppers and visitors; attract more foot traffic with the pedestrian infrastructure update, improve safety for residents and attract new investors.  

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“I’m excited about this project,” said Township Mayor Suzette Cavadas.  “It’s going to be a complete transformation of the center of town.”  The mayor said removable bollards will be installed on Stuyvesant Avenue at Vauxhall Road and Morris Avenue, for street closures for street fairs and other community events. 

The project will be constructed in two phases, said Mayor Cavadas.  Phase I is Stuyvesant Avenue from Morris Avenue to Vauxhall Road.  “Next year,” said the Mayor, “Phase II will be complete, which is Stuyvesant Avenue from Morris Avenue to Elmwood.”

According to Township Business Administrator Ron Manzella, to minimize disruption to local businesses during the construction, the Phase I project is broken down into four quadrants: Vauxhall to Emerson Avenue, Vauxhall to Axton Avenue, Emerson Avenue to Morris Avenue, and Axton Avenue to Morris Avenue.

“No more than 200 feet will be disrupted at any given time,” said Manzella.  “We know we have to keep your businesses open,” said Manzella to business owners.  “The contractor has to find a way to keep access available to the stores.”  Manzella said it is projected that construction will take about 6-7 weeks per quadrant. 

Construction of Phase I is anticipated to begin in April and continue through to September.

David Lustberg of Arterial, the streetscape planner, said parking will be the main disruption during construction.  “The major disruption for vehicles,” said Lustberg, “will be during the construction of the mid-block crossing.  There will be a 10-day period when vehicular traffic will not be allowed on this segment (between Vauxhall Road and Emerson Avenue).

“We want to make this a great experience,” said Manzella.  “We recognize that there will be a change in routine for a short period of time.  But in the end this is something that will attract people to our downtown.”

“This is a true capital investment,” said Fatima Raymond, Director of Economic Development and Special Improvement District.  “We’re looking at working with the owners of these properties for physical improvements, including better signage, lighting, etc.  There’s a lot to come and I’m truly excited about it.”

Another Streetscape Project Information Session will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at ConnectOne Bank at 2355 Morris Avenue.