Monday, January 25, 2010

Transit Villages: Is Plainfield One?

Someone asked whether Plainfield was "still a transit city."
In fact, Plainfield never received the transit village designation.
At least the person making the inquiry got the premise right. In 2006, the administration grandly proclaimed plans for four "transit villages," two around the existing train stations at Netherwood and North Avenue and two more around the locations of stations that no longer exist. A city gets the designation, not spots around a city.
Not much has been heard lately about transit villages nor redevelopment in general. A dozen or so plans are largely in abeyance and a couple have been abandoned for good. The term more often heard around City Hall is transit-oriented development, meaning that access to trains, buses and other means of public transit will be an important part of the planning.
Sometimes the notion of TOD has been tossed around rather loosely, just as "Sleepy Hollow" may be applied to anything remotely near the city's prestigious neighborhood in its southeast section. The term lends cachet, but in real life would the average commuter walk a mile to a train station or bus stop? (If you do, please leave a comment.)
While the more ambitious projects are on hold due to the depressed economy, several small apartment proposals have been approved and developers are targeting people who may not even have cars. In larger cities, car ownership is not necessary. My daughter and son-in-law got around Seattle quite easily for 12 years before buying a car when a good deal came up. I have done without a car for a few years now and even though I sometimes have to pay a driver to get somewhere, my transportation costs are negligible compared to owning and maintaining a vehicle.
Stay tuned to Councilman Cory Storch's blog for news on a proposed visioning study for development and also anything that comes out of the new Economic Growth committee formed late last year. If you want to inform yourself on the topic of transit-friendly development, click here for the premier resource.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

During my tenure here I've walked to the train, to both the Plainfield and Netherwood stations. Both walks are in the the .5+ mile range. There are some, but few, that I've seen walking regularly from further out.

My current walk to Netherwood is uneventful and I can't remember hearing otherwise, but I don't think I would walk again to Plainfield after dark. Although I was never directly involved in any dangerous situation I saw several at a distance, and too many of the street characters are too creepy for me. (Present bloggers excepted)

9:13 AM  
Blogger Colleen Gibney said...

Bernice--my walking commute is 7/8 of a mile, though I take a cab when I'm home late from NYC. If we truly worked for Transit Village status, it would be great to have a shuttle like Maplewood.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, Why doesn't that plan show the stations at Fanwood & Dunellen that residents are able to walk to NOW. The 4th Ward of town is perfect for some people on So Second St & Jefferson School staff to communte to/from - work/homes.

PS How much did that plan cost and to where do I send my bill ??


2:58 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I walk to the Plainfield Train Station for my commute. It's just about 1/2 mile from my apartment. With the exception of mornings like this morning (heavy winds and rain), I find it a very pleasant and much cheaper way to commute. I can also take the 59 and 113 near my apartment to get to the station (or elsewhere) if need be. My monthly train pass covers the bus fare.

I'm a bit leery of late nights, but I have indeed done the walk on occasion. I've never had a problem.

But, all that said -- if the walk was a mile, I wouldn't have given up my car. I know some folks in my neighborhood make the walk, but not many (if any) from further away. Of course, further away it would make more sense to go to Netherwood. I'm almost equidistant between the two, but need to go west. I have walked to Netherwood. But I find the business district walk more populated with businesses for me to stop in and people. Yes, a few scary types, but they don't bother me.

This is the first place I've lived without a car and I only did it because it made financial sense, the walk is actually doable, and bus stops are extremely close.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A visioning study?? Really?? More waste of time and money. If Corey doesnt know what should be there by now, then Corey should not be working on it. Retail, office and apartments. And with those items, PARKING. Yes, PARKING! Without it, the projects will fail. People drive cars. People have cars. They need to be parked somewhere. No parking, no people. Is Corey's Economic Development group meeting? What have they accomplished? What are they planning? When will they have a plan that THEY put together? Or at least the ideas they have discussed. Sorry to ramble, but it gets my goat to see nothing happening here.

2:42 PM  

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