Monday, January 25, 2010
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.