Town of Newton Explores Options To Lessen Vacancies on Spring Street
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 • 10:07pm
NEWTON, NJ – Members of the Town of Newton Town Council discussed possibilities for land use ordinance changes at their meeting yesterday night, which may help to draw more businesses and foot traffic to the Spring Street area.
“There’s a fairly robust vacancy on Spring Street and, we are not happy with it,” said Town of Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo, Jr.
Russo invited the Town Planner, Jessica Caldwell, to discuss possibilities.
As it currently stands, the land use ordinance governing particular types of businesses in the area disallows child care centers, office (including professional, dental, and veterinary), photo or art studios, or artisanal workshops, unless they are located on second floors of any of the buildings.
Caldwell proposed the possibility of allowing these particular types of businesses on the first floors of Spring Street buildings, and, asked members of the council for their feedback.
Councilwoman Kristen Becker recalled the group had initially eschewed the idea of offices a few years back, in favor of retail-type of establishments.
“I know that was the initial mindset when Spring Street was flourishing,” Becker said.
At one point, Becker said Bouncearama, a child and parent play center previously located on East Clinton Street, had expressed an interest for Spring Street. Becker proposed allowing childcare centers for the possibility it could draw in more families to the downtown.
“Our trading off getting vacancies filled, it could eat into the heart of what’s left on Spring Street,” said Councilman Kevin Elvidge, who had concerns about certain types of establishments.
“It could thrive again, it’s poised for being a busier street,” said Elvidge.
“I know the economy has had a detrimental effect, and when the economy turns around, it should turn around,” said Councilman Joseph Ricciardo.
Ricciardo suggested a review with the public, of the Town of Newton Vision Plan.
Ricciardo did not agree with a childcare center for concerns with congestion at rush hour, and families walking along Spring Street in detrimental weather.
They all agreed on the idea of the artisanal workshops. Becker reiterated as long as it focused on a retail aspect, rather than a manufacturing or industrial angle.
In other business:
· Thomas Kosten of FKA Architects discussed plans to rehabilitate the Newton Fire Museum. Portions of the brick on the building’s base have sustained water damage as a result of snow accumulation. Some minor asbestos and lead paint removal are also required prior to the building being reopened for the public.
· Deputy Mayor Sandra Diglio congratulated Becker, and incoming Councilman, Daniel Flynn. “I’d like to congratulate Dan and Kristi on the election and re-election, and I will look forward to working with both of you,” Diglio said.