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South Park Street: Many Details "Yet To Come"

The head of Montclair's Business Improvement District says the redesign is a framework for what's ahead.

 

A nice crowd turned out Saturday to enjoy art, food, and music as part of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District's celebration of the progress that's taken place so far on the redevelopment of South Park Street.

But although everyone enjoyed their sneak peek at the new-and-improved street, there are still additional changes to be made, said Luther Flurry, the BID's executive director.

"First, at a physical level, many details that will give South Park Street a finished look are yet to come," he said. "The trees have been picked and should be planted in October.

"The landscaping has gone out to bid. The street furniture will be installed over the fall," Flurry added. "Shaded benches and leafy plantings will make the street more intimate and inviting. South Park Street will be a place you want to spend time in."

Workers officially broke ground in late March on the $1 million redevelopment project that has been more than two years in the making after initial estimates suggested the work would be completed in Oct. 2011. Work was then expected to be completed by July 1, 2012 before being delayed yet again.

The stalled progress was because of a combination of inclement weather and problems with utilities. In June, PSE&G was forced to relocate some of its electrical equipment to accommodate the new roadway, which temporarily halted progress on sidewalk reconstruction.

But, as of this month, South Park Street's sidewalks have been widened and angle parking has been replaced by (fewer) parallel spaces. A median has been created and businesses such as Leone's have set up tables and chairs outside their front doors.

"I really like it," said shopper Mary Resnick. "I think more people will come out to Church Street and South Park Street."

Even so, Flurry said the South Park Street redesign is only the framework for what's still to come.

"Just as a house is a building with potential until a family makes it a home; the real heart and flavor of South Park Street will develop as Montclair Center businesses and guests learn to live in the space," he said. "Over time, merchants will change how they use the sidewalk and the Karl’s building will reorient  toward South Park Street.

"Residents, downtown workers, and guests will figure out how they want to live with and use South Park Street, and local organizations will figure out how to create events that take advantage of the different spaces now available on South Park Street," he said. "Much of this will involve trial and error and, because of that, some of the life that comes to South Park Street will be wonderfully unexpected."  

Flurry said that Montclair locales already supporting a vibrant street life, such as Church Street, "are living and changing places."

"Successful place-making is always developing, and never complete. I look forward to watching the South Park Street redesign unfold, develop, and mature over the years," he said. "The Montclair Center Business Improvement District is thrilled to be a part of this process."

Did anyone visit South Park Street on Saturday? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

jim September 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM
What happens when this inevitably stalls (fails), or goes into cost overruns that are the trademark of Montclair's administration past and present?
diana Lunin September 18, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Loved the amibiance and the good feeling. It is easy to remember when many people in town spoke negatively about the changes to Church St. We moved here in 1971 and folks shunned Church St. Think the council followed through with a brave and smart idea that will continue to enhance.
Selma Avdicevic September 18, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Even though I thought (and sometimes still do) that we spent the money we don't have on a project that was not an emergency, I have to admit that it does look good and it will look even better when finally complete. However, I am a little troubled that the Township Engineer has made such a muck of this project. She should be disciplined, if not fired for her incompetence. Problems with gas leak? No electricity? All of these are not only extending the project 3 months over the deadline, but will almost certainly bring with it cost overruns, which we can't afford. Serious action should be taken against the responsible parties if we want to assure these things don't happen again.
john clue September 18, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I agree with Selma. We paid for oversight on this project just so it was tightly control to reduce overruns. Now???? Why does our town do this all the time??!!! We overspend on almost every project. With great project management this should not have happened. AND I notice now that there will an rfp for landscaping. You mean that wasn't in the original estimate? No one thought of it? It all goes to proving my point. Get smart Montclair, other towns have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
mark haefeli September 18, 2012 at 03:48 PM
How about this one...they have this "soft-opening" on the same weekend that Upper Montclair is hosting "Art In The Park". Local merchants are also out selling their wares on sidewalks where there are actually tangible things to buy. How about that for a "smart" decision by the Montclair Center Business Improvement District! Nice one...,next time check the calendar. I was there twice on Saturday for various reasons...no more people then usual. (What is there to buy on Church Street anyway?) Did we need this...?No...is it nice?...Yes...And when the Assisting Living Projects is finished, all the residents will have a lovely place to sit and watch the day go by or shop at Urban Outfitters.
Bob Mellman September 18, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I wonder if it might be possible to have the plantings be "sponsored"; i.e. donated by local landscapers or landscape designers, with small plaques identifying them as contributors. It could save the town a few bucks, and the local businesses could get some recognition for their contribution.
Solomon Kurtz September 20, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Where is South Park Street? It looks like Boston to me.
Suzanne moyers September 22, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I loved it at first, but I get a sinking feeling when I see exactly how unfinished it is. Furthermore, you can dress that area up all you want, but the Karl's Appliances building, IMHO, is an eyesore that detracts entirely from it. And I'm guessing those lovely expensive sidewalks will soon be trashed, given that every sidewalk in both Upper and Center Montclair seems to be these days. I'd love for the town to address these issues (esp. the trash one), and for the businesses that need us to take a stand, as well.
montclairdad September 22, 2012 at 03:49 PM
That Karl's is closing very soon. Not sure what's going to replace it though. Hopefully not just another empty storefront.

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