Democrats, Republicans, and independents will convene in Edison on Sunday to advocate for changes in policies and funding to help Montclair and the hundreds of other older suburbs that have been disproportionately hurt over several decades by federal and state policies that promote “sprawling, homogenous communities” over diverse, more sustainable “first suburbs," said former Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried.
“This gathering is a remarkable sign that New Jersey is waking up to the danger that we face in continuing our march towards sprawl,” he said.
“Even the state’s new Strategic Plan prioritizes allocation of resources to places that have public transportation and the existing infrastructure to support people and jobs... this is a departure from years of encouraging people to live in gated communities in the middle of nowhere," he said.
New Jersey's largest policy advocacy meeting in years will be held Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the NJ Convention and Exposition Center in Edison. More than 1,000 people are due to attend, including US Sen. Bob Menendez, Fried, and over 70 mayors, council members, and muncipal leaders from every county in the state.
The main issues that will be highlighted are the need to support Montclair and other older communities through funding that will increase educational opportunities for all, provide a range of housing options, and better public transportation to promote job creation and economic development.
Organizers say that New Jersey, which is 48 out of 50 states in unemployment and ranks last in getting its share of the tax dollars it sends to Washington, is also starting a bipartisan effort to increase its economic competitiveness by helping areas that are more “livable," the types of places where people can live, work, and shop locally and where new entrepreneurial businesses thrive.
Sunday's meeting will feature testimony from communities throughout the state, reactions from Menendez and other leaders, and lay out next steps in harnessing the power of older communities in making New Jersey a more prosperous, livable, and economically sustainable place to live.
"The 2008 Funding Formula hasn't been fully funded (Montclair lost half its aid the first year)," Fried said. "We want Gov. [Christie] to fund it at the level it was approved."
Fried said he will be speaking Sunday about economic growth in older suburbs.
For more information on Sunday's meeting go here.