Roselle seeks ideas for downtown remake

Photo by Brian Trusdell
BRAINSTORMING — The Chestnut Street Redevelopment Committee is looking for recommendations to ‘to improve the overall appearance’ of the shopping/business corridor in Roselle.

ROSELLE, NJ — Mayor Christine Dansereau wants to give the downtown Roselle business district a facelift and she’s asking for assistance.

Residents can visit and fill out a survey to give their feedback on how the downtown shopping corridor should look, the types of shops and amenities that might foster foot traffic, and other information.

For now, Dansereau said the scope of the Downtown Roselle Revitalization Plan will be confined to the stretch along Chestnut Street, between Second and Third avenues and wrapping around onto a portion of Second Avenue.

The survey, which is being promoted on social media and via yellow and black signs posted around town, runs through Saturday, Sept. 29. Some questions ask what types of shops and eateries would entice residents to visit the area and others seek to assess whether parking or safety issues prevent residents from shopping downtown. The survey also presents images of various downtown business districts, ranging from Norman Rockwell rustic to neon-glowing night scenes, and asks residents what they find most appealing.

Dansereau, in a Sept. 4 phone interview, said the information will be gathered and studied by the Chestnut Street Redevelopment Committee, ad-hoc committee formed a few months ago. The group held a public meeting in August and will host another in October.

The mayor said the revitalization plan aims to “stimulate the economy, to improve the overall appearance” of the town.
“Roselle is a great town, but we have some older housing stock and some older businesses,” she said. “Everything needs an updating. Everything needs a refresher. And we also have to think about what are the kind of services. Let’s discuss as business partners what are the kind future services that keep people shopping in town.

“What is most important to you as a consumer as to what you would like to see, what kind services, what would you like it to look like. We’re going over all these facets so that we can have a better understanding and share it with our owners, the owners of the buildings and our whole community.”

Dansereau said it’s too soon to attach a dollar figure to the project and there is no timetable for the Downtown Roselle Revitalization Plan. She said the project can be traced back to about 18 months ago, when the town contacted the state about receiving free planning advice, and that a second survey is planned.

“The people who work there are knowledgeable,” she said. “They can give us a lot of insight and we can bring to the table a lot of insight about the culture of our community.”

The mayor also hopes to obtain some state aid to update and expand the Roselle Public Library on Fourth Avenue.
New Jersey voters approved a ballot initiative in 2017 to allow the state to borrow $125 million to help modernize and expand public libraries. Dansereau is working with the Roselle Library Redevelopment Committee, another ad-hoc group, to create a plan to obtain funds that will be available through the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act. She said the committee, which includes architects, grant writers and others, will “go after aggressively a part of that $125 million library grant to be able to expand and improve our library to a multipurpose academic, cultural center.”

Dansereau said this is an exciting time for Roselle, between the prospect of sprucing up the downtown shopping area and the library, and the installation of the new artificial turf at Arminio Field. The key, she said, is to welcome the community’s comments and consider input.

“It’s sort of like when I used to work for Clairol,” she said. “(I was a) marketing director in the beauty industry for many years. We’d get together at a table and say, ‘Look, we want to have a plan for a new shampoo.’ And then people would just share, ‘Well, I’d like it to smell like mint juniper.’ And someone would say this, and that, ‘I would like it to be green’ and ‘I would like it to be red’ and ‘I want the label to look like this’ before it was even out there.

“We want to advertise and build interest. We didn’t know the cost yet, we just went through the hammering out of those steps and what the market would bear and what piece of the market we would get. We are dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s slowly.”