ROSELLE PARK, NJ — Borough officials are looking to transform the area around the train station and the commercial corridor along Chestnut Street into a “transit village” — adding streetscaping and open public spaces, and improving mobility.
The “visioning” project will improve the aesthetics of downtown Roselle Park, according to William Kurzenberger, the borough’s development planner and a project planner for the urban planning business Topology.
“The community visioning project involves crafting a strategy for the borough to pursue a transit village designation,” Kurzenberger said in a phone interview on May 16. “The borough really wants to take charge of its own destiny.”
The transit village initiative was created by the state Department of Transportation and NJ Transit to “bring more housing, businesses and people into the neighborhoods around transit stations” while increasing transit ridership, according to NJ Transit’s website.
The borough has held several public meetings — most recently on May 21 — for feedback from residents about what they want from the project. Kurzenberger said residents expressed interest in improved crosswalks and a public plaza at the May 8 gathering, adding that residents also want an increase in street trees and green space for outdoor recreation opportunities.
“There is a pretty healthy degree of desire for some kind of public plaza that would feature seating and more greenery,” he said of the May 8 meeting. “But the biggest desire is definitely for street trees.”
There also will be a survey released to gather resident feedback in the near future.
Once Kurzenberger is done collecting information and analyzing the area, he will prepare a “strategizing document” for the borough, he told LocalSource, saying this will create a roadmap for “appropriate development that incorporates what residents want to see.”
“Hopefully as a result of all of this the borough will be able to attract more investments from grants and other funding sources that are associated with the Department of Transportation and other mobility-related grants,” Kurzenberger added.
The timing of the project coincides with other infrastructure projects in the borough, including the replacement of the Gordon Street Bridge and upgrades to the local train station.
Located near the western end of the border between Roselle Park and Roselle, the more than 100-year-old Gordon Street Bridge spans the railroad tracks between the two towns at Gordon Street. It also connects two major roadways, Route 28, better known as Westfield Avenue, and County Route 610, locally known as 1st Street.
The train station is scheduled to receive aesthetic improvements and upgrades that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Kurzenberger.
In a statement to LocalSource in March 2018, NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said that plans for the station include an elevator for “improved customer access.”
Westfield Avenue also will be repaved this year, Kurzenberger said.
“We are excited to be partnering with Topology as we take a proactive and community-centric approach to our transit village planning process,” Mayor Joseph Signorello said in an emailed statement on May 16.
“As mayor, I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiasm of participants and the amount of feedback we’ve received so far. Community outreach has been and will continue to be a key component of both our current transit village planning and future development efforts and I hope Roselle Parkers will continue to contribute their valuable perspectives as together we create the future Roselle Park.”