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Metuchen Alliance envisions welcoming downtown

METUCHEN — The honeymoon phase of the implementation of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance is essentially over and a vision has emerged.

“We envision a welcoming and walkable, inclusive downtown engaging a public art, entertainment and recreation balance throughout our historic and vibrant downtown for all residents and visitors,” MDA’s Executive Director Isaac Kremer said during his Main Street Minute update to the Borough Council on Sept. 5.

Kremer said the vision is the big picture for the next five years that the MDA will be working on.

The vision is broken down into two transformation strategies — innovation strategy and family-friendly strategy.

“The innovation strategy is helping our existing businesses use technology, bring new business processes to help [the businesses] be more competitive and to help and work with all of our small businesses and entrepreneurs in town,” Kremer said.

The family-friendly strategy works to make Metuchen a destination for families and kids.

“What you will see in the coming weeks and in the coming months, our work will be organized around these two strategies,” Kremer said.

He said one of the other exciting changes the MDA is about to implement is changing the organization’s four standing committees into 15 teams that are more tasked oriented that will take on one aspect of the work.

“Such as our public art team, which will have exciting things to report as early as next month,” Kremer said, adding that the teams also include an innovation team and a family-friendly team. “I think you get the sense of a very exciting moment for our downtown as we bring all these people and ideas together. We will continue the hard work that was started in those informative stages as we move ever more closer to delivering results that people want.”

Kremer said they were fortunate that one of MDA’s projects was funded through IOBY and National Main Street Center for a public space improvement project. The MDA was seeking $5,460 by Sept. 1 and $5,560 was raised.

The funds will help transform a parking lot at 335 Lake Avenue into a place where people can gather together, have a meal, and talk about the future of downtown Metuchen.

The MDA will work with the building owner and businesses in the immediate area to create a cool, public gathering space for families and kids. Funds will be used to outfit the space with movable chairs and tables. Garden lights overhead will add to the ambiance. Games for families and kids will be incorporated so there will always be something for people of every age to do. The project will help draw customers and support for the four new businesses that are located in the area by creating vitality on the street and sidewalks.

“Well when it rains it pours, we received $1,000 [in funds] for [another] public space improvement project,” Kremer said. “We were contacted by AARP. They are going to fund a second pilot public project to rapidly improve an area of the downtown.”

Kremer said the area for improvement is the alley between Classic Travel and Tours and Metuchen News on Main Street with ideas of implementing moving furniture and art to activate the space and make it more liveable.

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