FREEHOLD – Municipal officials in Freehold Borough have adopted a plan to implement a five-year Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) for the downtown district and other areas of the community.
On March 7, Borough Council members passed a resolution to adopt the NPP implementation plan. The program is a revitalization initiative aimed at creating visible, tangible, asset-based and community-driven change in a neighborhood. It is built upon place value, economic value, social value and civil value.
Freehold Borough’s NPP district includes the historic downtown along East Main Street and West Main Street, the Monument Park area, the Peach Orchard district anchored on Court Street by the Court Street School Community Education Center, and Haley Street near the Overcoming Faith Temple.
As noted in the plan, the district selected for the NPP includes buildings that need to be preserved, including the Court Street School Community Education Center, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the Freehold Public Library.
The identified area also includes the downtown shopping district and the bus station at the corner of West Main and Throckmorton streets.
“The district was carefully chosen by the borough because of its alignment with the NPP program and our ability to capitalize on the many historic assets located within the district,” the plan states.
The plan states there are significant issues in the NPP district, including limited parking in the downtown area, deferred maintenance of businesses and homes, a lack of aesthetics, vagrancy, and safety hazards such as poor lighting.
“The borough is confident that with the guiding principles of the NPP, significant progress can be made toward stabilizing the district and provide a significant positive impact on a large number of people, including residents, business owners and visitors,” the plan states.
The plan is scheduled to be implemented over five years.
According to the plan, municipal officials’ first strategic goal is to increase amenities in the NPP district by implementing a five-year phased plan to replace trash receptacles; a two-year phased plan to remove and replace benches and further assess other forms of movable seating for the third through fifth years; and to enhance the tree canopy for the duration of the grant cycle.
The second strategic goal is to improve the physical structures in the NPP district by enhancing code enforcement; implementing the Regional Contribution Agreement/Housing Rehabilitation Program; implementing a commercial facade improvement program; and developing community cleanup days.
The third strategic goal is to add public art by creating an art walk and restoring the Freehold Borough Arts Council Mural Park, according to the plan.
The budget for the NPP will be $200,000 for the first year; $181,500 for the second year; $146,500 for the third year; $105,500 for the fourth year; and $99,500 for the fifth year, according to the plan.
After being awarded NPP designation by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Freehold Borough received $125,000 in grant funds, with the option to renew funding at similar levels for the next four years.
According to the plan, each NPP budget will request $125,000 from the state to help cover the costs.
The remaining costs will be covered by a municipal match to the grant and other sources/in-kind. Freehold Borough will match the NPP funding by at least 25% for each year the program is renewed, according to the plan.