An open letter to the Metuchen Borough Council:
Thank you very much to all of you, and to Councilman Jay Muldoon especially, for the presentation on the Pearl Street Parking Lot development process at the Council meeting yesterday. It was so helpful to get a clear understanding of the current status and the process for moving forward, and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity you gave for members of the public to offer their feedback.
Along with several other town residents, I spoke yesterday evening about my support for incorporating a permanent farmers market into the development plans.
After last night's meeting, I realize all the more strongly what a pivotal project this could be. It could have a huge impact on Metuchen's landscape, community, and business development for the next several decades or more.
For this reason, I am heartened by the council's determination to proceed thoughtfully and to exert a creative leadership role. I want to encourage you to continue to think "outside the box" and to work with the Parking Authority and the developers to come up with a plan that isn't just another cookie cutter residential-retail structure, but a visionary space that will further enhance Metuchen's unique identity.
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that incorporating a *true* market into the plan -- in other words, an indoor-outdoor space where multiple small vendors could sell local produce and specialty foods year-round (like a small town version of Chelsea Market or Reading Terminal) -- along with a green public plaza, would be an incredible win-win for all of us.
It would make the project more appealing to potential residents, which would raise the value for the developers.
It would add a type of business that is currently lacking in downtown Metuchen and would increase foot traffic passing along Main Street.
It would attract shoppers from beyond the Metuchen/Edison area, as there is no market of this type in all of central New Jersey.
It would activate the public plaza and create a central gathering point similar to Palmer Square in Princeton.
It would recognize the cultural shift taking place in our society: the desire to have a direct relationship with food producers and to provide our families with fresh, healthy, local foods.
It would establish Metuchen as a leader in innovative public-private partnership and future-oriented land use.
In conclusion, I applaud your efforts to lead this project with deliberation and care. Let's think big and make downtown Metuchen the jewel of small town New Jersey.