SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange Village Center Alliance has been awarded a $21,500 Transformation Grant from Main Street New Jersey and will use the funds to continue its downtown beautification efforts. The grant money, combined with money raised from the recent Under Cover Music Fest and last year’s PlayDay, will be used to transform a pedestrian alleyway into a “Music Walk,” an interactive public music art space.
Throughout the past year, SOVCA has been leading beautification projects throughout downtown South Orange to make community spaces more attractive and inviting for pedestrians, businesses and the community. With funds raised from SOVCA programming, and with the help and involvement from Scalora Brothers Landscaping Co., the Department of Public Works, the Parking Authority and the village administration, the SOVCA beautification committee has completed a refresh of Spiotta Park and solidified plans for repairing the fountain at the gazebo, new plantings on Sloan Street, a new banner program and repainting the lampposts.
With this new grant, SOVCA will also transform the pedestrian alleyway leading from South Orange Avenue to the Sloan Street parking lot into an interactive “Music Walk” by installing murals, flower instruments, benches, overhead bistro lights, up lighting, landscaping and a custom bike rack. Music will also be piped in. The walkway was designed in a way that allows the space to transform and host new art with changing themes in the future.
“Beautifying South Orange has been a high priority goal for our leadership team over the past
year, as we want our residents to come downtown and feel a sense of pride and excitement,” SOVCA Chairman Mark Murphy said. “The SOVCA beautification committee has been instrumental at identifying areas that can be improved upon or ‘activated’ in our downtown. Spiotta Park was a huge step forward and we are really excited about the energy that the ‘Music Walk’ will bring to our downtown.”
Mark Hartwyk, treasurer of SOVCA and co-chairman of the beautification committee, added, “We are thrilled to receive this grant money, which will turn our visions of revitalizing one of our pedestrian walkways into this new interactive space all will enjoy.”
This year marks the first time in its 30-year history that MSNJ has awarded grants to designated MSNJ district organizations around the state. The grant funding is part of a larger effort by the Murphy administration and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, which administers MSNJ, to commit more resources to community revitalization programs that focus on small businesses and neighborhood improvement projects.
“Downtown business districts play such an important role in the economic and social health of our communities, which is why Gov. Murphy and I have invested significant resources in the Main Street New Jersey program,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “This investment includes awarding Main Street grants for the first time ever to help downtowns with improvement projects, placemaking and transformation strategies. All of these grant-funded activities are scheduled to be completed by year’s end and we can’t wait to see how they positively impact downtowns around the state.”
Photos Courtesy of Deborah Engel