ORANGE, NJ — Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren contracted the Montclair-based Nishuane Group to hold safety and public realm study meetings for those interested in learning more about the plan to redevelop Freeway Drive and the NJ Transit train area, which bisect the city.
The first of those meetings took place in Council Chambers on Thursday, Oct. 13, and additional sessions are scheduled for Orange and East Orange in the coming weeks and months.
“Today, we’re talking about Freeway Drive: specifically, how do you improve the safety along the corridor; how do you make it more accessible; how do you decrease traffic; how do you make it accessible to pedestrians and cyclist,” Michele S. Delifort, the Nishuane Group presenter, said Thursday, Oct. 13. “It’s basically a six-month study that we’d like to undertake to find out what are some physical improvements that we can put in the area.
“We also want to establish a connection between the area south of Freeway Drive, between the neighborhoods, the neighborhoods and the train stations, and the neighborhoods and the downtown area. It’s very comprehensive, but we’re looking at just analyzing a lot of data that’s been captured over the past few years and then making our recommendations and moving forward to implementation.”
The survey goal, Delisfort said, is to produce a plan that actually will be implemented.
According to Delisfort, the next meetings are Saturday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Orange Recreation Center, and Saturday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the East Orange Public Library. East Orange 4th Ward Councilman Casim Gomez said he plans to attend the meeting on Saturday, Nov. 5.
“I plan on being at all three of those meetings, because I actually want to learn more, too,” Gomez said Saturday, Oct. 15. “I think that’s important. I believe that, a lot of times, when we get opposition to things, it’s because people are not informed. So the more information we have, the more empowered we are.”
Change, positive or not, is scary to some people, Gomez said. And the best way to dispel that fear is to set people at ease with information.
Orange Director of Planning, Development and Public Works Marty Mays agreed with Gomez, saying that’s exactly the reason why the Nishuane Group survey meetings are important.
“We’re trying to look at how we can calm down the traffic, how it could be managed better for the kids and the youth when they cross Freeway Drive. And it’s just an overall planning effort that fits in line with our master plan and all the new development that we’re doing around the train stations,” said Mays on Thursday, Oct. 13. “It fits well with everything that we’re doing and the timing is perfect.”