DWOA awarded transformation grant from Main Street New Jersey

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Downtown West Orange Alliance recently received a transformation grant from the Main Street New Jersey program, according to an Aug. 20 press release from the township. The DWOA will receive $20,250 of nearly $350,000 being distributed in MSNJ grants to only 17 downtown district organizations in the state. The grant will be used to repair the concrete work in the alley between Supreme Bakery and the Subway located in the St. Mark’s section of downtown.

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, place making 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.”

“We are very excited to receive one of just a few grants being offered by the newly reinstated Main Street NJ program,” DWOA Executive Director Megan Brill said. “Once we learned that Gov. Murphy agreed to put the Main Street program back into this year’s budget, we were hopeful some of the items that Main Street NJ previously funded would be available to us again.”

According to Brill, the funds will go toward a project that has been in the idea stages for some time. 

“This area leads from one of our larger parking lots to our Main Street and St. Mark’s Square, so we submitted a grant for the creation of Edison Alley,” she said. “We will repair the concrete walkway, add a mural to the dull cement wall, update the bollard with LED fixtures and add Edison string lighting over the top of the alley. In addition, we will add some attractive metal artwork to the greenery around the square.

“The goal of applying for this grant was to create a sense of place in the area,” she continued, noting that because the courtyard in front of PNC Bank is underutilized, the DWOA plans to put small, cafe-style tables and chairs in the courtyard in order to encourage people to buy lunch from the businesses in the area, read the paper and/or just hang out downtown.

“Our downtown area is an important component of our local economy and these improvements will help promote our downtown with the concept of shopping local with eye-catching additions,” Mayor Robert Parisi said.

“We have enjoyed the benefits of the Main Street program in West Orange for many years we welcome the state’s help in developing our downtown corridor and are looking forward to next steps,” DWOA Chairman John McElroy said.

The project is expected to begin soon and be completed before the end of the year.