To help preserve, protect, and nurture the economic and cultural vitality of downtown Caldwell through the creation of public and private partnerships.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jail House Rock Coming to Caldwell Green

Historic Brownstone Donated by K. Hovnanian for Caldwell
By Diane Lilli
An old post card of the prison, which was once located in Caldwell before the borders changed. Now, the site is in North Caldwell.
Caldwell photographer Alan Schindler, who specializes in architectural photography, knew a good thing when he saw it – and reached out to the K. Hovnanian Homes firm last summer to see if the borough might be able to benefit from what otherwise may have been considered trash.
But Schindler, trained to see the historical significance in mortar and stone, knew the brownstone being taken down as the old Essex County prison annex was demolished was much more than trash, and instead, treasure.
“I was doing work in Morristown, photographing the green about 2 or 3 years ago,” said Schindler. “I had been working for a landscape architect, and had photographed the green. One of the interesting features was a curved bench, made out of an indigenous material. It was a type of stone with special significance to the Morristown area.”
When Schindler saw the prison finally being brought down, he knew he needed to get a closer look.
“The brownstone is amazing,” he said. “This prison was built back in the 1800’s, and the Presbyterian Church in Caldwell was built only a few years later. The stones look very similar, like they may even have come from the same quarry.”
After taking a tour of the construction site and seeing the brownstone first hand, Schindler reached out to Doug Fenichel, who was then the director of regional pr for the K Hovnanian Home company.
“I thought we could make an interesting curved bench out of the stone,” he added. “Doug was very receptive to the idea and said they would donate whatever we needed.”
Schindler had been working with the committee to redesign the Caldwell green, which had originally planned a restive area with a big clock. Now, since plans have changed for the green, this free brownstone may be a decorative link that also serves as an historical bridge not only for Caldwell but also for the First Presbyterian Church.
‘Using the same materials on the green as the church, for a bench or maybe for some planters, would give a sense of continuity,” said Schindler. “It would also make a great story for Caldwell.”
As for now, the council is aware of the brownstone and at the last council meeting, councilor Joseph Norton told the public about the new idea, with great enthusiasm.
And, as all good ideas, another town has also requested some of the prison. North Caldwell is reported to be taking the tower from the prison, to be used for something in their town.
Though money is tight in all municipalities, this free brownstone may be the building block of something lasting in Caldwell.
“We don’t have to spend a lot of money,” noted Schindler. “We can build something simple and iconic. It’s historic.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Help Keep Caldwell Beautiful!

Dear Caldwell residents, visitors, shop owners and landlords,

Over two months ago, Project Main Street took a survey of our downtown and shared some of our photos with you. We posed the question “What would James Caldwell do?”  And, like our fighting parson, you took action!  Residents, neighbors, landscapers, local businesses, Rotarians and our local government and DPW all joined hands to make Caldwell’s first Beautification Day possible. Together we planted 21 trees, prepared 80+ tree beds, painted 55 lamp posts, planted and decorated The Green, refurbished a bus stop and cleaned the entire downtown. If we posed the same question today, we’d guess that James Caldwell would look around, smile, and be proud of what we’ve all done. We certainly are. Great job!
Our collective work has really paid off. Downtown Caldwell looks beautiful! If you haven't spent time downtown lately, you may want to come take a look. There’s a renewed energy in the air as people comment that Caldwell is beginning to feel like it did in the old days – a charming, historic center of community. While you’re there, check out some of the wonderful new shops and restaurants that have opened up.

Our volunteers have happily rolled up their sleeves raising money for, installing and maintaining hanging flower baskets and American flags along the avenue. The community rallied for Caldwell Beautification Day. The momentum continues as many store owners fix up and decorate their properties.

But now we need your help. Shaping up our downtown is one thing; keeping it that way is quite another. It will take an effort from each of us.  Please help and encourage others to do so. Together we can build an environment and a mindset that deters littering, vandalism, speeding and other actions that impinge on pedestrian safety and the enjoyment of our town.

Let’s keep Caldwell’s beautification going!  Here are some ideas:
Please help keep our trees and flowers healthy. They need plenty of water to thrive, especially the new ones. We’ll be installing watering bags on the new trees this week and will ask the businesses on the block to help keep the bags filled with water. The tree bark needs to be protected, so please don’t hang anything on them or use them to post signs. Please look out for their roots by making sure their beds are clean and the mulch isn’t piled up too high around their trunks.

Please don’t litter or put out cigarette butts on our sidewalks and streets. If you see someone doing this, politely ask them to pick it up and dispose of it properly. If you see debris on the sidewalk or in front of your store, please help out by cleaning it up and keeping our downtown sparkling for everyone to enjoy. If you see someone cleaning up, don’t forget to thank them. If you see those pesky weeds poking back up, take a minute and pull them out before they take over again.

Please remind drivers that the speed limit through our downtown is 25 m.p.h. and that pedestrians have the right of way.  Bloomfield Avenue is a complete street, belonging to everyone including pedestrians and cyclists. Let’s make it safe for everyone to enjoy our downtown.

Caldwell can only look as good as we, as a community, work to keep it.  If everyone does small good deeds, they’ll all add up to our downtown looking great for a long time to come.

If you’re not sure how to best help or you have ideas about making or keeping Caldwell beautiful, give us a call at 973-228-8900, send us an email, or send a message to “Project Main Street” on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you or, better yet, to have you join our team of volunteers.

Project Main Street is a completely volunteer nonprofit organization funded entirely through individual donations, grants and fundraisers. You have our commitment that we will continue to work to nurture the economic and cultural vitality of downtown Caldwell through historic preservation, downtown beautification, and realizing a vision of our downtown as a pedestrian friendly center of community.

Thank you for your support and for an incredible job well done!

Your Project Main Street Team

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Volunteer for Caldwell Beautification Day!


Saturday, September 25 will be a special day of community service and celebration in downtown Caldwell.  Please join your friends, neighbors, local business owners, civic organizations and houses of worship as we come together as a community to clean up, spruce up and beautify our historic downtown. Everyone is welcome as a variety of projects will be underway.

The day will begin at 9:00 with a volunteer welcome and registration on The Green, next to the Caldwell Public Library. Teams will then break out into their work groups for instruction and demonstrations. From 10-2, teams will work on cleaning up our sidewalks and public spaces, planting flowers and trees, weeding and mulching tree beds, and a host of other beautification projects.  A volunteer celebration with refreshments will follow on The Green at 2:00.  Come make new friends, have some fun and enjoy a day you will be proud of!

Click here to sign up for the day's events or call volunteer coordinator Christy Berg at 973-600-9607 for more information.

Caldwell Beautification Day is being hosted by Project Main Street, who spearheaded fundraising efforts and the installation of hanging flower baskets and American flags along Bloomfield Avenue earlier this summer.  Our completely volunteer organization believes strongly in the difference one can make when a community pulls together.  We aspire to make Caldwell Beautification Day an annual event.

Project Main Street is funded through donations from individuals and local businesses who care about the future of downtown Caldwell.  Beautification Day is funded in part through proceeds from their Caldwell Beautification fundraising dinner and 50/50 this spring. Additional donations to help cover costs are greatly appreciated and tax deductible. Use the donate button on this page to donate by credit card. Checks should be made payable to The Caldwell Downtown Alliance and sent to 14 Forest Avenue, Caldwell, NJ 07006.

Project Main Street is a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization committed to preserving, protecting and nurturing the economic and cultural vitality of downtown Caldwell through the creation of public and private partnerships.  You are invited to join them in preserving Caldwell’s heritage while building our future through historical preservation, downtown beautification, and realizing a vision of downtown Caldwell as a pedestrian friendly center of community

Thank you for your support!

The Project Main Street Team.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It Takes a Community to Hang Flower Baskets

Project Main Street Volunteers Sara Robertson, Rick Ventola, Christy Berg, Kevin Macken, Tammy Wysocki, Alan Schindler and James Haas. 

This summer, beautiful baskets of cascading dragon wing begonias were hung on decorative wrought iron brackets along Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell.

What seemed to be a simple suggestion from Project Main Street volunteer Barbara Pucciarello was, in fact, no small project. It took an outstanding collaborative effort by a team of dedicated volunteers and an overwhelming show of support by local residents, merchants and government to turn her suggestion into reality.

With money raised through Project Main Street’s first Caldwell Beautification Dinner and 50/50 raffle in May, the organization’s Design Committee members worked to ensure that the money raised was returned to the community as promised. But, as they researched options, one question continually challenged the team – how would they water the flowers often enough to keep them flourishing throughout the hot summer months? 

Three local landscapers stepped up to the challenge. Rick Ventola of R. Ventola Landscaping, James Haas of The James R. Haas Landscape Spectrum and Kevin Macken of K. Macken Landscaping all volunteered their time to water and fertilize the flowers throughout the year.  All three men are long standing residents of Caldwell and cited their reasons as their love of this community and their desire to give something back. The landscapers follow a schedule set by Project Main Street volunteer Tammy Wysocki and use a 25 gallon rolling watering machine purchased by the nonprofit organization.

“This is an extraordinary effort by Ventola, Haas and Macken,” said Alan Schindler, Project Main Street Design Committee Chair. “Not only did they volunteer to do the bracket installation and hang the baskets for us, but they’ve been watering the flowers daily or every other day in this heat to keep them thriving. It’s a labor of love for the town of Caldwell. Project Main Street is extremely grateful to have them as volunteers.”

Schindler, along with Design Committee members Tammy Wysocki, Barb Pucciarello, Stephanie Kirsch, Alan and Diane Ryan, Lara Bechwati, Irene Cacciopoli and Christy Berg, did significant research to make the best decisions from both a financial and a design perspective. They selected the elegant begonia varietal for their visual impact, bloom longevity and drought tolerance.  The bracket design was selected to be congruous with the aesthetic of the lampposts and the feel of a historic downtown. The team walked Bloomfield Avenue to determine optimal placement, alternating poles to allow for banners hung throughout the year.  

The final step was gaining approval. Project Main Street worked with PSE&G to gain authorization to hang the baskets and American flags on their poles.  The Mayor and Council gave their unanimous approval for the project in a June council meeting.  Smiling warmly, Mayor Gartland thanked Project Main Street for their efforts, sharing that this was something she’s wanted in Caldwell for a long time.

After the first frost, the hanging baskets will be replanted with seasonal selections. And, next March, they’ll be planted and stored in a greenhouse until mid-May when they’ll be ready to grace Bloomfield Avenue again.

Funding for this project was made possible by the community’s support of Project Main Street’s Beautification Dinner and 50/50 raffle organized by volunteers Barbara Pucciarello, Teresa Akerson, Elisse Glennon, Karen Della Santi, Paula Sules, Carolyn O’Brien and Jerry Smith and through the tricky tray donations made by Caldwell’s merchants.

The event and outpouring of support for the initiative exceeded Project Main Street’s expectations.  Roseland resident Mary Collins summed it up as she purchased two raffle tickets to support Project Main Street’s efforts. “I consider this my downtown too. I grew up in Caldwell and I’m nostalgic for the days I could buy everything downtown,” said Collins. “I’m excited that someone’s working to make downtown more attractive. It will help keep the businesses going and help get some new stores open.”

Project Main Street, an initiative of the Caldwell Downtown Alliance, is a completely volunteer, non-profit and non-governmental organization working to restore Caldwell’s cultural and economic vitality collaboratively through public and private partnerships.  To learn more, share your ideas, become a volunteer or show your support, email, call 973-228-8900 or become a fan on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Local Landscapers Dig Deep and Give Back to Caldwell
By Diane Lilli

This is one time beauty is not skin deep.
A trio of volunteers who are taking off precious time from their busy season are kick starting a local beautification project in Caldwell.
Rick Ventola, Kevin Macken and James Haas are all up to their necks in dirt every day, but as local landscapers, are not afraid to give back to their community.
Though the summer heat may be stifling, it would take a lot more than a heat wave to stop these 3 guys. After all, they're on a mission.
"We are putting up brackets and baskets of flowers onto 35 light posts all along Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell," said Ventola, as he and Macken took a fast break from the heat to enjoy a lemonade at Rockin' Joes.
The three landscapers, though all in competition for local and non-local jobs, work well together.
"We work together all the time," noted Macken. "We also take care of the traffic islands in West Caldwell."
But this week, this dynamic trio is setting up the
colorful baskets of flowers donated by Caldwell's Project Main Street, a non-profit organization run by local residents.
"It's good to give back to our town," added Ventola.
Project Main Street, via fundraising, raised the money to buy brackets, baskets and flowers for display all along Bloomfield Avenue.
And, thinking ahead, they also reached to have these 3 landscapers install and then maintain the 35 plants.
Not only will the installation of the plants be free, so too will the watering.
"If you had to pay for the brackets and baskets being installed, and the maintainence and watering, it might cost a few thousand dollars," said Ventola.
If you would like to support these local landscapers, who truly embody the spirit of community service, give them a holler.
And, if you'd like to participate in Project Main Street's local efforts to help Caldwell thrive, email them at
As a resident here in Caldwell, I am deeply grateful for the volunteerism that is not only alive but prospering in our midst.
K.MACKEN LANDSCAPING: (973) 261-0198

Two local volunteers take a break from their outdoor work on a hot day in Caldwell. From left to right: Rick Ventola of R.Ventola Landscaping and Kevin Macken of K.Macken Landscaping.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Project Main Street volunteers install American Flags along Bloomfield Avenue

35 American flags now grace Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell.

The flags were purchased with money raised by Project Main Street, an all volunteer, nonprofit initiative of the Caldwell Downtown Alliance. The organization hosted a successful Caldwell Beautification dinner, tricky tray, and 50/50 on May 29, with the promise of returning 100% of the proceeds to the community. The flags will be followed by the installation of hanging flower baskets and other beautification projects to help enhance the beauty and charm of our downtown, attracting residents, neighbors and businesses to Caldwell.

“Raising a five foot flag is an emotional experience,” said Jerry Smith, Project Main Street President. “But raising over 30 flags for our community to share is overwhelming. Our Stars and Stripes are a timeless, yet constant reminder of who we are and where we belong. Our freedom has been made possible by our brothers and sisters who serve our country today and throughout the past two centuries to preserve our way of life.”

Jerry’s sentiment was shared by volunteers Alan and Diane Ryan, Barbara Pucciarello, Alan Schindler, and Christy Berg as the team began Friday morning at 5 a.m. and spent a full day assembling and installing the flags so that everyone could enjoy them in time for their July 4th celebrations.

While Project Main Street promotes their mission as “your avenue to a vibrant downtown”, the organization recognizes that this first step in their downtown beautification plans, took a community.  “I hope that as people look down Bloomfield Avenue and see these beautiful flags flying, they’re proud that they had a hand in their presence,” said Christy Berg, Project Main Street board member. “Whether someone helped us raise money, ran or supported our Beautification Dinner, gave the necessary approvals or rolled up their sleeves to work on this project, everyone’s contribution made a difference.”

To learn more or to become a Project Main Street volunteer, please email

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Project Main Street - Beauty and the Borough By Diane Lilli

It's been a wildly successful month for Caldwell's Project Main Street, also known as the CDA.
A few weeks ago, the not for profit organization hosted their food and wine pairing, and raised over $12,000.
Now, with money in their coffers, plans are underway to tackle the downtown Caldwell area from tip to tip, and spruce up the dull looking sidewalks with some local color.
At the council meeting in Caldwell Tuesday night, Project Main Street members Alan Schindler and Christy Berg asked borough for the okay to hang baskets onto 30 lamp posts in the borough.
A resolution, drafted on the spot, was passed unanimously.
These baskets are black wrought iron, with biodegradable material lining the inside.
"We plan to plant begonias in them now, but they'll need to be planted first into them and grow in a greenhouse for a few weeks," noted Schindler.
These plants will not just sit in soil, either. Instead, to maximize their potential for survival, they will be planted into a special gel mixture.
And don't think once the weather cools, these baskets will be stored away for another sunny day.
"In the fall, we plan to grow mums, and when it gets
cold, maybe we will plant holly or something else," added Schindler.
According to Berg and Schindler, local landscapers will also volunteer their time to water these plants three times a week.
Project Main Street Director Jerry Smith added the idea is to make sure the plants thrive.
"We don't want to plant all these beautiful flowers and then let them die," he said.
At the council meeting, there was plenty of slapstick humor as Berg, Schindler, and council members Joe Norton and Kay Slattery tried to hold up the heavy baskets for everyone to admire.
Norton is the chair of the newly re-launched Downtown Committee, and told the crowd that Caldwell will be presenting a new branding image along with a 2010 calendar with monthly activities, all geared towards revitalizing downtown.
Caldwell Mayor Sue Gartland, smiling at the baskets, said she's been waiting to see something like this for a long time.
The baskets will be put up the beginning of July.
Soon afterwards, about 25 banners should join them, on alternating poles lining Bloomfield Avenue.

Friday, June 4, 2010

When the Railroad left Caldwell

When the railroad leaves town: American communities in the 
age of rail line ... 
By Joseph P. Schwieterman

Click here to read the fascinating history of the demise of the railroad in Caldwell

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Your Avenue to a Vibrant Downtown

We all choose to live, dine, shop, do business, or worship in Caldwell for good reason – it’s a pretty special place.  We’re a village rich in history with a strong sense of community and pride.   Whether Caldwell is your home or your destination, this is your downtown, your “Main Street”.

But like many downtowns across the country, time is taking its toll on our charm and on our vitality.  Our age spots are starting to show through as peeling curbs and lampposts, dead and missing street trees, worn or dirty storefronts, and cigarette butts and graffiti around our bus stops.  As traffic increases and cars fail to make way for pedestrians, it makes it harder to cross the street and enjoy another shop. Some of our local businesses are struggling or closing, forcing us out of town for the amenities we want.

You can make a difference.  

It’s easy to complain and expect someone else to turn things around. But the truth is that no single entity – government, nonprofit, civic or religious organization, or other – can do this alone.  Case studies of successful revitalization efforts reach a common conclusion - it takes a community.  And with a community like Caldwell and our neighbors, it can be done.

With this absolute belief, the Caldwell Downtown Alliance launched “Project Main Street” earlier this year.  This completely volunteer, non-profit and non-governmental initiative is working to restore Caldwell’s cultural and economic vitality collaboratively through public and private partnerships. Project Main Street volunteers are your neighbors, your shopkeepers, and people like you who want to make a difference but aren’t sure how. Join us! Project Main Street is your avenue to a vibrant downtown.

While we’ll continue to work to bring you the Caldwell Farmer’s Market and wonderful community events like Winterland,  Project Main Street volunteers are rolling up our sleeves on many new efforts.  We’re raising money now to buy hanging flower baskets for our lampposts and implement other streetscape improvements beginning this summer. We’ve been working on signage guidelines and researching successful historic preservation efforts.  We’ve presented the NJ Complete Streets Program, a multi-faceted approach to a pedestrian friendly downtown, to our Mayor & Council for their consideration.  We’ve been actively involved in the plans to transform the borough green into a more usable space. We’re in the process of building a team to focus on attracting the right mix of businesses, cultural venues and the arts to Caldwell. And we’ve only just begun!

This August, Project Main Street will be sponsoring a “Caldwell Beautification Weekend” and we’d love to have you, your organization, business, house of worship, or school class join us! Help us build this effort from the ground up by sharing your ideas through one of our local papers, on our Project Main Street facebook page, on our blog:, by email or by calling 973-228-8900.  Help turn those ideas into reality by volunteering or rallying a team to take on a project.  Sponsor the event or donate supplies. Merchants and landlords - plan some improvements or host special events for that weekend. Together, we can make a difference!

Project Main Street… YOUR avenue to a vibrant downtown!

Tickets are still available for Project Main Street’s “Caldwell Beautification Dinner” on May 23 at Luce.  Treat yourself to a wonderful meal, fine wine, and great entertainment with your tax deductable contribution to this effort. 50/50 tickets will be available through May 22 at many downtown businesses, including: Saplings, Caldwell Flowerland, Rock n Joe, Smith & Co., D. Marie Home, David Chad Beauty Parlor, Bari's Baubles, Somewhere in Time, Fruit Basket King, Glow Salon, The Beauty Source, Minuteman Press, Coldwell Banker, Vila Meat, Caldwell Seafood and Luce Restaurant.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Case of the Missing Clock

On the corner of Bloomfield and Smull Avenues sits one of the architectural gems of downtown Caldwell. The present day Wachovia Bank building was constructed as "The Citizen's National Bank" in 1915, and was later expanded in 1926. This historic building is part of the identity of downtown Caldwell and is featured prominently in the mural (first and second images) that decorates the Caldwell Borough Council Chambers.

This building is remarkable for a number of reasons. Although the interior has been altered over the years, it remains the most spectacular and well preserved interior space in all of downtown Caldwell. Harking back to a time period when banks built stately edifices to convince a skeptical public of the stability of the banking industry and the security of their deposits, this incredible interior features two rows of imposing marble columns and an amazing stain glass ceiling.

Unfortunately, one of the most remarkable exterior features of this historic building is conspicuously absent. The ornate limestone clock that once graced the original front entrance has been apparently covered up for years, in it's place sits an awkward and unsightly concrete box (third and fourth images) that gives no clue to the architectural heritage that it crudely masks. It is reasonable to assume that the clock was covered up because it was in disrepair and was a expensive proposition to repair at the time.

About two months ago I walked past the missing clock and into the Wachovia Bank with the idea of convincing the bank to uncover and restore the missing clock. I explained to Michael Ricca, branch manager,  that I was sure there was a magnificent clock hidden beneath the the concrete box, and that uncovering it would be great thing for the bank to do for the community to help kick start the historic preservation efforts already underway. Not only was he receptive to the idea of uncovering the clock, he felt so strongly about the importance of Project Main Street's mission, that he voluntarily sponsored our application for a community grant through Wachovia Bank.

 Hopefully, one day soon, as you are sitting at the traffic light on the corner of Smull and Bloomfield Avenues, by chance you might glance out the car window and get a glimpse of a very special clock and realize what a rich architectural history we have here in Caldwell. If and when that day comes, we should all stop in and thank Michael Ricca and Wachovia Bank for caring about our community and helping to preserve our architectural heritage.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Livermore, CA-Great American Main Street Award Winner

This video has some wonder ideas that we could apply to Caldwell's downtown.

Just 43 miles east of San Francisco, Livermore, California--in the heart of wine country--has become a destination in its own right. The slogan for Downtown Livermore: Live, Shop, Play, and Dine rings true as it boasts having 119 shops, 51 restaurants, and 20 arts and entertainment venues. Exciting annual festivals and regular events make visiting and living in Livermore a truly enjoyable experience. Tuesday Tunes starts the summer with free concerts in the plaza. The weekly farmers market brings family-friendly entertainment downtown, and the turnout is always strong for Thirsty Thursday—a monthly wine tasting that features local vineyards. More than 150,000 flock to downtown for the two-day Livermore Wine Country Festival, a celebration of all things local, from crafts to wine to olive oil.

Enter Main Street:

Tuesday's Tunes bring the community together in the fresh air to enjoy live music downtown in a family-friendly setting.

Credit: Livermore Downtown, Inc.

The pulse of downtown Livermore has not also been so strong, however. When Livermore Downtown, Inc., the local Main Street revitalization program, was formed in 1986, the historic business district was sagging. The stifling effects of suburban sprawl and a busy, four-lane highway that channeled speeding cars through downtown had taken a toll. The city recognized that this roadway was a detriment to foot traffic and an obstacle to revitalization. A $12.5 million roadway and public spaces improvements project transformed the highway into a moderate two-lane road that is lushly landscaped. A public plaza and space for outdoor dining further invites the community to park the car, enjoy the sights and stay for awhile.

Evidence of Livermore Downtown, Inc.'s revitalization success is plentiful. Special events, merchant promotions and volunteer participation have helped create a buzz downtown that thrives on the city's beauty, its agricultural heritage and rich wine-making tradition. Its eclectic selection of restaurants and retail shops keep residents and visitors alike interested on a year-round basis.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Decades of Auto Centric Planning is Slowly Killing Downtown Caldwell-It's time to choose!

Click Poster to Enlarge

The presentation below is in response to Essex County's planned expansion of Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell. The plan calls for a new signal at the Westville Avenue and Roseland Avenue intersection. We support this idea. However, Project Main Street believes that some of the changes being made are extremely detrimental to the economic and social fabric of downtown Caldwell. The proposed expansion of Bloomfield Avenue between Personette Street and Forest Avenue to five lanes and the elimination of 16 parking spaces, continues the outdated auto centric policies of the past.

We have an alternative vision of Caldwell that we shared with Mayor, Council, and Essex County Department of Public Works officials. The atmosphere was extremely positive and we were encouraged by the thoughtful questions asked by the Mayor and Council. The future of Caldwell is our hands. Do we add a lane of speeding traffic and lose 16 parking spaces in the process, or do we envision downtown Caldwell as a vibrant village, the heart of our community, a place we call home?

On Tuesday, March 23rd we made the following presentation on behalf of the citizens of Caldwell.

Please click on this link to view presentation

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creating a Pedestrian Friendly Downtown Caldwell

We live in a auto centric society and this paradigm is destroying the social and economic fabric of small towns across America. We face this same threat in Caldwell today. Our vision of Caldwell as a pedestrain friendly center of community where people stroll downtown to shop, eat, and socialize is under attack by an archaic mindset that favors moving traffic through town as efficienty as possible at the expense of the vision of Caldwell as a village. Bloomfield Avenue is not Route 46. Caldwell residents are not concerned about the convience of poeple who are traveling through our downtown in order to get to work ten minutes quicker. We need a paradigm shift. Morristown for example has many mid block crosswalks that are clearly marked and the result is that a mother with two small children in tow, can cross the street in many places without the fear of being mowed down.
The images above were taken on South Street in Morristown. Notice, in the top image, how three cars stopped to let the pedestrian cross. I stopped to ask a policeman why and how Morristown set up all these mid-block cross walks. He told me,"it's important to the town to make Morristown pedestrian friendly, otherwise no one would come downtown", he continued, "and we give out tickets to drivers who violate a pedestrians right of way and it's a three point ticket at that, eventually people catch on". I was also informed that "there is a state grant available to pay police overtime to enforce compliance in the area of pedestrian safety." So, the next time you are trying to cross Bloomfield Avenue, imagine what our wonderful town could become with just a few small changes. Do we want to live in a village or on a highway? It's not about cars, it's about people.

Ridgewood is another successful downtown that has made many changes in order to maintain the small town character that is so important to residents. At Ridgewood High School the students produced a video entitled " Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25"

Just a modest decrease in motor vehicle speed can mean
a dramatic increase in survival rates in pedestrian-vehicle
crashes. For pedestrians, even drivers traveling beneath
the legal speed limit can present a lethal threat. If a
pedestrian is hit by a vehicle that is traveling 20 mph, the
pedestrian survival rate is 95 percent. This drops to 60
percent at 30 mph, and just 20 percent at 40 mph.

Research shows that wide, straight roads and long sight
distance encourage higher travel speeds and therefore
lead to increased fatalities and injuries. Yet traffic
engineering models tend to favor fast-moving roadways
over slower ones

Designing for Safe Streets
Narrower streets, street tress and mature tree canopy, on-street parking, buildings located close to
the sidewalk, raised crosswalks, and reducing the number and width of lanes can reduce traffic
speeds, and thus reduce crash rates and traffic fatalities. To improve the pedestrian environment,
many cities have embraced these design

Monday, March 1, 2010

Conversations on The Green-Anna Young's Report, Finding The Vision

Please read Landscape Architect Anna Young's report on how to approach the creation of a vision for our Green and Library expansion. For further reading please refer to other "Conversations on The Green" posts. Your comments are welcome and your feedback is essential.

Click below to read Anna's report
Finding the Vision-by Anna Young, LLC, CLA, Senior Landscape Architect at Dewberry

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Conversations on The Green- The Library- Imagine the Possibilities!

"Imagine, for instance, a park bordered on one side by a commercial street and on another by a public library. These urban elements work together to form a single place, yet in a typical downtown that area would likely be managed by a number of public entities. Instead of a unified approach to the place, several different city agencies employ a piecemeal approach, each operating within the boundaries of its professional discipline.
But if we look upon these elements as interrelated components of a single place, we create more opportunities for local people and different public entities to jointly create a vision of what's best for the downtown. How can the street, park, library, and businesses support and strengthen each other? What do business owners, library employees, and residents envision for the area? By actively observing and listening to the people who live or work or play in the area, the answers to what the place needs will become apparent."- Project for Public Spaces

"Imagine that same square situated next to a public library: the doors open right unto the square; people sit outside and read on the steps; maybe the children's reading room has a outdoor space right on the square"- Project for Public Spaces

"Parks and libraries are natural partners. Both represent "the commons." They are our public space and we hold them together, and they're our collective responsibility. They're part of the underlying urban infrastructure- as important as the bridges and the roads and the housing. They promote civic participation; they foster local identity, and they both offer recreational, educational and social engagement opportunities."- Diantha D. Schull, Executive Director, Libraries for the Future

Monday, February 22, 2010

Conversations on The Green: The Caldwell Green has not fulfilled its potential.

This is the first of many posts that will explore the intriguing past and promising future of our Town Green. A few weeks ago, Anna Young, the chief landscape architect of The Morristown Green Renovation, was kind enough to give an informational presentation to The Green Committee, The Caldwell Library, Mayor Gartland, and council members Ann Dassing and Joe Norton.

The following is from Anna Young's presentation: (the images on the left are the Caldwell Green and the images on the right are the Morristown Green)

The Caldwell Green has not fulfilled its potential. Today it is just the shoulder of a busy county road and the border of a parking garage. Improvements can make it a community space that is integrated with the library, proudly embraces its history, and provides a place of respite from our busy lives.

Improvements to the Green should replace this view into the belly of the garage with human scale features. We need to capitalize on the adjacent Community Center and parking as an asset to the Green rather than a liability. Thoughtful placement of seating and reconfigured park space can create an irresistible place to sit.
Improvements to the Green should be designed to bring back Caldwell’s rich history and set the stage for community celebrations.

Carefully placed walkways create an experience while linking destinations.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Join the Conversation!

Give us your thoughts on how to make downtown Caldwell a better place.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Downtown - For Today and for Tomorrow

Memorial Day Parade, Caldwell NJ
Welcome friends and neighbors! Something exciting is happening in Caldwell that will benefit all of us in town and in our surrounding communities!

Project Main Street is a nonprofit, non-governmental, community volunteer organization. We’ll be working to preserve our heritage while building the future of our downtown through historic preservation, beautification, green space, and pedestrian friendly projects. We’ll be hosting community events and forming partnerships that will establish a true “center of community” – a destination for our neighbors and new businesses alike.

We’d love you, your family members and friends to join us and have a true voice – by sharing your vision, ideas and opinions on this new blog, by keeping up to date on events and initiatives by becoming a fan on Facebook, or by volunteering your time or talent to one of our committees. Together we will build the future of our downtown by choice, not by chance.

Help us make a difference by joining the conversation or volunteering. Here’s how:

1) Become a fan of Project Main Street on Facebook to keep up to date and add your thoughts. Just click on the Facebook icon at the bottom of the blog to connect.

2) Become a public follower of this blog to share your ideas and opinions:
- On the bottom right of the page, click the “follow” button
- A box will open, prompting you to log in using your account (or create one free)
- Promote the site, inviting your contacts to become followers. Once you’ve become a follower, another box will open prompting you to add email addresses to invite others to join

3) Comment on blog posts and encourage others to do so. Interaction is important. Consider this YOUR blog.
- At the end of a post, click the word “comment”
- Type your comment. Click “preview” to proofread. Click “post comment” to submit
- Bookmark the site. Visit often. Read the posts and people’s comments. Engage in an on-line dialogue on the topic and comments.

4) Become a volunteer for a project or a committee. Email

5) Please forward this  to others in The Caldwells and our neighboring towns!

What changes would you like to see in downtown Caldwell over the next few years? Please comment below!

Thank you for your support!