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Yes. The lack of senior housing or an ability for our residents to age in place has been an ongoing discussion point. It is very important that any discussion of residential or mixed use development includes consideration of age-restricted housing. It is an unmet need of our community and will help ensure that our residents wishing to continue to enjoy all Millburn has to offer after a “downsize,” have an option to do so.
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This plan differs from other plans by not focusing on a particular outcome. The outcomes or recommendations of this plan will be largely determined by input from public participation and the Township’s hired consultant, Perkins Eastman. Previous efforts focused on redevelopment or traffic; this plan is meant to provide a path towards a reimagined downtown area. The plan will also provide a guide on how to implement the outlined vision. With concepts that can be categorized as short, medium and long-term, it will provide specific changes that can be accomplished by the Township. Implementation of plan recommendations can be outlined like a strategic plan, with milestone dates set for pursuing a particular outcome. Some recommendations will be quicker than others depending on complexity. For example, recommendations for zoning changes can move faster than a proposed River walk concept.
Unfortunately, vacancies are not just limited to “Upper Millburn Avenue.” We understand that there is a need to re-envision other areas of the Township; however, the Township had to choose an area to start. Any success in the downtown vision plan will encourage similar studies elsewhere, inclusive of “Upper Millburn Avenue”.
The vision plan will not have a direct impact on schools. School officials have been part of this process to determine any concerns or needs of the district. In particular, Middle School, High School and Washington School officials have all been directly interviewed by Perkins Eastman, because of their proximity to and student usage of the downtown. If there are any recommendations for development, residential or commercial, the Township will carefully weigh any potential impact on the school system.
The Township Committee will review proposed concepts advanced through the vision plan, and prioritize those which would have a direct and beneficial impact to the area. Once this is determined, and cost estimates are produced, a determination of how these efforts can be financed will be made. The type of financing will largely be determined by the type of work and overall cost. Financing options include short-term bond anticipation notes, long-term financing, and financing sought via commercial or mixed used development. Grants may also be applicable to much of the proposed work. For example, bike paths or green infrastructure could be financed through grants focused to advance these types of projects.
There are three ways that construction disruptions can be mitigated;
There may be other methods to reduce construction disruption and increase communication with Downtown businesses and the residential community.
A Master Plan document tends to provide overarching high-level goals for a municipality. For example, a Master Plan may identify “increased pedestrian and bike mobility in the Downtown” as a goal. This vision plan will suggest that a bike lane can be placed on Essex Street with increased connectivity between the parking deck and Millburn Avenue by wayfinding and moving the pedestrian crosswalk on Essex Street, as an example.