Redevelopment, taxes on Spadoro’s ’04 agenda

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

EDISON — In his annual State of the Township address, Mayor George A. Spadoro said redevelopment is at the top of the township’s agenda in 2004.

The mayor spoke on Jan. 26 at an event at the Clarion Hotel on Route 27 which was hosted by the Edison Chamber of Commerce.

During his speech, Spadoro also reviewed what he saw as the highlights of 2003.

One of the most important accomplishments of 2003 was the completion of the township’s master plan, Spadoro said.

"As I promised in last year’s address to you, this master plan attacks suburban sprawl, utilizing smart-growth planning strategies," Spadoro said.

The plan promises "sensible future development in our community," the mayor said.

Spadoro cited the improvements on Amboy Avenue in the Clara Barton neighborhood as an example of smart growth in action.

He said that the area allows for mixed uses with both residential units and businesses.

The master plan will also ease the efforts to redevelop large sites such as the defunct Revlon site on Route 27 or the soon to be empty Ford site on Route 1, the mayor said.

Spadoro announced that plans for a new civic center on the 1-million-square-foot Revlon site will be presented to the Township Council and the Planning Board next month.

"The smart-growth civic center development will include a pedestrian friendly Main Street stretching from Vineyard Road to Talmadge Road, comprised of small shops with residential living above these shops, senior and age-restricted housing and significant open space.

"It will also be the site of a new, state-of-the-art main library branch for south Edison. And to fulfill the dreams of tens of thousands of Edison residents who support the arts, the construction of the Edison performing arts center," Spadoro said.

In the next few weeks, a timetable will be announced for the redevelopment of the 104-acre Ford site on Route 1, according to the mayor.

Spadoro said he hopes to see mixed-use development including commercial, retail, office, entertainment and recreational uses on the site.

The mayor cited the sale of the former Frigidaire plant on Route 27 to a new business, Victoria Classics, which promises to bring 200 jobs to the area as an accomplishment of 2003.

"Route 1 and Route 27 are Edison’s most visible arterials and they should be redeveloped into showcase corridors," Spadoro said.

The mayor also cited the township’s plans to redevelop land along the Raritan River, including a portion of the site of the former Raritan Arsenal and some "dilapidated businesses."

The riverfront that Spadoro envisions includes "a seaport village with a commuter ferry service, boardwalk, marina, science center, restaurants, a limited number of residential units and close to a thousand acres of active and passive open space," he said.

The township hopes that the first phase of the development, which includes a walking and bicycle path, will begin in 2004.

Parks and township-owned open space have been getting a face lift because of the township’s park improvement plans, Spadoro said.

In 2003, the township made improvements to Oak Tree and Eighth Avenue tennis courts, Paterniti Park, Yelencsics Park and Shamrock Field.

In 2004, Elder Park, Ellmyer Park, Lindquist Park, Capestro Park, Idlewild Park, and Papiani Park will be renovated. During the summer, the Oak Tree Pond Park will open to the public for the first time.

Safety in the township is a priority of the mayor and the administration, Spadoro said.

"Incidents like that tragic apartment fire [at the Northridge complex on Jan. 23] only serve to reinforce my resolve to continue our aggressive public safety agenda," Spadoro said. "Therefore, I commit by June 30 of 2004 to hire eight new firefighters and plan to hire six new police officers by the end of this year."

In 2003, the township hired seven police officers and six firefighters, the mayor said.

Spadoro also noted that the first volunteers on the Civilian Emergency Response Team program graduated this month.

The township also implemented a reverse 911 system to get information out to the citizens quickly, he said.

By the end of 2004, the township plans to run its own 24-hour AM radio station to "quickly disseminate real-time information to our residents and businesses in times of emergency," he said.

"For the fourth year in a row, New Jersey’s Uniform Crime Statistics Report continued to show a decrease in violent and non-violent crime in Edison," Spadoro noted.

The township is hoping to reduce the amount of traffic by promoting the Edison Light Transit bus service, repaving roads and installing traffic lights and traffic calming devises, such as speed humps or small decorative traffic circles, he said.

There will also be a comprehensive curb and sidewalk study and a study on the township’s 50-year-old sewer infrastructure done in 2004.

Spadoro said he is proud of his administration’s fiscal responsibility.

"I pledge to the residents of Edison that in the 2004 budget, to be introduced this summer, I will, absent extraordinary circumstances, propose no increase in the municipal tax rate," Spadoro said.