HOPEWELL BOROUGH: ‘Great Street’: Planners, officials tour the town

By Ruth Luse, Managing Editor
   On Saturday, planners from across the state joined Hopewell Borough officials and community stakeholders for a walking tour of the community.
   The tour focused on town history and the more recent revitalization efforts that helped Hopewell Borough achieve its status as a “Great Place in New Jersey” last fall.
   Broad Street was named a “Great Street” by the APA-NJ Great Places Committee in 2012.
   ”I want to extend my thanks for the generous hospitality you and the other borough officials showed to members of the American Planning Association — New Jersey Chapter attending yesterday’s event,” Linda E. Wills, AICP/PP chairwoman, Great Places in New Jersey, said in a Sunday email message to borough officials.
   ”Your successful revitalization of Broad Street can certainly inspire any community looking to create its own great places. I hope to return soon to spend time at the Brick Farm Market and visit some of the other shops and restaurants that beckoned to me as I drove along Broad Street. With thanks, and again, congratulations,” she added.
   Back in the fall of 2012, Hopewell Borough officials learned that Broad Street (Route 518) had become a “Great Place in New Jersey.”
   The street was given that designation by the American Planning Association’s New Jersey Chapter (APA-NJ).
   ”The Great Places award is an honor and a tribute to past and present local officials and community members, who worked to develop a long-term vision for our downtown area,” said Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano at the time.
   ”Hopewell has a strong sense of community that is on display every day up and down Broad Street. Our history is preserved, our unique character is showcased, and there’s a vibrancy and friendliness in town that both welcomes visitors and protects the small town feel for our residents,” he added.
   ”Through sound planning and the combined efforts of local officials, business owners, and residents, the Borough of Hopewell has retained Broad Street’s historic character while ushering it into a new era of market demand for a return to past development patterns,” said APA-NJ President Charles Latini Jr., AICP. “The revitalization of Broad Street is particularly important because it demonstrates that the walkable communities of the past are indeed our future . . . Broad Street is among eight special and unique places around New Jersey,” Mr. Latini noted.
   ”We were fortunate to receive funding assistance from two federal Transportation Enhancement grants for the streetscape improvement project through the New Jersey Department of Transportation,” said Council President David Knights.
   ”These grants enabled the borough to implement the streetscape plan that has made Broad Street an attractive, pedestrian-friendly destination that features our local businesses,” Mr. Knights said.
   The “Great Places in New Jersey” program recognizes “unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces — three essential, but not exclusive components of exceptional communities. “These places have been shaped by forward-thinking planning that promotes community involvement, showcases diverse architectural styles, and fosters economic opportunity,” said a APA-NJ spokesman.
   LOTS OF WORK went into getting this designation for Broad Street. Administrator/Clerk Michele Hovan wrote the text for the nominating document, which said, in part: “Originally settled in the early 1700s and later incorporated in 1891, Hopewell Borough today remains one of New Jersey’s most quaint and historic treasures.
   ”The magic that is Broad Street was no accident. It has been, in fact, a concerted effort by town officials, business owners and residents to retain the character, charm and historic integrity of the borough while helping to usher it into a new era. Sound planning was critical. Community commitment was absolute. The result is impressive — and particularly so since the transformation largely occurred within the past decade, a decade in which demographically similar towns witnessed the closing of businesses and the loss of valuable ratables.
   ”Hopewell Borough has weathered the economic storm remarkably well. Not only have investors and entrepreneurs thrived, but residents have welcomed visitors and new neighbors with improvements and accelerated maintenance of their own properties. The pride that was real, but somewhat contained not so many years ago, is now revived and in full bloom, much like the flowers that now adorn the planters throughout the center of town.
   ”Broad Street today is a destination in itself, particularly in the center of town,” she wrote.
   ”From east to west, from Elm to Mercer and tucked in side streets and pockets of town in between, the excitement and pride for Hopewell Borough has never been stronger. We’ve realized goals entirely consistent with our Master Plan for development and we’ll never be done,” she added.
   . “Time will bring new challenges, but our focus to maintain the quality of life Hopewell Borough residents expect and deserve will be unwavering. We welcome first-time visitors and invite all to return again and again. Broad Street, with its excellent restaurants and shops and unique character, is a ‘Great Place in NJ’ indeed,” the administrator/clerk said.