Street planter in Fanwood
I took my first train trip Thursday since having major surgery in June. Mostly I have been sticking close to home, but I was desperate for a haircut at Fanwood Clipper and decided to take my chances. Thanks to Esther for welcoming me back and creating a nice " 'do."
So then I decided to walk to Fanwood Animal Hospital to pick up the special food Mau needs since he developed digestive troubles. I got the big eight-pound bag and stowed it in my L.L. Bean tote. It was too close to 2:34 p.m. to catch the train back in Fanwood, so I started walking toward the Netherwood station.
It was also my first chance to see South Avenue since hearing that C-Town moved out.
Plainfield Beauty Supply
Yes, half the old Foodtown site is now occupied by Plainfield Beauty Supply. These signs struck me as rather garish and maybe a bit too large, but I guess it's hard to catch the eye of drivers on South Avenue.
A Fine Fare supermarket is now in the east end of the building.
I think both of these businesses had been located elsewhere in Plainfield, so it is a shift rather than a gain of new enterprise in the city.
This was one of several "for sale" signs along the South Avenue corridor, where new residential development is expected.
At a recent Planning Board meeting, Planning Director Bill Nierstedt emphasized that the park between South Avenue and the Old South Avenue right-of-way will not be affected by the proposed redevelopment.
As someone mentioned at the candidates' forum Tuesday, this building across from the Netherwood train station is being renovated without any room for parking. I could not recall this application and will have to visit the Planning Division to find out the details.
Well, my plan to catch the 2:37 train at Netherwood did not work out. It went by as I was passing Walgreen's, so I went back there for a bit of shopping. Then back to the train station to wait for a taxi.
Back at Park & Seventh, I was wondering how things will work out for the new owner of the big former office building on the southwest corner. The South Avenue corridor, Park & Seventh and the downtown are all part of the Special Improvement District, in which property owners pay an extra tax which supports amenities in the SID. Things are happening in all three parts, but Park & Seventh has certain conditions that could have a negative effect on redevelopment. There is a large number of so-called "street" people who are out at all hours, often yelling and arguing. Last week, I was out in the yard one afternoon when a police car came up the driveway with lights flashing. The officer at the wheel asked me whether I had seen someone running down our driveway.
I had been sort of thinking about the garden, which suffered a lot of damage from the severe winter and then neglect while I was recuperating from my surgery. No, I had my back to the driveway and did not see anyone. The officer said there had been a stabbing nearby and one person ran toward East Sixth while the other ran in our direction.
I suddenly remembered my garage with all my garden equipment was open, but before I could ask the officer to check it, she took off. I hailed another officer, luckily one I knew, and he checked both the driveway and our hallway, which was accessible because workers had left the front door propped wide open. He found no one, but I cut my ruminations on gardening short and went inside for the rest of the afternoon.
Whenever I mention Park & Seventh issues, the first response is that the Park Hotel must be involved. But from what I see, it is the large number of street people, including drug dealers, homeless, petty criminals, squatters and substance abusers who are affecting the quality of life at Park & Seventh. The first thing the new owner had to do after acquiring the former office building was to roust the squatters out. Next was dealing with the totally trashed interior, where all valuable metal had been removed.
Having lived on Block 832 for 22 years now, I hope the new owner can revive the building. I remember when there was a nice place to have lunch right across from that building. The Masonic building on the opposite corner had professional offices and is still a meeting place for Mason groups. In fact, there was a large meeting the day of all the cop action last week.
My hope is that while welcoming new development, city officials will address some of the chronic quality of life problems that seem to be more evident around Park & Seventh than in the downtown or on South Avenue. For example, vagrants have been sleeping on a lawyer's porch and using the premises to relieve themselves. The bench on the northwest corner had to be removed due to people drinking, cursing and fighting, so bus patrons have no place to sit. Ask any merchant what they would like to see improved at Park & Seventh.
South Avenue and the downtown are showing the beginnings of major change. Why not Park & Seventh as well?