Newton council continues SID discussion
Subcommittee to visit other communities with districts
by Alley Shubert
NEWTON — Talk of a special improvement district became a hot topic among members of the Newton Town Council and guests of the public last month, as the council unanimously rejected an ordinance to have a special improvement district for Spring Street.
But on July 28 the topic resurfaced during open discussion.
A Special Improvement District subcommittee with five members including Mayor Kevin Elvidge, Deputy Mayor Dan Flynn, Town Manager Tom Russo, and merchants Teresa Iliff and Dan Hayek, has recently been formed with the intentions of revitalizing Spring Street.
“We have things in town that other people seek,” Elvidge said.
Newton currently has a 30 percent vacancy rate, and the town has been researching ways they can attract others to move to the historical location, which features a theatre, community college, churches, restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores, and a hospital all within walking distance.
Several ideas for signage, benches, safety, improved lighting, and sanitation issues derived from previous visits to Morristown and Red Bank, both communities that have had success by having a SID subcommittee of their own.
“We came back with a lot of exciting ideas,” said Councilwoman Kristen Becker. “It was not a total failure. There is a lot of failure before success. I think we are progressing in a lot of ways.”
Music festivals, arts and craft shows, holiday events, and others were all mentioned as ideas to attract people to Newton.
“I believe in what you are doing and I am very excited,” Iliff told the council, who will be among the group visiting Westfield this month to gain further knowledge on how to improve Newton.
Iliff told a story of a parent who dropped off her children at her daycare, Camp Iliff.
The parent was a commuting student at Sussex County Community College and when she graduated with an Associates Degree, she asked Iliff if she knew of any apartments for rent.
“She told me she was going to stay in the town because she liked the idea of living close to the stores and places she needed to be,” Iliff said.
Newton is already in the works with the New Jersey Department of Transportation for revamping Spring Street to create a one-way intersection and to use the extra space as a parking lot, which will also include 25 additional parking spaces.
“We want it to be successful for ourselves, our town, and everyone who lives here,” Elvidge said.
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