Kurt Kiley is a resident of Maplewood, and is a candidate for Maplewood Township Committee.
The post office property redevelopment is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Maplewood. Surrounded by a thriving neighborhood of unique shops, apartments with turn-of-the century charm and green space, a well-planned development could be the centerpiece of our community.
The proper mix of retail, residential, and office space that complements the village vibe will not only build pedestrian traffic, but will attract families, visitors and businesses to our area and grow the economy.
There are signs that the Township Committee’s plans for the Maplewood Post Office project are in trouble. In June, the anchor tenant Kings Supermarket withdrew from the project. The co-developer, Walter Bilder partners, withdrew in the beginning of September citing the loss of Kings Supermarket and health reasons. Finally, the designated developer L&M withdrew as well.
Yet the township continues to press forward with the project as it is.
In the Village Green article of September 23, 2014, it was stated we could lose retail businesses, shops and restaurants, in concessions to the new developer. It’s uncertain what else will be lost in an attempt to satisfy the needs of the new developer, which will be required to work with the existing plans.
A series of public meetings on the post office development indicated that residents wanted more of the things that enhance their quality of life—interesting shopping, dining and living experiences.
These are the very things we risk giving up.
The Township Committee’s haste to build an uninspiring apartment building could irreparably harm what could be the crown jewel of Maplewood Village.
It’s clear that now—more than ever—we urgently need to take a step back and reexamine the plan and its potential long-term impact on this community. We need leadership with a fresh perspective, a strategic approach and open, transparent processes to create a development that will benefit everyone.
A vibrant downtown doesn’t just fall into place. It takes vision and strategy.
We can do this.
Towns like Westfield, Montclair and Morristown are developing bustling, pedestrian-friendly downtowns that offer exciting places to live, work and play.
Maplewood should be no different; we shouldn’t be accepting anything less.