JSA students see the bright future planned for downtown SPF

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Andrew Villardi

JSA students were delighted to meet with Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith on Thursday, October 18th. Having first met with JSA students in October of 2016 when he was still running for mayor, Smith came not only to educate the students on the working of our local government, but also came to display to the students the progress he has made as mayor, and specifically on the plans he has made for the highly anticipated renovation of downtown.

During his campaign for mayor in 2016, Smith gained a lot of buzz among locals for his ambitious plans to renovate Scotch Plains into a commercial hub akin to downtown Westfield and to many JSA students, Smiths presentation displayed perfect delivery on his promises to Scotch Plains residents.

 Starting off the presentation was Tom Strowe, the Project Coordinator for Redevelopment. A Scotch Plains local and a JSA veteran himself. Strowe stressed to students the hard work and passion he has put into this project.

β€œIt is an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of my hometown as their Project Coordinator for Redevelopment,” said Strowe in an interview with TAPinto. β€œI am eager to work to make a positive contribution to downtown redevelopment.”

Strowe also stressed that although plans are largely finished, he wants community members to continue contributing ideas.

The plans for downtown are huge and seek to expand parking space, public space, low-income housing, and space for more commercial enterprises. Among other things, Smith was excited to announce a new parking garage that will likely be built in the parking lot behind Alfonso’s Pizzeria. The new parking garage will have charging stations for rechargeable cars, and a green roof style garden on top of it. Smith hopes that by opening up more space for parking, he can create more public space. In the parking lot between Darby Road and the municipal building, he unveiled plans to turn it into a public square, where a new library and multiple stores will be available to visit.

Smith hopes that with some aid from the state, and with some increase on taxes, Scotch Plains will be able to begin work on the redevelopment plan by 2019.