This morning, Maplewood Township elected officials, municipal workers, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and the Columbia High School Marching Band celebrated ten years of local control and $10 million in improvements on the 2.5 miles of Springfield Avenue in Maplewood.
Ten years ago, the Township of Maplewood took over jurisdiction of Springfield Avenue — a part of New Jersey State Highway Route 124 that runs through Maplewood from Irvington in the east to Union in the west — from the State of New Jersey.
It's an idea that Mayor Vic DeLuca's opponents have criticized but one that DeLuca and proponents of Springfield Avenue have lauded.
The idea of taking over jurisdiction, according to DeLuca, was to gain control of the avenue to "create a more attractive shopping district, fostering a sense of place where residents and visitors could shop, dine and enjoy." The vision also included erasing the image of Springfield Avenue as a "dividing line" in the community.
Over the past ten years, the town has brought $10 million dollars of improvements to Springfield Avenue — 60% of it through federal, state and county funds and 40% through local taxes. The town has narrowed the road to two lanes while adding bumpouts, crosswalks and a central turning lane. The sidewalks have been replaced and bricked over in nodes. Pedestrian streetlamps have been added, as have planters and trash receptacles. The Springfield Avenue Partnership has been responsible for maintaining plantings and landscaping and receives an annual contribution from the town on top of its own assessment to beautify, program and foster economic development on the avenue.
Today, residents and business owners enjoyed the parade. Alethea Johnson, owner of Fantasy Hair, says she has been operating her salon on the avenue for 20 years. She said that the improvement to the avenue in the last 10 years were "fabulous!"
The avenue has seen the loss of businesses in the economic downturn since 2008, but has seen others open. Major developments — including the new police headquarters and municipal court andWalgreens — have also come to the avenue. MayFest on Springfield Avenue has become an annual rite of spring in town.
Mayor Vic DeLuca — who was also mayor ten years ago when the agreement was signed with the State of New Jersey — says that a parade took place then. He felt that it would be fitting to have another parade to mark the tenth anniversary.
The Springfield Avenue Partnership • P.O. Box 1294
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040
Phone: (973) 763-6011 • Fax: (973) 763-0300 • email@example.com