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Nutley Joins Main Street Program to Boost Business

Commissioners are joining a state program that offers help in revitalizing Franklin Avenue downtown business district.

Nutley was accepted into Main Street New Jersey last year to help revitalize the Franklin Avenue downtown area, and now one commissioner wants to see the plans move forward.

Commissioner Thomas Evans, the director of the Department of Revenue and Finance, said, "The essence of the program is that services are available from the state, and we have to come up with a plan to revitalize the downtown."

"It affects the whole town, so each department should have their own input," he said at a meeting in June. "Once we have a plan, we can determine what actions we will take. It's really a five- to 10-year process."

Main Street New Jersey is operated by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in New Jersey, the website states.

Two major areas that the plan would include are beautifying the town's parks and improving the "streetscape," which is the look of downtown businesses, from sidewalks to lights to signage and the look of the buildings' facades, Evans said.

"We need to start identifying ways to balance the needs of businesses and residents," Evans said. "We've been saying we were going to do this - it's time to do it."

He told the commissioners to look through the Main Street New Jersey information and then they will talk as the summer goes along. Any changes must include input from the planning board, Evans said.

Main Street New Jersey has a four point approach, from organization, to economic restructuring, then to design and promotion, according to Evans.

Evans said a committee of residents, members of board like planning and zoning, civic groups like the Elks and the Nutley Community Preservation Partnership, and local Chamber of Commerce merchants have to meet regularly with town department leaders to guide planning.

New municipalities are picked every two years to join the program, and Nutley was included in December.

The website states that the communities receive valuable technical support and training to assist in restoring their Main Streets as centers of community and economic activity. Other communities joining in Main Street New Jersey include Millburn and Montclair in Essex County.

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