Residents Brainstorm Businesses To Bring To Mahwah
Group talks about which types of businesses the township would like to attract, and where
About 30 Mahwah residents tried to help figure out the best ways to keep the local area’s 1.2 billion spending dollars in the township at a public meeting last week about the township's Sustainable Economic Development Plan.
According to Darlene Green of planner Maser Consulting, who is helping put together the SEDP as part of the township's conformance with the Highlands Act, in 2011, residents in the 3.5-mile radius surrounding Macarthur Boulevard spent $1.2B on retail goods. Residents gathered last week to brainstorm how more of that money could be spent in Mahwah.
“Mahwah has been given a $20,000 grant [by the New Jersey Highlands Council] to put this plan together,” Green explained. “It was one of the few towns chosen to get the grant, which means the Highlands recognizes Mahwah as a center for economic development.”
The SEDP attempts to determine ways to increase the local tax base, provide new employment opportunities, and improve the overall economic and social sustainability of the community, in an environmentally-conscious way, Maser representatives said. In addition to statistical and mapping data, the consulting company has been soliciting resident and business-owner feedback through online surveys to add to the report.
“We need to know what the people who live and work here want to see,” Green said at last Thursday night’s in-person brainstorming session, held in the township’s senior center.
In and around Mahwah, each household spent an average of over $53,000 on retail goods in 2011, Green said. Some types of businesses are what she called “saturated” in the township, or prevalent and bringing in a good chunk of that spending money – like car dealerships, gas stations, and home furnishing stores.
Green used Neilson data to identify the types of retail developments Mahwah is lacking by identifying where people go when they leave the township to shop. Mahwah’s “growth gaps,” she said, exist in developments like general merchandise retail centers (like Costco and Target), grocery stores and limited-service restaurants.
Residents were asked to identify which, if any, of these development types they'd like to see come to the township, and how Mahwah could better utilize the assets it already has to pull in more money.
The residents were asked to focus on development along two major roadways in the township – Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike. They were asked to identify areas of those roadways they like, areas they'd like to see changed, and where they'd like to see reatil, industrial, technological, health center, tourism or other types of developments built.
In the survey data collected from locals so far, Green said people in Mahwah have classified Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike as “ugly,” and “inconsistent.”
"We don't want that," she said. "So, we are looking for ways to make the area more viable, safe and attractive."
The data collected from the public meeting and the surveys will be incorporated into the final draft of the SEDP, which will be presented to residents at a future public hearing before it is submitted to the Highlands Council, Green said.