Monday, September 10, 2007

Now Why Can't We Be Like That?

One of the nice things about sitting on one's front stoop is the casual interactions you have with folks: friends, neighbors or just those passing by. Conversation, ideas and news are exchanged in a casual way.

For example, this tidbit that came my way about someone's recent experience at Freehold's outrageously successful "Cruise Night" event:

Recently we went to Freehold to get some great pizza at Federicci's.

We went on the last Thursday of the month, billed as cruise night.

The normal ride into town is about 2 minutes from Route 33; straight down Main Street to South Street, the center of town. This time it took 25 minutes.

Driving past Throckmorton Street both sides were closed off. There must have been at least 1,000, maybe 1,300 motorcycles lined up in a row with hundreds of men, women, and children checking them out! As we looked toward the old bus station, we noticed the rock band and the additional 500+ bikes extending all the way back to Broad Street. That really impressed us...until we got to the center of town. There both sides of the street, were lined with antique cars.

Wow, can you imagine downtown Trenton lined up with cars?

{NOTE: The Trenton Downtown Association's monthly 'Trenton 2Nite' event features a classic car night once a year with maybe two dozen vehicles on display}

In the center of town, at the head of South Street, there was a 50's band performing in front of the Hall of Records (Freehold is the County Seat of Monmouth County). Vendors were selling everything from hot dogs to bottled water. With only one of each type of vendor, everyone was busy selling.
Approaching the parking lot it too, was jammed with cars, a Doo Wop group, vendors, and people, lots and lots of people. Oh yes, in Freehold vacant lots created when the city has razed a building are turned into FREE parking lots. Lots that are well swept and maintained. So there is ample FREE parking to help PROMOTE business... Can you imagine a free parking lot?

We parked and walked across the street, at a crosswalk, to the pizza place. With 15 tables outside, 35 inside, there was a 35-minute wait. We waited and watched in total amazement. There were at least 20 police officers patrolling the area. NO ONE crossed the street except at a crosswalk. The one person who did cross in the middle of the block got a ticket for jaywalking. Can you imagine an officer in Trenton giving out a jaywalking ticket, or even a ticket for parking the wrong way on a street, or running red lights, or illegal parking, or speeding, or littering?

There were, by my partner's accounting, over 400 cars, twenty-seven restaurants and eatery's along main street and the surrounding side streets, three bands, and between 15 and 20 thousand people spending --what?-- $20 to $30 dollars each!
What would $500,000 injection of cash once a month do for Trenton???

Can you imagine???

Yes we can, but that is all we are allowed to do...imagine. Meanwhile we wait for over 20 years while hoping someone in city government will "get it."

In the meantime, we have to go somewhere else where the town leaders do get it. A place where citizens working in tandem with city government can pull such an event off. Incredible!

Maybe Freehold's Mayor should head up the US Conference of Mayors.

1 comment:

Chrissy said...

I grew up in Monmouth County, near Freehold. Federici's is fantastic. But it's not as good as Trenton tomato pie, or pizza.

When I was a kid, a lot of Freehold Borough was run-down...not in a Trenton kind of way, but it was enough of a deterrent that a lot of suburbanites chose the restaurants and stores at the strip plazas and shopping malls because of the persistent fear that the borough wasn't safe.

Sometime in the late 80s/early 90s, the place REALLY turned around, and it has become a really trendy, vibrant community. I know that I'm just a dopey Johnny-Come-Lately, but I saw Freehold Borough's transformation firsthand, and I believe that kind of change is possible here in Trenton too, but only with A LOT of work, and working together. A city government that really cares about and represents the people would certainly help, too.