MONTCLAIR, NJ – The Township of Montclair and the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID) have partnered to provide local businesses significant opportunities to expand their operations during the continued state health emergency. Joint Township-BID efforts include closing South Park and Church streets on weekends, providing space in a local park for fitness studios to offer socially-distanced exercise sessions, and other initiatives designed to help small businesses.
“All of these measures will allow our businesses and restaurants to expand their footprint for more traffic and patrons,” said Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller. “We also want to provide residents and visitors greater opportunities to spend time outdoors, whether it’s enjoying an alfresco meal, shopping in our local stores, or simply taking a stroll on our streets, while following all public health requirements.”
Beginning July 17 as a pilot program then continuing through September, Church Street will close to all traffic Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. South Park Street will close to traffic Fridays at 5:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Sundays. The BID assumed all costs for the first weekend of street closures and the Township will cover street closure costs through September 27. Further details will be added as the program develops.
“None of this would have been possible without an engaged and creative community of retailers, restaurateurs, designers, Township and community leaders,” said Jason Gleason, executive director of the Montclair Center BID. “We are fortunate to have an active and dedicated town with creative people and a proactive Mayor and Council determined to preserve it.”
Church Street will feature modular benches, shade canopies and a vibrant street design presented by DesignShed and the Montclair Center BID. “Pop Goes the Plaza!” will transform Church Street from a traffic thruway to a true pedestrian square. Streetscape design is the result of a design charrette led by DesignShed, with collaborators Arterial Streets, Bike & Walk Montclair and MADLAB Architecture and Design.
The BID and the Township are also examining other sections of downtown to possibly present more street closures and parklet spaces to create additional pedestrian space and slow traffic.
Crane Park will have an area dedicated to instructor-led fitness classes. Local fitness studios will have use of 60 socially-distanced spots – 35 for members and 25 to be open to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
“By allowing the use of public space, our fitness studios will be able to safely interact with their members and get everyone moving again,” said Gleason.
Montclair will also develop a digital ad campaign to encourage township residents and visitors from surrounding communities to shop-Montclair safely and enjoy the tremendous outdoor restaurant scene.
The Township launched its comprehensive COVID-19 recovery and business re-opening plan last month by making available $150,000 in grant funding to small local businesses to help cover costs for certain expenditures the businesses incurred as a result of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. Thus far the Township has received more than 150 applications and will soon send out grant checks to qualifying businesses.
Additionally, the sidewalk café permit fee was waived and parking meters were set to make the first 15 minutes of parking free of charge in order to encourage patrons to take advantage of business and restaurant curbside pick-up services.
“I commend the BID for their extraordinary work and vision on this project. The Township will continue to meet with the BID and representatives from other business areas to explore other possible measures that will help our small businesses get back on their feet,” said Mayor Spiller. “We must do what we can to help our business community meet the unprecedented challenges presented by this crisis.”
Photo: Montclair Center BID