Thanks you to those of you who came to the Planning Board meeting Tuesday evening to offer your thoughts and comments. Thanks also to those who watched the proceedings on Livestream, and apologies for what I understand was a somewhat disjointed Livestream offering.
My perception is the conversation about Cape May's future is just beginning, and I am encouraged that we will talk more as the master plan is updated this year.
The meeting demonstrated that the city needs to offer more information about its growth and development options. It is our collective responsibility to be informed about Cape May's future.
In hindsight, the city should have provided a better explanation of what "redevelopment" means in a modern-day context. Understandably, for a concept that developed in the 1970s, the word conjures up images of "urban renewal," "slum clearance" and old-fashioned "big-city blight."
But today, "redevelopment" in New Jersey means something quite different; redevelopment is a flexible planning tool that enables municipalities of all sizes to refresh and redesign areas whose layout or configuration has become tired, obsolete, or dysfunctional. Redevelopment does not mean that an area will be leveled and rebuilt; it does mean that the area can be carefully and thoughtfully reconfigured to better serve Cape May's residents and visitors.
Are the buildings in Block 1059 blighted and dilapidated? By a traditional understanding of those terms, the answer is no. But does the block need redesign for a better, more modern layout and improved functionality? By any standard, the answer to that question is yes.
Do we need more parking spaces? Yes. Can traffic circulation and business operations on the block be improved? Yes. Can the commercial layout of the block be reconfigured to enhance its attractiveness and make it function better? Yes.
The question is, how will that be accomplished? Let's continue talking about it as we move forward with the master plan.
We don't have to be city planning experts – yet there is value in understanding how to ensure the city's continued growth and development, its keeping pace with improved services and amenities, and how this can be accomplished without undue burden on taxpayers.
Let's keep relevant information and open communication flowing.
Let's keep on keeping on – talking and thinking together, assuming the best about each other and keeping the future of our beloved city in the forefront of our conversations.
Clarence "Chuck" Lear
Mayor, City of Cape May