Redevelopment: I Looked... Have You?

I took some time this week to look more carefully at the proposed Redevelopment area for a bigger and better commercial business district for Highlands and it certainly is making me wonder about a lot of things.

I wonder why the development area only extends from Veterans Park west, and not from the entrance to the area?

Bahrs is a well known, well respected and popular restaurant. Why isn’t that included in the business district?

The marina and shops and offices between there and the park on that side of the street are vitally important to the business district . Why are they not included?

The Chubby Pickle has a history under other names over the years, why not included? That yard next to the Chubby Pickle with all the stuff in it. Surely that looks a lot worse than some of the lovely homes that are included in a district that apparently needs help before it can be improved. Why isn’t that included?

There are those who want to talk about a second Mystic, or Provincetown, or some other charming waterfront town. Yet the entrance to downtown, the primary entrance coming off the bridge that takes millions to Sandy Hook, isn’t even included.

No great big flamboyant idea to literally shout out HEY! We’re Highlands! We’re Here and You ought to come see us! I wonder…wouldn’t that make sense to introduce newcomers to this very special community?

I wonder why, if you want to promote a business district, you don’t think first of promoting it from where it begins. If you want to entice business, wouldn’t you start at the front door?

It’s difficult to know who exactly owns all the properties within the district, since so many are in corporate names. But there are a lot of recent sales ... so once again I wonder ... do some people know more than others and are scooping up land for some reasons others don’t know about?

I looked at that Bay Avenue yard by the Chubby Pickle, not included ... and the borough property on S. Second St. included in the district. And I keep wondering…..once again ….if the borough doesn’t take care of its own property right now, why on earth do we expect anything better in the future with more plans, more rules, more regulations.

I looked at the very neat, adorable ice cream store. Looks great. I looked at Gianna’s, a terrific Italian restaurant. It’s up for sale, and judging from all the other prices that land has gone for in the area, he’s offering it at a bargain price. But it isn’t vacant land, it isn’t a closed business. It’s an active lease and a very busy place. Is that why it’s a bargain price? Because it can’t be torn down and leveled for something bigger?

Then I looked at so many houses that are so neat, so attractive, so nice looking but are included in the district that needs to be redeveloped. Maybe the planners should talk to the owners of those properties to learn what they did to develop their own sense of pride and beauty without any outside help.

I looked at several of the properties that are owned by corporate names and are vacant. Everyone of them looks neat, clean, well manicured and orderly. Empty of buildings, but does anyone have the ingenuity to create something inviting for residents on these little parcels?

Then I drove through my old town neighborhood, or part of it. It is not included in the redevelopment district. I couldn’t drive through all of Waterwitch because Washington Avenue is closed to through traffic for the last block to the river. What inconvenience are all these residents going through, I wondered.

I looked at the broken heap of stuff right where the road is closed. Hard to tell whether it’s on borough property or marina property. But it doesn’t make any difference. It’s a pile of broken rocks on the side of a residential street that is partially closed. The road itself is overgrown, the weeds covering the yellow painted curbline. What about these residents, I wonder. Aren’t they entitled to clean roads and clean neighboring properties?

Mayor Broullon ran a great public forum session so people could ask questions of the planner and learn more about the redevelopment plans for the business district. I feel certain she’ll continue to entertain questions at the next council meeting now that people are learning more about the properties, the recent sales, the reasons why properties were included, and the future of the borough.

I am not the only person who wonders.