About 50 residents attended at special meeting hosted by the city’s Housing Authority, which oversees the 123-unit federally-subsidized housing development at Memorial Drive and Springwood Avenue.
Housing Authority Interim Executive Director Tyrone Garrett said the meeting was being held to get dialogue and develop a strategic plan for redeveloping the area, especially Boston Village, eight separate buildings built on a four-acre site in 1952.
Garrett said another public meeting will be held again in February.
“We hope to have a final plan by March 1 and present it to HUD (the federal department of Housing and Urban Development) and other agencies for funding,” he said.
Project architect Mark E. Bess, with Netta Architects based in Mountainside, said it is expected Boston Way Village will be demolished within the next nine to 12 months.
Calling the site the “gateway” between the city’s west and east sides, Bess said that public input from residents is an important part in planning the future of the site.
“This is an opportunity to bring the west and east sides together and can be a springboard for other projects down the road. Nothing exists in isolation and this site needs to interact with other areas,” he said.
Project planner Elizabeth Leheny, with Phillips Preiss Grygiel LLC based in Hoboken, said the site should be a shared community village and that the project will receive a lot of public input and transparency.
“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel but trying to build on what’s there now,” she said.
Then, the 50 or so residents attending the meeting, held at the Middle School on Bangs Avenue, were then broken down into smaller groups of about six, where seven redevelopment topics were to be discussed over a one-hour period.
Topics included what are the best and worst things about the Springwood Avenue area, how can the area be developed as an attractive place to live and visit, and what type of housing should be placed there.
These findings will soon be posted in the Housing Authority’s website: www.aphanj.com.
“I think this is a great first step to get community input for the site,” Councilwoman Amy Quinn said.