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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Special Commodities

One major problem with the city of Trenton is that many of the municipalities around it have the kinds of attractions and businesses that one would normally want in a capital city. The Quakerbridge Mall is a perfect example of this.

Before the riots of the 1960s, anyone who wanted to go shopping in a department store would have to go to downtown Trenton, which had hosts of stores lining the downtown area. Today, these stores and shops have relocated to the ugly edifice in Lawrence Township at the junction of Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road, a seven-minute drive from my home near downtown Trenton.

Wouldn't people rather walk the streets of an attractive downtown area in a small manageable city, than walk the ugly floors of a massive mall surrounded by seas of ugly surface parking and small, ugly standalone restaurants?

Somehow the city must attract first-rate businesses to take gambles on the downtown area. There needs to be some sort of attraction; whether this is through tax abatements or reduced sales tax rates, I don't know. I am not a public policy major. There is a small viable area of downtown on Warren Street and State Street that should serve as a blueprint for what the city should want. Right now many of the businesses located there are fast food restaurants and dollar stores that are places one doesn't want for an upscale downtown area.

If the city made a conscious effort to attract upscale businesses that could serve the regional populace, people would probably come. Of course they would have to be assured the public safety problem had been addressed, but the downtown area - the main location of state government and workers - does not suffer from the same types of problems that plague the other neighborhoods of the city.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


The only way the streets of this city are going to be safe again is if law-abiding citizens are willing to move back into the dangerous parts and take care of their neighborhoods, driving out the criminal element.

The police force is already strained, forced to work extra hours and bring the city a long overtime bill. How can they be expected to effectively police the capital's streets when the city's own police director is sapping off officers to take part in funeral services that have nothing to do with the city or law enforcement?

Police Director Santiago did just this, taking several on-duty officers and equipment up to Newark for the funeral of his father-in-law. This obvious violation of official duties has so far gone unpunished, although the director is expected to make an appearance at City Council this evening where he may admit his crime and actually pay for the officer's time up in Newark.

Whatever happens, this event highlights an ongoing problem with the director's credibility in the eyes of his fellow police officers and the public at large. Every single day multiple police officers make their feelings for the director known on forums such as that of Obviously these important people -on the front lines of the fight against the crime wave in the capital - have absolutely no confidence in their leader.

I would argue that this condition negates his position of leadership on the force, and requires that a new police director be appointed. This person would need to have the confidence of the force, because this confidence would help the officers perform their jobs better, and would contribute to a better quality of life for the residents and workers of the city.

Then people might start moving back into town...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quick Point

Quick point I would like to make about the responses that some people seem to make when confronted with people trying to make a difference in the horrible plight of American urban areas - stop attacking people who are trying to make a difference!

On this blog and on the forum I've noticed many residents or others who attack anyone with a positive mindset living in Trenton. They attack them as posers or idealistic liberals who should just shut up and move back to the suburbs. The people who make these comments fail to realize that Trenton, and other cities fall into their current state when people with positive attitudes and money flee the city.

Businesses take notice of this, and withdraw, failing to build their offices and factories within the city limits, preferring to site them elsewhere near more skilled labor with more disposable income. The entire city begins sliding further and further into a self-fulfilling prophesy of poverty.

The only way the city is going to turn around is if business and residents with money begin to move back to within its limits, attracting more business and more people with middle class credentials along with them. Reacting to the vanguard of these people - namely the "daring" souls who move into the first islands of prosperity in the city (such as Mill Hill) - in a negative way is stupid...these people hold the key to the future of places like Trenton.

Although gentrification may have some negative effects, such as pushing longtime residents out of neighborhoods and areas they have inhabited for a long time, it can help bring these people up out of poverty as well.

In light of all of this, I think attacking people who are brave enough to leave the safety and prosperity of the suburbs to make their own stake in the dangerous urban frontier is a very stupid policy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

After reading some his writings on his web site, South Ward Councilman Jim Coston seems like a really intelligent guy. He spoke of the emptiness of the suburbs, something that really calls out to me because of growing up a few miles away in West Windsor.

People fled cities like Trenton for the suburbs because of what they believed would be a better life, and also because of perceived pressures in their old neighborhoods in the city. The influx of immigrants, more crime, and other common urban problems convinced these people that a move to the 'burbs would provide a better life for their families.

Anyone who has grown up in these suburbs knows that they may be an OK place to grow up when one is extremely young, but they simply do not cut it for older children and adults. There is nothing to do, a fact that leads to idleness, drug use and delinquency. Anyone who grew up in West Windsor knows there was almost nothing to do on the weekends. The city offers you opportunities.

The options in the suburbs are severely limited unless you want to drive a distance to get to whatever you want to do. In the city, you can walk everywhere, and there is actually an interesting landscape of buildings and structures to make for an interesting walk. From my apartment door in the Mill Hill, I can walk to a coffee shop, several restaurants, two bars, a park, a basketball and hockey arena, and a train station that takes me to New York in one and half hours and Philly in one.

That sounds much better than driving everywhere like in West Windsor, which creates a sedentary lifestyle apt to give you a heart attack.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Been really busy lately, plan to post something this weekend.

I found this article really interesting, because these gang members conducted some sort of deal in the Barnes and Noble in West Windsor.

People in Princeton and West Windsor can't keep looking the other way when it comes to what's going on in Trenton. The city is in Mercer County too, only a ten minutes' drive away from affluence.