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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Traditions Leaving Trenton

While some parts of Trenton remain viable albeit hidden places to live, the current exodus of time-honored and cherished establishments out of Chambersburg bears investigating.

Both Marsilio's and Michele Lorie's have announced they will be closing up their businesses in the near future as the old Italian traditions of Chambersburg continue their slide into history. Lines of people could be seen at the cheesecake mecca earlier this week, as people purchased as much of the fantastic dessert cakes as they could before they would no longer be available.

These closings represent a changing of the guard in Chambersburg. While the neighborhood has obviously been undergoing a dramatic demographic shift from Italian to South American over the last decade or two, some people dismiss this as the end of the neighborhood. For sure there is a public safety problem in the district that did not exist in its Italian heyday, but this is not to say that is because of its racial makeup. That is blatant racism.

Like any other neighborhood in Trenton, the problems that have emerged are because of the continued slide into poverty that most of the rest of the city has suffered through. Adjusted for inflation, Trenton's median income has probably remained static or dropped in most districts while the rest of the county has gone through a healthy increase. This is only that natural result of years of concentrating the county's poor within the Trenton city limits, keeping low-income and affordable housing out of areas like West Windsor and Hopewell.

The leadership in Trenton has seemingly gobbled up these wealthy areas' low-income housing obligations for a fraction of the cost that the unit actually brings to the municipality where it is built. Just ask city officials and the police department who are tasked with patrolling crime-infested neighborhoods and housing projects where everyone is poor.

In a related matter, it has been said that at meetings for the proposed West Windsor Transit Village, some residents began airing racial concerns to J. Robert Hillier and his staff of architects when they spoke of the requirement of 150 affordable residential units for the proposed development, Hillier staffers said. The project is now foundering.

I wouldn't be surprised if the rise in anti-Transit Village sentiment in West Windsor has something to with unfounded fears about the inclusion of affordable housing within West Windsor city limits...

2 comments:

jay lassiter said...

i just came across your thoughful blog this morning and as someone who's new to trenton (i work there not) this site is a timely resourse for me.

Mr. Clean said...

This is sad indeed...

Sadder still was a TV ad I saw for Amici Milano during last night's Yanks/Mets game on ESPN. I found this sad on several levels:

1. They actually saw a need for TV advertising. Last time I checked, this place was an institution of solidly-above-average Italian dining.

2. Among the virtues extolled in the ad was TWO SAFE, WELL-LIT, SECURE PARKING LOTS!!! Having to tell viewers that you actually have safe parking is probably not the way to go here.

3. The address was displayed as "Chambersburg, NJ." This literally leapt from this Burg-ian's TV screen. What. The. Hell... Has it really gotten SO bad that we can no longer admit that the Chambersburg district is actually within the City proper?

Is this the last stand of a restaurateur who appreciates the gravity of pretty much all its competition the neighborhood throwing in the towel? Who can say, but yes... it's a sad day, indeed.