A new photo submission came to us recently that puts a new visual perspective on the incredible scale of the Second River Station proposals.
For the new readers joining us, we’ve spent the last 6 months raising awareness of a massive one billion dollar residential highrise project called “Second River Station” that was in the works since at least 2012, and headed directly for Belleville.
That is, until enough public pressure was applied by a now very engaged community. This week, the Town Council roundly rejected the development proposal in a stunning unanimous 7-0 vote.
The buildings in this artist’s rendering above range in height, up to and including twin 50-story towers toward the left side of the image (second row vertically from the left). Mind you, there are no buildings anywhere in the state of New Jersey that are 50 stories tall.
The tallest building in New Jersey is currently the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, which is “only” 42 stories tall. If you’ve never seen this building before in person, it is gigantic. It even looks a little out of scale for Jersey City, and that’s saying quite a lot.
Now imagine 8-10 such buildings dropped in the middle of suburban Belleville, and you can probably start to appreciate what all the teeth-gnashing has been about lately. Once people finally started to catch onto the idea and understand its implications (and it did take awhile), the backlash was not the least bit surprising.
By the developer’s own projections, the Second River Station highrise development would have brought approximately 4500 new families into Belleville. This could translate to a sharp population surge of about 25% for the whole town, without breaking a sweat.
Let’s not get started on the potential impact this residential surge might have had on the town’s existing infrastructure and services, or on the student population of the school district. I think that point has been belabored sufficiently enough.
Make no mistake, Nutley and surrounding neighbors….there’s little doubt that your quality of life would have been impacted by this enormous development as well, if for no other reason than conceivably 5000 or more extra cars being put on the local roads near the Nutley/Lyndhurst Bridge over the Passaic River (which is two blocks north), and a nightmarishly busy intersection of main roads.
As with many things that come across our desk at The Watch, the illustration above is an anonymous contribution. I cross-referenced it with other material we have and it’s definitely the same artist, and closely matches the footprint plans we have from the proposal. Not to mention that this rendering is almost an exact replica of the smaller-scale watercolor drawing shown below that was publicized, in both perspective and detail.
So, did anyone see the much more grand concept photo at the top of the page made available to the Belleville Times? Or anywhere else, for that matter? Of course not. Was that because residents might have gone berserk if they saw the ultimate design?
Regardless, this new image of “Option 3” in its completed form is in fact what the developer was pitching to the Council the entire time.
Just think about that for a moment; the community of Belleville, just ordinary citizens, banded together to help stop a one billion dollar land development project. In New Jersey, of all places. Something of this scale likely had a great deal of political backing behind it.
There is a strong underlying message here, folks. First, the people of this community have some serious passion and heart, and are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for their town. Belleville is not for sale.
But that aside, the more important message here is that community advocacy works. Every voice counts, and everyone can make a difference.
We’ve been proving it here in Belleville over the last year with Phase One of our civic engagement project (The Nutley Watch). We’ve had 12 successful issue campaigns completed in just 13 months. Almost all of our issue campaigns are fairly substantial in scope, so they’re not exactly “low hanging fruit”, so to speak. Our group and this community have been hard at work together.
For 2015, we’ll be networking and joining with other advocates and community groups in this area. We’ll also be sharing our model that we’ve been working on and refining this past year, and teaching others to do the same in neighboring Essex County townships.
If you’re interested in being a part of this grassroots movement for good governance and effecting a measurable, positive change in local politics, or you’re looking to start something similar to The Watch in your own town, feel free to get in touch with us via the Contact page on the main menu.
We’ll have more information available soon when we launch our new website and the second phase of our project, “The Essex Watch”. The Essex Watch will make it easier for citizens to replicate what we’re doing in Belleville for their own town, and will help provide the tools and the platform to do so.
Until then, I encourage you to link arms in your township. Go to public meetings, and start talking to the people you see there. The people who show up for public meetings will be some of the most passionate and engaged individuals in your town. Get involved, to whatever extent your schedule and your commitments allow. Not only is there strength in numbers, but there is significant strength in people standing behind a single noble-minded purpose, whatever that may be.
History has shown us time and time again that when good people stand united behind a good cause, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved.
If you’re not registered to vote in NJ, go online and fill out the available form. Tell everyone you know just how easy it is to do, then share the link on social media. When the time comes once or twice a year for an election, for the hour it may take you to run over to your local polling station and cast a vote, this is ultimately how you will bring about a lasting social change.
Your vote is your voice….use it!
It only takes a few strong voices to organize and unite an army of people who care. Then together, you can truly make a difference in your community. If we can do it here, anyone in the state or even the country can do it.
The ballot is mightier than the sword.