Ever since I came to New Brunswick three years ago at the beginning of my college years, I have seen a lot of change being implemented in this town. Much of this change has been positive and meant to improve the city both aesthetically. The most noticeable improvements to this city have been that living conditions are improving, a quality grocery store and wellness center were built, and multiple use spaces are being built. With that being said, there are still a lot of pressing matters for New Brunswick to develop in the coming years. Among these problems are the large amounts of trash and debris that constantly coat the streets and private properties, the lack of cooperation between Rutgers and New Brunswick administrations, and the fact that there is very little commercial diversity to truly spark healthy economic growth for the city.
All it takes is a brief walk from the area of Condict Street over to Morrell Street, and you most likely will have seen at least 3 different apartment buildings under construction; The largest of which will be the new “Somerset Mews” on Condict Street. This construction is very hard to miss since the ambitious project is towered by a huge red crane that is helping to usher in a new era of residential space in New Brunswick. As the months go by, it seems as if more and more lot owners are caving in to the offers of land developers. The great thing about this new trend is that the outdated and neglected houses of the old New Brunswick are beginning to be phased away in exchange for more modern and smartly built apartments.
Apart from the residential developments forming, New Brunswick has also allowed for the first real, quality grocery store to be built in the Hub City. Alongside, the grocery store, a wellness center with a large gym, pools and health-oriented services have also been constructed to better solidify the image of New Brunswick as a serious city. Before “Fresh Grocer” was built, residents were forced to buy groceries from local small shops that arbitrarily set high prices on their low quality goods. That was hardly a way to comfortably live as a permanent resident. The Wellness Center has also been a huge improvement on the quality of life that residents have “enjoyed” in the past few years. The gym is enormous and has a plethora of professionals ready to help residents with any type of health oriented need they might have.
Furthermore, the recent completion of the large scale, multiple-use building complex known as The Vue, has sparked the movement of New Brunswick into a modern inclusive city. The building is principally a tall tower of luxury apartments that attracts a more affluent class of citizens into the Hub City. In addition, the building complex also houses a parking deck, a large Barnes and Nobles, a PNC Bank, a deli, multiple office spaces including the New Brunswick Parking authority, Brother Jimmy’s Restaurant, and finally a large walkway that connects to the New Brunswick Train Station. This one-stop shop is a great addition to the growing importance of New Brunswick.
New Brunswick still has some simple problems that need to be addressed before we can start to feel proud of our city. Although the giant red crane dominates the sky, garbage is what dominates the ground. On nearly every street, you can walk and pick up about a large garbage bag full of trash and debris that should not be there. This trash makes the city look awful and smell like a dump. Ideally one would want to educate residents and business owners on not throwing their garbage wherever they please. However, at this point I think the best thing for New Brunswick to do is allocate more enforcements positions and simply hand out more strict citations to residents that do not keep their properties clean.
Second, the level of cooperation and communication between Rutgers and New Brunswick Administration needs to change for the better. It currently seems as if the school and the Mayor’s office are in some sort of grade school, cold shoulder fight. Recently, NB Police stripped Rutgers PD of any enforcement powers outside Rutgers grounds. Why would anyone want to have less police presence in this town, especially after the recent spike in crimes this city has seen? Other instances of these types of choices can be seen in this link.
Lastly, commercial businesses need to diversify NOW. The New Brunswick restaurant scene dominates the commercial side of this city. Restaurants and eateries are literally everywhere! I wish I had more data on this but I could safely put the ratio of restaurants to other commercial spaces as 8/10. Furthermore, these restaurants are clearly divided by its prices. George street houses the high priced fine dining scene while the rest of New Brunswick, especially Easton Ave, is home to the cheap and dirty “college student hangout”. You can walk down Easton Avenue and count more than 10 pizzerias, various Mediterranean themed eateries, and Asian themed eateries. These three themes dominate that side of the restaurant spaces. The rest of the commercial spaces available are slightly varied, but still consist of some sort of food related establishment. New Brunswick needs to make it more attractive for different types of stores to open up. I would love to see a tech store, a music store, a hardware store, an athletics store and handyman businesses open up to the community. Not to mention that most of these “restaurants” just look dirty and old and are poorly inspected. Simply put, they are not attractive in any way. Pizza is great on a late night, but residents of this city needs a broad spectrum of people to provide necessary services other than food for them to happily live here. A thorough change in the trend of commercial spaces in New Brunswick will surely stimulate the local economy more efficiently than what we have now.