These pictures were taken in the town of Peapack-Gladstone in Somerset County. I live a town away in Morris County, but I work in this town and I like it because they have made it very walkable. There’s a nice mix of greenery in Liberty Park pictured at the top as well as many upscale and casual restaurants all within walking distance. Ravine Lake, a large recreational lake and tennis club, is about a fifteen-minute walk down one of the back roads past a few small farms. The streets have crosswalks and sidewalks, and are large enough for street parking on the main road. I would call Peapack-Gladstone a transit-oriented development because of its close proximity to its local train station, which can take riders to other New Jersey towns as well as New York City with one transfer. Even though this NJ Transit rail line requires a transfer to get into the city, being able to walk or bike and not have to build a huge parking lot or have customers pay for parking is a huge convenience.
Furthermore, the U.S. 206 highway is very accessible and it only takes a few minutes to get right onto a main highway from Peapack-Gladstone. I believe the town follows after Peter Calthorpe’s public transit priorities as well as Howard’s Garden City ideas because of its commitment to parks and green spaces. Although this is one of my favorite areas in New Jersey, I do have a few criticisms. First of all, there is no supermarket or place to buy groceries within walking distance of any of the homes in Gladstone, so one is always forced to drive somewhere else for food shopping. Another criticism I have is that there is not enough low cost housing in the town, as most homes are sold for in numbers close to the millions and there are little options for rental apartments and condominiums. Although this is a higher income area, there is not much choice for residents who would like to move here but cannot afford the high costs of single family homes.
On the other hand, the type of development environment that I do not like as much is the one where I currently live, in Harding, New Jersey. The pictures below show the major roadways such as Route 202 that connect the small town with the bigger municipalities of Morristown and Bedminster. One thing I do not like about the development here is the large roadways that lack bike lanes as well as sidewalks and everything is pretty far apart. Harding is a very driving dependent town for those reasons. Although there are a few parks and many trails to walk through, one is forced to drive there. In terms of housing and social aspects of the area, it is a nice place to live if one does not have kids because there is no high school. Therefore, the taxes are pretty low in comparison to the surrounding towns. However, the cost of buying a house is still as high as Peapack-Gladstone’s.
The second picture shown below is Tempe Wick Road, which is a long, windy road that connects the towns of Harding and Mendham together. There are many recreational bikers who like to travel along that road, but it is very dangerous for them because cars go upwards of 50 miles per hour and aren’t looking ahead to see if they need to move over. Both Peapack-Gladstone and Harding are examples of a T3 transect, but they are developed in slightly different ways. Harding is slightly more rural and similar to a T2 with more green space and forest areas covering houses and residential streets. Peapack, on the other hand, has almost as many residents but it is much more accessible with restaurants and stores within a ten minute walk.
Overall, I love where I live in Harding, but I sometimes wish the development pattern followed more similarly to that of Peapack-Gladstone because it is still known as a great little town where people can rely less on their cars and still be able to get out and socialize through eating out and shopping.