Rowan gets grant to aid downtown initiatives

Rowan gets grant to aid downtown initiatives

By GENE VERNACCHIO, Courier-Post Staff

GLASSBORO--For local municipalities with declining downtowns, Rowan University will soon offer free expertise on bringing luster back to decaying areas.

Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., met Monday with university and borough officials to announce a $250,000 federal grant to Rowan to create the Municipalities Investing for Developmental Assistance Center.

The center, which is expected to be operating by summer, will offer South Jersey towns technical guidance in launching community revitalization programs.

"A lot of towns have an idea (about revitalization), but they really haven't been able to flesh out that idea," Andrews said. "They don't know how to take that next step. They don't know how to go to an expert or a planner and see whether the idea can take root and be successful.

"These communities are on very tight budgets, and the idea of hiring a planner or a consultant to help make that next step is beyond the reach of many of our communities," Andrews said.

Rowan President Donald Farish said the types of services to be made available are yet to be determined. But he's excited about the opportunity for the university to help towns that want to make improvements but don't know how to do so.

"What's lacking is not the will, it's simply the lack of expertise that is required to get the ball rolling," Farish said. "This just seemed like a marriage made in heaven."

As an example, Andrews said, Paulsboro officials, who have long sought revitalization, stand to benefit from the Rowan program.

"One thing this center could do is help Paulsboro do a market study of what kind of businesses or employers that would find it plausible and attractive to locate in Paulsboro," Andrews said. "That way, the municipality doesn' t have to spend tax dollars on consultant contracts."

In Glassboro, where officials already are immersed in an expansive downtown redevelopment program, Council President Mike Rozanski said the Rowan program could be invaluable for other communities just getting started.

"It's a great tool," Rozanski said. Joseph Brigandi Jr., a Gloucester County freeholder and Glassboro's business administrator, said the Rowan center will augment assistance recently made available to municipalities for Brownfields site redevelopment.

Andrews' announcement came during a visit to four communities being added to his 1st Congressional District. District boundaries are redrawn after every census to reflect shifts in population.

Beginning this fall, Andrews will represent Glassboro and about one-third of Mantua. Previously, he represented one street in Mantua. The towns now are part of the 2nd District served by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.

Andrews also made stops in Haddonfield and Merchantville, which are moving out of the 3rd District represented by Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J.

Andrews is not losing any towns under redistricting.

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Date Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 09:24
Source URL: Courier-Post