#b#It’s Trenton Turn#/b#
After years of starts and stops, neglect, and difficult times, there are significant signs of movement in Trenton. All the positive activity going on in the city is starting to surface and finally attract the attention it deserves. New players are coming to our capital to provide the additional skills and expertise to support the base of dedicated professionals, local government representatives, local business owners and employees, and of course, all the concerned residents. As significant sums of funding and incentives have been directed to cities like Newark and Camden, the focus, attention, concern, and priority needs to now be directed toward Trenton. The residents of New Jersey need to rise up and take pride in helping us restore our great capital.
I came to work in Trenton last year after an amazing 14-year run as the director of economic development for Asbury Park. What attracted me to our capital was an incredible opportunity to be part of a movement to reestablish Trenton as the place to be: to work, to live, to own a business, to raise a family, to go to school, and of course to play. It is already happening! Municipal government is organizing a strong management team inside City Hall. Under the leadership of Mayor Eric Jackson and a strong city council, Trenton is in good hands.
Redevelopment is already in second gear. The Roebling Lofts, a 138-unit mixed-use building, is leading the drive to bring new residents back to the city. Thomas Edison State University recently opened its new nursing school, a beautiful addition to the city’s rich architectural heritage. Mercer County Community College renovated an old building on North Board Street to house its fashion program.
Maestro Technologies, a data management company, has purchased the historic building at 1 West State Street and will be converting it into a tech hub. A bakery/cafe, Studio B, specializing in Louisiana products, has opened in the Conduit Building on South Broad Street. Last year Starbucks opened a new store and training center downtown.
Another important component in the start of Trenton’s revival is an organization called Greater Trenton. Appropriately named, the 501(c)3 non-profit was established by a number of area corporations and institutions under the leadership of Bernie Flynn of NJM and former director of NJEDA, Caren Franzini. The purpose of the organization will be to use a network of collaborative relationships to advance economic revitalization efforts in the state’s capital city. GT hired George Sowa, the former executive vice president and senior managing director at Brandywine Real Estate, to be its first executive director. Greater Trenton is an independent arm that will provide added expertise and support that has been missing in the past.
Besides the incredible architecture, superb museums, prominent role in the Revolutionary War, unique retail offerings, cool clubs, good restaurants, and eclectic residents, the city’s asset that most impressed me is Trenton’s organic arts community. I witnessed the economic power of the arts in Asbury Park’s revival and believe the arts will have the same impact in Trenton.
Artworks, Trenton’s visual arts center, has been the gatekeeper of this unique community since 1988. A creative plan authored by Julia Taylor, the deputy director of Isles, has created an arts district that will be launched in the next couple of months. The plan provides us with another tool to drive the city’s economy and position Trenton as a regional arts center.
Trenton continues to face significant challenges. Similar to what used to happen to Asbury Park, the media continues to sensationalize and glorify the image of the city as: “a dangerous place,” “it is not safe to go to Trenton” and “stay away!” Yet thousands live in Trenton, thousands more come to work here, and hundreds of businesses still operate in Trenton.
The city continues to struggle financially but the mayor, city council, and city management are implementing processes to reverse those trends. The city recently approved a new master plan that was created internally with notable cost savings by city planner Jeff Wilkinson. It is an impressive document that positions the city for significant growth. Our future looks bright.
The critical element that will bring back Trenton and make it the place to be is you. Are there negative things happening in the city? Yes. In spite of all the negativity, there are hundreds of positive things happening here every day. Take some pride in Trenton. Get involved in supporting all the efforts and individuals who are working so hard to restore New Jersey’s Capital City to the prominent place it was, should be, and will be again. Learn about the positive things going on in Trenton and become part of it. Come to Trenton and experience all the cultural activity and unique events. Reach out and support our businesses. In my former job, I used the expression “Only in Asbury Park!” My new mantra is “Only in Trenton!” Stay tuned.
Executive Director, Trenton Downtown Association
#b#More on Charities#/b#
I’m writing in response to John Clearwater’s recent letter to the editor (U.S. 1, January 3) in response to my column entitled “Does Tax Law Spell Doom for Charities?” (U.S. 1, December 20, 2017). I genuinely appreciate Mr. Clearwater taking the time to provide his “unfettered” response.
Clearwater is correct that corporations are a source of funding for our nation’s nonprofits. According to Giving USA in 2016 total giving was $390 billion. Giving by corporations was estimated to have increased by 3.5 percent (2.3 percent adjusted for inflation) to $18.55 billion or around 5 percent of total giving. While there are, no doubt, unique situations in which a particular charity receives 80 percent of its funding from a single firm. This is an aberration and not the rule.
Likewise, while some generous donors do provide part or all of their minimum distribution from their IRA to charities it represents and infinitesimally small portion of the more than $282 billion given by individual donors to charities last year.
The Republican tax plan will hurt America’s charities. Further discourse on the plan is needed. I laud Clearwater for his concern about this important issue.
#b#Bob Jahn’s Genius#/b#
Thank you for the extensive column in your January 3 edition on Bob Jahn. Bob was probably one of the smartest folks in Princeton and certainly one of the most interesting deans the Princeton Engineering School ever had.
I met Bob 70 years ago this spring when we both went out for a competition for managerial spots for the baseball team. “Managerial” in the college baseball jargon meant supporting the team by making sure the players had the equipment available the coaches felt was necessary to train them e.g., keeping the pitchers supplied with baseballs for batting practice, etc., etc.
It was not glamorous work, but I recall Bob loving every minute of it. He had been the captain of his school baseball team and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the game. He managed the 1952 freshman team with distinction. I believe later in his academic career he used his legendary engineering skills to design a baseball bat of unusual shape which was capable of making every hit a home run. Unfortunately the shape was so unusual that it could not meet some of the precise specifications enforced by the major leagues, but it apparently worked.
Your article fully sets forth the managerial and academic skills Bob had as an scientist (engineer) and a dean.
The article also stressed the research project (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) he created and raised funds to pursue on whether mind could control matter. Bob was fortunate to have had classes at Princeton with a fellow engineer who asked the same questions. When his classmate had great success in the venture capital arena he was in a position to help fund, along with others, Bob’s research.
I’m not smart enough to even try to describe the research or how in the world you could measure if mind could control matter to the satisfaction of skeptical academics — even at the behest of a proven scientist and academic — but I always had a very high regard for Bob’s diligent efforts to try to prove his beliefs.
Bob closed his 50th reunion biography:
“The future course of all of this … (his career) … is not entirely clear, but if it is as exciting and rewarding as the past and present, I shall count my life as truly blessed.”
I would add Bob’s career and genius — particularly in the face of skepticism — is what makes the U.S. 1 neighborhood so interesting.
Wilson, a Princeton resident, was Jahn’s classmate in the Princeton Class of 1951.