Blog :: 05-2012

Is Montclair a Safe Community? Walkability Helps!

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I consider walkability very important to both the environment and one's general health, both physical and mental. According to an interesting post on the AARP website blog that I read recently,  walkable communities also tend to be safer communities. The author, Dan Burden, is the Executive Director of the unities Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.  His thinking is: In a neighborhood where residents barely see each other, how can they look out for each other?

In the post, Burden recounts his visits to gated communities and more open, accessible ones. Contrary to expectation, gated communities, built for seclusion and isolation, are not safer. He explains that "Neighbors in neighborhoods designed for inclusiveness watch over their streets naturally and consistently...They use the sidewalks and trails and open space as more than just a place to pass by in their cars  but rather as a way to connect, and yes, as a way to create natural surveillance of their neighborhoods."

I have to admit that before reading Burden's post, I had never thought of walkability as a boon to public safety . It makes a lot of sense, though, and also makes me even more glad that I live and work in Montclair, New Jersey.  

 

What's The Most Commutable Suburb? It's Gotta Be Montclair

Why do some housing markets stagnate during an economic boom while others maintain their value amid a national recession?  There isn't really one all-encompassing answer, but there are several well-established factors that determine the strength of  a given housing market. For suburbs in the tri-state area, one of the most important factors is availability of mass transit.

Montclair real estate was not hit nearly as hard by the recession as many other towns; a major reason for this is the presence of both bus and train service to New York City. Decamp Bus Lines has provided commuter and charter service to NYC for decades, while New Jersey Transit has operated direct weekday service since 2002 (weekend service arrived in 2009). Bus riders can get on or off anywhere along Decamp's established routes; train riders have seven stations to choose from and bus and train stops are walkable from most places in Montclair.

Near the center of town are the Bay Street and Walnut Street stations. Further north are the  Watchung Plaza and Upper Montclair stations. Commuters can also board at Mountain Avenue, Montclair Heights, or Montclair State University.  It's unusual to have 7 train stations in in one town, but this is what makes makes Montclair NJ one of the most commutable suburbs of New York City.