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Blog :: 04-2011

Walkable Communities are the Wave of the Future

In this CDC-sponsored video the narrator says "(walkable communities) are no longer a fairy tale - they're a reality".  I had to laugh! it's like the government just stumbled upon this concept.  In towns like Montclair and Maplewood NJ the layout of the town has been conducive to walking for the last 100 years.  In the 1920s and 30s cars were a luxury so sidewalks were mandatory.  Shops and schools had to be within walking distance.  And train stations were a necessity. The narrator then says "walkable communities are the wave of the future".  I wonder if she knows they've been here all along.

"In so many things green, Montclair has been there first"

I don't know about you, but I've certainly noticed a pattern and apparently, so has the mayor of Montclair. In yesterday's Montclair Times, mayor Jerry Fried observes "In so many things green, Montclair has been there first".  What is it about this town that fosters green innovation and attracts so many like minds? Fried attributes the phenomenon to two factors: The shared values and the physical characteristics of the town.

Perhaps the desire for diversity, education and tolerance attracts people with a certain mindset - according to Fried it's the key to evolutionary and biological resilience as well as sustainability.  These same people seem also to appreciate Montclair's layout - a sensible, tree-lined grid of streets with neighborhood commercial zones that evolved around the 6 train stations.  The walkable streets of Montclair, where housing is integrated in many areas with shops, restaurants, parks and public gathering places makes it a model for vibrant community living.

In honor of Earth Day, here now, a partial list of Montclair's green accomplishments:


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      Brookdale: Best Park in Montclair and Bloomfield

      Park in Montclair, Bloomfield. Tennis, soccer, softball in Montclair

      Relaxing in Essex County's Brookdale Park

      It's unusually cold for this time of year, but since it is in fact April, I assume that we'll see warmer weather soon. For me, that means more time outdoors, specifically in Brookdale Park.

      I've been going to Brookdale Park since my kids were babies: I spent many afternoons pushing their strollers along the paths and later helped them navigate the equipment on the two playgrounds. Several years later, I found myself at the park again, cheering them on from the sidelines of the soccer and softball fields with fellow Montclair moms.

      My kids have moved on to other activities, but I still love the park. Whenever I get a chance, I meet a friend for some tennis (there are 11 courts). I  also love the art shows held there in spring and fall, as well as the free summer concerts and July 4th fireworks. Note to gardeners: there are dozens of  different species of roses in the gorgeous rose garden.

      Brookdale Park was designed by the Olmstead brothers, who also designed New York City's Central Park. Since I grew up in the city and spent a lot of time in Central Park when I was young, I really feel right at home here.