Borough officials will hold an important meeting on February 29th at 7 p.m, incidentally Leap Day 2012, at the Municipal Building to present the results of a Transit Village Study performed by New Jersey Transit. The release of the findings could potentially shape the future of Garwood for decades to come on multiple fronts including its viability as a commuter destination, potential for residential growth in the future, and even the direction of the town's commercial core in Downtown. The meeting will include the Mayor, Council and Planning/Zoning Board.
New Jersey Transit will present, what it refers to as, feasible options for the borough to pursue in the future in regards to its status as a Transit Village. That term carries a hefty weight (and in the past state funding) in New Jersey in the eyes of the government and planning executives. If New Jersey Transit and the State Department of Transportation see Garwood as a viable transportation hub they will push that designation big time. And, if history repeats itself, like it has done in most other towns labelled Transit Villages, planning and zoning changes will make way for more walkable, "sustainable" centers, that almost always include large re-development projects. Some towns get it right: South Orange, Metuchen, some miss the mark like Bound Brook and arguably Cranford.
Let's be clear- just saying a municipality is a Transit Village doesn't automatically mean good news for residents of the towns with that title. A recent study conducted by Rutgers and others found that the state's Transit Village designation is a helpful, but not necessary, program for towns to see an increase in property values.
That said, the Leap Day meeting, unlike some of the most recent Council gatherings, may actually set the borough on a different course. Whether that's for better or worse is yet to be seen.