Oh, just kill it already.
Look at the budget – salaries and the Downtown Cranford magazine for 200k?
Installing lights and pavers is nice, but the best device for recruiting new businesses to Cranford is the prospect of profitability. Is a bureaucrat and a quarterly magazine the best use of potential advertising / promotion dollars? High property taxes on commercial properties impact rents, and special assessments don’t help, pushing that break-even point that little bit higher.
Slow building inspections, slow health inspections, and red tape that delays openings hurt even more.
Why is it that nail salons and pizzerias make it? They don’t have the investment in fixtures and inventory that other stores often have and the margins they have are higher than other kinds of retailers (remember, the most expensive ingredient of your pizza, by far, is the box).
The township’s job is to set the table – provide the environment so that different types of retailers can make money. When they make money, other potential retailers will notice and then we will start to get moving. Assessments and high taxes aren’t the way to do that.
Capital improvements for the “common areas” of the downtown that make it more inviting (which could never be justified in a township budget) is one thing that makes sense to assess the business owners who directly benefit from them. But the lights and pavers are done. And obviously, the DMC doesn’t have a handle on what would solve the problems of downtown once and for all. If they did know, they almost certainly do not have the power to make it happen.
If that’s the case, wouldn’t the business owners benefit from its demise?