Newark mayor Cory Booker is frustrated that the perception of his city in not improving despite strides made in curtailing the murder rate.

And he’s not wrong. However, highly publicized shootings, including the recent resolution to the schoolyard executions a year ago still bother us.

Here are some suggestions on what Newark can do to woo the suburbanites who are still too scared to come:

1. For public events, a visible police presence – such as for Newark Bears games. People want to feel safe even if they leave in the fifth inning. Why do you think the Somerset Patriots are the team of choice for people in our area? Essex and Union County residents have options…and driving 30 minutes to an area where we feel safe will often trump driving 15 minutes to somewhere we do not.

2. Help outsiders learn of the geography. Most people honestly haven’t been in Newark since the early 70s. We don’t know the place, where is safe and where it isn’t. What is a destination area that could be deemed safe and hyped through PR? Perry Street? Ironbound? Steal a page from the Times Square playbook. Outsiders don’t know Newark and are thus afraid to come.

3. Newark reinforces the perception on itself and that must be changed. For example, with the overpasses out of Penn Station that enable office workers to never touch a Newark sidewalk, that helps maintain the perception. I’m not saying dismantle them, but the area around Penn Station on the ground looks pretty uninviting. Look at the touch points of the city to outsiders – from the Turnpike, McCarter highway, Penn Station, etc and see what improvements can be made in increasing activity, improving lighting and giving upstanding residents a reason to be there and feel safe.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Good luck Mayor Booker.

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