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Shaping The Ave

by Russell Swanson, Exec. Dir., VDID, Main Street Vineland

Last week I had in blurb in this column about a very important online survey you were requested to take to help develop The Ave of the future. The survey was developed by Main Street New Jersey and, as I said, is being used in about 100 communities throughout the state. You still have until Sunday at midnight to complete the survey, and we’ve made it easier for you by putting the link right on the homepage of our website— I said last week that I’d have more information this week, so now I’ll give more details and background.

For the background, we must go back to last April, when we had a full-day workshop here, at which over 50 representatives from Main Street districts throughout the state attended. At that time, Matt Wagner, vice president of Revitalization Programs for Main Street America, gave a detailed presentation of the revitalization effort, together with analyzation of demographic markers, types of successful businesses, and other measures of success.

Next comes this survey, which will help to take those markers and that data and make them specific to our downtown. Several questions are asked in this short survey about people’s current impressions of our downtown, shopping habits, choices for future businesses, and their vision for the future of our downtown. A downtown—like The Ave—is a constant work-in-progress. It’s dynamic and always needs to be looked in relation to the tastes, demographics, economic conditions, and shopping and business habits of the times. The survey will help to nail down the public’s tastes, wishes, and desires as to what The Ave should be.

Next comes a full-day visit to The Ave by Main Street New Jersey on Thursday, September 12, for a “Transformation Strategy Development Technical Visit” involving Main Street New Jersey, as well as City, Main Street Vineland, business, and community leaders, and Vineland residents. It’ll include analyzation and application of the survey results, as well as helping to develop community-informed and market-driven strategies to direct and strengthen downtown revitalization efforts. Participation will include Main Street New Jersey leadership, Main Street Vineland leadership, Board members and staff, City leadership and stakeholders, business and property owners, and the community at large. From the visit, strategies and activities will be developed from the assembled data to help steer revitalization efforts for the next three to five years.

All of this will help us adapt what was learned at the April session to The Ave’s needs and will move the progress forward to chart a course of further progress with goals and objective for the Ave.

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One thing that makes The Ave special is the abundance of ethnic cuisines featured in our restaurants downtown. We’ve just added one more. Make sure to stop by Indian Villa, The Ave’s newest dining destination and its first Indian restaurant, at 601 E. Landis Avenue. Join us there on Tuesday, September 10, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., as we partner with the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce, for a Meet-and-Greet. This event, free and open to the public, will be your chance to sample some tasty Indian dishes, and to touch base with downtown and area businesses, community leaders, and your friends and neighbors.

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Remember to stop by the mini-park at the southwest corner of Landis Avenue and the Boulevard and check out the progress on the military mural that’s been made by artist George Perez and his assistants. We’re continuing our donation drive for the mural. Just go to—and, on the home page, click on the link for the military mural. You’ll be immediately taken to a page where you can find out more about the project and how to donate—and since we’re a 501(c)3 entity, your donation is tax-deductible. No amount is too large or too small.

On The Ave