For the first time since 1976, the Township of South Orange Village will be developing a new Master Plan.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum explained in an email what the new Master Plan will entail. She said that the plan will correlate to the changes that the twenty-first century brings with it.
“A community trying to determine what it would be when it grows up from the 1970s is much different than the diverse demographics and new assets we have as a municipality in the 21st century,” Collum said. “There has been a tremendous shift in housing trends, which are being driven by millennial and baby boomers preferences with both cohorts wanting what South Orange has to offer – a compact downtown with access to shopping, dining and entertainment, walkability, public transportation and of course, an amazing institution of higher learning (Go Pirates!). It speaks to ‘City Living, Village Vibe.’”
Some things will always remain the same, however.
“A Master Plan guides the use of lands within the municipality in a manner which protects public health and safety and promotes the general welfare of a community,” she said. “Some specific areas that the plan addresses relates to housing, affordable housing, parking, circulation, facilities, park and recreation, historic preservation, economic development, sustainability, environment, open space and public health.”
Interim President Dr. Mary Meehan said in an email that she thinks the plan will affect the Seton Hall community after it is put into place.
“Seton Hall has been an important part of the South Orange community since 1861,” Meehan wrote. “We’re a significant source of jobs, education and entertainment, so our students, employees and visitors contribute tremendously to the local economy. I think all of that will be considered when developing a Master Plan.”
She thinks that Seton Hall will continue to play a significant role in the South Orange community with its new Master Plan.
“The Village of South Orange and Seton Hall have many strong partnerships. Faculty and students participate in numerous Village events: campus volunteers help at Playday with the South Orange Village Center Alliance; we are a sponsor of the SouthNEXT Festival and the South Orange Food Truck Festival that coincides with Seton Hall weekend, for example,” Collum said.
Additionally, Meehan anticipates a future that continues to benefit both Seton Hall and South Orange Village.
“Our futures are tied closely together. A Master Plan should set a direction for the future. Having that will reinforce the relationship between us and how we can continue to grow together,” Meehan said. “Seton Hall is proud to call South Orange home. I look forward to Seton Hall working with South Orange as a new Master Plan takes shape over the next eighteen months.”
Sheena Collum looks forward to implementing the new Master Plan that will more clearly outline the partnership between Seton Hall and South Orange Village.
“As Seton Hall continues to grow and prosper, it impacts the town as a whole. Coordination between the municipal Master Plan the University’s Master/Strategic Plan is critical and currently doesn’t exist; the left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing,” Collum said.
“As part of this process, we will work directly with the University to promote opportunities for students, faculty and staff to be involved and I’m certain you’ll see me on campus.”
She said her personal connection to the University strengthens the desire she has to include Seton Hall directly in this upcoming initiative.
“As a Seton Hall double alum and former Student Body President, I can’t imagine undertaking this process without the involvement of the Seton Hall community. It has long been my desire to build South Orange into more of a college town. I call it ‘CommuUniversity.’ The possibilities are truly endless but we need buy-in from various stakeholders as a part of this process.”
Olivia Neiman, a junior in the speech pathology 4+2 Program studying elementary and special education and environmental science and a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority said she hoped that the new Master Plan would strengthen Greek life as well as the Seton Hall community in general.
“Personally, I would really like to see the Seton Hall and Greek life communities here at Seton Hall work hand-in-hand with the Village on projects regarding service. Whether by helping to clean up or throwing charity events, I think it’s important to have a good relationship with the community we call Home. A major part of that is giving back and helping where we can,” Neiman said.
Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.