In May 2023, Bloomfield began hosting workshops and seeking residents’ input on the township and what projects or initiatives they would like to see in its’ future as part of the master planning process.
The Bloomfield master plan is a document that will be adopted by the Bloomfield planning board and outlines the town’s current state and a vision and strategies for the future development of Bloomfield.
The plan serves as a blueprint for future development. It includes recommendations for land use and zoning, transportation, economic development, community facilities, and open space. The 2002 master plan and its 2008 update laid the groundwork for the Bloomfield Center Redevelopment Plan, for example.
Bloomfield first created a master plan in 2002 and periodically updated some or all of its elements in 2008, 2014, and 2020.
To support resident engagement in the master plan, Bloomfield Info worked with a member of our Community Corps to document the May 2023 planning meetings and give residents examples of topics to share their perspectives on in the survey. (Attendees’ names are not included because it was a public meeting where we did not ask permission to quote them.)
Here were some of the most discussed topics in Bloomfield’s first 2023 master planning workshops.
Bloomfield 2023 master planning topics
Location, transportation, walkability
Participants identified an asset in Bloomfield’s location, with access to various transportation options, including an international airport, New Jersey Transit, light rail, and buses. Some they called for improvements to the train station to enhance commuting experiences for residents. Others expressed concerns about congestion traffic within the town and the need to collaborate with the county to improve pedestrian safety and walkability.
Participants emphasized the need to address aging infrastructure, mainly focusing on maintaining and improving water pipes, sewer, and storm infrastructure to address issues such as flooding and ensure a sustainable future and preparedness for weather events related to climate change.
The planning workshops highlighted the challenges renters face in finding affordable housing and the need to support homeownership opportunities for current renters. Some participants suggested exploring developing rules for small affordable housing units, like converted garages or yard spaces, to accommodate local seniors. Others also identified taxes as a significant challenge, concerned about maintaining affordability and economic diversity in Bloomfield.
Efforts to improve the downtown area were discussed, emphasizing addressing empty commercial spaces and maximizing the potential of existing amenities. Some participants wanted to establish a theater or music venue in downtown Bloomfield to attract more entertainment and boost the local economy.
Community identity and engagement
Participants suggested enhancing Bloomfield’s identity by creating and promoting public art installations and historic districts and the development of a distinct brand emerged as a shared vision. Community members also expressed increased awareness and engagement with community and local county activities.
Other discussions at the master planning meetings
Some topics discussed at the meetings won’t make it into the master plan because they may be outside of the scope of the official planning process. Here are some topics that were mentioned but not discussed significantly.
North-South Bloomfield divide
Participants described the division between North and South Bloomfield as one ongoing issue.
According to Bloomfield Info’s reporting, area residents describe the difference between these two places in terms of the North’s disproportionate access to wealth and political power.
In conversations with Bloomfield Info staff, residents have pointed to the manifestation of this difference in housing and land use, policing, green space access, walkability, and school quality.
This division also disproportionately burdens Bloomfield’s working class and communities and Black and Latino communities as a result of historic and modern racial segregation.
Preserving Bloomfield College
Participants shared the desire to preserve the character of Bloomfield College amid its merger with Montclair State University.
In October 2021, Bloomfield College President Marcheta Evans shared the school was seeking a partnership with another higher education institution to avoid closing in 2023 due to a lack of sustainable revenue.
In 2022, Bloomfield College announced a plan for its takeover by Montclair State, and the merger’s finalization is expected on June 30, 2023.