Kiley: Let's Work Together Maplewood

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Kurt Kiley is a resident of Maplewood and a candidate for the Maplewood Township Committee

One of the most exciting aspects of being elected to the Township Committee is the ability to take action and do great things for Maplewood. The responsibilities of a Committee member go far beyond making decisions on chickens and fence height; we have the power to take action and spearhead initiatives that can improve the quality of life for everyone in the town.

As committee members we rely on each other for support and cooperation, but more importantly we need the support of you, the citizens of Maplewood. Maplewood has amazing people with diverse backgrounds and a wealth of experience. When we work together we can expect remarkable outcomes.

What follows are a few of the questions I’ve frequently been asked regarding specific initiatives I plan to take during my 3 year term as a member of the Township Committee. I look forward to working with the people of Maplewood to get these initiatives accomplished.

Name one initiative you would like to start to help revive Springfield Avenue.

There are two new initiatives I would like to spearhead that integrate my support for incubating small businesses as well as creative place making:

  1. Pop-up temporary art installations in long vacant properties. Visual or performance art in vacant spaces will add life to dormant areas and give people additional reasons to return to and interact with Springfield Avenue.
  2. “Win This Space” is a program I first saw in action in Columbus OH. People compete to produce the most interesting business plan. The winner of the competition wins free rent in the vacant storefront for one year, and reduced rent for the second year. The business plans would be vetted by the chamber of commerce or SCORE to ensure viability. The citizens of Maplewood would vote for the business they found most exciting, and a Kickstarter program would be incorporated to raise money to help get the business off the ground.

Both of these programs are working successfully in some form or another in other towns. To be successful they require coordination of many parties, including the landlords. I believe we can take the experience other towns have with these programs and make them unique to Maplewood. In addition to revitalizing our economy, these programs also build community; we all participate and have skin in the game.

What would you do to improve pedestrian safety?

We need to approach pedestrian safety in a systematic manner. We have multiple groups competing for the use of our roads: joggers, bicyclists, people going to work, people going to the train station, parents dropping their children off at school, etc.

The first step would be to reinstate the Transportation Advisory Committee, the committee that organized our successful jitney program. Let’s task them with understanding how traffic moves through Maplewood, and how our streets are used. Once we have a good understanding of this, we can then work to make all of our streets safer.

Next, we need to collaborate with the Board Of Education. A large portion of pedestrian and vehicle traffic is due to the transportation of children to school in the morning. The Township and Board of Education both have a responsibility to ensure everyone’s safety, particularly the children.

Finally, for blocks that are not on emergency routes, I would work with the newly recreated Transportation Advisory Committee and Engineering department to simplify the process required to receive traffic calming.

What are your plans for the Woman’s Club (The Woodland)?

The possibilities for The Woodland are endless. This historic building can once again become a vibrant center for the arts and community. We want this building to be restored, serve the community, and to stand on its own feet financially.

To do this we need to:

  1. Communicate. We need to communicate clearly the current and future intended uses of the building.
  2. Commit to it. A full throated endorsement by the Township Committee to the long term restoration of the Woman’s Club will go a long way to improving its future viability and the ability to raise funds for its restoration.
  3. Develop a clear and compelling vision for its future use. Collaborate with the public and groups in the education, arts, community, urban planning, historic preservation, architectural, and entrepreneurial sectors to brainstorm a vision all of Maplewood can rally around.
  4. Develop a Master Plan for the long term restoration of the building.
  5. Develop a Citizens Corp of Volunteers to help. Much like Habitat for Humanity, many hands make light work.
  6. Organize a fund raising group. Maplewood is known for rallying around and supporting a good cause. A commitment and a compelling vision for the future of the Woman’s Club will make fundraising possible.
  7. Organize a board of Trustees to oversee the building and its future.
  8. Optimize revenue generation. Phase in the restoration so that revenue is optimized. The faster revenue is generated the faster the building can stand on its own and be restored.
  9. Look for corporate underwriting to help fund the restoration. The Woman’s club has a great history and story that many would want to be associated with. Let’s approach Home Depot, John’s Mansfield, etc. about contributing construction material for the restoration.
  10. Media exposure. Home restoration shows abound. Again the Woman’s Club has great history and a great story, let’s see if we can capitalize on it.

This is a just a framework to get us started, we can adjust and add to it as necessary. The Woman’s club will be celebrating their 100th anniversary in Maplewood in 2 years; let’s make it a goal to rededicate a restored Woman’s Club at that time.

These are a few of the initiatives I would like to get started in my first term, there are many more. What new initiatives would you like to see taken? What would you be willing contribute your time to? When we work together, we will accomplish great things.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday November 4th. I look forward to working for you, and alongside of you.

Thank You.

Kurt Kiley, the Independent on Line C.

 

 

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