DUNELLEN – Acting. Gov. Kim Guadagno came by to this working-class Middlesex County borough to celebrate its designation as a Transit Village.
By being named a Transit Village, Dunellen will be able to apply for various grants that may become available in the future, receive technical expertise as it pursues transit-oriented development, and market itself as a premier destination.
Guadagno said she came by to “highlight the tenacity” of Mayor Robert Seader and town officials for sticking with the application process to make the day possible. She said the Transit Village designation will help “revitalize” Dunellen and bring more residents to live in the downtown area, as well as to shop there and take advantage of entertainment offerings, such as the local movie theater.
Seader said it was a long time in coming and publicly praised Council President Ken Baudendistel for his commitment to the issue during a lengthy application process.
“He was like a pit bull and I mean a pit bull,” the mayor said. “Ken never wavered. He kept at it.”
State Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson said Dunellen is well-positioned to become an energized transit hub.
“You got all the ingredients,” he said, likening it to “old wine in a new bottle.” He pointed out the central business district already has several businesses, a Main Street and a busy railway. He said the state needs to continue to have more walkable communities, saying it’s “liberating” for residents to be able to go about their daily lives without having to drive.
Dunellen becomes the 25th Transit Village overall and the fourth one serving the Raritan Valley Lines. The other stations serving that line that have also been named Transit Villages in recent years are Somerville, Cranford and Bound Brook.
Seader said there are no major condo or rental projects planned around the downtown. Over the years, the local Planning Board has allowed applicants to pursue mixed-use projects, building housing over storefronts. Also, there is a 19-acre Art Color property that could serve as the future sight of a mixed-use project.
Seader said he’s been in negotiation with various individuals who have expressed interest in developing the property. Thus far, there are no specific plans for the area.