Editor’s note: This is a very good article about how to revitalize an urban walkable community. Maybe some of the Pottstown leadership might take 5 minutes and read something constructive on how to bring about revitalization. A simple phone call to either of these communities might provide invaluable information. People like to share their successes!
For years, planners and residents have been trying to understand why Haddon Township isn’t more like Collingswood, the millennial enclave that is South Jersey’s answer to Fairmount and East Passyunk. Situated side by side in Camden County, the two towns are old-school commuter suburbs, with small house lots, good sidewalks, and great transit to Center City. They even share a main street, Haddon Avenue, which runs through the center of both.
The pair are models for what smart-growth advocates call walkable urbanism, but Collingswood’s downtown is by far the buzzier place. You can stroll for blocks along its part of Haddon Avenue, poking into vintage stores, stopping for coffee, enjoying an al fresco meal at a BYOB. In the evenings, it’s common to see pedestrians toting a wine caddy or pushing a stroller.
In Haddon’s downtown, known as Westmont, you might not see any pedestrians for blocks.
Westmont is a frustrating example of potential unrealized. Like Collingswood, it boasts a burgeoning restaurant scene and a weekly farmers’ market. It has some great blocks filled with early 20th-century storefronts that would look at home on Passyunk Avenue. But those destinations are just lonely islands in a stream of dreary strip malls and parking lots.