By Chris Bernardo
CDS President and Journal Square SID Administrator
For the last two decades, our team in Journal Square has had the honor and privilege to support the Govinda Sanskar Temple and the Jersey City Asian Merchants Association in coordinating the largest outdoor Navratri celebration in the country.
I can still remember the first night in 2003 when we closed down Newark Avenue in India Square, a major gateway in and out of the City. Nobody knew what to expect, and at the time, some were reasonably skeptical of closing down a major thoroughfare like Newark Avenue.
Looking back, I’m reminded of how thrilling it was that night to watch all of the elements come together…to watch a notoriously congested street transform into a dynamic public event space that would support thousands of dancing celebrants.
Today, the thrill is the same, and Navratri has become a touchstone for how Jersey City celebrates the diversity and culture of the City and the State.
What’s more is the tremendous amount of public investment that has been made in the last decade on the part of the City of Jersey City and most recently by the City’s burgeoning Department of Infrastructure to improve India Square’s portion of Newark Avenue, which now includes an updated streetscape, pedestrian safety measures, new decorative light poles, new street pole banners, new streetscape planters, a beautifully designed street mural, and two stunning pole mounted skyline arches that serve as gateways at each end of India Square.
Those public investments are now being matched with private investment taking place up and down the avenue. Several new infill development projects are taking shape, and Patel Brothers grocery store has started construction on a renovation project that will modernize the store and double the size of its market.
All of this is a testament to the importance of incremental changes, which, over time, can transform a neighborhood and elevate a community.