contentsMadison NJ Chamberads

Downtown Development Commission

By Russell Stern

What do you get when you combine rich history with curated arts and culture? Madison, NJ. This might sound like a silly knock-knock joke … but we think it describes our community perfectly. The Downtown Development Commission (DDC) has committed the last 30 years to branding and promoting downtown Madison so that everyone who lives, works or visits here has an enjoyable and memorable experience.

The DDC consists of 18 Mayor-appointed volunteer commissioners representing a balanced cross section of public officials, business owners, landlords, residents and representatives from the local colleges, news media, merchants, nonprofits, seniors and corporations. Our commissioners include the Mayor of Madison, the Editor of the Madison Eagle, the President of the Madison Board of Education, the Assistant Vice President of Administration and University Relations at Drew University, as well as prominent members of the community.

In an effort to bring people and attention to downtown Madison, the DDC coordinates several events and fund raisers which either take place in the center of town, or raise funds that benefit downtown. In early Spring, we host the Taste of Madison, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club. The DDC runs the Madison Farmers Market, located off of Main Street every Thursday from June to October. We sponsor and coordinate May Day in Madison, a day of volunteerism that recruits close to 900 people to clean up the town. And, we throw the biggest party of the year, Bottle Hill Day, a gigantic street fair the first week of October with rides, live music, food, crafts and vendors. All proceeds raised by these events are used to enhance Madison’s public spaces, parks, lots, and the Historic District.

The DDC thrives on partnerships with almost every organization in Madison. Recently one of the most fruitful collaborations has been with the Madison Arts & Cultural Alliance (MACA). Together we launched the Madison Arts Sidewalk Gallery and Gala Auction. From May to October, over 20 hand-painted original canvases decorate the Madison downtown. In October, the town gathers at Hartley Dodge Memorial, Madison’s stately Borough Hall, for the Art Gala where we all try to purchase our favorite works at a live auction. This night out hosted by the DDC and MACA is fun and friendly. Outbidding your friends and neighbors ... Priceless.

Another favorite partnership that we foster is the wildly successful “LOVE MADISON, SHOP MADISON” campaign which we share with the Madison Chamber of Commerce. Our organizations encourage everyone to support local downtown merchants by rewarding shoppers with prizes and press releases. Not only do most merchants proudly display the “LOVE MADISON, SHOP MADISON” sign in their front windows, but countless residents sport the iconic logo on colorful car magnets. If you get “caught” by the Prize Patrol with a Love Madison magnet on your car, you could win a prize! Our message is that shopping local yields many rewards.

I can go on and on about the amazing work that the DDC volunteers do — and I often do — but the most important thing about the DDC is that we are all completely committed to making Madison beautiful and enjoyable. And with that, I invite you to JOIN THE FUN!

For additional information visit the DDC website at https://gov.rosenet.org/agencies/ddc or contact the DDC at (973) 408-8787, MadisonDDC@gmail.com.

Russell Stern is the Chairman of the DDC and has been the Director of Planning/Township Planner of Roxbury Township since 1995. In addition to 4 years with the DDC, he spent 10 years on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, one year on a parking garage study committee and one year on the Historic Preservation Committee.

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