It's better than what's there now.
That was the general consensus among residents who came to Town Hall Thursday night to check out an "open house" forum on the proposed CVS Pharmacy, which would replace a used car dealership at Spring Street and Speedwell Avenue that has been abandoned for years.
Several information stations were set up throughout the Senior Center, where professionals involved in the project were available to present the plan so far and answer questions.
Nick Verderese, of Dynamic Traffic LLC, showed a video with predicted traffic patterns along the road following construction of the pharmacy and following all four phases of the Speedwell Avenue Redevelopment Plan. The proposed CVS location presently is part of that redevelopment zone and will ultimately need to be transferred to CVS from the plan's redeveloper, Mill Creek.
Besides the construction of the building, traffic and pedestrian safety improvements are being touted as part of the plan, including road realignment.
One of those pedestrian safety improvements Verderese explained was an "actuary," a pedestrian traffic signal. It would be located where currently a crosswalk is located at Speedwell Avenue and Flagler Street.
Although the "stop" sign at the crosswalk is supposed to be respected by law by drivers, Marty Epstein of nearby Marty's Reliable Cycle said crossing it "is death-defying."
"This is great, it sounds logical," he said.
John Codd said he had some issue with the building being set back from the road. "Virtually everything in Morristown is right in front," he said. "But, I like having that property utilized."
Marge Brady approved of the setback, saying it would be the only way the store could be built at the heavily-trafficked intersection. "On that corner, it can't handle it," she said.
While Brady lives on the other side of town and has easy access by foot to a pair of pharmacies located side-by-side in Walgreens and Rite-Aid on South Street, it is a lot tougher for people to get to a pharmacy from Speedwell Avenue without having to take a car.
Still, Brady, a former councilwoman and regular at Town Council meetings, was not ready to give the project her full endorsement. "I really like it, but it could be tweaked," she said.
Town Planner Phil Abramson, with Jonathan Rose Companies, said that was the reason they planned the open house information session.
The next public meeting on the project has not yet been scheduled as Abramson will be reviewing the "Question and Answer" forms available at the session to gauge opinions.
"If big changes are needed, we'll address them," he said. "If it's just tweaks and tinkering, we can do that quickly."
It appears, however, even those not completely sold on the project are mostly on-board.
Carol Barkin, of the Morris Tourism Bureau, lamented the loss of the current building, which was constructed in 1903. "I think it's a historically significant corner," she said. "It's an iconic building. I wish a more preservation-minded tenant could be found."
But even Ken Miller, chairman of the Morristown Historic Preservation Commission, acknowledged the benefit of having something there besides an abandoned building. "I would rather see active re-use, but obviously it would be more expensive," he said. "This design is OK ... but, I want to see everything in Morristown occupied."
Keisha Smith-Johnson, owner of the Shear Bliss hair salon directly across the street from the project for almost seven years, and a business owner in the area for almost 20 years, had a hard time finding fault with the proposal.
"It has been a complete eyesore," she said. "This is great, not just for me and my business. [Speedwell Avenue] is tired and it prevents some people from coming to that side of town. Some are scared—they shouldn't be, it just needs something to jump start it."