Municipal planning, like most projects in which esthetic values play a large part, is looked upon by the lay mind in general as something which would be "fine for the town" but from which there would be no tangible result in the near future, if ever. In the Township of Teaneck especially, with several fine residential sections, excellent streets and other improvements, and fine public buildings, it is not immediately evident to those who have not studied the problem why a plan should be made and followed over a period (in this case) of twenty years. There are, however, several important and pressing reasons why Teaneck should adopt a plan and begin to effectuate it at once.
No clear understanding of the economic principles involved can be possible unless the stupendous growth of the Township is realized and a clear picture obtained of the community as it exists today. Careful studies of area and population have therefore been conducted and the results of these surveys are presented herewith to form a background for what is to come.
Teaneck has an area of approximately 6 1/2 square miles, of which more than 90% is suitable for building purposes. Making suitable allowance for streets, parks, and other public open spaces, and allowing for the same general character of development in the future as has occurred during the last decade, it is estimated that there is room in Teaneck for at least eight times as many buildings as now exist.
While the increase in population of Bergen County during the last thirty years has been remarkable, that of Teaneck during the same period has been little less than phenomenal, as the following figures compiled from the Federal census will indicate:
From the above it will be seen that the population of the entire County in 1930 was 4.6 times its population in 1900, while in 1930 Teaneck had a population 21 times that of 1900. In both cases the greatest increase occurred in the last decade.
Studies have been made of the building operations which have been carried on between the 1930 census and July, 1932, which indicate that on the latter date the population of Teaneck was about 18,000.
During the thirty year period from 1900 to 1930 Teaneck grew at an average rate of 600 persons per year. Were only this rate of increase continued for the next twenty years the population would be then at least 30,000, while if the average rate of growth between 1920 and 1930 were maintained the population in 1952 would be about 42,000. The Regional Plan Association, which made careful studies of the population growth of the metropolitan district, predicts for Bergen County a population of about 1,000,000 by 1965, or about 547,000 by 1940. Figuring on this basis the population of the county would be about 750,000 in 1950. On the same basis of growth Teaneck should have a population of at least 40,000 in 1952.
The growth of Teaneck during the next twenty years is of course problematical, inasmuch as it will be governed by many factors and conditions, most important of which are: when general economic conditions will return to normalcy, and the extent to which land subdivision and home building on a large scale will be carried on by progressive developers in the future as in the past. Considering all conditions, limitations, and factors, however, it seems safe to assume that the population in 1952 will be not less than 40,000 and possibly more nearly 50,000.
In this connection it is interesting to note that the intersection of State Highway Route 4 and Queen Anne Road divides Teaneck into four nearly equal sections. Studies of the present and probable future minimum population indicate the following approximate distribution among these four sections:
With these facts and figures as a basis the Planning Board has arrived at three major premises which form, it is believed, a logical point of departure upon which to build a plan for the future, and it is upon these points that the Board, with its consultants, has formulated the Teaneck Plan. The findings are as follows:
1. That despite the effects of the existing economic condition Teaneck will continue to grow rapidly and that twenty years hence at least 40,000 persons will live within its area.
2. That everything possible should be done to preserve Teaneck's many advantages and charms and to encourage its future development as a predominantly residential community of the best type.
3. That the community's welfare can best be conserved and advanced by following, during the next twenty years at least, a comprehensive plan for supplying the Township's expected needs in the way of major public works and various other improvements.
A casual reading of the Plan as the Board now presents it will show the reader that all of its more important phases are founded upon these theses, while a careful study will reveal the fact that every detail, even the most minor, similarly follows the guidepost set up by the preliminary surveys and their conclusions. The Plan recommends the proper development of a system of thoroughfares, the acquisition and development of park sites, the erection of additional public buildings and the enlarging of existing structures, and various other types of development. All of these are being presented with an eye towards the greatest good for the greatest part of the population of the Teaneck of the future and the conservation for its citizens of the advantages which they now enjoy.
But before going further the Board feels that it should warn the reader against approaching the study of the Plan with a rigid mind. The Plan itself is not rigid; rather is it widely elastic, and for obvious reasons. In attempting to cover a span of twenty years it is possible to estimate and to arrive at approximated conclusions, but it is not possible to forecast in minute detail the happenings of even a year hence, much less those of a score of years. Changes may occur which would necessitate different courses for highways, different sites for buildings and parks, or different directions for sewer lines.
As a practical instance of what is meant, there is included in this report a tabulation of the property to be taken over by the Township for other than street purposes. These pieces of property are recommendations only and are subject to change if conditions warrant it. Even if the Plan is adopted as presented, the municipality is not bound to acquire all or any one of these sites for any purpose. They appear to be best suited for the specific purpose set forth at this time, but what the years may bring this Board is certainly not prepared to foretell.
The reader must study the Plan, therefore, with a mind which views the Township as a whole and in the light of future, as well as present, conditions. He must think of it as a program to be developed gradually and with a constant watchfulness to see that the best interests of Teaneck, esthetically, socially, and economically, are fostered and preserved. It is on this basis that the Planning Board offers the citizens of the community the Teaneck Plan.