Working for Smart Growth:
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Raising Awareness of our Urban Water Infrastructure on #UndertheEarthDay

April 22nd, 2015 by Jane Rosenblatt

Urban water grateThe first Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Forty-five years later, the Clean Water Act is finally being enforced in New Jersey.

On March 12, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued final permits to the 25 cities and utilities that operate combined-sewer systems (CSSs), a first step to updating decrepit infrastructure, minimizing flooding and keeping raw sewage from reaching public waterways. The new permits require affected towns and sewer treatment authorities to create and adopt plans to address the problems triggered by what are known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs). These overflows occur when a system that handles both stormwater and sewage is overwhelmed by rain or snowmelt, causing untreated sewage to be discharged into local waterways, and sometimes into streets and basements.

Through the Urban Water Solutions Initiative, a number of thought leaders and decision makers throughout the state are working to facilitate best-practice solutions for New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure and combined sewer overflows that spur city revitalization. The group’s programmatic objectives and recommendations for state and federal action and are outlined in its 2015 Objectives.

This year, on Earth Day – a day usually dedicated to concern for the natural environment – the Urban Water Solutions Initiative took to social media to raise awareness of the impact our antiquated infrastructure has on our cities as well as our waterways. Using the hashtags #UnderTheEarthDay and #NJWater, people and organizations shared photos and tidbits about New Jersey’s urban water infrastructure issues, as well as solutions such as green infrastructure, green roofs and more!

See below for the posts and photos. Continue the conversation with us by posting to Twitter or Instagram using #NJwater!

 

New Jersey Future Joins National Infrastructure Week With Free Webinar May 14

April 21st, 2015 by Elaine Clisham


Webinar will highlight effective communications tools to build support for water infrastructure upgrades

Infrastructure Week logo smallNew Jersey Future has signed on as an affiliate of the Brookings Institution‘s third annual Infrastructure Week, May 11-15. Infrastructure Week is dedicated to bringing together stakeholders in Washington, D.C., and around the country to highlight the critical importance of investing in and modernizing America’s infrastructure systems, and the essential role infrastructure plays in our economy. Read the rest of this entry »

New Meadowlands Project Under Way

April 13th, 2015 by Megan Callus

New MeadowlandsAlmost two years ago, the Presidential Hurricane Sandy Task Force formed within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, launched the Rebuild By Design competition to advance resilience of communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Interdisciplinary teams of engineers, designers and architects studied the region and developed long-term strategies for improving flood resilience. Two projects in New Jersey, Hudson River’s Resist Delay, Store, Discharge, and the New Meadowlands, were awarded $380 million of the $930 million in total funding. The $150-million New Meadowlands project, based on the original design of creating a system of natural reserves and berms to reduce flooding risks, will be used for a pilot project in Little Ferry, Teterboro, Moonachie, Carlstadt, and South Hackensack. Read the rest of this entry »

Community Meetings To Focus on Flood Vulnerability, Potential Solutions

April 10th, 2015 by David Kutner

Coastal future meetingsResidents and interested parties from Little Egg Harbor Township and Tuckerton Borough are invited to a series of meetings to review the findings of an analysis that evaluated where the towns are most vulnerable to future flooding and storm events. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. The follow-up meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, at the same time, and Saturday, June 20, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. All three meetings will be conducted at the Little Egg Harbor Community Center, located at 319 West Cala Breeze Way.

Hurricane Sandy highlighted vulnerabilities faced by New Jersey’s coastal and bayfront communities. Residents have a new opportunity to understand these vulnerabilities and to explore how they might be addressed, via this series of public meetings, entitled Planning for Little Egg’s and Tuckerton’s Coastal Future. 

Participants in the meeting series will learn not only about vulnerabilities, but also about options for responding to future risk. The three sessions will address different topics and residents are encouraged to attend all three.

Rising sea levels have already increased the frequency and magnitude of regular, “nuisance” flooding that occurs today. It is likely that these conditions will contribute further to and increase the severity of flood risk into the future, particularly during storm events that frequently threaten of New Jersey’s coastline. These factors make thoughtful planning and preparation essential if coastal areas are to minimize or avoid the type of devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

New Jersey Future has worked with Little Egg Harbor Township and Tuckerton Borough for the last 18 months to help community leaders understand the future flooding risks they are likely to face. A detailed risk analysis has been prepared for both communities, evaluating where the towns are most vulnerable, and exploring strategies to help the towns and their residents better respond to future storms and rising sea levels.

One example of the type of strategies currently under consideration involves the vibrant marshlands that presently protect Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton by absorbing wave action and reducing water velocity. Developing strategies to protect the marshes, expand them, and assist them in the battle to keep pace with rising sea levels is a critical component of a resiliency program. To that end, New Jersey Future successfully obtained a $2.13 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to dredge the lagoons and apply excavated materials to elevate the marsh to ensure its long-term vitality.

The upcoming meetings, which will be led by New Jersey Future Local Recovery Planning Manager Leah Yasenchak, will highlight other strategies also being considered.

Forum Plenary: Impact Investing and Systems Thinking

April 10th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Brian Trelstad

Brian Trelstad

During the Q&A portion of the morning plenary at Redevelopment Forum 2015 (full session video), moderator and New Jersey Future Trustee Brian Trelstad (presentation) asked the panelists whether the new approaches to investment they had been discussing were really new, or just “old wine in new bottles.”

Reuben Teague from Prudential (presentation) said that the way his firm evaluates potential impact investments — first on their ability to transform, and then on their capacity to provide an acceptable rate of return — was in fact fairly new, and the increasingly rigorous metrics by which the firm evaluates such investments are, in the social investing sphere, very new.

Reuben Teague

Reuben Teague

Mr. Teague explained how impact investing works at Prudential, where it has grown to almost a $500 million division with plans to reach $1 billion in social investments by the year 2020. Much of Prudential’s impact investing is centered around the firm’s home city of Newark, where the intent is to transform the downtown into a vibrant, walkable 24-hour space. Mr. Teague provided an overview of investment projects along one retail corridor, which is intended to anchor this transformation. These investments are typical, traditional redevelopment initiatives that will provide an acceptable financial return as well as a public benefit. Read the rest of this entry »

2015 Smart Growth Award Winners Announced

March 30th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham


Leadership Award will honor land-use attorney and 
former New Jersey Future trustee Anne S. Babineau Esq.

SGA2015 winner buttonA redevelopment of a historic urban park; the expansion of an anchor institution in our capital city; a “complete” redesign of a major urban street; a landmark multi-use building that serves as a community anchor; two plans to revitalize neighborhoods near transit; and a pioneering collaborative effort to improve urban neighborhoods prone to stormwater flooding are the winners of New Jersey Future’s 2015 Smart Growth Awards. Read the rest of this entry »

Opinion: Bill To Reform Meadowlands Commission an Ill-Planned Clean-Up Attempt

March 26th, 2015 by New Jersey Future staff

The following opinion article originally ran in The Star-Ledger and on nj.com, and is cross-posted here with permission of its author, Charles Latini. Mr. Latini is the current president of the American Planning Association‘s New Jersey chapter.


Source: flickr user Doc Searls

Source: flickr user Doc Searls

It wasn’t that long ago that the Meadowlands was a sea of unregulated landfills, filled wetlands, polluted waterways and diminishing wildlife populations. A Wild West of waste management. Fast forward forty-five years and you now see an ecotourism destination – thriving wetlands, serving as habitat for avian species, and a diverse economy of industrial, commercial and residential investment, including MetLife Stadium.

This didn’t happen by accident. It happened because of the creation of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission, now known as the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, in 1969. It happened because of a commitment to both environmental revitalization and economic development. It happened because of the commission’s authority to control zoning and development from a region-wide perspective, and their adoption of the Meadowlands Master Plan. And it happened because of the tax sharing structure adopted for the region that provided a groundbreaking alternative to the municipal chase for short-term tax ratables, at the expense of long-term planning. Read the rest of this entry »

Meadowlands ‘Cleanup Bill’ Needs Cleaning Up

March 18th, 2015 by Peter Kasabach

Questions remain about why Liberty State Park development rights are included in this bill.

The New Jersey Turnpike as it passes over the Meadowlands. Photo source: flickr user illinigardner

The New Jersey Turnpike as it passes over the Meadowlands. Photo source: flickr user illinigardner

The proposed Meadowlands “cleanup” bill, intended to correct the flaws and shortcomings in the legislation that folded the Meadowlands Commission into the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, in fact has not gone far enough to address problems in the original legislation, and has created several new problems. New Jersey Future has submitted formal comments urging that the bill be amended significantly before it reaches the governor’s desk for signing, where the rubber stamp awaits. Read the rest of this entry »

Forum Keynote: Opportunities (and Challenges) for Great Change

March 18th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

LRichardsIn her luncheon keynote at Redevelopment Forum 2015, Congress for the New Urbanism President and Chief Executive Officer Lynn Richards made the three-part case that a) this is the perfect time to be advocating for changes in how we grow and develop; b) there are great opportunities for successful redevelopment at all scales; but c) there are also challenges that must be navigated. Full presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

Release of Combined-Sewer Permits Should Trigger Generational Investments in Affected Communities

March 17th, 2015 by Jane Rosenblatt

Hoboken's proposed Southwest Resiliency Park, an example of "green" infrastructure intended to capture stormwater before it runs into the city's sewer system.

Hoboken’s proposed Southwest Resiliency Park, an example of “green” infrastructure intended to capture stormwater before it runs into the city’s sewer system.

On March 12, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued final permits to the 25 cities and utilities that operate combined-sewer systems (CSSs), a first step to updating decrepit infrastructure, minimizing flooding and keeping raw sewage from reaching public waterways. The new permits require affected towns and sewer treatment authorities to create and adopt plans to address the problems triggered by what are known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs). These overflows occur when a system that handles both stormwater and sewage is overwhelmed by rain or snowmelt, causing untreated sewage to be discharged into local waterways, and sometimes into streets and basements. Read the rest of this entry »

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