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Workshop Attendees Learn Innovative Approaches to Addressing Combined-Sewer Overflows

January 20th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Camden Mayor Dana Redd speaks to attendees at a workshop on addressing combined-sewer overflows.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd speaks to attendees at a workshop on addressing combined-sewer overflows.

At a Jan. 8 workshop that focused on ways to solve combined sewer overflow (CSO) problems in New Jersey’s cities, speaker after speaker stressed to attendees the importance of tackling the problem early; of emphasizing the visible benefits of addressing the problem; and of working in tandem with other projects in order to put the most durable and cost-effective solutions in place. Or, as Carter Strickland, the former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, put it, “Be early. Be opportunistic. Be codependent.” Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Future Staff To Speak at APA-NJ Conference

January 15th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Documentary film Shored Up to be shown in special screening

APA ConferenceReflecting the diversity of issues on which New Jersey Future will be working in 2015, its staff will be leading four of the sessions at APA-New Jersey’s upcoming annual conference.

First, on Thursday, Jan. 29, David Kutner, New Jersey Future’s local recovery planning manager, will present a newly-developed interactive mapping tool that can help communities calculate the risk to their tax base of projected sea-level rise. The tool, built in conjunction with Princeton Hydro, can calculate various levels of loss at the parcel level depending on the extent of sea-level rise and storm surge. It has been used in the communities in which New Jersey Future is assisting with post-Sandy planning work as a way of prioritizing recovery and adaptation initiatives, and it can be used in any municipality for initiating the critical but difficult conversation about what must be done differently in the face of rising sea levels. (Assessing Financial Exposure to Sea-Level Rise, Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM.)

On Friday, Jan. 30, Chris Sturm, senior director of state policy, will moderate a panel on best practices in implementing green infrastructure, focused on tools such as model ordinances and innovative financing mechanisms that are designed to advance green infrastructure off the drawing board and into standard stormwater-management practices. Green infrastructure can not only help to manage stormwater but can also serve to create healthier, “green” communities, particularly in more urban locations, and provide much-needed local jobs and public amenities. (Moving Green Infrastructure From “State of the Art” to “Standard Practice,” Friday, Jan. 30, 9:30 – 11:00 AM.)

Also on Friday, Research Director Tim Evans will continue the conversation about creating great places to age in New Jersey that was begun with the publication of last year’s report on the topic. This session will examine which places are already well positioned to accommodate aging residents in terms of community design, accessibility to transit, and choice and affordability of housing, and will review practical steps all municipalities can take to help their residents stay as they age. (Creating Good Places To Age in New Jersey, Friday, Jan. 30, 3:15 – 4:45 PM.)

Friday afternoon, conference attendees are invited to a special screening of the film Shored Up, a thought-provoking, post-Sandy look at issues related to coastal development and coastal flooding from extreme weather in New Jersey and North Carolina. This Sundance award-winning documentary explores the likely impact of sea level rise, the effects on development of federal subsidies for both beach replenishment and flood insurance, and the politics and emotions that surround these topics. More than two years after the storm, these issues remain of critical concern to planners and policy makers. The screening will be followed by a moderated discussion. (Shored Up screening, Friday, Jan. 30, 3:15 – 4:45 PM.)

Finally, please join New Jersey Future at the Old Bay Restaurant in New Brunswick after the conference ends on Friday, for an informal get-together. Meet New Jersey Future staff, New Jersey Future members, and professionals in the field. Even if you’re not going to the conference, please feel free to join us! No charge, cash bar. (Meet and Greet, Old Bay Restaurant, 61 Church St., New Brunswick, 5:00 PM – ?)

Study Highlights Opportunities for Green Infrastructure in Trenton

January 6th, 2015 by Jane Rosenblatt

As part of its ongoing work to transform the Assunpink Creek in downtown Trenton into a new urban amenity, area stakeholders identified an opportunity to examine the feasibility of implementing various green-infrastructure strategies in the surrounding neighborhood. Implementing such strategies would help reduce the quantity of stormwater that flows into the newly daylighted creek; help clean the water that does flow into it; help control flooding in the surrounding neighborhood; and help enhance the park area around the creek as a restorative place for both residents and nature.

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A rendering of outdoor space at Thomas Edison State College, retrofitted with rain gardens to capture stormwater where it falls.

Permeable pavement works by allowing rainwater to filter directly downward, rather than running off via storm drains.

Rendering of a parking lot area retrofitted with curb cuts, rain gardens and pervious pavement, all intended to prevent stormwater from running off into drains and waterways.

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To assess the feasibility of various green-infrastructure strategies, Rutgers New Jersey Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program studied the neighborhood immediately surrounding the creek. The resulting report describes the benefits and suitability of key green-infrastructure elements, including:

  • Bioswales and rain gardens, which catch rainwater and filter it rather than allowing it to run off;
  • Curb cuts, which redirect stormwater to areas that can absorb it rather than allowing it to enter a storm drain;
  • Pervious pavement, which directs rainwater underground rather than to storm drains;
  • Rainwater harvesting systems, such as rain barrels and cisterns, which capture rainwater before it hits the ground and stores it, either for use or later release.

The study also highlighted various locations within the study area that would be suitable for one or more of these strategies, including:

  • Thomas Edison State College, where rain gardens could be incorporated into existing outdoor areas to manage stormwater more effectively;
  • Mercer Street Friends, where harvesting systems could be installed to collect rainwater off the building’s roof so that it can will be available for various outdoor uses;
  • The Department of Agriculture parking lot, where rain gardens, curb cuts and pervious pavement could be used to keep stormwater runoff away from nearby drains and waterways.

The survey also reviewed community-engagement strategies such as workshops where residents can make their own rain barrels, and school programs to educate students about the importance of effective stormwater management.

The study has been shared with Trenton city officials and with the city’s green team. New Jersey Future and other stakeholders are actively seeking options that would allow the recommendations in the study to be implemented.

Download the study report.

Plan Released for Third Round of Federal Sandy Funds

December 19th, 2014 by Megan Callus

Focus of distributions is on housing and Rebuild By Design resiliency projects

Rendering of the New Meadowlands Rebuild By Design project.

Rendering of the New Meadowlands Rebuild By Design project.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the Christie administration released three proposed amendments to the New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan. These amendments detail how the state will spend the remaining $882 million of the nearly $3.3 billion it has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for Sandy recovery. Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Lags Behind in Some Key Real Estate Trends

December 12th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

ULI-PWC-report-coverA new report from the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers outlines several key emerging trends real-estate investors should look for in 2015. A review of the first chapter shows New Jersey is well positioned to capitalize on some of these trends, and modest fixes will help it catch up to others. But some of New Jersey’s deficiencies — transportation and water infrastructure in particular — will take significant investments to fix, and if we don’t fix them, we put ourselves at an ever-greater competitive disadvantage. Read the rest of this entry »

Opinion: We Can’t Afford the Price We Pay for Cheap Water

December 10th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

From our colleague Dan Van Abs, outlining the coming crisis in our water-supply system. This article was originally posted on NJ Spotlight.


Aging infrastructure, consumer complacency, artificially low prices all combine to make the state’s water supply a problem just waiting to happen

Crumbling water infrastructure in Hoboken.

Crumbling water infrastructure in Hoboken.

A gallon of tap water in New Jersey usually costs well less than a penny, roughly $400 a year per household. People may see that price as either cheap or expensive. Either way, it is a price New Jersey can’t afford.

Water utilities face the same general rules whether owned by government or the private sector. They must provide sufficient water to their customers to meet normal and peak demands, and that water must meet drinking-water quality standards.

The problem is too that few water utilities keep up with the costs of repairing and replacing their assets, as discussed in three recent reports my research teams prepared for New Jersey Future. Water utility managers acknowledged this issue in nearly every interview. The NJ Clean Water Council (which advises the NJ Department of Environmental Protection), the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Facing Our Future (funded by New Jersey philanthropic foundations) have raised similar concerns.

Read the full article on NJ Spotlight.

Economic Opportunity Act Retains Incentives’ Focus on Smart-Growth Locations

December 5th, 2014 by Tim Evans

The Camden waterfront, where Lockheed Martin will be relocating. Photo: Flickr user Todd Mecklem

The Camden waterfront, where Lockheed Martin will be relocating. Photo: Flickr user Todd Mecklem

The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) was signed into law in September of 2013, consolidating five state economic development tax credit programs into two – the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (Grow NJ) and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program (ERG). In the run-up to the EOA’s passage, New Jersey Future successfully advocated for these programs to include bonuses or priority treatment for applicants located in, or seeking to locate in, any of the following types of “smart-growth” locations: Read the rest of this entry »

How Can We Discuss Climate Change Constructively?

December 2nd, 2014 by Steve Nelson

Don't even think about itClimate change is a topic that often creates heated discussions when it is brought up. Must it? Are there ways to talk about it that can lead to constructive dialogue (and maybe action) instead?

George Marshall, co-founder of Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) and author of the recently released Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, spoke about this recently in a lecture at Rutgers’ Cook Campus, and provided a cogent outline of why we humans have difficulty dealing with climate change. More importantly, he offered ideas on how to engage and communicate with people who want to ignore or deny it. Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown Revitalization Survey Shows Need for Towns To Be More Proactive

November 19th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

Changing demographics provide an opportunity to strengthen downtowns.

Downtown Bordentown. Photo courtesy of JGSC Group.

Downtown Bordentown. Photo courtesy of JGSC Group.

The results of a survey of those responsible for downtown revitalization in New Jersey’s municipalities show that, while various functions of downtown revitalization are widely considered important among respondents, far fewer of those respondents believe their municipalities are effective at doing them.

The survey, administered jointly by New Jersey Future and the JGSC Group, was sent to at least one representative at each of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities. Representatives from approximately 25 percent of those municipalities responded to the survey. Read the rest of this entry »

Fourth Regional Plan Conference Themes: Revitalization, Technology, Affordability and Access

November 17th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

On Friday, Nov. 14, New Jersey Future, Together North Jersey and the Regional Plan Association convened the New Jersey Conference on the Fourth Regional Plan. Speakers included Chris Jones, RPA’s vice president for research; former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio; executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey Staci Berger; Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz; and former Verizon president and chief executive officer Dennis Bone. Chris Jones set the stage with a review of the advances in the region that grew from previous regional plan recommendations, and and then an overview of RPA’s Fragile Success project, a map- and data-driven analysis of the region’s successes, opportunities and challenges. (Presentation.) Our colleagues at NJ Spotlight have provided this report on the conference.


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Former New Jersey Gov. James Florio

With the Regional Plan Association fashioning a new strategy for the tri-state region, officials and others have suggested they should focus on revitalizing urban areas and how technology may dramatically change the job market in the future.

Further, they should not neglect the impact global climate change will have on the region, according to former Gov. Jim Florio. He was on a panel at the Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark on Friday, discussing issues affecting New Jersey as RPA prepares its fourth regional plan.

RPA is a nonprofit group that deals with a variety of issues affecting the tri-state region. Previous plans have been instrumental in proposing wide-ranging recommendations dealing with transportation, economic development, environmental issues, and open space in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Read the full article on NJ Spotlight.

Listen to the unedited audio:

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