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Preparing for the Next Sandy Requires Facing Hard Facts

October 28th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

In this op-ed article for NJ Spotlight, Chris Sturm and David Kutner argue that vulnerable communities need to begin the difficult discussions about what must be done differently in order to be better prepared for the next Hurricane Sandy.

Two years after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, many of New Jersey’s coastal communities continue to struggle with recovery and rebuilding efforts. The highest community priority is to get people back into their homes, re-establish business operations and return to life as close to normal as possible. The elected officials who have led these efforts are hardworking heroes. But it’s also clear that recovery decisions made without a clear understanding of future risks can move people back into harm’s way, build infrastructure that will be damaged again, and waste taxpayer dollars. The time has come for leaders to focus on understanding risks and ensuring resiliency.

A few months after Sandy, and with the support of several private foundations, New Jersey Future initiated a program that embedded local recovery planning managers (LRPMs) in three pairs of neighboring communities – Sea Bright and Highlands, Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton, and Commercial and Maurice River – that experienced severe hurricane damage. The LRPMs work directly with municipal staff, provide much-needed additional capacity to plan and manage recovery projects and help to secure funding for implementation. Read the rest of this entry »

Water Infrastructure Funds: An Opportunity To Make Communities More Resilient

October 22nd, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

The following was written by Ben Chou of the National Resources Defense Council, about New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust‘s draft plan for use of its revolving funds. New Jersey Future and NRDC are submitting comments jointly to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, stressing the improvements needed in order for these funds to be leveraged most effectively to make communities more resilient to extreme weather risks.

Waterfront South Rain Garden ParkWith images of flooding, drought, storms, and other extreme weather appearing in the headlines more frequently, it’s clear that the effects of climate change already are being felt in neighborhoods, communities, and cities across the U.S. In recognition of the danger that these events pose, particularly to vital water and wastewater services, states like New Jersey are re-thinking how they can change the way they allocate public funds to help communities better prepare.

One such funding program is the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which is expected to provide $350 million to a variety of water quality protection projects throughout the state this year. In conjunction with New Jersey Future, we are submitting comments this week to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on how the state can improve the way it allocates these funds in order to make communities more resilient to a variety of extreme weather and climate risks.

Compared to other states, New Jersey has taken laudable steps to better support projects that will help communities become more resilient.

Read the entire post on the National Resources Defense Council’s blog, Switchboard.

Community Meeting Brings Assunpink “Daylighting” to the Light of Day

October 21st, 2014 by Nicholas Dickerson

A view of the vacant lot that currently covers the Assunpink Creek, towards the obscured S. Broad Street Bridge. Across the street is Mill Hill Park.

A view, looking toward the obscured S. Broad Street Bridge, of the vacant lot that currently covers the Assunpink Creek in Trenton. Across the street is Mill Hill Park.

In the 1970s, the Assunpink Creek, in downtown Trenton between S. Broad Street and S. Warren Street, was diverted into a concrete tube – a culvert – and buried underground in order to create more developable land. Most of the planned development never took place and the city was left with no creek, an urban eyesore and eventually a dangerous situation as the culvert began to collapse. After years of studies and planning, the City of Trenton and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now poised to move forward with the removal of the culvert and the restoration of the creek to a more natural setting. This process of uncovering a buried creek is commonly referred to as “daylighting.”

On Sept. 15, New Jersey Future facilitated an open public meeting at Thomas Edison State College where community members began a dialogue with representatives from the City of Trenton and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the creek daylighting, the new public park that will be created and how this project will generate a new focal point for downtown Trenton. There was also an opportunity to discuss the recent plans to improve the adjacent Mill Hill Park and the ongoing inaction over repairs to the adjoining historic S. Broad Street Bridge.

Five main themes that were viewed as critical to the success of these initiatives emerged from the discussion: maintenance and upkeep, safety and accessibility, aesthetics, recreation and education. To read more about these five issues or the specific recommendations that followed, please see the meeting summary.


Creating a Model for Statewide, Nationwide Innovation

October 16th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

By Lynn Broaddus

Lynn Broaddus is director of the environment program at The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread

Cross-posted from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s Inspiring Solutions series on urban water infrastructure.

Lynn Broaddus

Lynn Broaddus

In May 2014, a group of New Jersey leaders, including water utilities, environmental organizations, economic and community development organizations, the private sector, and local, state and federal government, came together in Jersey City to dig deeper into the state of New Jersey’s water infrastructure. The state’s cities have some of the oldest pipes in the country, and 21 cities regularly experience combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Nearly half a century after the Clean Water Act was adopted into federal law, these New Jersey cities still do not have long-term CSO control plans. Some water delivery systems in the state lose or cannot account for roughly one-fifth of their treated water. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative Initiatives Can Lead the Way

October 9th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

By Anthony Perno

Anthony Perno is the chief executive officer of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

Cross-posted from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s Inspiring Solutions series on urban water infrastructure

Anthony Perno of Cooper's Ferry Partnership

Anthony Perno of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership

It doesn’t take much to put stress on Camden’s aging and overtaxed combined sewer system. A one-inch rainstorm can leave major roads impassable, turn parking lots into stagnant lakes, and send sewage into parks, homes and waterways. Not only is this a nuisance, but also a public health crisis that degrades the quality of life of Camden’s residents and negatively impacts the city’s economic viability and environmental quality. The unseasonably wet summer of 2013 created several large street floods that shut down public transportation and cut off roads, stranding residents, workers and visitors. A fire company’s boat was needed to rescue passengers from train platforms surrounded by floodwaters. The significant flooding impacts from just typical rainfall further underscore the dire threat that severe weather events, like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, present to Camden. Read the rest of this entry »

Princeton Is First New Jersey Community To Earn WHO ‘Age-Friendly’ Designation

October 6th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

Palmer Square in Princeton. Photo by Dan Komoda Photography via Wikimedia

Palmer Square in Princeton. Photo by Dan Komoda Photography via Wikimedia

Princeton has become the first municipality in New Jersey to join the World Health Organization’s global network of “age-friendly” communities.

Princeton applied to the WHO for the designation after Susan Hoskins of the Princeton Senior Resource Center realized that the town already has satisfied many of the things on the application checklist – things like walkability, availability and affordability of transportation options, a variety of accessible and affordable housing choices near necessities and amenities, and access to social interactions. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering John Sheridan

October 3rd, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

John SheridanThe board and staff of New Jersey Future join so many other individuals and organizations who mourn the loss of John Sheridan, an outstanding public servant who brought his wisdom, insight, calm and extraordinary competence to our organization for 10 years as a trustee.

His experiences in both the public realm as a cabinet member and the private realm as a highly-regarded lawyer influenced the way he guided us at New Jersey Future, helping us bring to life our goal for the state to foster the creation of more livable places and open spaces.

When New Jersey Future celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012, John Sheridan was one of five people who were honored with a leadership award for playing a significant role in shaping the growth and development of New Jersey. His citation recognized John’s new role leading Cooper Hospital, where, late in his career, he seemed to revel in mastering innovative approaches to health care and creating the related facilities in Camden, the city he came to value. The citation concluded by pointing to John’s commitment to “to build in such a way that the surrounding neighborhood is enhanced, not harmed,” and his conviction that the community would “thrive if buildings were designed to welcome people at

L to R: New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach, former Governor James Florio, honoree John Sheridan, and New Jersey Future board chairman Peter Reinhart, at New Jersey Future's 25th anniversary celebration in 2012.

L to R: New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach, former Governor James Florio, honoree John Sheridan, and New Jersey Future board chairman Peter Reinhart, at New Jersey Future’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2012.

the street level and existing stock was revitalized, creating the potential renaissance for the entire neighborhood.”

We know now, six years after the establishment of the Health Sciences Campus, that our former board member, supporter and friend has helped create the potential for Camden to be renewed and has provided a model for how large institutions can be a catalyst for community revitalization. We mourn the loss of John Sheridan, and we are grateful for his commitment to New Jersey Future and for his legacy of hope for a better Camden and a greater Garden State.

Time To Make Some Noise

October 2nd, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

By Debbie Mans

Debbie Mans serves as baykeeper and executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper.

Cross-posted from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s Inspiring Solutions series on urban water infrastructure

Deborah A. Mans Baykeeper & Executive Director  NY/NJ Baykeeper

Deborah A. Mans
Baykeeper & Executive Director
NY/NJ Baykeeper

Not many people give a second thought to what happens after they flush the toilet. And, not many people realize that what they just flushed down the toilet is finding its way, untreated, into a local waterway due to combined sewers that become overloaded with stormwater and wastewater during rain events and bypass the wastewater treatment plant. This is because they simply cannot access and enjoy their local rivers and bays to begin with.

The history of industrialization and privatization of our Northern New Jersey waterfront has led to a disconnect between our communities and local waterways. If people cannot see the problem, they are very unlikely to demand a solution. But within this problem there also lies a tremendous opportunity to awaken the public and spur action that can address both our aging infrastructure and improve quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities.

Innovative green infrastructure projects can address, at least in part, the overloading of our combined sewer systems while providing green space and community gardens in park-deprived neighborhoods.

Read the full article on The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s website.

New Jersey Future Partners With Lincoln Institute To Host Resiliency Symposium

September 30th, 2014 by Teri Jover


What’s Next After Rebuilding? Making Resilience Happen

Sandy aerial view slideshow

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Rutgers – Edward J. Bloustein School of
Planning and Public Policy

Special Events Forum

33 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, N.J.

We have been approved for 2.00 CM AICP credits

With the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy on the horizon, what have we learned about rebuilding? This symposium, featuring Anthony Flint, fellow and director of public affairs at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, will focus on concrete steps that are being taken to plan, pay for and implement resiliency measures on the ground. He and the panel will revisit the Rebuild by Design competition, which yielded six winning proposals nationally (two in New Jersey), review national models that can inform New Jersey, explore how the latest advances in resilient design will be paid for and where the cost burden will fall.

There is no charge to attend, but registration is required. Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Future To Honor Trustee Henry A. Coleman

September 23rd, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

Henry-Coleman-headshot-2011New Jersey Future will honor its longtime trustee Henry A. Coleman, at a reception Oct. 30 in New Brunswick.

Henry is the embodiment of an exemplary scholar and public servant. His legacy can be seen in the students he has taught, through his work in government – notably as executive director of the State and Local Expenditure and Revenue Policy Commission and director of the Center for Local Government Services – and through his influential service on numerous boards, including New Jersey Future, the Fund for New Jersey, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and many, many others.

Read the rest of this entry »

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