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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.


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:

Thought Leaders To Gather at Regional Conference

November 10th, 2014 by Teri Jover

RPA-4RP-Hoopla-Avatar-1New Jersey Future and Regional Plan Association, with participation from Together North Jersey, are convening a New Jersey Regional Conference to bring forward the next generation of “big ideas” to enhance prosperity, livability, and environmental sustainability in the tri-state region. The event is part of creating RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan, whose predecessor, the Third Regional Plan, helped lead to the preservation of the New Jersey Highlands, regional rail improvements and the redevelopment of Governor’s Island into a park.

New Jersey Conference on the Fourth Regional Plan

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014
8:30 AM to 11:30 AM

Seton Hall University School of Law
Larson Auditorium
One Newark Center, 1109 Raymond Boulevard
Newark, NJ..

The New Jersey Conference is free and open to the interested public, but registration is required. More information about event and speakers. Get ready to bring your big ideas for guiding the future of our tri-state region.

We have been approved for 2.5 AICP CM credits and have applied for NJ CLE credits.

Clement A. Price

November 6th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

New Jersey Future is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Clement A. Price. We honored Dr. Price on the occasion of our 25th anniversary gala, for “his research, teaching and civic engagement, [which have] illuminated the vital role that arts, culture, history and diversity play in shaping communities, especially cities.” His passing is a great loss for the city of Newark, for Rutgers University and indeed for the entire state of New Jersey.

Below is a remembrance by Andaiye Taylor of Brick City Live, along with her compilation of many of the reactions to his passing, a heartwarming tribute to the legacy he leaves.

Clement PriceI last saw Dr. Clement Price less than two weeks before his passing. He was on a panel at Rutgers University doing what he does best: elucidating and contextualizing what was going on in Newark by bringing his deep knowledge of the city’s history to bear on its present and possible future.

In this instance, Dr. Price was discussing the possible effects of The Star-Ledger moving their headquarters out of the city. Dr. Price told those assembled not to jump to conclusions about what the Ledger’s move would mean for Newark. We’d lost pillar journalistic institutions before and survived, he reminded us. Instead of speculating wildly about the effects of the move, we’d have to wait and see what it ultimately meant.

Dr. Price was himself a walking historical institution, but any analogies to his comments about the Ledger end there. We won’t need to “wait and see” to know that Dr. Price’s passing is a profound loss not only for his loved ones and those he touched within the classroom and his professional orbit, but for the city of Newark, and the way we understand the city’s past and its application to our present and future. Dr. Price was incredibly generous about transmitting his knowledge and insight – it was his life’s work – but he was nonetheless a font of knowledge and experience that will never be replicated.

Read the entire article on Brick City Live.

Lincoln Institute Symposium: Collaboration, Regional Focus Are Keys to Successful Resilience

November 6th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

Attendees were urged to look for solutions that address multiple problems

Lincoln cover slideAt the New Jersey Future/Lincoln Institute symposium on post-Sandy resilience on Oct. 30, three common themes ran through the speakers’ remarks: First, it is critical to build future resilience measures into all current rebuilding efforts; they cannot be applied retroactively. Second, common problems and scarce resources mean it’s important to collaborate across regions for solutions at the proper scale; and third, key experts from different fields – engineering, law, finance – must be involved at all stages of a project. In short, disasters are rarely of one kind, and they rarely affect one municipality in a vacuum, so it’s important to approach them holistically. Read the rest of this entry »

John Heldrich, a Civic Visionary

November 1st, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

John HeldrichWe note with sadness the passing of John J. Heldrich, who died Oct. 28 at the age of 88.

In 1975, Johnson & Johnson’s chairman asked John Heldrich to lead a committee that was charged with determining whether the city of New Brunswick, then in a state of substantial distress, could be saved. The group commissioned an in-depth study that found that indeed, New Brunswick did have a future, but only if the business community were willing to commit to being actively involved in its revitalization. The study recommended the formation of a public-private partnership to develop a vision and a plan for the revitalization, and the creation of a real-estate development entity to implement that plan. Read the rest of this entry »

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.


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