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Smart-Growth Policy Priorities Well Represented on Murphy Transition Team

November 27th, 2017 by Elaine Clisham

Among those named to Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s transition team are 15 experts who have a current or prior affiliation with New Jersey Future, a sign that the priorities of the incoming administration will include some of the key issues outlined in New Jersey Future’s gubernatorial blueprint. Read the rest of this entry »

A Rain Garden Grows in Harrison

November 22nd, 2017 by Moriah Kinberg

Volunteers participating in the Harrison rain garden planting

At the first green infrastructure demonstration project in Harrison, Lou Lambe, president of the local Lions Club, told a group of volunteers, “This may seem like a small effort, but it is step in the direction we need to be taking for our future.” The two kidney-shaped rain gardens that the group planted at the foot of the public library can absorb a maximum of approximately 2,800 gallons of water per storm and as much as 38,000 gallons per year based on average rainfall.

Lambe is a member of Harrison TIDE (Transforming Infrastructure and Defending the Environment), whose goal is to improve the water quality and the quality of life of residents by addressing combined sewer and storm water pollution, flooding, and the need for economic development through identifying opportunities to implement green infrastructure, engage community members in educational programming, and public outreach. The group is a collaboration of the Town of Harrison, New Jersey Future, The Lions and Elks clubs, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC), Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Harrison TIDE spent the past couple of months reviewing the Town of Harrison’s Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study, which was developed in partnership with PVSC and the RCE Water Resources Program, to identify the town’s first demonstration green infrastructure project. TIDE identified the public library not only as an opportunity to redirect water that runs off the roof into the rain garden and away from the storm drains, but also to provide an ongoing educational opportunity to the many visitors to the library.

An estimated 23 billion gallons of raw sewage are dumped into New Jersey’s waterways every year as a result of combined-sewer overflows, when stormwater exceeds the amount that the sewage treatment plant can take from the town. The Town of Harrison is one of 21 towns in New Jersey that are in the process of developing Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs) that will reduce or eliminate combined-sewer overflows. These LTCPs are system-wide evaluations of sewer systems and plans to reduce overflows that are required by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s 2015 permit. Part of the process is for each town to evaluate alternative strategies that could be used to reduce overflows in the most cost-effective way.  Green infrastructure installations such as rain gardens and tree trenches are alternatives that towns can use to help reduce storm-related overflows in combination with grey infrastructure like underground storage tanks and separating sewer lines.

Rutgers Water Resource Center conducting a public community training

The community came together to make this fist demonstration project a reality. Fields Construction Company, a local developer, provided the construction and labor.  Rutgers Water Resource Center designed the gardens and led training for the community. Local elected officials and volunteers from Harrison Lions Club, Harrison Elks, the Environmental Clubs from Harrison High School and Washington Middle School, Harrison High School’s National Honor Society chapter, and Boy Scout Troop 305 joined Harrison TIDE partners to plant the rain gardens. The gardens were planted with native species that will attract wildlife and promote infiltration of stormwater from the library’s roof back into the ground, keeping it out of the sewer system.

The planting in Harrison was a hands-on learning experience for the volunteers who participated and will continue to be a visible demonstration of green infrastructure of the community.  Green infrastructure projects can also raise property values and beautify neighborhoods at the same time that they help keep raw sewage out of the Passaic River.
For more information on Harrison TIDE visit its Facebook page.

What New Jersey Can Learn From Washington, D.C., About Transportation Improvements

November 17th, 2017 by Elaine Clisham

It seems the most effective strategy to reduce traffic congestion isn’t a transportation measure at all. It’s better land use.

welcome to new jersey traffic signA big new study was just released by Washington, D.C.’s regional Transportation Planning Board that identified the region’s biggest transportation challenges, took a high-level look at a series of possible interventions that might ameliorate them, and enumerated performance metrics by which they might measure any change. (The full list of all of these is below.) And while some of the interventions they included are more suitable to a suburban region around one large metropolitan center than they are to an entire state, there are important lessons in the findings that are applicable to New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry »

Rain Garden Partnership in Newton Brings Learning Opportunity, Better Water Quality

November 3rd, 2017 by Kandyce Perry

Many towns in New Jersey have streets, intersections, or parking lots that flood during heavy rains. And if a parking lot, for example, drains into a crucial waterway, it could pose a serious threat to water quality. How does a town fix this type of flooding problem?

It can be done with green infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »

New Report Shows New Jersey Is Still on the ‘Long Road Home’ After Sandy

October 25th, 2017 by David Kutner

On Oct. 29, 2012, hurricane Sandy devastated many communities along New Jersey’s coast. Five years later, many families have yet to recover from the storm and are still not back in their homes. A new report entitled The Long Road Home, recently published by the New Jersey Resource Project, documents the journey of Sandy-affected families who continue to struggle to return to stable, permanent housing, and are still suffering the debilitating economic and health effects of the storm. Read the rest of this entry »

Symposium Addresses Dangers of Inaction on Climate Change

October 18th, 2017 by Emily Eckart

Memories of Hurricane Sandy loomed large at New Jersey Future’s The Shore of the Future symposium

“Dealing with Sandy was a nightmare for us,” said John Spodofora, mayor of Stafford Township and one of 11 panelists at the event. More than 4,000 homes in Stafford were severely damaged by the 2012 hurricane, totaling $200 million in property damage. The town lost millions in tax revenue. Spodofora remembered that many residents came into town hall crying, unsure where they were going to live. Five years later, only 65 percent of Stafford Township is rebuilt. The most difficult areas to rehabilitate make up the 35 percent that have still not recovered.

The Oct. 17 Shore of the Future symposium was centered on having a “big conversation” about the need for a regional approach to coastal resilience in the face of climate change. Although New Jersey has made some progress since the hurricane, the state has not yet organized a concerted effort to mitigate risk and adapt to rising sea levels. Approximately 200 attendees gathered at the Trenton War Memorial to hear from 14 experts across a wide range of fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Analysis: New Jersey Is Losing Its Millennials

September 28th, 2017 by Tim Evans

A new report finds that the younger generation flocks to neighborhoods in New Jersey where they can live, work, and play, but there might not be enough of those places in our state to keep them here.

New Jersey Future’s new analysis of Census data shows two significant shifts in the state’s demographic patterns. First, Millennials are gravitating to walkable, more urbanized locations with jobs, housing, entertainment and amenities all within easy reach, as Generation X did before them. And second, unlike the rest of the country, the Millennial population is shrinking in New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry »

Newark–Philadelphia Study Visit Focuses on Implementing Green Infrastructure at Scale

September 27th, 2017 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by New Jersey Future Managing Director for Policy and Water Chris Sturm and Planning and Policy Associate Kandyce Perry.

Newark and Philadelphia staff represented the many departments and functions involved with green infrastructure, including water and sewer, engineering, roads, public works including parks and recycling, economic development, workforce development, public affairs, finance, legal and sustainability.

The City of Newark recently capitalized on the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD)’s considerable experience managing stormwater. Both cities face major regulatory requirements to upgrade old combined sewer systems that overflow raw sewage into waterways. But Philadelphia is about 10 years ahead, having responded to a federal consent decree by submitting its Green City Clean Waters plan in 2009. The ensuing program has earned national recognition for the use of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) techniques like rain gardens, green roofs and green streets. In order to take advantage of PWD’s head start, 11 staff members from Newark traveled to the city in mid-September for a busy day-and-a-half exchange. Read the rest of this entry »

Gubernatorial Candidates on Key Issues Facing New Jersey

September 19th, 2017 by Allison Kopicki

Phil Murphy

Kim Guadagno

New Jersey Future asked the Democrat and Republican\two gubernatorial candidates how they plan to address some of the critical issues the new governor of New Jersey will face. The questions focused on the crisis in our transportation system; the need for modernization of our water infrastructure; how best to help cities and towns revitalize and grow; how to prepare the state for the effects of climate change and sea-level rise; and how to streamline and coordinate state priorities, investments and incentives across departments. Read their responses. Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed Rule Change Would Allow Development on Piers

September 18th, 2017 by David Kutner

New Jersey Future comments urge DEP not to relax existing restrictions.

Ocean pier in Atlantic City. Proposed rule amendments would allow more development in such high-hazard areas. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

New Jersey Future has submitted comments to the Department of Environmental Protection urging the department to reverse its determination that development in high-hazard areas is acceptable and should be permitted. Our comments relate specifically to the proposed revisions to sections 7:7-9.18 of various rules that govern development in coastal high-hazard areas – that is, V or VE FEMA flood zones, and over existing ocean piers and/or pilings in the Hudson River Waterfront area and Atlantic City. The proposed amendments would permit residential and commercial development in these coastal high-hazard areas. Read the rest of this entry »

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