Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


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Build streets for everyone with this new model policy

August 13th, 2019 by Emily Eckart

Many streets act as barriers. Cars speed through multiple lanes, endangering pedestrians and bicyclists. Wide expanses of asphalt — often with inadequate sidewalks — mar downtowns and discourage foot traffic. Paved roads prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground, resulting in stormwater runoff that pollutes waterways.

But we can design our landscape differently. Streets can act as all-purpose corridors — not just for cars, but also for people, public transit, and green stormwater management. Known as “complete and green streets,” this design ideal has achieved greater recognition with a new resource from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). NJDOT’s model complete and green streets policy and guide provides practical guidance for municipalities, counties, and agencies to improve roads and the overall landscape.

A traditional street designed for cars

Traditional street design: a street for cars. Photo credit: NACTO, NYC DOT

Complete street with bike lanes and sidewalks

Complete street: A street for cars and people. Photo credit: NACTO, NYC DOT

Complete and green street: A street for cars, people, and water

Complete and green street: A street for cars, people, and water. Photo credit: NACTO, NYC DOT

Complete streets are designed with the safety, mobility, and accessibility of all users in mind. That includes children, older adults, pedestrians, bicyclists, persons with disabilities, public transit passengers, and drivers. This differs significantly from earlier road design, which prioritized cars alone.

Diagram of a complete street

Diagram of a complete street. Photo credit: AARP

Complete and green streets represent a further step in the evolution of more beneficial roads. These streets incorporate green infrastructure like tree trenches and curb bump-outs to manage stormwater, reducing stormwater runoff and creating an attractive landscape.

More than 100 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities have adopted complete streets policies, demonstrating widespread interest in this new design paradigm. However, many of these policies have not resulted in the actual creation of complete and green streets, as they sometimes lack mechanisms for implementation. 

Municipalities throughout New Jersey have created green streets. View examples here. Are there others we left out? Email us  (jmcbrideatnjfuturedotorg)   your green street projects!


NJDOT’s model policy and guide will change that. It provides guidance for all roadway jurisdictions to create complete and green streets according to current best practices. It makes the connection between complete streets and health, economic development, equity, and green streets. It also contains sample language for communities to amend existing complete street policies or adopt new ones. 

Kandyce Perry Headshot

Kandyce Perry

“New Jersey has more individual complete street policies than any other state, but there are opportunities to increase the effectiveness of these policies so they actually create safer streets for all users and do not simply sit on a shelf,” said Kandyce Perry, planning and policy manager at New Jersey Future, who participated in a collaborative effort to help NJDOT develop the new model policy. “In addition to green streets, the new model policy provides a mechanism for tracking where and how investments are spent so that complete streets are delivered equitably to neighborhoods and users with the most need. The new guidance also recommends that jurisdictions create an advisory body to ensure the model policy’s best practices are at the forefront of all decisions. I’m very thankful to the Department and their leadership in making this model policy a priority, and to the many partners I had the pleasure of working with to help draft the document.”

A working group composed of nonprofits, advocates, and government organizations (view the full list below) spent two years assembling information and recommendations that shaped the policy. Kandyce brought extensive knowledge of green infrastructure and green streets to the group, representing New Jersey Future and coordinating reviews with the Jersey Water Works Green Infrastructure Committee.

Curb Bumpout with plants

Green infrastructure captures stormwater and allows it to filter into the ground, reducing flooding and pollution. It differs from “gray” infrastructure, the traditional system of routing stormwater into drains and pipes that empty into waterways. Green infrastructure can take many different forms, such as rain gardens, permeable pavements, and curb bump-outs. This curb bump-out captures rainwater and slows traffic, serving both as stormwater management and a pedestrian safety feature. Photo taken by Jennifer Duckworth, Millburn Environmental Commission.

“As Mayor of Scotch Plains, it is a priority of mine to establish policies, like complete streets, that support the overall health of our residents,” said Al Smith. “Our complete streets policy promotes healthy lifestyles, increased social connectivity, and a sense of community belonging, which are all instrumental in supporting the mental and physical wellbeing of our residents. As our downtown residential and business community grow, it is important that the design of our streets, walkways, and bike paths incorporate these Complete Street principles. I recommend all mayors adopt the most current Complete Streets policies to improve and strengthen the connectivity of their communities.”  

Effective street design can prevent flooding, reduce the urban heat island effect, raise the value of homes and businesses, increase foot traffic, and make people safer. Besides environmental dividends, well-designed streets result in social benefits. NJDOT’s model policy prioritizes health, equity, and economic development important facets of completing a street. With numerous benefits, complete and green streets represent a significant step toward creating more sustainable landscapes. 

Members of the New Jersey Complete Streets Working Group

Policy & Guide Team

AARP-NJ – India Hayes Larrier and Brian McGuire
American Heart Association – NJ Chapter – Courtney Nelson
Greater Mercer TMA – Jerry Foster
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia – John Boyle
New Jersey Future and Jersey Water Works – Kandyce Perry
RideWise TMA, Inc. – Linda Rapacki
Sustainable Jersey – Anne Heasly and Linda Weber
Tri-State Transportation Campaign – Janna Chernetz and Sonia Azczesna
Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers University – Leigh Ann Von Hagen

Members and Participants

Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension, Water Resources Program, Rutgers University – Christopher Obropta, Ph.D.
Cross County Connection TMA – Jason Simmons
NJ Conservation Foundation – Julia Raskin and Olivia Glenn
NJ Department of Community Affairs – Jef Buehler
NJ Department of Transportation – Elise Bremer-Nei
NJ Bike and Walk Coalition – Cyndi Steiner
NJ Healthy Community Network – Janet Heroux
Passaic County – Mike Lysicatos
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy – Elizabeth Sewell
West Windsor Council – Allison Miller

For more information about green infrastructure, view New Jersey Future’s Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit and Developers’ Green Infrastructure Guide.

New Jersey Future staff explore Paterson

August 13th, 2019 by Missy Rebovich

Staff group picture on the Great Falls bridge

New Jersey Future staff on the bridge above Paterson’s Great Falls

Each summer, New Jersey Future staff embark on a fun (and educational) outing to see smart growth in action. This summer, we chose to visit the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution: Paterson, NJ.

Established in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton, Paterson was the country’s first planned industrial city, harnessing water power from the Great Falls to power cotton mills. As access to the river expanded, more mills were built, bringing jobs building trains, producing textiles (including the silk that earned Paterson the nickname “Silk City”), making paper, and manufacturing guns. 

The city may not be the manufacturing hub it was at the end of the 19th century, but a host of community organizations coupled with a dedicated mayor, Andre Sayegh, and administration have the city primed for a resurgence. Efforts to reinvigorate the city and surrounding county have been recognized by New Jersey Future with five Smart Growth Awards: Great Falls Circulation Study (2018), Heritage at Alexander Hamilton (2016), Moving Passaic County (2013), Morris Canal Greenway Feasibility Study (2012), Transportation Opportunities Center & Independence House (2005).

Mayor Sayegh with New Jersey Future staff

Mayor Andre Sayegh with New Jersey Future staff

Paterson in 2019 is bustling with so many restaurants, the city’s tagline is “Great Falls, Great Food, Great Future.” Mayor Andre Sayegh emphasized all three of those assets on our trolley tour around downtown.

Paterson’s Great Falls became a national historical park in 2009, drawing nearly 200,000 visitors each year. Their trip to see the stunning 77-foot waterfall usually ends at a local eatery, both of which Mayor Sayegh hopes will keep visitors coming back.

Mayor Sayegh, and his housing and economic development director, Mike Powell, brought us to a rehabilitated mill to meet Robert Guarasci, founder and CEO of New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC). Since 1994, the organization has worked to make Paterson a vibrant, diverse, and sustainable city by investing in schools, affordable housing, and job training opportunities.

Robert Guarasci, CEO of NJCDC

Robert Guarasci, CEO of NJCDC

Art Factory Owner David Garcia

David Garcia, owner of the Art Factory

Barbara Lawrence, Executive Director of The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation

Barbara Lawrence, Executive Director of The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation

Around the corner from NJCDC is the Art Factory Studios. Owner David Garcia turned his family’s economically challenged, funky, raw factory building just a train ride outside of New York City into a multi-functional studio and event space in Paterson. Today, the former mill is home to creatives of all kinds, including artists, YouTubers, and videographers. It also offers a pop-up retail space as well as a gorgeous event venue.

Rainbow over Paterson Falls

Rainbow over Paterson Falls

We had a special guest over lunch at the Art Factory: Barbara Lawrence, executive director of The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation (and former executive director of New Jersey Future!). Barbara shared the many ways the Foundation is working to revitalize Paterson and why state policy and smart growth advocacy are so critical to the future of our state’s cities.

Our day concluded with a guided tour around the Great Falls led by National Park Service ranger Molly Zipkin, where we saw a rainbow over the falling water.

We all left Paterson with a sense of great optimism for the third largest city in New Jersey and knowing one thing: we would definitely be visiting again soon.

See more pictures of the trip in our Facebook album and on our Instagram!

Meet our summer 2019 interns!

August 12th, 2019 by Emily Eckart

New Jersey Future’s internship program is developing the next generation of thinkers in smart growth. We offer graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to assist us with various projects, including research, writing, communications, and administration. We appreciate their wide-ranging contributions! See a list of our previous interns and learn how to apply. 

Here is what this summer’s interns worked on, in their own words.

Teun Deuling and Emily Simroth

Teun Deuling and Emily Simroth

Teun Deuling
Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Field of Study: City and Regional Planning

I am a graduate student in City and Regional Planning at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. I graduated cum laude from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, in 2014 obtaining a degree in Public Policy and Law. I am particularly interested in how to address challenges in our built environment, such as brownfield redevelopment and healthy aging, through the application of land use instruments. Prior to attending Rutgers, I was directly involved in developing a model land use plan which enables Dutch municipalities to regulate and foster the transition towards renewable energy.

At New Jersey Future, I worked with Tanya Rohrbach on completing an “Implementing Aging-Friendly Land Use Decisions” guide. Unfortunately, the built environment of many communities in New Jersey does not accommodate the needs of an aging population in terms of housing, transportation, and walkable downtowns. The guide will help local leaders and residents to formulate and implement land use decisions aimed at creating aging-friendly communities. As a co-author, I developed the guide by compiling existing literature, creating case studies of best practices, and participating in the participatory planning process with communities.

Miles Franklin
University of Chicago
Major: Environmental and Urban Studies

Miles Franklin standing next to map of New Jersey

Miles Franklin

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning with Moriah Kinberg at New Jersey Future. I worked on two projects: reading and analyzing Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs), and filming the Adopt-A-Catch Basin public service announcement for the City of Paterson. The first project was the most intensive. I was responsible for condensing reports that exceeded 1,000 pages into smaller, more manageable pieces of information. The second project gave me the opportunity to coordinate, direct, and write a public announcement for a township via a YouTube video. Outside of these two major projects, I also worked with Emily Eckart to take stock photos for New Jersey Future to use in presentations and blog posts. This internship allowed me to hone my social, professional, and time management skills, all while working in a field directly related to my Environmental and Urban Studies undergraduate major.

Emily Simroth
University of Michigan
Major: Double Major in Environmental Studies and Creative Writing and Literature

This summer I worked with Gary Brune, supporting the development of the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force report through policy research and writing. During the earlier weeks of my internship, I researched lead policy options and drafted policy overviews for discussion by the task force subcommittees. Often my research focused on analyzing the actions that other states and towns have taken to address lead in drinking water to determine if New Jersey can benefit from their methods. I identified potential obstacles to implementation and equity concerns, as well as key questions for discussion. Following the mid-summer meeting of the entire task force, I provided additional investigation of unresolved policy issues and assisted with the organization of the final report recommendations. Throughout the summer, I also took meeting notes at subcommittee and task force meetings. During my internship, I learned a great deal about the complex policy issues surrounding lead in drinking water, and I look forward to following what actions the state of New Jersey takes to address this health threat.

Kenzie Smith

Kenzie Smith

Kenzie Smith
Gettysburg College
Major: Double Major in Environmental Science and Public Policy; Minor in Writing

I worked with New Jersey Future’s Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure team (Louise Wilson) to evaluate the progress of moving green infrastructure to the forefront of stormwater management practices. I created and distributed a survey that sought to gauge understanding of and involvement with green infrastructure among developers and design professionals. The results indicated that understanding and interest have increased in the last three years, but involvement has only moderately increased. This disconnect is likely due to a perception of higher costs associated with green infrastructure. I also gathered an extensive inventory of green infrastructure practices in the five New Jersey Future pilot towns: Bridgeton, Byram, Evesham, Hammonton, and Newton. The inventory found nearly 50 acres of drainage area being managed by green infrastructure practices. I also researched individual sites that make extensive use of green infrastructure, so that the information may be included in the new update to New Jersey Future’s Developers’ Green Infrastructure Guide as examples of successful green infrastructure. 

Read Kenzie’s blog post about how changes to New Jersey’s stormwater rule could affect engineers.

Program manager Jyoti Venketraman to be honored

August 12th, 2019 by Missy Rebovich

New Jersey Future is proud to share that Jyoti Venketraman, program manager, will be recognized at New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s (NJCASA) September Celebration of Champions for her work preventing sexual violence in New Jersey. 

Jyoti Venketraman headshot

Jyoti Venketraman

Jyoti joined New Jersey Future in June after a decades-long career at NJCASA, where she provided expertise and leadership in many facets of New Jersey’s sexual violence movement including prevention, direct service, campus professionals, and accessibility for underserved populations. She also led program evaluation efforts that expanded knowledge-building for the field. 

At New Jersey Future, Jyoti is working with the Jersey Water Works collaborative to create a data dashboard that will accelerate the improvement of water infrastructure. This project will offer consumers, utilities, and regulators easy access to data showing the condition of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems and whether they are improving or getting worse. The dashboard will implement the Jersey Water Works Water measurement system by providing a robust, online, publicly-accessible data metrics system that showcases system condition and progress toward the Jersey Water Works goals. The dashboard will serve as a repository for JWW data, inform data-driven decision making, promote transparency, and serve as a resource for the water sector.

The September Celebration of Champions will be held September 19, 2019 at Hamilton Manor in Hamilton, NJ.

Apply for a 2020 Smart Growth Award!

July 16th, 2019 by Emily Eckart

2020 Smart Growth Awards logoNew Jersey Future is accepting applications for the 2020 Smart Growth Awards.

Our annual awards program celebrates the best New Jersey projects and initiatives that enhance economic opportunity, community vitality, sustainability, and quality of life. Entries are judged by an independent panel of experts in various aspects of growth and development. Winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in June 2020.

We’re looking for submissions with the following characteristics:

  • Are they near existing development and infrastructure?
  • Do they create or enhance connections to existing developments or plans?
  • Do they create or enhance a vibrant mix of uses (residential, retail, office)?
  • Do they protect or enhance open space, farmland, parks, and critical environmental areas?
  • Do they increase the range of housing options available (size, type, affordability)?
  • Do they create or enhance transportation choices?
  • Do their designs foster walkability and activities at the street level?
  • Do they improve resiliency to natural hazards?
  • Do they employ green infrastructure techniques to manage stormwater?
  • Do they respect community character, design, and historic features?
  • Do they utilize green or regenerative design techniques and materials?

The application deadline is in January, but it takes time to assemble the required materials. We encourage you to get started today!

Read about previous award winners.

Download Smart Growth Awards guidelines and application materials.

2020 Redevelopment Forum: Save the date and submit suggestions

July 16th, 2019 by Emily Eckart

Attendees at 2019 Redevelopment Forum exhibits

2019 Redevelopment Forum at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Save the date! New Jersey Future’s 15th annual Redevelopment Forum is scheduled for Friday, March 6, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Redevelopment is the best way for New Jersey to achieve efficient, equitable, and sustainable growth for decades to come. It allows us to re-use infrastructure, maintain and improve our communities, and preserve open space. More than 500 professionals from a wide range of fields attend this annual conference to share innovative ideas, learn best practices, and make our state a better place for tomorrow. You can read more about past Redevelopment Forums here.

We want to incorporate your ideas as we develop this year’s program. What’s new in the field of redevelopment? What thought leaders should we be following? What sessions or topics would you like to see? Do you know the perfect speaker or panelist?

Use this form to submit 2020 Redevelopment Forum suggestions. We appreciate your input!

New Jersey Future is speaking at an Energy Master Plan stakeholder meeting (and you can, too!)

July 16th, 2019 by Missy Rebovich

People walking in downtown Bordentown

Downtown Bordentown. Photo courtesy of JGSC Group.

New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities released its draft Energy Master Plan last month and has scheduled six stakeholder meetings on three days over the coming months:

  • Stakeholder meetings 1 & 2: Wednesday, July 17 from 10 am to 1 pm and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm in the State House Annex, Committee Room 4 (131-137 West State Street, Trenton, NJ).
  • Stakeholder meetings 3 & 4: Thursday, August 8 from 1 pm to 4 pm and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm in the Larson Auditorium at Seton Hall Law School (One Newark Center, Newark, NJ).
  • Stakeholder meetings 5 & 6: Thursday, September 12 from 1 pm to 4 pm and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm in the Black Box Theater at the Kroc Center (1865 Harrison Way, Camden, NJ).

New Jersey Future’s Tim Evans will be speaking at the afternoon meeting on July 17 on the importance of reducing vehicle miles traveled in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After all, what better way to curb pollution from the transportation sector than to reduce the need for driving altogether? If you are unable to attend this meeting, you can read our submitted comments here.

If you are interested in speaking at any of the meetings, make sure to register by noon the previous day.

Proposed stormwater rule change means green infrastructure training for municipal engineers

June 24th, 2019 by Kenzie Smith

Six months after proposing significant amendments to New Jersey’s stormwater management rules NJAC 7:8), the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is working diligently on responses to public comments. One of the proposed amendments signals a paradigm shift in design methods of stormwater management systems toward sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

Population Growth in Older Centers (but not all of them) Continues To Outstrip the Rest of the State

June 3rd, 2019 by Tim Evans

Jersey City which is enjoying growth rates not seen since the 1930s.

The Census Bureau last week released municipal population estimates for 2018, and the story is similar to what it has been all decade: Redevelopment continues to be the name of the game in New Jersey.

The eight urban centers identified by the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan (Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Trenton, Camden, New Brunswick, and Atlantic City) as a group have accounted for 18.6 percent of statewide population growth from 2010 to 2018, after having contributed only 4.0 percent of growth in the 2000s and only 1.5 percent in the 1990s. (However, this combined growth statistic does mask some important variation among the individual cities, as will be noted below.) Read the rest of this entry »

Focus on Water for Infrastructure Week

May 21st, 2019 by Ed DiFiglia

Each year, Infrastructure Week offers a nationwide week-long series of events designed to bring attention to the need for investment in infrastructure of all kinds — roads, bridges, transit, broadband, energy and water. This year, New Jersey Future and Jersey Water Works celebrated Infrastructure Week by hosting three events that focused on water infrastructure, as well as publishing several articles drawing attention to the specific problems facing water infrastructure in the state. Read the rest of this entry »

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