Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


New Report Highlights New Jersey Cities’ Leadership on Stormwater Infrastructure Innovation

 For Immediate Release
Contact: Chris Sturm  (csturmatnjfuturedotorg)  , Managing Director, Policy and Water, 609-393-0008 ext. 114

April 4, 2017 — Today, New Jersey Future and re:focus partners  celebrated the conclusion of Build It Green (BIG) with the release of a report highlighting innovative approaches
three New Jersey cities are taking to the problem of upgrading stormwater infrastructure. The report, Small Cities With Big-City Infrastructure Problems: Three Case Studies in Stormwater Infrastructure Innovation, describes a new approach to integrated stormwater infrastructure design, finance and implementation being piloted in Gloucester, Jersey City and Perth Amboy.

The cities were selected through the Build it Green Competition, created to provide support to cities that want to develop integrated solutions to combined sewer overflow (CSO) challenges in their communities. Each case highlights ways in which cities across the United States can leverage new funding and financing for projects that align stormwater management with other urgent city priorities. In the partner cities, those priorities include:

  • Reducing flooding as a barrier to economic development in Gloucester
  • Enhancing pedestrian safety, health, and education with green infrastructure in Perth Amboy
  • Mitigating storm surge risk in concert with CSO system retrofits in Jersey City

“Gloucester City is on the path to identifying solutions to the chronic flooding in our industrial area, thanks to the technical assistance from the Build It Green team,” said Gloucester Mayor William James. “We are eager to design projects that manage stormwater and support job creation.”

“Perth Amboy is committed to rebuilding 2nd Street to reduce combined sewer overflows and create an attractive, safe corridor for our families and students,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz. “Thanks to the Build It Green team, we are now prepared to apply to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for construction funding and we look forward to working towards implementation.”

“Jersey City has taken a leading role in considering innovative approaches for integrating our redevelopment efforts with much-needed water infrastructure upgrades,” said Jersey City Deputy Mayor Marcos Vigil. “By doing so, we’ve taken a big first step in exploring how to protect Jersey City residents and our critical assets from the type of devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.”

The goal of Build it Green was to empower these three communities to pursue infrastructure projects that solve multiple problems at once and to do so in ways that could act as replicable models for other New Jersey communities struggling to upgrade aging and failing water infrastructure systems. To that end, re:focus partners and SCAPE, in collaboration with New Jersey Future, also created the Field Guide to CSO+: Strategy for Aligning Priorities and Tactics for Unlocking Resources and applied it with local community leaders at a recent meeting of the New Jersey Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Permittee Network.

The Build it Green initiative has positioned New Jersey as a leader on stormwater infrastructure.  “Cities across the US and around the world are looking for ways to do more with less. The Build it Green partner cities are great examples of how small communities with proactive local officials can overcome legacy infrastructure problems to develop creative, sustainable, and fundable new solutions,” said re:focus Founder & CEO Shalini Vajjhala.

“We applaud the champions in Gloucester City, Perth Amboy and Jersey City who worked with the BIG team,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “They designed affordable infrastructure projects that will be able to tap non-traditional funding sources because they provide multi-faceted solutions and many community benefits.”

Download the “Small Cities with Big-City Infrastructure Problems” report here:

What the Partners Are Saying

“The Dodge Foundation is excited by the results of this productive partnership between New Jersey Future, re:focus partners and SCAPE Landscape Architects. New Jersey communities have a new field guide to link water infrastructure investment to other pressing community needs, including mobility, coastal resiliency, and affordable housing. The opportunities for us to work together to create healthier, more vibrant places seem endless.”

— Margaret Waldock, Director of Environment Programs, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

“The new CSO+ case studies and CSO+ Field Guide offer a smart approach to designing projects that address multiple community challenges. We’re pleased to offer them to communities working to ensure that everyone has the healthiest future possible.”

— Bob Atkins, Director, New Jersey Health Initiatives

“Combining New Jersey Future’s outreach, coordination and network capabilities with re:focus partners’ and SCAPE’s creativity, technical skills and expertise generated innovative and implementable local concepts.”

— Chris Sturm, Managing Director, Policy and Water, New Jersey Future

“Opportunities like Build it Green help create important partnerships between city, state, non-profit and private partners to envision and develop implementable strategies that combine effective stormwater management with thoughtfully designed landscapes and generate other neighborhood benefits. This has been a great opportunity for us to work with small cities early in the planning process, and help us all realize that we can do more with less, that even small projects can achieve multiple benefits, and that early planning and design collaboration is key to achieving this!”

— Pippa Brashear, Director of Planning and Resilience at SCAPE

About Build It Green (BIG)

Build it Green is a collaborative program developed and led by New Jersey Future and re:focus partners with design support from SCAPE Landscape Architecture. Build It Green was made possible by the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Jersey Health Initiatives program and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The release of the report and the CSO+ Field Guide mark the successful conclusion of the Build It Green program.

About New Jersey Future

Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible growth, redevelopment and infrastructure investments to foster vibrant cities and towns, protect natural lands and waterways, enhance transportation choices, provide access to safe, affordable and aging-friendly neighborhoods and fuel a strong economy. The organization does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on technical assistance.

About re:focus partners

re:focus partners is a design firm dedicated to developing integrated resilience solutions and innovative public-private partnerships for vulnerable communities around the world. Through large-scale programs like the RE.invest Initiative and the RE.bound Program, re:focus identifies systemic opportunities for innovation to create both public value and new private investment potential through projects with sound financial returns and economic, social, and environmental integrity for the communities they serve.


SCAPE is a design-driven landscape architecture and urban design studio based in New York. SCAPE believes landscape architecture can enable positive change in communities through the creation of regenerative living infrastructure and public landscapes. SCAPE works to integrate natural cycles and systems into environments across all scales, from the urban pocket-park to the regional ecological plan. SCAPE does this through diverse forms of landscape architecture—built landscapes, planning frameworks, research, books, and installations—with the ultimate goal of connecting people to their immediate environment and creating dynamic and adaptive landscapes of the future.

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478

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