Category: New Jersey

Building partnerships to support smart growth in Elizabeth, NJ

courthouse
A view of downtown Elizabeth, NJ. Photo via City of Elizabeth.

Home to more 125,000 residents and the largest industrial seaport in North America—all in the space of just 11 square miles—the city of Elizabeth, NJ presents unique challenges for fostering smart growth. “There’s not a lot of room to enhance our city or grow it by expanding the boundaries or adding residents,” says Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “So the process of smart growth—and making sure there is open space as well as economic development—is extremely important for the mayor of a community like Elizabeth.”

Through 32 years of service as an elected official—22 of them spent in the Mayor’s office—Bollwage has helped guide the city in striking a balance between environmental and economic responsibilities, supported by funds and expertise from diverse sources. One example currently under construction is the Elizabeth River Trail, connecting downtown Elizabeth with the nearby Arthur Kill waterway. When completed, the trail will be 2.5 miles long and accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and features like kayak launches and public art.

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Voters strongly support smart growth measures on Election Day 2014

bar-harbor-meMaine’s small businesses, like these in Bar Harbor, will get new help thanks to yesterday’s passage of Question 3. Photo by Duluoz via Flickr.

On Tuesday, voters across America passed statewide, county-wide, and citywide measures in support of smart growth and better development strategies. Here’s a short roundup of what passed, what failed, and what it means for community development.

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A closer look at “Measuring Sprawl”: Street connectivity in Trenton, NJ

trenton-njThe Trenton, NJ MSA has a strong legacy of transportation investment. Photo via Flickr.

Trenton, NJ, received high marks for compactness and connectivity in our recent report, Measuring Sprawl 2014, and stood out as number one overall in street accessibility, one of four key factors examined in the report. As Measuring Sprawl 2014 explores, a high rating for compactness and connectivity correlates to a rise in several quality of life factors, including greater economic mobility, lower combined spending on housing and transportation costs and greater options for the type of transportation to take.

How did Trenton build and sustain its accomplishments in street accessibility? And how can other cities learn from Trenton’s successes?

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Senator Frank Lautenberg’s legacy of support for America’s towns and cities

Senator Frank Lautenberg
Senator Frank Lautenberg (center) with supporters and colleagues in Paterson, NJ in 2008. Photo by Tony Fischer via Flickr.

Senator Frank Lautenberg led on an incredible range of issues during his five terms in the Senate. Creating stronger towns and cities—in New Jersey and across the country—was just one of them.

Transportation was a touchstone issue for Lautenberg during his time in office. As chair of the Surface Transportation, Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, & Security Subcommittee, Lautenberg championed passenger and high-speed rail service, especially for intercity travel and urban transit. One such project was New Jersey’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail line, which has brought commercial and residential development to the Hudson River waterfront and helped to improve the area’s neighborhoods. He worked to expand Amtrak and NJ Transit service, and helped secure funding to create NJ Transit’s Secaucus station, which now bears his name.

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Partnership in the News: Bergen County, NJ wants transportation choices, less traffic, more walking and biking

Together North Jersey

At a recent public workshop, residents of Bergen County noted that sitting in traffic, few transportation choices, and the lack of affordable housing are things they’d like to see changed.

Together North Jersey, a partnership between 60 local governments, public agencies, non-profits, and others, held the workshop to begin to find out what residents of the 13-county region like about where they live and what they would change. Eventually that input will be turned into a development plan to deal with uneven job growth, high taxes, and an aging population among other regional concerns.

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What the BUILD Act could build: Harrison Commons in New Jersey


Harrison Commons in Harrison, NJ.

The redevelopment of Harrison, NJ’s waterfront from abandoned industrial buildings into a viable mixed-use development seemed inconceivable only a few years ago.

Strategically located along several rail lines, on the Passaic River and only a few miles from New York City, Harrison once boomed with factories and manufacturing in the first half of the 20th century. In 1912, President William Howard Taft nicknamed Harrison the “Beehive of Industry.”

The town still keeps Taft’s catchphrase as it’s motto, but much of the manufacturers that once called Harrison home have long since closed their doors, leaving behind abandoned factories and large swaths of vacant – and in some places contaminated, land.

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Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh on transit-oriented development in West Windsor, NJ

The small town of West Windsor, NJ is home to one of the busiest commuter rail stations in the country, and the town has plans to put that station at the heart of a new walkable neighborhood.

West Windsor is one of New Jersey’s 26 state-designated transit villages, meaning the town has shown a commitment to revitalizing and redeveloping the area around its transit stations into walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods with a strong residential component.

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Congress passes Sandy recovery bill, includes funding for critical HUD program


Aerial photos of New Jersey coastline in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Photo by DVIDSHUB via Flickr.

Three months after Superstorm Sandy crippled coastal communities along the East Coast, Congress passed a $50.5 billion package on Monday to aid victims of the storm and accelerate re-building efforts.

The largest portion of the spending bill includes $16 billion for the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Block Grants program (CDBG). Of that, about $12.1 billion will be shared among communities directly affected by Sandy as well as those from other federally declared disasters in 2011-2013.

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