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.