Past Municipality Projects
Emanating from Smart Choices Leadership Training Institute in March 2007, MLUC extended an offer to continue its relationship with Asbury Park including underwriting a portion of services by Project for Public Spaces (PPS).
In July 2007, MLUC and PPS conducted a site visit in Asbury Park. The Asbury Park Mayor, Planning Director and Community evelopment Director joined MLUC/PPS on the tour of the site to point out the areas where improvements were needed. PPS was asked to focus its attention on Memorial Drive, the road behind the train station.
Recommendations have been made in that regard including the following: 1) slowing down traffic; 2) creating bicycle lanes; 3) clean-up of railroad right-of-way; 4) induce upgrade of buildings along track and Memorial Drive; and 5) improvements to rail station to make it more attractive to train passengers.
In September 2007, PPS provided Technical Memo to Asbury Park with its recommendations.
Englishtown is a municipality at a crossroads—less than 600 residential properties and a declining business downtown must shoulder the fiscal needs of the municipal government. Compounding the problems are the impacts of rapidly growing Manalapan Township which surrounds and spills over into the Borough. In 2007, MLUC was instrumental in obtaining a grant from the NJ Department of ommunity Affairs’ Office of Smart Growth (OSG) to help Englishtown create a vision that would preserve its quaint historic character while improving its financial health.
In addition, MLUC provided the support that enabled Englishtown to be selected for participation in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program for 2007. On October 22 – 25, 2007, the AIA brought in a team of five national architectural experts to conduct a planning charrette with the goal of helping the borough achieve a sustainable future. MLUC provided support to the project Steering Committee to successfully orchestrate this community engagement process. The Jersey Shore AIA and Monmouth County Planning Department were engaged and supported this project.
The NJ Sustainable State Institute (NJSSI) provides guidance to Hillsborough Township for this project with support from the MLUC. The project Steering Committee meets bi-monthly to refine goals, targets, strategies and actions for their sustainability plan. At the last meeting Steering Committee members were asked to prioritize goals and strategies. MLUC continues to support and facilitate aspects of this project in addition to the initial “Building Livable Communities” grant that partially underwrites this effort.
“Sustainable Lawrence” has been moving forward with a robust list of taskforces and educational learning circles over the past year, in part, funded by the MLUC “Building Livable Communities” grant. Speakers brought to the community have included Judy Wicks of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), Miriam MacGillis of Genesis Farms Earth Literacy Center, and Kevin Lyons of Rutgers University Purchasing Department. Study circles on “The Natural Step” and other sustainability approaches and issues are ongoing in the municipality. Newer task force initiatives are focusing on the establishment of a large scale solar power system to serve homes in Lawrenceville.
Information about Lawrence’s initiatives can be found on its website, www.sustainablelawrence.org. MLUC is continuing to support and facilitate aspects of this effort.
Middlesex Borough expressed its vision at the Smart Choices Leadership Training Institute to create a transit village around a railroad station with an integrated bicycle and pedestrian roadway along Lincoln Boulevard. It sought to use its MLUC “Building Livable Communities” Grant to enlist a consultant to assist it in developing this vision. In June 2007, work on the grant was initiated after T&M was enlisted as the Middlesex Borough consultant. T&M met with NJTRANSIT and refined the scope of work. T&M submitted a preliminary draft report to the Borough in November 2007 and the Borough is taking steps to expedite the work and determine an anticipated completion date.
Representatives of the Environmental Commission worked with the Borough Administrator to prepare an RFP for energy audit services for all municipal facilities as well as the public schools in Milltown.
Orange – West Orange – HANDS
The Orange/West Orange/HANDS Team submitted a proposal for additional PPS/MLUC technical assistance following the Smart Choices Leadership Training Institute. The Project Team needed assistance in various areas including the following: 1) making the Valley an arts and entertainment destination; 2) creating public spaces that people can use immediately; 3) designing pedestrian and biking options through the neighborhood; 4) creating a “center” around Memorial Triangle, a vest pocket park; and 5) influencing NJTRANSIT to improve its Highland Avenue station including opening the station building to the public.
MLUC/PPS, along with the director of HANDS, a non-profit housing developer, and the Orange planning director conducted a site visit in July 2007. On September 15, 2007, PPS held a public workshop at the Settlement House in West Orange. The workshop was attended by 25 -30 people. The participants were divided into three groups and each group was given a site to evaluate based on PPS concepts of what constitutes “a great public space,” which are: the site’s potential for access and linkages; comfort and image; uses, activities and sociability. The groups identified community “places” and short and long-term ideas for improvement.
PPS provided a report with recommendations and “next steps” to MLUC and the Team in November 2007.
MLUC provided the funding for the project as well as placing a TCNJ student intern in Orange, paid by that City, throughout the summer of 2007.
Technical Assistance – West Orange
MLUC worked with the West Orange Open Space Committee and Council members to assess the municipality’s current and proposed tree ordinances. MLUC initially advised the municipality that its existing tree ordinance had legal and structural flaws, and provided them with examples and models from other municipalities. The municipality did not act to amend its ordinance quickly enough and was subsequently sued and had its ordinance invalidated.
MLUC provided the municipality with state agency and organizational contacts including planners/landscape architect firms with extensive experience in drafting legally sound ordinances. West Orange is in the process of enlisting professional assistance for this purpose
Princeton Borough and Princeton Township
Princeton Borough and Princeton Township are working to address three needs common to both municipalities, which are: To increase energy efficiency and thereby reduce costs; to develop sustainable criteria to be added to local purchasing guidelines; and to educate the public, local officials and staff about sustainability issues.
In addition to the “Building Livable Communities” grant, MLUC supports and facilitates this effort. The NJ Sustainable State Institute (NJSSI) has been working with the project Steering Committee, which was formally created by resolution of the mayors of the two municipalities. The committee has met nearly monthly since last spring to build consensus and understanding on sustainability issues. The official kick-off meeting was held on October 24, 2007.
After attending the Smart Choices Leadership Training Institute in March 2007, Raritan Borough submitted a proposal to MLUC for additional technical assistance from the Project for Public Spaces (PPS). In June 2007, MLUC and PPS joined the Mayor and the Borough’s planning consultants on a walking tour of the project sites. Raritan Borough would like to create a center of activity for residents and visitors along Orlando Drive, which runs along the Raritan River and serves as a gateway to the municipality. The Borough would also like to improve Orlando Drive’s connectivity with its “downtown” or business street. The Borough and its planning consultants held a series of public meetings and workshops in May, September and October 2007. The October public meeting included a “place-making” workshop and a presentation on the nearby Somerville mixed-use development proposal. This project appears on-track for substantial completion in 2007.
PPS provided its recommendations to the Borough in November 2007 and these include: identifying and connecting destinations; establishing gateways at the east and west ends of Orlando drive; and creating a vision for the waterfront.
After attending the Smart Choices Leadership Training Institute, Toms River submitted a proposal for additional technical assistance from MLUC and PPS to help implement its vision. On June 2007, MLUC, PPS, the Director of the Toms River Business Improvement District (BID) and a private developer, walked to the sites in the project area. The tour pointed to concerns about the lack of identity and interconnectedness among the sites. In addition, the municipality’s roadway network created a “hostile” pedestrian environment. The public spaces included a waterfront park, the greenway along the river, and the redevelopment area.
In August 2007, PPS conducted a public workshop which was attended by 30-40 people. The participants were divided into 4 groups. Each group was given a site to evaluate based on PPS concepts of what constitutes a great public space, which are: the site’s potential for access and linkages; comfort and image, uses and activities, and sociability. The groups identified community “places” and short and long-term ideas on ways to improve them. MLUC staff provided assistance by facilitating one of the tour groups.
PPS provided a report with recommendations and “next steps” in November 2007