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  • Announcing a New Build with Purpose White Paper: Too Good to Be True: Lessons Learned on Solar Powering the Nonprofit Sector

    Posted on June 14th, 2012 lauren No comments

    We are pleased to share our findings from a new white paper of ours on solar powering the nonprofit sector.  As usual, we believe in being very practical when it comes to a facility or real estate project.  So along the way we learned that nonprofits can use these seven simple questions before pursuing a solar initiative and save themselves a great deal of time and effort.

    1. Do you have enough space for a large rooftop solar array? (If you want someone else to pay for it as an investor, make sure you have at least 20,000 SF).  Or do you have 20,000 square feet of space on the ground?
    2. Do you have a reasonable amount of sun on the roof?
    3. Is your roof older? Pitched or flat?
    4. Does your facility use a substantial amount of electricity?
    5. Do you own your facility?
    6. What is your risk profile? Is your organization willing to enter into a long-term electricity contract?
    7. Does your organization own multiple buildings with the same legal owner?

     

    For more information on whether solar is right for your nonprofit and how we can all make solar power more viable for the nonprofit sector, please visit:

    http://bwpurpose.org/services/healthy-and-green-communities/solar-for-nonprofits/

     

     

  • CD WiRe (January 19-25)

    Posted on January 25th, 2012 lauren No comments

    1.  Take a Walk:  For today’s new-home market, the road to profitability may be a foot path
    According to “The 2011 Community Preference Survey,” a poll of 2,071 American adults conducted on behalf of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 77% of those polled considered having sidewalks and places to take a walk one of their top priorities when deciding where they’d like to live. Six in 10 adults said they would rather live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk, than a community of only houses that required driving to get to businesses.
    Read more…

    2. Demand for top N.J. charter schools exceeds available seats
    The dreaded night came on Thursday this year. The grim weather — a chilly drizzle as night fell — seemed fitting for what was sure to be a grim evening.  This was lottery night at Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City. The K-8 school had 30 openings to fill.  The problem: Roughly 1,000 families applied to fill them. Hundreds of them streamed into the auditorium to watch the process live, even though results soon would be posted online.
    Read more…

    3.  Is Route 1 a Street … or a Road?
    What’s the difference between a street and a road?  Many of us use these terms interchangeably to denote any linear stretch of pavement designed for use by cars.  But recognizing the distinction can mean the difference between good and efficient planning and a dysfunctional waste of public resources.  Charles Marohn at Strong Towns offers an interesting analysis of the difference between a street and a road:  “Roads move people between places while streets provide a framework for capturing value within a place.”
    Read more…

    4.   Privatizing parts of N.J. park system stirs debate
    A chain restaurant in Wharton State Forest. A Ferris wheel at Liberty State Park. Weddings, flea markets, and corporate events taking over New Jersey’s historic sites and scenic lands.  That could be the future if the state goes forward with plans to privatize parts of its park system, some warn.  “Next thing you know, you have to pay more for everything and the public’s access is limited,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey. “You’ll be getting fee’d to death.”
    Read more…

    5.   Urban Hope Act worth a try to fix failing N.J. schools
    Imagine approaching a line of starving people with a bullhorn, telling them they must wait for food while you wrangle over whether it’s delivered by the government or a private nonprofit.  Chances are, you’d be throttled.  So when considering the Urban Hope Act, a pilot program that allows nonprofits to build and operate schools in three of the state’s poorest districts, try to think like a parent in Camden. Their children are in schools that are dangerous and failing. Whether that is fixed by the government or a nonprofit group is not the point.
    Read more…

    6.   When it Comes to Wetlands, It’s Hard to Improve on the Original
    Before the Revolutionary War, George Washington had a professional interest in wetlands: He invested in a company that planned to drain the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and turn it into farmland. For centuries, Washington’s attitude was considered the only reasonable one regarding swamps, marshes, peatlands, floodplains, mangroves, fens, potholes, bogs, and other places of muck and slime: They should be avoided or drained for better uses. Only in the past few decades have citizens decided that these areas—what we now call wetlands—did more than sog up perfectly good farmland.  Even though they cover only 1.5 percent of the earth’s surface, some experts estimate that wetlands provide 40 percent of renewable “ecosystem services”—jobs like water filtration and carbon sequestration.
    Read more…

    7.  No Obesity Link to Junk Food in Schools
    In the fight against childhood obesity, communities all over the country are banning the sale of sweets and salty snacks in public schools. But a new study suggests that the strategy may be ineffective.  Researchers at Pennsylvania State University tracked the body mass indexes of 19,450 students from fifth through eighth grade. In fifth grade, 59 percent of the children attended a school where candy, snacks or sugar-sweetened beverages were sold. By eighth grade, 86 percent did so.  The researchers compared children’s weight in schools where junk food was sold and in schools where it was banned.
    Read more…

    8. 10 Green Building Trends for 2012
    The Earth Advantage Institute has certified more than 12,000 green homes, so it’s safe to say they know what’s going on with green building. Towards the end of 2011, the non-profit spoke with various policymakers, builders, developers, architects, brokers, appraisers, lenders, and homeowners to understand green building trends. Here are the 10 green building trends EAI says to watch for in 2012, which we’ve paraphrased below.
    Read more…

    9. State Senators Lesniak and Cunnigham Seek To Reform Criminal Justice System
    In an effort to address the state’s growing incarceration rate, State Senators Raymond Lesniak of Union City and Sandra Cunnigham of Jersey City have introduced a package of bills that they say will save tax dollars and reduce repeat offenses.  “As a nation that imprisons more of its residents per capita than any country in the world, we should continually evaluate our penal justice system to determine if our current policies provide protection for the safety of our residents and are cost-effective, or if changes are needed,” said Senator Lesniak in a statement. “The four bills we are announcing today are designed to reduce waste and inefficiency in our criminal justice system and redirect resources to better protect the public by reducing repeat offenses. We have asked that these bills be moved in both houses prior to the budget break, so we can get on with changing our criminal justice system to make it more cost effective and to provide better safety to our residents.”
    Read more…

    10.   President Obama and the forgotten urban agenda
    It’s safe to say that Barack Obama came to the White House with more street cred than any president in recent memory. As an African American, Obama was certainly privy to the forces of institutional racism that still shackle much of urban America. Before he got into politics, he worked as a civil rights lawyer, and before that, he worked as a community organizer in the mean streets of Chicago. (You will recall that Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin took turns mocking him for that last one at the 2008 Republican national convention.) When Obama became president, hopes were high that American cities would finally get a little love from Washington, which had spent fifty-plus years pouring money into the suburbs.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (Nov. 3-9)

    Posted on November 9th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.  Nation’s newest national historic park in NJ
    A majestic 77-foot waterfall in the heart of a working-class New Jersey city that inspired generations of newcomers to America, fueled the Industrial Revolution and was featured in everything from a William Carlos Williams poem to an episode of “The Sopranos,” became the nation’s newest national park Monday.  The Great Falls in downtown Paterson was given the national park designation in a ceremony attended by New Jersey officials, local schoolchildren, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the head of the National Park Service.
    Read more…

    2. Debate brews over new method to measure poverty
    Debate over how the federal government measures poverty intensified Monday when the Census Bureau announced a second way to calculate the number of America’s poor.  The new method for the first time adds the value of food stamps, school lunches, housing subsidies and the earned income tax credit. It also subtracts payroll and income taxes, child care costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses.  The new estimate says 16% of Americans lived in poverty in 2010, slightly higher than the official rate of 15.2% released in September. Most important difference: The number of seniors termed poor almost doubled while the number of children classified as poor fell.
    Read more…

    3.  New Jersey Worse Off at End of Decade Than Start, Study Says
    New Jersey had fewer jobs and more people living in poverty at the end of 2010 than in 2000, according to a study from a group that favors tax increases to benefit people of low or moderate means.  Employment fell to 3.85 million last year from 3.99 million in 2000, while the jobless rate jumped to 9.5 percent from 3.7 percent, according to the study released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective, based in Trenton. The national rate climbed to 9.5 percent from 4 percent in that period, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  New Jersey’s weak economic recovery was cited by all three major credit-rating companies that each lowered the state’s bond ranking by one level this year.
    Read more…

    4.   Charter schools are ending the minority achievement gap
    A poll commissioned earlier this year by Friends of Choice in Urban Schools found that District families who stand to benefit the most from public charter schools know the least about them. Many erroneously believe charter schools are privately funded, charge tuition and require admissions tests. So last month, FOCUS began a yearlong advertising campaign on Metro to educate parents in Wards 7 and 8 about the remarkable success of school choice in the District since 1996, when the city passed one of the strongest charter school laws in the nation.  In a telling reversal of their student share, charter schools in the District educate 40 percent of the city’s public school children, but account for 60 percent of all the high-performing, open-enrollment schools.
    Read more…

    5. Unable to pay bill, Mich. city turns off lights
    As the sun dips below the rooftops each evening, parts of this Detroit enclave turn to pitch black, the only illumination coming from a few streetlights at the end of the block or from glowing yellow yard globes.  It wasn’t always this way. But when the debt-ridden community could no longer afford its monthly electric bill, elected officials not only turned off 1,000 streetlights. They had them ripped out — bulbs, poles and all. Now nightfall cloaks most neighborhoods in inky darkness.
    Read more…

    6.  Recession Drives More Americans to Poverty-Wracked Neighborhoods
    The number of Americans living in neighborhoods beset by extreme poverty surged in the last decade, erasing the progress of the 1990s, with the poorest areas growing more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities.  At least 2.2 million more Americans, a 33 percent jump since 2000, live in neighborhoods where the poverty rate is 40 percent or higher, according to a study released today by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.  The report, which analyzed Census Bureau data, shows the extent to which the U.S. lost ground in efforts to fight poverty during a decade marked by recessions, including the deepest slump in seven decades.
    Read more…

    7. Land Banks Can Aid in Reinvigorating NJ Cities and Towns
    Most municipalities have at least a few vacant or abandoned properties within their borders. In some places these properties have become a huge problem, as their numbers increase and they outpace the market’s ability to reabsorb them. These vacant properties can become hot beds for crime, dumping, fires and other dangerous or unwanted activities. The burden of dealing with them is often passed on to the municipality, which must exhaust city resources on a property they may not even be gaining tax revenue from.
    Read more…

    8. Despite Fears of a Crash, Solar Sector Remains White Hot
    New Jersey’s solar market is continuing its rapid pace of growth—even amid warnings by some the sector could be headed for a crash.  In October, more than 44 megawatts of new solar systems were installed in the state, bringing the total to more than 447 megawatts of installed capacity, according to information compiled by a state contractor who helps administer the solar program. That amount could be more than doubled (1,017 megawatts) if all of the projects in the pipeline are built.  In fact, so much solar is being built that New Jersey is more than a year ahead of meeting a state-mandated requirement that specifies how much of the its electricity comes from solar energy. For most, that would be viewed as good news, but some say the explosive growth has created an oversupply of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), the primary means of financing solar projects.
    Read more…

    9. Princetown Township And Princeton Borough Merging Into One Municipality
    Voters in Princeton Township and Princeton Borough have decided to combine their two towns after having rejected consolidation at least three previous times in the past 60 years.Borough voters approved a merger Tuesday by a margin of about 3-to-2. It was even more decisive in the township, where the change was supported by a margin of more than 5-to-1. The merger takes effect in 2013.   The township surrounds the borough like a doughnut, and Ivy League Princeton University straddles the town line.  After three rejections of consolidation, this acceptance is an eye-opener for Rutgers University political science professor John Weingart.
    Read more…

    10. Prudential Expands its Veteran Training and Employment Initiative
    With veterans returning home in record numbers from ongoing conflicts abroad, Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) announced today the expansion of its veteran training and employment program run by Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS). The VETalent program is now available in partnership with Rutgers University, Penn State University-Abington, and the University of North Florida.  In 2009 Prudential partnered with WOS, a nonprofit organization, and Rutgers University-Newark to develop a unique program called VETalent that would train Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans for jobs in information technology.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (Oct. 27- Nov. 2)

    Posted on November 2nd, 2011 lauren No comments

    1. Latest Round of Charter Applications Filed with Education Department
    Here we go again.  With the previous round just finished, another 42 applications for new charter schools were filed by this week’s deadline. Some are sure to spark off the by-now recognizable debate about charters in some familiar — and not so familiar — places.  Three of the most contentious applications from the last round — all rejected — have filed again. They are a Hebrew language school in Middlesex County, a Mandarin language school in Essex County, and a charter high school for Montclair that is now making its fifth try.  In all, 12 of the 42 applications are making at least their second bids for the state’s approval, according to the education department.
    Read more…

    2. Some 15% of U.S. Uses Food Stamps

    Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in August, as the number of recipients hit 45.8 million.  Food stamp rolls have risen 8.1% in the past year, the Department of Agriculture reported, though the pace of growth has slowed from the depths of the recession.

    The number of recipients in the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), may continue to rise in coming months as families continue to struggle with high unemployment and September’s data will likely include disaster assistance tied to the destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.
    Read more…

    3. Putting Zuckerberg’s Millions to Work for Schools
    The people in charge of giving away $100 million of Mark Zuckerberg’s money to improve the lives of children in this city operate from a drab warren of offices downtown, where the walls are empty except for a few whiteboards left behind by another nonprofit organization.  There are five unwelcoming black plastic chairs in the foyer for visitors, part of a package of used desks, filing cabinets and shelves picked up for $9,000. The microwave in the kitchenette is also a hand-me-down.  Until a couple of weeks ago — more than a year after Mr. Zuckerberg, a co-founder of Facebook, announced his gift to much fanfare on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — the sign on the door was a sheet of 8.5-by-11 paper taped to the glass, and the people behind it lacked business cards.
    Read more…

    4. On Top of the Urban Highway Trend
    As they stroll between two buildings that echo the grandeur of Daniel Burnham’s demolished Union Station here, pedestrians can easily forget that they are walking over a bridge that spans a sunken interstate highway.  But that’s what happens at the retail complex called the Cap at Union Station, where the classically styled buildings flank what looks like — but isn’t — a typical city street.   The innovative project, which opened in 2004, put Columbus at the forefront of a national trend: Covering sunken freeways with caps, decks, land bridges or lids, as they are called, and using the found space to reconnect neighborhoods that were torn apart by the national highway building binge of the 1950s and 1960s.
    Read more…

    5.  Where the 1 Percent Fit in the Hierarchy of Income
    The Occupy Wall Street protests have set off an enduring conversation in the city concerning what has come to be known as the 99 percent. There has also been a collateral conversation about the richer and remaining 1 percent. Here is the hierarchy of income that underlies the conversation. The volume of each section represents the number of American families in each category, based on a study of 2006 tax returns by Emmanuel Saez of Berkeley. Selected individual salaries are from publicly available sources.
    Read more/see chart…

    6. As Population, Consumption Rise, Builder Goes Small
    The planet may not feel any different today, but there are now 7 billion people on it, according to the United Nations.  That number will continue to rise, of course, and global incomes are likely to rise as well. That means more cars and computers, and bigger homes: the kinds of things Americans take for granted. It’s that rise in consumption that has population experts worried.  Klaus Lackner, a physicist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, says as economies improve in places like India and Africa — where populations are growing fastest — they’re going to want to live more like we do.
    Read more…

    7. Casting the Robert Moses Role in HBO’s Upcoming Film
    New York’s master builder is going Hollywood. A biopic is reportedly in the works on the life of Robert Moses, the controversial and prolific builder who dramatically altered the landscape of New York City in the early and mid-20th century.  The Hollywood Reporter revealed recently that HBO and director Oliver Stone are teaming up to produce the film, based on Robert A. Caro’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, The Power Broker. (HBO had previously optioned another book on Moses, Anthony Flint’s 2009 Wrestling with Moses.)  Turning Caro’s wide-ranging 1,200-pager on Moses’ entire life into a film seems a daunting task. We can probably expect to see some flashbacks, but chances are the film will have to focus on the prime  years of Moses’ career, beginning around the late 1930s up to his ultimate downfall in the early ‘60s.
    Read more…

    8. Last-minute partnership saves New Jersey After 3 program from shutdown
    A popular after-school program for children of poor, working families known as New Jersey After 3, on the verge of ending because of budget cuts, has been spared through a partnership between private donors and the state Department of Education, Gov. Chris Christie said today.  The partnership, forged in the program’s eleventh hour, includes David Tepper, a wealthy hedge fund manager and Christie ally, who formed a nonprofit organization, Better Education for New Jersey Kids.  Christie said Tepper would contribute an undisclosed sum until the federal government provides more money to the state.
    Read more…

    9. In this economy, consolidation could be right move for NJ towns
    Funny thing is, when you ask a resident of Princeton Township or Princeton Borough where they live, the answer usually is simply “Princeton.” Well, now they have a chance to make that a reality. On Nov. 8, the two municipalities can write history (and rewrite maps) if they vote to consolidate.  The town’s new name? Princeton, of course.  Should they merge? Yes. Will they? Who knows?  The towns have been trying to marry for 60 years, but each time, residents have objected rather than hold their peace. Three efforts toward a proposed unification have failed, but times have changed dramatically, even since the last attempt in 1996.
    Read more…

    10. Camden’s housing incentives aim at middle class
    The lists this city has made over the years aren’t good: Most crime-ridden, highest poverty rates, highest drop-out rates. But local officials and some of the biggest employers are boosting it as a good place to live, in an effort to recruit a middle-class to a city where generations of people have moved out as soon as they could afford it.   Mayor Dana Redd announced a program last week in which three city hospitals and Rowan University will offer incentives for their employees to buy homes in the neighborhoods near where they work. The strategy echoes incentives over the last two decades that have helped been tried as parts of larger efforts to transform neighborhoods from Birmingham, Ala., to Detroit.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (August 18-24)

    Posted on August 24th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1. Stymied Charter Files Suit Against Three School Districts
    As New Jersey’s battles over charter schools have increasingly gone suburban, one charter school is fighting back in a legal counteroffensive that could have statewide implications.  The Princeton International Academy Charter School (PIACS) has filed suit against three districts that have openly fought its existence, contending that they have unlawfully used public funds in their two-year campaign against the school.  Although approved by the state, the charter has yet to open. It has needed two extensions while it battles for potential sites in Princeton and now South Brunswick, two of the districts named as defendants. The third is West Windsor-Plainsboro.
    Read more…

    2. New Jersey Tent City Houses 70 Homeless People Who Draw Community Scorn
    Marilyn Berenzweig was a successful New York textile designer who loved her work and comfortable lifestyle. For the past year, however, she and her husband have been living in a tent city in the New Jersey woods.  “It’s life on a much more primitive level. … Cooking on a wood stove … having no running water, no electricity.”  Berenzweig, 60, and husband Michael live at Tent City Lakewood, a growing community of 70 homeless people living in a series of tents, shacks, trailers and tepees in a wooded area along the Jersey Shore about 25 miles north of Atlantic City.
    Read more…

    3.  NJ withdraws proposed charity fund-raising rule
    New Jersey consumer affairs officials have withdrawn a plan restricting the language charities can use in soliciting donors.  Under the proposal announced last month, nonprofit groups would have had to tell donors they could designate which programs their money should fund.  The groups also would have had to note in fund-raising appeals that non-directed donations could be used for whatever purposes the charities chose, including general operating expenses.  But many groups balked, claiming the language implied that management and other overhead expenses are inherently bad.
    Read more…

    4.  Northeast rail corridor gets $745M for upgrades
    The federal Department of Transportation announced Monday that $745 million would be going toward rail projects that will allow trains to travel up to 160 mph in some sections of the Northeast Corridor and to construction that will allow Amtrak trains to avoid a congested rail junction in part of New York City.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the projects would create 12,000 jobs over the span of construction.  “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.”
    Read more…

    5. Christie must move on ‘foreclosure rescue’ bill
    In the last few days of its session, the Legislature — with both rare bipartisan amity and the support of consumer and banking organizations — passed a bill to crack down on so-called “foreclosure rescue” companies and guarantee that people who have lost their homes to them receive fair compensation.  The bill — the Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act — landed on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk June 29. He hasn’t signed it yet.  “But this gets to be very timely right now,” says Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), the bill’s prime sponsor who has issued a public plea to Christie to sign the legislation.
    Read more…

    6. NJ toy gun swap contrasts with nearby violence
    Several dozen children clutching water pistols and cap guns Monday lined up in Newark to exchange their fake weapons for non-violent toys as word spread that a shooting with a real gun had taken place just blocks away.  Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the nearby gunfire was from a man accidentally shooting and injuring himself, and that the fact it took place near a children’s toy gun exchange illustrated just how important such initiatives had become to curbing the cycle of violence.  “We have a serious, serious problem in Newark, in Jersey City, Camden, Detroit, Cleveland; there’s a serious problem in America with gun violence,” Booker said. “We’ve got to start to break this culture, and we in Newark are determined to do that.”
    Read more…

    7. N.J. grants more than $14M for statewide infrastructure improvements
    The state will dole out 95 grants to municipalities, counties and airports to perform $14.65 million in road projects.  The bulk of the funds will be distributed to municipalities for local road projects, including $3.5 million for a bridge replacement in South Plainfield, $250,000 for a streetscape project in Roxbury and funds for resurfacing streets in Denville, Morris Plains, Victory Garden and Morris County’s Washington Township. In total, 29 municipalities will split up $10 million.  An additional 55 grants totaling $2 million will be given for “safe corridor” projects, including $31,752.12 in Essex County, $108,617.75 in Mercer County, $319,240.78 in Union County and $403,661.06 in Middlesex County. The program identifies 14 10-mile stretches of highway that have been designated for improvements to reduce traffic crashes.
    Read more…

    8. An Economic Development Case for Building Sports Stadiums—Or Not
    Just last month, we posted a blog entry asking readers whether building convention centers in inner city neighborhoods are worth the public subsidies required to do so. Since then, an almost identical conversation has been happening about whether sports stadiums are worth the public investment.  In an article posted in The Nation, Neil DeMause asks, “Why Do Mayors Love Sports Stadiums?” He argues that tax breaks, free land, government-subsidized tax-free loans and discounts to offset operating costs are not recouped by cities after stadiums are built. Indeed, many stadium plans include benefits to the surrounding community but these plans never bear fruit.
    Read more…

    9.  Sustainable States Act Brings Thriving NJ Greening Program to the Nation
    Soon-to-be proposed legislation will fund nationwide programs modeled after one of Jersey’s own. Green initiatives at the local township levels have concrete payback periods, meaning it’s federal money very well spent.   The past few years in this country have featured a down-and-dirty crash course of the role of government, and the use of taxpayer funds. And while ideologies sometimes clash, many of us are evolving in our understanding of the relationship between citizen and state.
    Read more…

    10. The Importance of Small Arts Organizations
    Over the past 20 years, many arts organizations have been forced to raise increasing sums of money as growth in ticket revenue has not matched growth in budgets. This necessity has been the mother of invention; arts organizations in this country are far more sophisticated and creative about fundraising now than ever before.  And while this increase in development acumen is in evidence at many arts organizations, larger organizations have had a distinct advantage.  Corporate donors are looking for visibility for their products and services; gifts to arts organizations can only be justified if they support the marketing activities of the firm.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (July 14-20)

    Posted on July 20th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1. Calif. company hopes N.J.’s solar successes drive demand for stronger U.S. policies
    The Garden State has long been a leader in solar energy policies and installations. Now, a new campaign is aiming to use the experiences of states like New Jersey to turn up the heat on states where incentives have been lacking.  This week, San Francisco-based One Block Off the Grid launched a nationwide campaign aimed at raising awareness about the value of solar incentive programs.  The campaign, called “One Nation Off the Grid,” coincides with the company’s launch of group deals in 34 states, and the release of data from a new report assessing each state’s solar policies and its potential for solar job creation.
    Read more…

    2.  Christie Administration Continues to Increase Options for Students with Nine New Charter Schools Opening in September
    The Christie Administration announced today that nine new charter schools will open across the state in September 2011. The Department of Education also announced that 21 previously approved schools will be granted a planning year with the anticipation of opening in September 2012.   The expansion of high-quality charter schools has been a top priority of Governor Christie’s education reform agenda. The Department of Education has two rounds each year during which groups may apply to open a charter school.  The Department of Education approved charters in September 2010 and January 2011.  However, schools must pass an additional “preparedness review” in June in order to show that they have in place a high-quality academic program, and that they have met all regulatory requirements to open in September.
    Read more…

    3. Atlantic City boardwalk named best in the nation
    Atlantic City has the top boardwalk in the nation. This according to National Geographic, which has just released its list of the top 10.  A.C.’s four-mile walk topped the list for its glitz and neon, but other area boards made the cut, too.  Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk came in at No. 6 for its ability to keep the nostalgia through its recent facelift.  At the bottom of the list, you’ll find Wildwood. Its water parks, roller coasters and boardwalk food earned the two-mile stretch the No. 10 spot. No mention of the persistent “watch the Tramcar, please,” warning.
    Read more….

    4.  Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs
    Millburn Parents Against Charter Schools
    , argues that the schools would siphon money from its children’s education for unnecessarily specialized programs. The schools, to be based in nearby Maplewood and Livingston, would draw students and resources from Millburn and other area districts.  “I’m in favor of a quality education for everyone,” Mr. Stewart said. “In suburban areas like Millburn, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the local school district is not doing its job. So what’s the rationale for a charter school?”  Suburbs like Millburn, renowned for educational excellence, have become hotbeds in the nation’s charter school battles, raising fundamental questions about the goals of a movement that began 20 years ago in Minnesota.
    Read more…

    5.  Anxious Jersey City homeowners told their properties are being taken off eminent domain list
    At a meeting at City Hall, some 53 property owners in the McGinley Square area of Jersey City were told that their properties are coming off an eminent domain list.   The properties were placed on the list as part of the McGinley Square Redevelopment Plan, an city initiative that encompasses about four blocks, bordered roughly by Bergen Avenue on the west, Jordan Avenue on the East, Mercer Street to the north, and Storms Avenue to the south.   The plan is to create ground-floor commercial, retail, and restaurants in the area, and permit uses such as theaters and bowling alleys.
    Read more…

    6.  The Next Bubble–Burgers
    The Washington Post reported that Michelle Obama consumed 1700 calories at lunch at the new DC Shake Shack. According to the story, the First Lady had a Shackburger, fries, a chocolate shake, and in a self-deluding ploy most of us know all too well, a Diet Coke.  Some people were amused at the supposed hypocrisy of the obesity-fighting First Lady gorging on 1700 calories of fat and carbs. I see a more ominous significance to the episode: after the tech bubble, the real estate bubble, the private equity bubble, could we soon be facing a Burger Bubble? I’m not talking about an imminent collapse of McDonalds, which is humming along now that it is serving our beloved national food to Australians, South Americans and Chinese. No I’m talking about what we might call the nouveau burger at places like Shake Shack.
    Read more…

    7.   New York City Bans Downtown Vehicles in August
    For three Saturdays in August, New York City will ban vehicles on seven miles of roads in Manhattan, allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to take over the streets of downtown. The “Summer Streets” program, now in its fourth year, began as part of the city’s overall greening initiatives in an effort to encourage New Yorkers to leave their cars at home and consider more sustainable modes of transportation.
    Read more…

    8.  Aging baby boomers strain cities built for the young
    America’s cities are beginning to grapple with a fact of life: People are getting old, fast, and they’re doing it in communities designed for the sprightly.  To envision how this silver tsunami will challenge a youth-oriented society, just consider that seniors soon will outnumber schoolchildren in hip, fast-paced New York City.  It will take some creative steps to make New York and other cities age-friendly enough to help the coming crush of older adults stay active and independent in their own homes.
    Read more…

    9. Christie takes steps to restore transitional aid to ailing cities
    Reversing course, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday took steps to restore $139 million in transitional aid funds to some of the state’s most distressed cities, including Trenton.  The about-face came three weeks after the governor cut all but $10 million of transitional aid from his initial budget in a string of line-item vetoes that touched off a political tug-of-war between Christie and Democrats in the Legislature.  Under the cut, ailing cities such as Trenton, Camden and Newark and nearly 20 others would have been left to split a $10 million pot of aid, a drastic departure from the much higher totals that cities were expecting. Trenton had budgeted $24 million for itself.
    Read more…

    10. Easton, Sea Isle City use Smart Growth Formula
    Sea Isle City on the Jersey Shore is a lot of things, but it is most certainly the Park Bench Capital of America. Its slogan should be “Sit your butt down here.”  On the town’s promenade – which is essentially a boardwalk without all the rides and games – there’s a bench just about every 10 feet. Each has an inscription dedicating it to someone, often accompanied by a quote about the person’s love for Sea Isle City. The benches are an amenity for tired pedestrians, a place to stop and talk, and a classy way of reminding people that the town is a great place to be.  It’s just one of the facets that draw people in droves to the downtown for walking, bicycling, shopping and restaurant and bar hopping.
    Read more…

     

     

  • CD WiRe (June 30-July 6)

    Posted on July 6th, 2011 Build with Purpose No comments

    1. What Might Young Professionals Want from Careers in Community Development?
    Do we know what young people in community development want and need?  “I honestly don’t know of that many young people in the field here, you’ve made me stop and think,” one association director from the Southeast noted. “We are a graying field,” said the head of a Mid-Atlantic region state CDC association. If CDCs are going to speak to the needs and interests of the new generation now trying to break into the sector, they will have to understand that the impetus of many young people in community development is more about building and strengthening community
    Read more…

    2. New Jersey’s Solar Ambitions Raise Difficult Land-Use Issues
    Home to more than 9,000 solar projects with a total capacity of more than 320 megawatts, New Jersey ranks second only to California in total installed solar capacity. Due to its much smaller land area, New Jersey has by far the most solar capacity per square mile of any state.  New Jersey’s Solar Advancement Act of 2010 calls for adding 4,000 megawatts of electricity output from solar by 2026, a 13-fold increase from today’s level. This goal could be met using an estimated 24 square miles of land or 300 million square feet of rooftop—or, most likely, a combination of the two.  Because of New Jersey’s small size, the effects of solar development on other land uses are more pressing than in other states.
    Read more…

    3. Governor Removes Funding for Transit Villages
    After being restored to the budget that was passed by the Legislature last week, funding for the Department of Transportation’s Transit Village program was removed from the FY 2012 spending plan signed by Governor Chris Christie on June 30.  The governor used his line-item veto power to eliminate funding for the program, along with a host of other items that had been included in the budget approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.  The Democrats’ proposal would not have increased spending to pay for the Transit Village program; rather, it included language that directed DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson to dedicate $1 million to the program from already allocated funds. The governor’s line-item veto struck this language from the budget.
    Read more…

    4. Social Entrepreneurship as Fetish
    How to thrive in turbulent times, improve organizational sustainability, and generate significant social impact are crucial questions currently confronting many nonprofit leaders and boards. There appears to be an answer within reach, and its formula is as simple as it is powerful: You and your agency need to become more entrepreneurial.  Over the last ten years, the fascination with and interest in social entrepreneurship seem to have grown exponentially. Today, this concept has positioned itself at the very heart of discussions about the future and evolution of the nonprofit sector, as a number of nonprofit executives have embraced social entrepreneurship as a model of management.
    Read more…

    5. Rising rent forces Jersey City charter school out of city-owned building
    Starting September, Jersey City’s Golden Door Charter School will have a new home.  Faculty and staff are currently vacating the school’s 50,000 square foot facility at 108 Ninth Street and Marin Boulevard, which housed the K-8 institution for 13 years and was built by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.  On Sept. 6, students will open the new school year at the former St. John the Baptist School and convent buildings at 3044 Kennedy Blvd.  This move has been in the pipeline for nearly two years, primarily because of rising rent.
    Read more…

    6. NJ Assembly approves 4 charter school bills
    The New Jersey Assembly has passed four pieces of legislation addressing how charter schools are created and operated.  Charter schools are funded by taxpayers but operate outside the regular public school system.  One bill passed Wednesday would require voters or school boards to sign off on new charter schools. Another would allow certain colleges to authorize them. Under current law, only the state can do that.
    Read more…

    7. How N.J. fumbled on gay marriage
    When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a same-sex marriage bill on June 24, many gays in New Jersey celebrated a hard-fought victory by their neighbors.  But that joy was tempered by bitterness and regret. New Jersey’s Democratic-majority Legislature missed an opportunity to legalize marriage for same-sex couples in January 2010, during the final days of Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s administration. His successor, Republican Chris Christie, opposes marriage rights for gays.  Last month, a Republican-majority Legislature sent a marriage equality bill to Cuomo, the man Christie calls his “soul mate.”
    Read more…

    8. Deal to Save NJ’s Xanadu Chips Away At Affordable Housing Near Urban Transit Centers
    In order to grant corporate tax incentives to resurrect New Jersey’s moribund Xanadu shopping complex, Governor Chris Christie needed the Democratically-controlled state legislature to follow through with legislation (pdf). The bill would grant at least $200 million in tax credits to a company to finish the stalled  project — now to be rebranded as American Dream Meadowlands.  And as WNYC’s Bob Hennelly reports, that is not all that the bill does.  Democrats used the opportunity to radically alter the state’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Act, which offers significant tax credits to developers undertaking residential construction near mass-transit in urban centers like Camden and Newark.
    Read more…

    9. New report From Coldwell Banker Says Affordable Housing is Available in NJ
    If you think finding an affordable home that fits your needs in New Jersey will be a difficult task, think again.  A new nationwide report released by Coldwell Banker Real Estate shows while home prices in the Garden State are robust, there are some surprises.  The report, called the Home Listing Report (HLR), compares the average home listing price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom property listed on coldwellbanker.com between September 2010 and March 2011.  The HLR results reveal of the 156 New Jersey real estate markets, Newark led the list as the most affordable market in the state with an average of $170,427.
    Read more…

    10. Carmakers and White House Haggling Over Mileage Rules
    The Obama administration and the auto industry are locked in negotiations over new vehicle mileage and emissions standards that will have a profound effect on the cars Americans drive and the health of the auto industry over the next decade and beyond.  Depending on the stringency of the standard, the deal could also reduce global warming emissions by millions of tons a year and cut oil imports by billions of barrels over the life of the program, cornerstones of President Obama’s energy policy.  The administration is proposing regulations that will require new American cars and trucks to attain an average of as much as 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025, roughly double the current level. That would require increases in fuel efficiency of nearly 5 percent a year from 2017 to 2025.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (June 16-22)

    Posted on June 22nd, 2011 lauren No comments

    1. Rail Stations Drive Demand
    As New Jersey slowly emerges from the economic downturn, its office market is beginning to transform into one concentrated around train stations.  Businesses have been leasing space in areas served by train stations at a higher rate than those only accessible by car, according to real-estate firms. The trend reflects demographic shifts and higher gasoline prices as well as changes in worker priorities.  For example, businesses are beginning to recognize that many employees care less about living in sprawling estates and more about living in diverse areas with restaurants and entertainment within walking distance.
    Click here to read more…

    2. When Eating Well Is a Matter of Where You Live
    America’s battle to lose weight and eat healthy has many fronts. There is the battle to get Americans to make better choices at restaurants. There is the battle to get them to shop smarter.  But for some people and some communities, the battle is about having access to healthy food. Some places may be swimming in Whole Foods Markets, but in others, places labeled food deserts, affordable nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables can be hard to come by. And these food deserts are spread across Patchwork Nation, but very unevenly.
    Click here to read more…

    3. ‘Parent Trigger’ Laws: Shutting Schools, Raising Controversy
    In a bare-bones basement office in Buffalo, N.Y., Katie Campos, an education activist, is plotting a revolution. She and her minuscule staff of the advocacy group Buffalo ReformED are against incredible odds. In less than a week, they are trying to get a controversial law known as the “parent trigger” through the New York legislature. It’s a powerful nickname for game-changing legislation that would enable parents who could gather a majority at any persistently failing school to either fire the principal, fire 50% of the teachers, close the school or turn it into a charter school.
    Click here to read more…

    4. Solving the Real Estate Crisis with Parks
    Mike Messner, the investment fund manager, is the primary force behind the budding “Redfields to Greenfields” movement, which has been picked up by more than 10 major cities in the U.S. The basic idea is to turn toxic real estate into parks, elevating nearby property values, and turning a downward spiral of economic stagnation and disinvestment into a positive, self-reinforcing trend of new growth. As Messner noted in a conference he organized with City Parks Alliance on Capitol Hill, “parks and trees are great. I do like them. However, these are secondary to good investments.” And investing in transforming redfields into parks makes smart economic sense these days.  “The U.S. caused this real estate crisis with its housing policy. There were no down payment requirements, easy credit, and lots of capital moving into non-performing assets.” As a result, the federal government had to move in with $10 trillion investments and recovery programs (“real estate backstopping”) to hold off further economic decline. To counter this trend, surplus land must be redeveloped as green space. Cities large or small can use green spaces as an “economic multiplier” that not only creates green infrastructure but also helps developers get developing again.
    Click here to read more…

    5.  Love thy neighbour. Gen Y embraces closeness of urban living
    Domesticity, and its accompanying architectural fantasy, have driven urban development since the mid-19th century and most intensely since the 1950s.  It’s the dream that allows us to imagine our most intimate familial relationships, those between ourselves, our partner and our children inside a particular architectural form. It’s almost always a single family dwelling, on a fenced block, separated from its neighbours with little collective amenity beyond sewage, roads and electricity. There’s a back yard, sometimes a dog — we see it on Backyard Blitz and other renovation shows.  It comes to us from Grand Designs as much from New Idea. The American version has a picket fence and pitched roof like a child’s drawing.
    Click here to read more…

    6. Mets to help fund new Sept. 11 charity program
    In a news conference Tuesday at Citi Field, the Mets and Tuesday’s Children announced that the team will help pay for The First Responder Alliance Mentoring Program, which will provide trained mentors for children whose parents died due to illness attributed to their time working at ground zero or Fresh Kills Landfill.  The Mets say it’s the third program they have helped fund for Tuesday’s Children, a non-profit organization committed to helping people affected by the 9/11 attacks and terrorism worldwide.”
    Click here to read more…

    7. Despite a report citing Camden’s school failings, N.J. has declined to act
    Despite Gov. Christie’s frequent calls for no delay in repairing New Jersey’s failing schools, the state for over a year has had the information and means to step in and provide increased help and oversight to improve Camden’s schools, but has not.  A report made through the state’s Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) process last June found Camden failing in three of five performance areas – personnel, instruction and program, and governance. In the other two areas, operations and fiscal management, the scores were low enough to warrant correction. Under QSAC, the state could have sought to appoint “highly skilled professionals” to oversee the district’s problem areas as part of a “partial intervention.”
    Click here to read more…

    8.  Foreclosures stalled in NJ, statistics show
    Home foreclosure filings in New Jersey have dropped dramatically, according to the latest figures released by both the New Jersey Judiciary and Realty Trac, a nationwide firm that tracks foreclosure statistics.  That’s the good news. The bad news is that the good news may be short-lived.  The judiciary has been working since late last year to ensure that the foreclosure processes used by six major lenders in the state are proceeding fairly. This has created a backlog in the filing of new cases.
    Click here to read more…

    9.  NewBridge GED program helps N.J. high school dropouts chase their goals
    A year ago Brian Wells was a junior at Dover High School. He did not do his homework, talked back to his teachers and was constantly in detention. By the end of the year, the 18-year-old from Mine Hill had dropped out.  But earlier this month Wells walked proudly onto the stage of the Elks Lodge in Boonton to receive his high school diploma — and a surprise award. He was one of 42 former high school dropouts who succeeded in earning their GED as part of NewBridge Services’ 70001 Jobs Plus program, an alternative education initiative run by a nonprofit providing behavioral health and education services in Morris and Passaic counties. Now in its 27th year, the program helps struggling young men and women ages 16 to 21 turn their lives around.
    Click here to read more…

    10.  With Latest Energy Plan, New Jersey’s Solar Future Now Becomes Hazy
    A change in policy direction has cast doubts on the future success of the New Jersey solar market, which is currently the second largest in the U.S.  The state’s 2011 Energy Master Plan (EMP), which was recently released by the office of Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., reiterates the state government’s support for the development of renewable energy and maintains an existing renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 22.5% renewables by 2021.  The plan also criticizes several facets of the state’s solar policy and makes recommendations for revisions that could jeopardize New Jersey’s leadership position in solar project development, according to some organizations.
    Click here to read more…

  • CD WiRe (June 9-15)

    Posted on June 15th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.  Newark to open 4 high schools and 7 charter schools in less than 3 months, report says
    A controversial plan released Monday calls for creating four new high schools in Newark and opening or expanding seven charter schools inside existing city schools.  Newark Schools superintendent Cami Anderson said there are no plans to close any schools this fall, but five will be consolidated. Anderson will present the plan to the school advisory board Tuesday.  Anderson said the plan targets two priorities: giving Newark students and parents more options and making the district more fiscally efficient.
    Click here to read more…

    2. Google Scaling Solar, Commits $280 Million To Finance SolarCity Installations
    Google today announced a new partnership with SolarCity, committing $280 million from its coffers to finance SolarCity installations, namely solar rooftops for homes in North America.  The partnership brings Google employees a discount on residential solar installations and services from SolarCity. On a worldwide basis, according to the company’s last quarterly earnings report, Google employs about 26,300 full-time.  Earlier this month, SolarCity locked a commitment from U.S. Bancorp that put them past the $1 billion mark in terms of financing capacity. Google becomes the company’s seventh major financing partner.
    Click here to read more…

    3. How Car Dependency Turns Suburban Dreams into Foreclosure Nightmares
    According to an analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology of 2002 mortgage data, 250 people applied for mortgages every day in Chicago, and only 150 were approved. The top reason for rejecting the other 100? Applicants had too much credit tied up in car ownership.  And mortgage lenders have only gotten more skittish since then about overextended borrowers.  Transportation and housing are inextricably tied, but many people are slow to realize the full implications of this link. CNT President Scott Bernstein says that although lenders understand the link when it comes to rejecting applicants who are overextended on car payments, they don’t include transportation costs in their mortgage underwriting.
    Click here to read more…

    4. Federal Push May Restrict Welfare Checks
    South Dakota is one of a handful of states that sends a check each month directly to welfare recipients, meaning the state has no control over how recipients spend those dollars.  That’s a departure from how many states administer their programs, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Most states issue TANF benefits through Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, a system that allows the government to directly transfer benefits onto a card that can be used for food stamps, TANF, child support and other benefits.The electronic cards work like debit cards, allowing recipients to use them at ATMs. They also enable state governments to restrict where the cards may be used. Many states choose not to enact restrictions, but others do.
    Click here to read more…

    5. Christie’s plan would allow for-profit companies to run 5 failing N.J. public schools
    With the enthusiastic backing of powerful South Jersey Democrats, Gov. Chris Christie Thursday announced a five-year pilot program that would allow persistently failing schools to hand oversight to private education companies.  If legislation creating the project becomes law, the state will permit five troubled schools to be run by so-called school management organizations (SMOs), generally for-profit companies that have been brought in by cities across the country to oversee underperforming schools. School boards must apply to the Department of Education to participate, Christie said.
    Click here to read more…

    6. IRS Announces Loss of Charitable Status for 275,000 Non-Profits
    The Internal Revenue Service has taken away the tax-exempt status of 275,000 non-profit groups and organizations, after they failed to file the appropriate forms to maintain that status.  The move was made to help accuracy of non-profit meta records, as researchers use that data to determine the size of the non-profit sector in the United States.  The IRS believes that the majority of the groups that lost their tax-exempt status this week are no longer operational anyway, or many were simply impossible to contact.  Before 2006, non-profit groups with an annual gross income of less than $25,000 were not required to file every year to maintain their tax-exempt status,  In 2006, a federal law called the Pension Protection Act changed the rules to require all non-profits regardless of size and revenue to file the relevant paperwork every year in order to stay exempt from taxes.  Awareness of the new law was not widespread, however, and as of 2010 nearly 25% of all non-profit organizations in the US were facing a loss of their status due to non-compliance.  In response, the IRS extended the deadline to this year, and made stronger efforts to contact the groups in question to inform them of the change in the law.
    Click here to read more…

    7. In N.J., Tax Credit Sparks Development
    New Jersey’s controversial program to encourage development near rail hubs marks the latest in a series of initiatives by Trenton to control growth in a state well known for its troubled inner cities and suburban sprawl.  Some of these programs have been effective, resulting in development in more densely populated areas. On the other hand, New Jersey is still seeing development of open space that’s out of proportion with the increase in its population.  The urban transit hub tax credit—first passed by the state in 2007 and broadened in 2009—provides tax credits to developers or tenants located within a half-mile of a rail station in nine cities.
    Click here to read more…

    8. Will Urban-Loving Millennials Become Suburban Parents?
    Still, for all the buzzy talk of knowledge industry synergy and urban appeal, census figures show that UBS’s return would be bucking the demographic trends rather than reflecting them and that the suburbs, however unloved by tastemakers and academics, remain where the growth is.  Joel Kotkin , a writer who specializes in demographic issues, says that the 2010 census figures show that during the past decade just 8.6 percent of the population growth in metropolitan areas with more than a million people took place in city cores. The rest took place in the suburbs, which are home to more than 6 in 10 Americans.
    Click here to read more…

    9. Bayonne mayor plans to consolidate municipal operations
    Bayonne Mayor Mark A. Smith recently announced plans to scrap two of the city’s independent authorities and farm out many functions of the third.  Officials said the City Council at its Wednesday meeting will be asked to vote on resolutions asking the state Local Finance Board for authority to dissolve the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority and the Bayonne Parking Authority.  The city also wants to “out-source” operations of the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority.  Without providing details of how the change would save the city money, Smith said the restructuring will make government more efficient and accountable to the public and elected officials.
    Click here to read more…

    10.  Are Charity Walks and Races Worth the Effort?
    Fun runs and walkathons have been a fund-raising hit for non-profits. But critics say too little of the money makes it to the finish line.  very year tens of millions of Americans ask friends to sponsor them in events ranging from 3-mile “fun runs” to 100-mile bike treks. And while it’s such a feel-good phenomenon that few pause to examine it, the once bush-league strategy has exploded into a high-profile funding source for some of the nation’s biggest nonprofits. The largest such event — the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life — raised more than $400 million last year. Meanwhile, the ever-growing movement includes tens of thousands of tiny “thons,” collecting for schools, hospitals and homeless shelters.
    Click here to read more…

  • CD WiRe (May 26- June 1)

    Posted on June 1st, 2011 lauren No comments

    Today is the one year anniversary of the Community Development Week-in-Review!!!

    Click here to read the CD WiRe from June 1, 2010- 1 year ago.

    Click on “CD WiRe” in the upper right-hand corner of the page to see archived material from throughout the year.

    Special thanks to Brian Keenan who has always been a CD WiRe supporter and advocate- get well soon!


    1. Gov. Christie announces N.J. pulling out of regional environmental initiative
    In a blow to clean energy advocates throughout the Northeast, Gov. Chris Christie said this morning that the state will pull out of the region’s “gimmicky” cap-and-trade program by the end of the year.  During a Statehouse news conference, Christie acknowledged the effects humans are having on climate change but said the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was doing nothing to solve the problem.  “This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future,” Christie told reporters. “The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It’s a failure.”
    Click here to read more…

    2. Jersey City OKs Redevelopment Plan for JCPD HQ Despite Neighborhood Group’s Concerns
    Jersey City took another step this week towards the sale of the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) headquarters on Erie Street, approving an ordinance to adopt the 8 Erie Street Redevelopment Plan to guide the development the JCPD building and an adjacent surface parking lot. The proposal passed by a 7 to 2 vote, with Ward C councilwoman Nidia Lopez and Ward E councilman Steven Fulop voting no.  A strong showing by members of the Harsimus Cove Association, who voiced frustration at the lack of dialogue with their organization and argued that the redevelopment plan was an abuse of the city’s power, “opening the door” to future abuses, was not enough to convince the council that the redevelopment plan would be detrimental to the neighborhood.
    Click here to read more…

    3. Walkability and the new urbanism
    Urban expert Christopher Leinberger has witnessed a revolution in his Washington, D.C. neighbourhood.  Ten years ago, his Dupont Circle townhouse in the historic district of the nation’s capital was worth 25 per cent less per square foot than a house in suburban Maryland or Virginia 30 minutes away. That same townhouse is worth 70 per cent more per square foot today.  Leinberger says demand for homes in urban, walkable neighbourhoods is outstripping supply in most United States cities and that for the first time since the suburbs became king in the 1960s, housing values there have fallen below those of their urban counterparts.
    Click here to read more…

    4. Race to the Top 2011: The Summer Sequel
    When it comes to New Jersey and the federal Race to the Top competition, the question is: Will the third time be the charm?  New Jersey officials yesterday said the state will compete for the famous — some might say infamous — federal money in what will be a smaller field with a smaller purse than the past two rounds.  In Round 1, the state was not even a finalist. Round 2 last summer left New Jersey an embarrassed near-miss, with a mere three points costing the state $400 million and former education commissioner Bret Schundler his job.
    Click here to read more…

    5. First community meeting for Hoboken Terminal redevelopment plan
    Hoboken residents got a chance to weigh in on a proposed development on Tuesday night, during the city’s first community meeting about the down town NJ Transit property.  NJ Transit—which owns a total of 52 acres in down town Hoboken—came to Hoboken late last year to introduce the first phase of that plan. The first phase centers on Hudson Place and the Hoboken terminal. NJ Transit has proposed to build one big office building at the site, for which a potential renter has been located.
    Click here to read more…

    6. New York City Brownfield Program Cleans Sites, But Who Benefits?
    On the Monday before Earth Day 2011, at a well publicized press event, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other high-ranking city officials broke ground on a market-rate housing development in south Williamsburg. New luxury rentals in Williamsburg are hardly news these days, but this one is unprecedented. Its developer received funding from the country’s first city-funded brownfield program, brought to you by PlaNYC 2030.  Back in 2007, PlaNYC 2030 estimated that there were more than 7,000 acres of brownfields, or vacant or underutilized sites that are likely contaminated with toxic chemicals (such as old gas stations, factories and dry cleaners) across the city’s five boroughs. Not only are these sites eyesores, but because developers are reluctant to take them on, they hamstring neighborhood revitalization.
    Click here to read more…

    7. Small Businesses Exist in Camden, New Jersey?
    The sight and smell of a scrap metal dumping ground dwarfs the isolated Twenty Horse Tavern on Camden’s southern waterfront. Yet the location does not dissuade well-dressed people from turning out on a recent Friday night to listen and to dance to a DJ and live music. Tyrone Pitts, the establishment’s Camden raised and Ivy League educated co-owner, exemplifies the Camden small business owner. When asked how he made the place a success, his answer is simple: “People needed a place like this to enjoy good drinks and music. There is nowhere in Camden like this. This place gives hope.”Camden makes news for its entrenched poverty, failing schools, high crime rate, and a redevelopment strategy focused on educational and medical facilities. Unfortunately, its small businesses go largely unnoticed; they are one of the city’s overlooked assets.
    Click here to read more…

    8. HUD Awards $18.4 Million To Revitalize Severely Distressed Public Housing In Paterson
    U.S. Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Ron Sims today awarded $18.4 million to revitalize the Alexander Hamilton development in Paterson, NJ. The high and low-rises formerly on the site will be replaced with 201 townhouse rental and for-sale units, as well as 70 off-site rental units for seniors. Sims made the announcement at the Paterson Housing Authority site, and was joined by Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones, and Paterson Housing Authority Executive Director Irma Gorham.  The grant funding announced today is part of $153 million awarded to eight public housing agencies across the country through HUD’s HOPE VI Revitalization Program to transform severely distressed public housing developments into mixed-income communities.
    Click here to read more…

    9. Newark seeks public’s help in stemming bloodshed, forms ‘Safe City Task Force’
    Newark police yesterday rolled out a wide-ranging plan to flood city streets with cops and recruit the community as crime-prevention partners, amid five recent killings and the looming memory of last summer’s staggering body count.  A large-scale redeployment of police to high-crime areas, as well as increased police visibility, will be the backbone of the city’s law enforcement strategy, acting Police Director Samuel DeMaio and Mayor Cory Booker said yesterday. The “Safe City Task Force” will also recruit churches, recreational centers, camps and local nonprofit groups to provide alternatives to another brutal city summer.
    Click here to read more…

    10. Tracing the history of rulings on school funding in poor N.J. cities
    In 1875, in an effort to get control of a patchwork public school system, the New Jersey state Legislature amended New Jersey’s constitution and made it the state’s responsibility to provide a “thorough and efficient system of free public schools.”  For more than 100 years since, the state’s courts and elected officials have wrestled with those eight words.  The participants and dollar amounts have changed over the years, but the issue has largely been the same: how to give children in New Jersey’s poorest cities the same level of education as those in its wealthiest communities.
    Click here to read more…