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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:




  • CD WiRe (New Years 2012 Edition)

    Posted on January 4th, 2012 lauren No comments


    1.   Newark development organization awarded federal status
    Brick City Development Corp. — Newark’s economic development arm — has been certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Treasury Department, BCDC will announce today.  The designation will serve as a credential and allow BCDC to apply for federal grant money that can be used for small business and community development lending.
    Read more…

    2. Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Safe Streets Amendment
    In a major step forward for Complete Streets, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed a federal transportation authorization bill that includes a measure for the safe accommodation of all users in federally-funded street projects.  Alaska Senator Mark Begich offered the amendment that established this measure and accepted an amendment from Senator John Thune of South Dakota. The Committee voted unanimously in favor of the measure.
    Read more…

    3.  Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Era in U.S.
    At Dugsi Academy, a public school in St. Paul, Minnesota, girls wearing traditional Muslim headscarves and flowing ankle-length skirts study Arabic and Somali. The charter school educates “East African children in the Twin Cities,” its website says. Every student is black.  At Twin Cities German Immersion School, another St. Paul charter, children gather under a map of “Deutschland,” study with interns from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and learn to dance the waltz. Ninety percent of its students are white.  Six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down “separate but equal” schools for blacks and whites, segregation is growing because of charter schools, privately run public schools that educate 1.8 million U.S. children. While charter-school leaders say programs targeting ethnic groups enrich education, they are isolating low-achievers and damaging diversity, said Myron Orfield, a lawyer and demographer.
    Read more…

    4.  Congress is Going the Wrong Way on the Road to Investing in America’s Future
    The Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill that Congress recently passed will make it more difficult for the lowest-income students to access postsecondary education and gain the skills and credentials they need to support their families and contribute to the economy.  The bill reduces funding for Pell Grants and workforce investments, in spite of increasing need. And it fails to protect students’ eligibility for student aid, creating educational dead ends for the most vulnerable students.  Students who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent are one of the most vulnerable groups.
    Read more…

    5.  How to Pay for America’s Infrastructure
    America’s transportation infrastructure is in desperate need of an update, and most politicians would agree that more funding should be dedicated the nation’s highways and mass transit systems. Yet there is little consensus about where to find those new funds and Democrats and Republicans disagree stridently over whether Washington should increase its role.  One potentially fertile place for compromise may be in the form of state infrastructure banks, which have gained support from both the left and right in recent months. These public agencies, provided some government funds, would be designed to encourage significant private investment. And they would do so with little interference from the national government.
    Read more…

    6.  Five Things the Census Revealed About America in 2011
    A cascade of statistics from the 2010 Census and other Census Bureau sources released during 2011 show a nation in flux—growing and moving more slowly as it ages, infused by racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants in its younger ranks, and struggling economically across a decade bookended by two recessions. The nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and especially their suburbs, stood on the front lines of America’s evolving demographic transformation.
    Read more…

    7.   N.J. sets up website to provide nonprofits with information
    Nonprofit organizations in New Jersey can now turn to a single website to find any resource they may need from the state.  State officials say the Nonprofit Information Center portal — nonprofit.nj.gov — provides nonprofits with one-stop shopping on funding sources and other assistance available to them through state government.  Legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie required the New Jersey State Department to maintain such a directory.
    Read more…

    8.  The bold urban future starts now
    America doesn’t do big projects anymore — we’re too broke, no one can agree on our priorities, that era of bold thinking is over.  That canard has been repeated so many times that it’s now accepted as gospel. Except it’s not true. In cities in every region of the country, pie-in-the-sky ideas are moving from brainstorm to blueprint to groundbreaking — and 2012 will prove it. From a massive re-imagining of a postindustrial Chicago landscape to the rebirth of the Los Angeles River, these seven ventures point the way to a brave urban future.
    Read more…

    9.   Atlantic City to expand gambling, drinking options in casinos
    There’s more gambling and drinking on tap for Atlantic City in the new year.  New Jersey regulators are letting casinos put slot machines and table games into places they’ve never been before. They’re also letting casinos sell or give away alcohol in places like a clothing store, a wireless Internet lounge, and gift shops.
    Read more…

    10.  The Unfathomable Cuts in Housing Aid
    For an up-close view of the affordable housing crisis—which predated the mortgage-driven financial crisis of 2008 but has deepened since then into a full-blown national emergency—one place to be was the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex in the Red Bird neighborhood of Dallas. There, in the early morning hours of a typically scorching day this past July, thousands of impoverished Texans lined up for a chance to get on a waiting list for federal housing assistance, the first time in five years that the county government had accepted applications. Back in May another 21,000 people had applied for a shot at 5,000 spots on the Dallas Housing Authority’s waiting list—still better odds than in nearby Plano, where 8,000 people applied for only 100 available housing vouchers.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (Dec. 8-14)

    Posted on December 15th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.  Can Urban Transit Hubs Help Revitalize New Jersey’s Cities?
    New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program has become popular with corporations and residential developers recently, with more than half of the program’s $1.5 billion committed to 13 projects over the past two years.   But the nine cities currently eligible for the program, which provides a tax credit of up to the full value of capital investments in very large projects within a half mile of urban rail stations, may have to share the wealth with suburban areas that can attract large construction investments that retain or create jobs. Bills moving through both houses of the legislature seek to divert $200 million initially from the cities for new Grow New Jersey credits.
    Read more…

    2. As Newark’s population grows for first time in 60 years, hope emerges for a city renaissance
    No national headlines will come of this. Not yet.  For 10 years, something unusual has been happening in Newark, according to data from the U.S. Census.  While the inner ring of suburbs around the city have been losing population at a dramatic rate, Newark itself has gained population for the first time in more than 60 years.  The growth wasn’t extravagant — the city added around 4,000 people since the turn of the century — but some experts say the data suggests that maybe, just maybe, Newark is beginning to turn a corner after decades of decline.
    Read more…

    3. N.J. Turnpike Authority budget stays the same as Parkway, Turnpike tolls are set to sharply rise again
    The New Jersey Turnpike Authority board has adopted a $475.5 million operating budget that calls for the elimination of 141 full-time jobs through attrition.  There is no increase over the 2011 budget.  The budget also reflects the first of the two toll increases that took effect three years ago. Motorists will see the second increase on Jan. 1, when tolls go up 53 percent on the turnpike and 50 percent on the Garden State Parkway.
    Read more…

    4.  Secret To A Long, Healthy Life: Bike To The Store
    What would you say to a cheap, easy way to stay slim, one that would help avoid serious illness and early death? How about if it made your neighbors healthier, too? It could be as simple as biking to the store.  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin were wondering if getting people out of their cars just a wee bit would create measurable improvements in health. So they gathered up data sets on obesity, health effects of pollution, and air pollution caused by automobiles in 11 Midwestern cities, and did a mashup.
    Read more…

    5.   More Jobs From Renovation than New Construction
    The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently reviewed studies that show that repairing existing buildings is a sustainable economic strategy. Building renovation produces about 50 percent more jobs than constructing new buildings, according to the roundup of case studies.
    Read more…

    6. Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?
    No one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control. No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, did this by setting unrealistically high — and ultimately self-defeating — expectations for all schools.
    Read more…

    7.  Number of charter school students soars to 2 million as states pass laws encouraging expansion
    The number of students attending charter schools has soared to more than 2 million as states pass laws lifting caps and encouraging their expansion, according to figures released Wednesday.  The growth represents the largest increase in enrollment over a single year since charter schools were founded nearly two decades ago. In all, more than 500 new charter schools were opened in the 2011-12 school year. And about 200,000 more students are enrolled now than a year before, an increase of 13 percent nationwide.
    Read more…

    8. Camden Named 2nd Most Dangerous City in America
    Sometimes, just for a moment, I find myself forgetting that Camden actually exists. It’s not that I actively choose to block it out of my mind, like my 15th birthday party, but it’s probably because Philadelphians only go to Camden for one of two things: the Aquarium or a Phish show.  But Camden, like a “troubled teen” who’s appeared on multiple episodes of Maury, just can’t get its act together. And much in the same way said troubled team needs discipline from an overbearing, ex-military/security guard, Camden needs help.
    Read more…

    9.  Would you really like to live there? America’ssaddest cities revealed… and three of them are in the Sunshine State
    It might be bathed in glorious sunshine throughout the year – but new research has revealed the Floridian city of St Petersburg is the saddest place to live in the U.S.  Having a Guinness World Record for 768 straight days of sunshine did nothing for the state’s fourth largest city – deemed to be a hotbed for suicides and anti-depressant pill poppers.  The unemployment hotspot of Detroit, Michigan, unsurprisingly followed close behind, with third place in the ‘Frown Town’ stakes going to Memphis, Tennessee.
    Read more…

    10. NYC launches push to enter green zone
    New zoning proposals designed to make it easier for owners to make their buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable began the formal city public approval process on Monday.  Existing zoning laws can actually impede owners trying to build green or retrofit their buildings. The new proposals are expected to lift some of those impediments. The changes include allowing owners to build thicker walls to accommodate external insulation, which could reduce energy consumption by as much as half, and allowing the installation of solar panels even if they would add more height to a building than zoning rules allow.
    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 (October 6-12)

    Posted on October 12th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.  New York’s Public Architecture Gets a Face-Lift
    Designed by 1100 Architect with an interior by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture & Design Partnership, the Children’s Library Discovery Center, as it’s called, is part of a quiet revolution reshaping the city’s public architecture. Piecemeal across the five boroughs, New York is gradually being remade.  These changes come largely thanks to David J. Burney, a polite Englishman who has lived here for 30-odd years and, since 2004, has been Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s commissioner for the Department of Design and Construction. Under him, and mostly under the radar, dozens of new and refurbished libraries, firehouses, emergency medical stations, police precincts, homeless processing centers and museums have been designed by gifted and occasionally famous architects.
    Read more…

    2.  Affordable housing gets a new home in N.J.
    In the past several weeks, a number of events have had an impact on the Garden State’s court-mandated affordable housing program, often called “Mount Laurel housing.”Long administered by the state Council on Affordable Housing, the program has required every town to provide homes that low- and moderate-income residents can afford. This housing was funded in part by fees paid by developers. In recent weeks, though, the governor has signed another 2½-year moratorium on the fees, and COAH has been abolished. The state’s Department of Community Affairs now will administer the program.
    Read more…

    3.   Camden, two other New Jersey towns, among nine U.S. cities going broke
    While President Obama and the assorted GOP contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination push their ideas for getting the country back in the black, there are some U.S. cities and counties on the brink.  An analysis by 24/7 Wall St. examines the nine municipal bodies with the worst credit ratings assigned by Moody’s, not including school systems, rated Ba2 and lower. (For perspective, Moody’s rates junk bonds as Ba1.)  Coming in at No. 9 on the list is Camden. The city has been beset with money issues for quite a while, highlighted by a mass layoff of its police officers and firefighters earlier this year. The city collected $181,257,000 in revenue in 2009, but was in debt to the tune of $103,284,000 during that same year.
    Read more…

    4. Study: growing up in bad neighborhoods has a devastating impact
    Growing up in a poor neighborhood significantly reduces the chances that a child will graduate from high school, according to a study published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review. And, the longer a child lives in that kind of neighborhood, the more harmful the impact.  “Compared to growing up in affluent neighborhoods, growing up in neighborhoods with high levels of poverty and unemployment reduces the chances of high school graduation from 96 percent to 76 percent for black children,” says Wodtke, a Ph.D. student who works with Harding at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). “The impact on white children is also harmful, but not as large, reducing their chances of graduating from 95 percent to 87 percent.”
    Read more…

    5. Clinton Road, New Jersey: The most terrifying road in the U.S.
    About seven years ago, my cousin Julie and her husband Mark moved back to New Jersey from South Carolina. After months of searching, they found a great house in West Milford, New Jersey. Julie, who I grew up with, called me and asked me to meet them at the house and let them know my opinion.   After checking out a map online, I saw the home was on a street just off Clinton Road north of Route 23. I drove up Green Pond Road, got onto Route 23, and then turned right onto Clinton Road. Almost immediately, I noticed that Clinton Road was different from almost all the roads in New Jersey.  There were no homes along the road and no connecting roads. Clinton Road was very curvy and kept winding around between different bodies of water.
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    6. Despite price tag, a charter school finds perks in private space
    By the time Hyde Leadership Charter School expanded into high school grades three years ago, overcrowding at their co-located Department of Education building had become severe. Limited to two floors for over 700 students, classes were held in hallways and high school students complained of filthy conditions in the bathroom they had to share with elementary students.  “It was terrible,” said Dominic Batista, a junior. “It was like a jail.”  Rather than jockey for more space in an increasingly crowded public school system, the growing school took a road less traveled for a charter school in New York City. Keeping its elementary and middle school at P.S. 92, Hyde developed a private facility for its high school just down the road on Hunts Point Avenue in the south Bronx.
    Read more…

    7.   NJ sets right course on charter schools with high standards, close review
    The Christie administration last week rejected 56 of the 60 applications for new charter schools, a welcome sign that its standards are tough despite its ideological support for the choice movement.  The best of these schools, like the TEAM Academy in Newark, are miracles in our midst. With the same demographic mix of students as district schools, their kids are doing much better in basic skills. And they are doing it for less money, in a setting that is safe and orderly. Expanding on that success should be a top priority.
    Read more…

    8. The ‘Shadow Northeast Corridor’ Draws Warehouses … and People
    An article on GlobeSt.com describes a recent meeting sponsored by NAIOP NJ where one of the speakers, Alex Klatskin, partner of Teterboro-based Forsgate Industrial Partners, made an astute observation: “The real beltway [around New York City] is not Interstate 287,” he said. “It’s 81 to 84.”  What he’s talking about is something that might be called the “Shadow” Northeast Corridor — a phenomenon that has been emerging recently in data on commuting and on county-to-county migration. It seems that the actual Northeast Corridor has gotten so densely populated, pushing land values so correspondingly high, that it no longer makes economic sense for the warehousing and distribution industry to build large-floorplan facilities there.
    Read more…

    9. New Urbanists: No Economic Recovery Without Smart Growth
    What happened to the United States over the past several years is most commonly described as a recession. By the technical definition of the word we’re two years into a recovery. But it sure doesn’t seem that way.  Meanwhile, a growing chorus of intellectual leaders says the country is experiencing something different than a normal cyclical fluctuation: the end of an epoch.  Leading urban thinkers, from Richard Florida to James Howard Kunstler, believe we have reached the limits of our fossil-fueled, double-mortgaged, McMansion-based economy. Relief won’t come, they say, until America begins confronting the systemic problems that produced the meltdown, including inefficient and unsustainable public infrastructure investments and housing development.
    Read more…

    10. Study: Worst hospitals treat larger share of poor
    The nation’s worst hospitals treat twice the proportion of elderly black patients and poor patients than the best hospitals, and their patients are more likely to die of heart attacks and pneumonia, new research shows.  Now, these hospitals, mostly in the South, may be at higher risk of financial failure, too. That’s because the nation’s new health care law punishes bad care by withholding some money, says the lead author of the study published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.
    Read more…

  • CD WiRe (August 25-31)

    Posted on August 31st, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.  Charities Struggle With Smaller Wall Street Donations
    Operation Hope built a nonprofit powerhouse over the last decade, spinning a stockpile of donations from Wall Street firms into 27 financial education centers across the country.  But the charitable organization’s donor base has retrenched in the wake of the financial crisis. Citigroup’s foundation last year cut its giving 60 percent, to $115,000. The ING Foundation delayed paying its $300,000 commitment to Operation Hope. And the CIT Group, a lender that was once one of the organization’s biggest benefactors, stopped giving altogether.
    Read more…

    2. New California Law Will Boost Social Entrepreneurship
    A new California law that comes before Governor Jerry Brown today could make it easier than ever to combine business with social mission, a welcome respite for those seeking to harness the engines of capitalism in the service of good deeds.  While growing ranks of entrepreneurs are combining business and social missions—think Toms Shoes or Method cleaning products—current law makes it difficult for them to raise money and control their enterprises.  That’s changing around the country, and California could be the next frontier, if advocates of social business ranging from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to apparel giant Patagonia have their way and create a new legal category for what they call Benefit Corporations.
    Read more…

    3. Announcing The Great American Teach-Off: One Outstanding Teacher Will Win $10K
    GOOD and University of Phoenix are proud to announce the launch of The Great American Teach-Off, a nationwide competition to celebrate teachers who are making a positive impact in America’s classrooms.  Here’s how it works: Click here to nominate an outstanding teacher for kindergarten through sixth grade*—it can be one you’ve had, your child’s, or even yourself—by September 16. We’ll select the finalists based on how he or she makes a positive difference for students; how creativity and innovation is fostered in the classroom; and what impact he or she has made on the greater school community.
    Read more…

    4.  Newark ‘Teachers Village’ progresses as state clears way for financial incentive package
    After years of planning, the Teachers Village in Newark — a major urban renewal project housing charter schools, apartments for educators and a new retail corridor — is coming together.  The state’s Economic Development Authority gave final approval Thursday to a package of financial incentives for the village, freeing up the money for construction to begin soon. Developers are counting on a broad array of public financing tools, including tax breaks and grants, and city officials say all of those pieces are now in place.
    Read more…

    5.  Despite Hurricane Irene’s approach, construction pushes on at Jersey City school
    Despite the approach of Hurricane Irene, construction is continuing today at a Jersey City school.  Workers from New Brunswick-based construction company Tekton Development were hard at work today renovating the old St. John the Baptist School at Kennedy Boulevard and St. Paul’s Avenue. The building, which will be home to Golden Door Charter School, is getting new windows and renovated classrooms.
    Read more…

    6.  Where is the Center of a City?
    Google Maps searches include a pinpoint of what the search engine has determined are the centers of cities. One artist has built sculptures of those pinpoints in their real-life locations.  Titled “Map”, the pinpoint sculptures are part of an installation by German artist Aram Bartholl.  Starting in 2006, Bartholl created a series of six-meter tall sculptures of the iconic red marker used by Google Maps. The artist had recognized that the familiar 20-pixel graphic used by Google casts shadows on the widely consulted digital maps as if they were physical objects in real space. Likewise, when the map is switched to satellite mode, the virtual pins seem to become part of the city.
    Read more…

    7.  New York Expects Lengthy Recovery of Transit System
    The New York City subway, whose closure in the lead-up to Tropical Storm Irene was perhaps the most unsettling element of a prodigious storm preparation effort, reopened on a limited schedule on Monday morning.  Nearly all of the subway’s 22 lines, including express and local service, have restored, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Web site. Fewer trains will run than in a normal morning rush.  Still, other parts of the region’s mass transit network are likely to remain partially paralyzed for the morning commute, including the suburban commuter rail networks that carry thousands of workers to hospitals, investment houses and corner bodegas alike.
    Read more…

    8. NJ Supreme Court Decision Chips Away at Nonprofit Confidentiality
    The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously declared Tuesday that the nonprofit New Jersey League of Municipalities is subject to the same open-record disclosure standards as the municipal governments it represents. The decision means that the League is no longer able to use its nonprofit status to deny access to records that it and other nonprofits have typically thought of as protected from public disclosure.  The case arose in 2008, when the nonprofit Fair Share Housing Center sued the League calling for disclosure of documents such as e-mail messages, letters and reports related to the municipalities’ clash with housing advocates over a “fair-share housing” requirement.
    Read more…

    9.  Solar Industry’s Boom in N.J. Casts Shadow Over Program That Spurred It
    A giggling Kyle Bartz used the new rooftop solar panels as a trampoline atop the sprawling Toys R Us distribution center here on a recent sunny summer morning.  “This is the latest panel on the market,” said Bartz, the national director of energy management for Toys R Us. “It’s extremely durable, extremely flexible.”  The thin-film solar panels he was jumping on are now part of the nation’s largest rooftop solar installation, covering 20 acres — the size of about 15 football fields — atop the distribution center. The 5.38-megawatt project will slash $350,000 a year from the building’s power bills, a 72 percent reduction, the company said.
    Read more…

    10.  Town mints own money to fight austerity
    A small town in central Italy is trying to go independent and mint its own money in protest at government austerity cuts.  Filettino, set in rugged hill country around 100 km (65 miles) east of Rome, is rebelling against a proposal to merge the governments of towns with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants to save money.  Filettino has only around 550 people, but instead of merging with neighboring Trevi, mayor Luca Sellari is trying to go it alone and set up a “principality” along the lines of the famous republic of San Marino to the north.
    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.”
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    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.
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    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.”
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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  • CD WiRe (July 21-27)

    Posted on July 27th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.   Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables
    What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)  Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.  And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.
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    2. Government Can’t Help? Tell That to the South Bronx
    The Bronx (and many neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan) stands as arguably the greatest public rebuilding achievement since World War II, a resurrection begun by Mayor Edward I. Koch and continued with great vigor by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today.  The Bloomberg administration will, in the end, have poured more than $8 billion into building and preserved 165,000 apartments — more than enough to house the population of Miami.
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    3. Do One Thing and Do It Well
    This country has undergone dramatic shifts in culture, attitudes, technology, politics, and business since community development burgeoned in the late 1960s. Devastated urban centers have witnessed mass revitalization and others the proliferation of lending, leading to a new period of abandonment. Demographic shifts have dramatically changed cities with influxes of young professionals seeking lattés and trendy bars and immigrants often forced into overcrowded apartments.  Throughout this period, community development in many ways became synonymous with economic development.
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    4. Beyond Safety in Numbers: Why Bike Friendly Cities are Safer
    Davis, California, is widely celebrated as the bicycling capital of the United States with over 16% of the population commuting to work on bikes. What is less well known is the fact that the traffic fatality rate in Davis is also unusually low, at about 1/10th of the California statewide rate. Although this fact is not widely disseminated, there is growing data showing that cities with very high use of bikes for routine transportation almost always have much lower than average traffic fatality rates.  The finding that most bike friendly cities are safer than average has been reinforced by the recent experience of cities such as Cambridge, MA, Portland, OR, and New York. These cities have garnered much press for their success in dramatically increasing bike use over the last several years. This increase in bike ridership has corresponded with an equally dramatic decrease in traffic fatality rates in all three cities.
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    5. The Legacy of Hope VI in New Brunswick
    Some residents say the revitalization of low-income housing has made their neighborhoods safer, but advocates are split on the long term effects of the program.   On a recent warm summer afternoon, 58-year-old Marvin Gregory pedaled his bike through the Hope Manor public housing complex near Remsen Avenue and George Street.  Things were different from years ago. Back then, Gregory said he roamed New Brunswick’s notorious Memorial Homes selling cocaine, heroin and PCP. He admits being arrested at the high-rise projects several times.  But hustling drugs and ducking police grew tiresome and Gregory said he gave up his criminal ways just before city housing officials knocked down the projects in a blast of dynamite.
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    6. Most New Charter Schools Not Ready to Open in September
    Of 23 charters approved by the administration, only seven will open their doors this fall.  When the Christie administration announced in January that it had approved 23 new charter schools, that number was celebrated as being the largest class of charters yet. Equally impressive, according to the administration, there would be close to 100 of the alternative schools operating this fall.  Six months later, it turns out only seven of those 23 will be ready to open their doors come September. Factor in two more schools, which had been approved in other application cycles, and that brings the total to nine new charters — for a grand total of 80 operating in the Garden State.
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    7. NJ gov, education reformer announce partnership
    Gov. Chris Christie announced Wednesday that Paterson will be the first New Jersey city to try a community-based approach to education inspired by New York education reformer Geoffrey Canada.  Canada considers a child’s home life, neighborhood and nutritional needs part of the learning environment. His nonprofit Harlem Children’s Zone engages community partners to develop a holistic, or comprehensive, approach to K-12 education that emphasizes college graduation as the students’ long-term goal.
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    8. Tenant Suit to Oppose New School in Harlem
    A group of tenants at a public housing development in Harlem said on Wednesday that they planned to sue the city and federal governments over the construction of a charter school on the grounds of the housing project.  The school would rise at the heart of the St. Nicholas Houses, on top of a 1.7-acre park that, for nearly 60 years, has served as a play space for children and as a communal living room for the development’s 3,000 residents and those who live nearby. In preliminary work at the site, trees and benches have been removed, and a community garden and playground have disappeared.  Ninety-two residents have joined the lawsuit, which the group said it would file on Thursday. Several said in interviews that they were not opposed to charter schools, but objected to one being built on the Houses’ largest green space.
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    9.  Miniature Tree Pit Farms Grow in Inwood
    Much has been written about a lack of access to fresh food in Upper Manhattan amidst the fried food joints and sugary-snack selling bodegas that dot the area.  But for people living on an Inwood block, all they need to do is walk onto their sidewalk to see a crop of fresh snap peas, fava beans and cherry tomatoes and get a whiff of farm life in the big city.  “It means a lot to be able to come here and see the plants growing and teach our kids what it’s like to be in nature, not just the concrete jungle,” Maria Rosa, an Inwood resident native of the Dominican Republic, said.
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    10. Exclusionary Zoning, Sprawl on the Rise
    A new study by Rowan University’s Geospatial Research Laboratory finds that municipal zoning in New Jersey has resulted in a land-use pattern that has grown substantially more exclusionary and more sprawling over the last two decades.  Prior to 1986, residential development on lots of half an acre or larger accounted for 43 percent of total acres in residential use statewide. For the 1986-2007 study period, however, the share of newly developed residential land consumed by housing on large lots jumped to 67 percent.  Absent further enforcement of the state Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel rulings, together with stricter adherence to land-use practices consistent with the State Plan, the study predicts that sprawl and housing segregation will worsen.
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  • 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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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  • CD WiRe (May 19-25)

    Posted on May 25th, 2011 lauren No comments

    1.  NJ farmers pioneer new spaces, new technologies
    To find farming’s newest frontiers in New Jersey, don’t look for a pasture down a country lane.  The cutting-edge farms of the 21st century are smack in the centers of densely populated cities. They are in high-tech greenhouses where once-exotic, now in-demand produce grows in long-settled neighborhoods.  These farms also sit in the heart of the state’s farm belt, looking more like industrial parks lined with glass and metal structures that pop with the colors of greens and berries and cherry tomatoes within.
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    2. Volunteers Erect Playground At Charter School
    Area volunteers, Foresters fraternal benefit society and the non-profit KaBOOM! came together Saturday, May 21 at the Greater Brunswick Charter School to build a community playground.  The project, which was completed in just under six hours, was erected by more than 300 volunteers and 100 children at the school on Joyce Kilmer Avenue.  Aside from the actual playground, the volunteers installed shade structures, a sand box, picnic tables, an outdoor classroom, a basketball hoop, a compost bin, planters and garden plots as well as a mural and other necessary components.
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    3. For Charter School Bills — an Easy Time in Committee, a Harder Time in the Senate
    Four bills that would revamp how charter schools are reviewed and approved in New Jersey won easy passage yesterday in a key Assembly committee.  Yet the prospect of most of those bills ever becoming law – especially the one that would require local approval of all new charters — is far from assured, as even their supporters admit.  The chief obstacle: Gov. Chris Christie, who has made it abundantly clear that he will block any bill that slows down the spread of charter schools. But even Democratic votes, in particular the Senate and its leadership, remain open questions.
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    4. Poor N.J. districts must receive $500M more in school funding, state Supreme Court rules
    In a widely anticipated decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the state to spend an additional $500 million on public education in poor districts next year.  The complex decision does not boost funding statewide, as education advocates had requested, and may avoid creating a gaping hole in a proposed budget of $29.4 billion. The 3-2 ruling, however, revealed sharp disagreements among the five justices who heard the case and issued a total of four opinions.  Justices could have ordered up to $1.7 billion in additional statewide education spending.
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    5. An Outcry in Chelsea Over a 12-Story Shelter
    At an art opening in Chelsea last week, Erick Magangi stood next to the oil painting that he considered his best work. “I was trying to do an examination of the real world and the exotic world,” Mr. Magangi said, gesturing toward the work, an abstract with softly blended horizontal panels of beige and gray.  His round face was beaming under a fisherman’s cap. “It takes me back many years,” he said, “to when I used to step outside the house to watch the lake rise and fall.”  Mr. Magangi, who grew up in Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria, hopes to soon put down roots in Chelsea, a couple of blocks from where his work is on display. He is not moving to one of the neighborhood’s luxury high-rises or town houses, but to a towering homeless shelter in a renovated building on 25th Street that is scheduled to open within a month.
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    6. As America Ages, A Push To Make Streets Safer
    America is aging — a fact that advocates are pushing Congress to consider as it takes up a new transportation bill. Their goal is more safety for older Americans, on both roads and sidewalks.Pedestrians and cyclists are already far more likely to be hit by cars in the United States than those in some European cities. Add to that the coming tide of older Americans who use walking canes and wheelchairs, and some warn that a road safety crisis looms.
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    7. Three Bergen County sites among top threatened historic places
    A train station, a palatial mansion and the former home of freed slaves are now listed among the state’s 10 most endangered historic places.  The three Bergen County buildings — the Waldwick Railroad Station, Atwood-Blauvelt Mansion in Oradell and Zabriskie Tenant House in Paramus — were highlighted by the nonprofit advocacy group Preservation New Jersey Wednesday during the announcement of its 17th annual endangered list. b The list is compiled from nominations submitted by the public. Selections are made based on the historical significance or architecture, the urgency of the threat and the likelihood that being on the list will help preservation.
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    8. New Jersey Transportation Budget Eliminates Smart Growth
    The Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing car dependency in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, released a new analysis of the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) proposed Capital Program for the fiscal year 2012. According to the analysis, the capital program dedicates its largest share of spending—44 percent—to maintenance and repair projects, and it allocates a higher percentage than it has in the last decade—11 percent—to highway and bridge expansion programs. The agency allocated 8.9 percent for road expansion in 2011 and 3.6 percent in 2009. Since 2004, road expansion spending remained near 5 percent of the agency’s budget.
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    9. NJ Businessmen, mayors: Keep urban enterprise
    Politicians and business owners are raising the alarm about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to shut down a 28-year-old urban development program.  Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy says his community was in decline 25 years ago but became the state’s economic engine thanks to the Urban Enterprise Zone program. Healy and others testified Thursday before the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.  The UEZ program encourages growth in designated areas through tax breaks, incentives and grants. Businesses can charge half the regular sales tax, and some revenues are returned to towns.
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    10. Census shows more moved out of NJ than into state
    Nearly 190,000 residents fled New Jersey for other states in 2009, accelerating a trend that has seen tens of thousands leave the Garden State in the past decade.  In 2009, an estimated 136,212 people moved into New Jersey, while 189,956 moved away. That’s a net loss of 53,744, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau migration report released Monday.  The census bureau did not break down the specific reasons people gave for leaving the state. Nationally, nearly 44 percent said they moved for housing-related reasons, such as the desire to live in a new or better home.
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