On August 8, 2019, New Jersey‘s Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the municipalities that will be included in their expanded Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI).
In addition to the cities where CCI is currently operating—Bayonne, Camden, Perth Amboy and Trenton—the initiative now will be expanded to include Bridgeton, Jersey City, Millville, Newark, Paterson, Paulsboro, Salem City, and Vineland.
CCI is already producing impressive results. In Camden, CCI staff collaborated with local leaders and DEP experts to jumpstart the process of transforming a 61-acre landfill into restored shoreline and uplands, with improvements such as the creation of new tidal wetlands, recreational amenities for residents, and a solar field.
CCI has had similar success in Perth Amboy, where embedded staff facilitated the launch of a project to clean up a 6-acre scrap heap and build a new park on the site. In Trenton, CCI staff helped to advance the development of the Assunpink Greenway Park; a 99-acre redevelopment project that will include soccer fields, a waterfront walk and other amenities.
“The Community Collaborative Initiative exemplifies Governor Murphy’s commitment to revitalizing communities in a sustainable way that protects our environment and promotes local priorities,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.
“The program has already been a tremendous success, and we are excited to help more communities throughout the state do the long-term planning necessary to address and remediate the unique environmental challenges faced by individual cities and neighborhoods,” she added.
The CCI embeds DEP staff at the ground-level within communities, where they use their expertise to help communities address environmental concerns effectively and appropriately. By targeting communities where multiple environmental stressors exist, the initiative fosters the communication, relationships, and insights necessary to overcome complex obstacles and open pathways to successful remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites.
Recognizing CCI’s successful track record, the NJEDA and DEP in March formed a partnership to expand the initiative into more New Jersey cities. Under the partnership, NJEDA funding will supplement the existing two full-time equivalent DEP employees dedicated to CCI with an additional six full-time equivalent employees. These new full-time employees will work with community leaders, developers, and government officials in the newly-added cities to facilitate brownfield remediation that aligns with the communities’ priorities and plans for the future.
“Governor Murphy’s economic development vision recognizes that growth and environmental protection are not competing priorities, but instead complementary goals. That is why we are focused on undertaking smart, targeted investments in New Jersey’s communities that take a comprehensive approach to tackling longstanding environmental and economic challenges,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of the NJEDA.
“Given CCI’s track record of effectively addressing environmental issues in ways that accommodate the local community’s needs, the NJEDA is proud to partner with the DEP to expand the initiative into additional communities around the state,” he concluded.
Photo of Camden, with Delaware River and Philadelphia in the background, is via Adobe Stock.