After reading about the social implications of urban planning, I was taken back by the complexity of the whole planning process. The fact that morality comes into play makes urban (or “social”) planners an absolute necessity to the development of communities. This is because they are one of the few groups of workers that are not primarily focused on profit, as opposed to most real estate developers and realtors. Urban planners are experts in a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to real estate, psychology, politics, law, and sociology. By combining different aspects and principles of each field, urban planners find creative ways to reach their goal of providing the best possible lifestyle for the public. This particular goal of urban planners – to contribute to the public interest – is almost the polar opposite of the goals of most real estate employees. Real estate developers, if not focused on profits, are generally focused on the expansion of housing and property. They like to convert properties from one type to another, and they advocate building new communities and developments. If real estate developers and realtors were the sole voice in the planning of a community or municipality, then there would probably be no affordable housing for poorer families, due to low profit potential. Funding would go primarily to constructing new contemporary homes to attract affluent residents who could afford to pay larger amounts of money. Eventually, as said in the book, this can lead to social and ultimately racial segregation. This is where urban planners can come into play. Planners and developers, along with other workers like politicians and contractors, must work together to ensure that profits and social welfare are maximized. This teamwork is essential, because real estate projects have a large and long lasting impact on the community that it is located in. Poorly planned projects that lead to abandonment waste a lot of money and will eventually require more money to reverse the consequences that followed a bad planning decision.
Medford in Burlington County New Jersey is a quiet town that resides in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. In Medford there are small antique shops, a few restaurants, parks/fields, and plenty of houses. Medford is about 40 square miles and is about 35 minutes away from Philadelphia.
Sprawl has many definitions, the one I found to make the most sense was a spreading outward of a city, or an area becoming more populated. One would think that this town of Medford would be ideal for sprawl to occur due to the amount of open space and area that can be developed on. Levy in Contemporary Urban Planning mentions that the Pine Barrens are protected by the Pinelands Commissions. “This commission has control over the density of development and the types of land uses permitted in this large and environmentally fragile area”, Levy states. This commission group helps prevent sprawl in Medford. Since the town is very much covered in woods, one could easily tear down the trees and build, but the Pinelands Commission along with other commissions and groups protect the town and prevent sprawl.
I believe sprawl would be bad for Medford. If Medford began to develop more homes and chain stores and restaurants, not only would people fight it because they’d believe their homes value would go down, but it would take away from the appealing area that it is now. Although we have to drive 20-25 minutes to get to any place for example a Walmart, Target or mall. I along with others would surely agree that it is worth the trip to preserve what we have. We have our local shops and cafés and that’s all we really need. I’m willing to drive farther to get to certain places if it helps preserve the environmentally friendly area. My home is totally surrounded by trees and lakes and would hate to see it torn down to put in a new supermarket or restaurant that would promote sprawl.
Sprawl in my opinion would be bad for an area like Medford, but sprawl isn’t always put in a negative light. We are about 40 minutes away from Philadelphia and the areas closer to Philly have definitely been affected due to sprawl and being prime destinations to live in while working in the city. This classification is termed commutershed as explained in the reading. Some towns would suffer from sprawl but others like Camden or even Cherry Hill who lie slightly closer to Philadelphia I feel have benefited from their location. Camden is only a few minutes from the Ben Franklin Bridge, and Cherry Hill has become a more desirable area due to the shops and restaurants that have popped up over the last decade.
According to the Webster Dictionary, urban sprawl is “the spreading of urban developments (as houses and shopping centers) on undeveloped land near a city.”
It is typically low density housing in rural areas; the outward movement of a city. This objective is controversial and delegates a negative connotation because it causes health and segregation issues. However, the open space of rural land is more pleasing than a congested city.
Previously, the majority of the population lived within a city. This was because there was not automotive transportation; living in the city where most jobs were located was the most convenient option. However, congestion became a prominent issue. When a family earned enough money to buy more property, they did so. The reasoning behind leaving a city was not only because of congestion, but it was to show an individual’s wealth. If a person owned a car and a large property of land, it shows that they are well off and have a greater income than those who lack these commodities.
Sprawl increases the use of a car because a person’s workplace is no longer in walking distance as it was in a city. Not only does this increase pollution from the carbon being emitted from the car, but it also causes traffic congestion for other commuters. Both of these occurrences can affect a person’s health; pollution causes harm to respiration from breathing in the toxins while traffic congestion increases the amount of automobile accidents and causes physical injury.
As families move away from the inner city, the remaining people are those of low income. As a result of this, there is a decrease in the quality of education due to the lack of funds, which then leads to increased crime rates. It is a spiraling effect because planners are trying to get citizens to move back into the city. However, when crime rates are high, the desire to live in a dangerous area will drop significantly.
This causes an ongoing issue because the residents who cannot afford to move out of the city receive a poorer education than those of affluent communities. Each child should receive an equal education, it should not matter their social status.
These issues are being considered by many governmental affiliates, planners, and many other organizations since it affects a wide range of issues. Sprawl receives a negative connotation, however, with smarter growth to limit the separation of economic classes, these issues would be less of a concern.
– Marina Francesco
Eastampton, NJ is a sleepy, rural town in Burlington County, about 45 minutes East of Philadelphia. It does not have it’s own high school, but rather feeds into the larger, Group 4 Rancocas Valley Regional High School. It has grown mostly in the last 20 years, and recently expanded its local middle school to accommodate the growing community. However it has reached a stalemate with regards to growth, and planning is as crucial as ever in this town.
In Contemporary Urban Planning the author comments on how important economic development is to a township, and touches on the main source of tax revenue- property tax. Eastampton is no stranger to it, considering the painful taxes most residents living in comfortably sized suburban homes pay. There are multiple vacant lots in the township, with weeds or mounds of dirt occupying otherwise useful land. One way to alleviate the stress of these property taxes would be to invest in either industry or commercial development. The township features one intersection with commercial development, with includes a gas station, pizza restaurant, liquor store and laundromat. But beyond that, there isn’t much of a reason for an outsider to come to Eastampton. The township needs to attract more commercial or industry to make Eastampton somewhat of a destination, to create more diverse tax revenues, and make current property more valuable. The town is small enough that any business would be a walk or bike ride away.
Recently Eastampton has finally completed a development project for more residential buildings. The layout is a planners dream:single family homes, condos, apartments, alleyways, limited garages. Homes are close together, with limited front yards, friendly for pedestrians. However one crucial problem remains. There are no pedestrians, because there is no where to walk. no downtown retail or parks are in walking distance. One of the great benefits of having condensed, pedestrian family layouts is such that pedestrians can navigate and visit community areas. However if any destination must be traveled to by car, what is the benefit of the residence? Many people would love more privacy, a larger backyard with a pool, a big two door garage. Not offering these, the one equalizer that smaller, condensed, social residences have is is their community feel and prime location to retail and parks. However in this case neither is available, not to mention power lines shadowing the community. Needless to say, prospective buyers have opted for the larger, classic suburban style homes as opposed to the new units. They have struggled to sell (partly due to the real estate problems) and have steadily dropped in price since their availability.
Eastampton faces a dire need for economic development, primarily in the commercial and industrial fields. A recent development project has struggled to survive due to a flaw in the scope if the community. Existing home owners have struggled to deal with mighty property taxes. A plan to develop some commercial retail could solve a couple problems, from making the new project more desirable, raising property values across the town, and establishing a more diverse tax base.
The town of Lake Placid NY is very interesting because it utilizes some aspects of Neo-urbanistic zoning, while ignoring many others. The town itself became popularized when it hosted the winter Olympics first in 1932 and again in 1980. It economy is very heavily supported by the tourism industry both in the winter and summer.
The main street is a collection of restaurants, hotels and small shops designed to attract tourists. Many residents work in the service industry, or on the ski mountain during the winter. Off of the main street, there are many roads that lead to the more residential parts. In the town, there are a few neighborhoods where year-round residents live in walking distance from the commercial district.
However, Lake Placid itself only has a population of a little over 2000. Much of its business and “residents” come from surrounding towns such as Plattsburgh for entertainment and work. The reason for this is that the tourism industry in Lake Placid is so strong that it becomes a hotspot. In the summer it has scenic lakes surrounding the area, and draws in vacationers. In the winter, its Olympic Complex and ski mountain draw in different types of people.
Because of this, the town of Lake Placid and nearby areas rely on vehicular transportation almost entirely. The area is spread out in such a way that to reach all the different scenic sections and tourism centers. This leads to a very disjointed town that have very few residual residents but is still often densely populated.
A college campus is more than just a collection of classroom buildings. It is a place for dialogue, growth, and education. Learning happens everywhere, not just in a classroom setting and it’s important for the built college environment to cater to that learning. When comparing the five campuses at Rutgers New Brunswick, the most conducive campus for such learning is College Ave Campus and one of the worst is Livingston.
This is one of my favorite places on College Ave. All the classroom buildings are on the outskirts of the ground in the middle creating a meeting place of sorts for students. After each class period is over, this place is filled with college students going about their business. I really like the planning of keeping all classrooms buildings close together while other parts of the campus can be used for other activities. However, the best part about this spot is that this is also a place for discourse. Students carry out protests, study groups, and events such as the involvement fair here. It’s not just a place for people to walk through; students actually use the space in a way that allows them to interact with others.
Now compare that space with this space on Livingston. The space is barely used by students for any purpose and is simply a place they quickly walk through. Sure, some times some students do sit down on a good day to do their homework but it’s not a group activity that engages others and feels. Almost all students leaving classes go through here but it doesn’t have the same feeling as the space on College Ave.
One of the best features of College Ave Campus is College Avenue. The street is lined with places of worship, academic buildings, recreation building, and restaurants. This mixed use environment leads to there being a variety of people that go through there every day. This adds to the diversity of the campus and makes it feel like part of the larger New Brunswick community.
On the other side, Livingston is a closed campus environment which results in a closed off community. Livingston feels like it’s in its own little bubble and the only reason any one would go there is if they had an academic reason to do so or if they lived in one of the dorms. This type of environment doesn’t promote dialogue among students and learning outside the class can’t take place.
Not only is Livingston closed off in terms of building use, it’s aesthetics just add to that monotone feeling. College Ave has buildings of all styles of architecture which make it pleasing to the eye and give it a welcoming feeling. The buildings on Livingston, on the other hand, feel like they were only made to serve their purpose and no attention was paid to the style. This straightforward look of the buildings mirrors the idea that the only reason to be on Livingston is if you have a purpose and that is not a place to hang out and just learn about each other.
Bayonne is a small, densely populated town about 15 minutes away from New York City. I believe it is an example of a Transit-oriented development. Bayonne has 63 blocks and 7 Avenues, (A, Kennedy Boulevard, B, C, Broadway, E, F, and Prospect), but you will find 5 to 7 Avenues at a time, depending on what part of town you’re in. On 2 of the main avenues, Avenue C and Broadway, there are public transportation buses that take you through all of Bayonne. On Kennedy Boulevard, you will find a bus that will take you through Bayonne, into Jersey City and then to New York City. All of the bus stops are within 2 blocks of each other on each of their designated avenues. In other words, a bus stop is within less than a 10-minute walk from ones home. Our small town also has a light rail system. The light rail stops are located on 8th, 22nd,34th, and 45th streets on Avenue E. If one does not live on either of these streets, one can easily hop on a bus to any one of the streets that a stop is located and then walk up (or according to some Bayonnites, down) to Avenue E to get to the light rail stop. Through the Hudson-Bergan Light Rail system, from Bayonne, one can take the train through Jersey City and can transfer to the Path Train at Exchange Place, Newport or take the light rail to the Hoboken Terminal. At the Newport stop there is Newport Centre Mall right outside, which is quite convenient and also a great place for people to interact. If one wants to go to Tonnelle Avenue from Bayonne, a person will have to get off at the Liberty State Park stop and Transfer to the West Side Avenue Train.
Bayonne has also been recognized for having multiple parks throughout the city and a public Olympic sized pool located near one of the biggest parks on 16th street between Avenue A and the Bay. 3 of the parks border the Bay, which offers pleasant views (if you enjoy looking at huge cargo ships on the other end) and allows people to catch (inedible and carcinogenic) fish and crab. The parks are great for recreational use and easy to get to. I believe the simplicity in traveling within Bayonne to other busy cities, makes this 3-mile town a Transit-Oriented Development.
In Bayonne, the giant slab of nothing that surrounding the “back-highway” has turned into 2 booming strip-malls with a movie theater, Stop and Shop, a golf course, a couple of restaurants in one and more restaurants, a Lowes, and of course a 24-hour Wal-Mart in the other. Although there are many issues that I have with the lovely town of Bayonne, one of the issues I have is the inconvenience of the placement of these strip malls or rather the lack of public transportation to get to these strip malls. In order to get to these malls, one must cross a highway. For one strip mall, there is a cross walk and a street light that allows one to cross. However, the newest strip mall, the section with the 24-hour Wal-Mart, there is no crosswalk but there is a streetlight. Due to this, you may find many pedestrians crossing a major highway (route 440, which you can take to get to the Turnpike, to Newark and the Newark Airport, a few other major highways, or to Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island). There are busses that can take you to both strip malls, but they come sporadically and infrequently. The issue I have, is that these strip malls were built to bring revenue into Bayonne, however it is easier and safer to travel to places outside of Bayonne, rather than to the places located in Bayonne. The main “shopping-center” was originally the avenue of Broadway. However, due to the convenience of shopping everywhere else, Broadway has been declining rapidly. Every time I head home, an old store on this main street is closed down. Though these new developments are great to have in our town, I feel that reviving Broadway would really help Bayonne prosper because it is even more convenient to travel through. For a town that uses public transportation as a major form of transportation, I find the lack of transportation to these strip malls defeats the whole purpose of having them there.
I come from a small town in New Jersey about 15 minutes away from NYC. This small town has undertaken many redevelopment projects in the past 15 years. One of the projects Bayonne is undertaking is turning the decommissioned Military Ocean Terminal into a mixed-use neighborhood. In order to do so, there is a lot of work that must be put in. The Master Plan explains that due to the future intentional mixed-use neighborhood, the small portion of Bayonne will be expecting a lot of incoming traffic during the week and a lesser amount incoming traffic on weekends, but incoming traffic nonetheless on top of the incoming traffic for the Cruise Ship Port, located on this same peninsula. With the development of new buildings, roads and walkways have to be planned as well. Due to the location redevelopment being on a peninsula, the Master Plan also explains taking advantage of the views and inserting walkways that border the waterfront. Though the designs are beautiful and the ideas are what I believe to be genius, especially that the Master Plan explains that green energy will be utilized throughout this peninsula, there is a lot of money that Bayonne does not have and a lot of work that needs to be done. Before the city tackles this project, the city has to deal with the whole sewage-system structure. This is an issue on its own.
The sewage system that Bayonne uses, like many cities near the Hudson River, is the Combined Sewage System. The Combined Sewage System is a very old system that was introduced in the 1800s to urban areas in order to collect wastewater from domestic, commercial, and industrial structures and storm water through the same pipe system. The system leads to a treatment plant that treats the water and sends it to local waterways. Unfortunately during periods of heavy rainfall, the amount of water entering the treatment plant will exceed its capacity and overflow and will enter the waterways untreated. Another factor to an overflowing treatment plan is population growth. The population of the 1800s is nowhere near the population of today or of the future, increased population leads to increased waste to enter the system, which then leads to an overflow. With the redevelopment area, Bayonne intends to accommodate thousands of incomers. Without fixing the sewer system, the surrounding bay will be even more polluted than it already is. This development is focusing on making the surrounding waterfront a part of the town. According to the designs on the Master Plan, they are planning on having a walkway bordering the bay and boathouses so people can enjoy some time on the water. If the sewage system isn’t fixed, this will make the bay a little (a whole lot) less appealing.
Redeveloping the decommissioned Military Ocean Terminal will give Bayonne a different look. The peninsula is 296 acres and throughout the Master Plan, it was being compared to Battery Park City in New York. Bringing New York even closer to our homes in Bayonne, I believe, will allow Bayonne to prosper. The ideas for this peninsula are beautiful, I just hope that I get the chance to see the ideas turn into reality.
One of the best parts of being in New Brunswick is the atmosphere the city creates by boasting a downtown and a suburban setting. When living here you get to experience a little bit of everything, and i think that’s a feature that can’t be easily replicated. However, with the good comes the bad. Traffic here can be a nightmare, making travel a frustrating experience for any student trying to get around. Downtown New Brunswick, although in the midst of transformation, presents an unwelcoming and intimidating atmosphere for people who aren’t used to the sight. All these features come together to create a unique mixture of landscapes.
One feature that I happen to like a lot is Beucler Park, which is situated right next to Easton Ave. The open landscape is inviting and kind of draws people in on a nice day. It isn’t uncommon to see health nuts jogging along the paths etched into the landscape, or a band of friends coming together to play a pick-up game of basketball or football. I feel It’s one of the highlights of the City, and I think land developers have taken the same stance. There are condominiums situated right next to the park, making the condos themselves an attractive option for a new graduate of Rutgers. The park represents something that every city needs: vitality. By providing an area where people are encouraged to get out and be active and energetic, New Brunswick is promoting a lifestyle that does nothing but attract new residents.
One of the bad things about New Brunswick is the traffic that accumulates on the exits off of RT-18 and George street. Anybody who’s been on an F or any one of the REX’s can attest to the traffic on Commercial Avenue during rush hour. Cars move at a snails pace as everybody is trying to get to the same place at the same time. While preventing traffic is nearly impossible, I think the narrow nature of the exits does nothing to help. Students run the risk of being on the bus for a prolonged period of time, which does nothing but frustrate him/her. This situation goes from bad to worst when the student is left standing in the middle of overly-crowded bus, which is so often the case during the 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. time slot. George street presents this same problem to commuters. Perhaps the busiest street in New Brunswick, George street is as narrow as the exits coming off RT-18. Packed with cars and citizens, George street is a hassle to traverse for just about anybody.
Metropark Station, located in Woodbridge Township is served by Amtrak and NJ Transit. A few minutes away is Oak Tree Road and there one can find what we all refer to as “little India”. Oak Tree road is notorious for the variety of Indian food markets, restaurants and clothing stores. It is because of the rich culture that resides there that people such as my sister and I, that crave for ethnic foods go out of our way to get there. The both of us don’t drive because we’ve relied on public transportation most of our lives living in Newark where access to nearby cities and sites isn’t difficult to get to. However, it was a year ago when the spontaneous people we are decided to figure out a way to get to Oak Tree Road via public transportation. We learned the basics using Google Maps where we could catch the train over to Metropark from New Brunswick; that was easy. The challenge however was getting to this main street walking. Usually there are cabs at Metropark station from what we’ve heard but every time we go none are available; what luck. Patience is a virtue neither my sister nor I have therefore we didn’t mind walking and besides we genuinely enjoy it. We had to go to the other side of the platform and from there hop the gate over to the street where there was no sidewalk. Further down the road, the opposite direction of where we wanted to go was your typical street light, pedestrian crosswalk and sidewalk which however did not extend all the way down the road towards Oak Tree Road. My sister and I had to cross the street where no pedestrian cross walk existed to reach a short sidewalk on the other side. Eventually, the sidewalk we’ve finally reached didn’t extend the further down we walked and we began walking in the white lines drawn on the road to keep cars from getting too close to the bar railings. I have to admit, that this was dangerous and instantly regretted taking such a risk for Indian food. Interestingly enough, no one stopped us and there were a few dirt paths we’d seen created over time by other walking pedestrians like us. When we’ve finally reached a street that lead us to Oak Tree Road we had sidewalks and cross paths to use which was a relief to the both of us and we felt normal once again. Walking near the Garden State entrance is not your typical commute for food or more so a good time. This place could be great considering the various forms and means available to get to your destination but the most important one was missing! People could essentially leave their cars at home and walk to the train station if there were actual crosswalks, sidewalks, and street lights dedicated for walking and even biking commuters especially for a small place such as this one. Our commute to Oak Tree Road could have been a 15 minute walk but turned out to be a 25 minute journey avoiding getting rammed by a car being an extremely unpleasant experience.
On the other hand, as New Brunswick is improving its infrastructure there are a few features that I truly appreciate and wish can be used nationwide. The new installation of the crosswalk with the safety beeping feature, speed detector and more importantly signs for when pedestrians are crossing George Street. In my opinion, this was an incredible idea because of the amount of people that use the train during rush hours and the drivers using George Street as well during these hectic hours. This simple installations fused in one area promote safety and ensure a balance between the walking commuters and drivers at the same time. An implementation of these street features on a large scale would be great and ensure safety and comfort for people.