The New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Education Foundation continues in its mission to bring municipal officials, academics, government officials and business leaders together to share their visions of New Jersey; their hopes for the future of public policy; and their solutions to the compelling challenges facing the state.
I was happy to serve as the moderator for the foundation’s recent program “New Jersey Infrastructure: What is Needed and How to Fund It,” held December 12, 2012 at the Conference Center at Mercer.
Dean James Hughes, from the Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, led off with an informative talk titled “An Instant History of New Jersey’s Infrastructure since 1900.” The Dean talked about New Jersey’s past success and leadership on issues such as transportation planning. That history gives us a good example of the type of planning we will need to do to be economically competitive in the future.
Philip K. Beachem, President of Alliance for Action, then spoke about “Transportation Infrastructure.” Phil’s story took us from his political start at the local level to the need for a strong working relationship with members of Congress. While reminding us of the basic needs of local governments for traffic signals and the like, Phil addressed the success New Jersey had through the committee leadership positions held by past Congressional members from New Jersey.
Elected officials and others attended the NJLM Educational Foundation program “New Jersey Infrastructure: What is Needed and How to Fund It,” on December 12, 2012 at the Conference Center at Mercer.
Suzanne Chiavari, Vice President of Engineering for New Jersey American Water, addressed “Water Infrastructure.” She described the strong foundation of the existing system across the state. She spoke about the type of investment we need and how to manage our assets. At the conclusion, she gave us some helpful tools. Specifically, she reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of “5 Things You Should Know & 5 Things You Should Do.”
Assistant Commissioner for Capital Investment, Planning and Grant Administration David Kuhn gave a presentation on the New Jersey Department of Transportation, based on his 20 plus years at the department, which provided invaluable institutional knowledge. He discussed the number of roads and bridges, as well as fatality statics. David updated the gathering on the goals of the department and the challenges it faces.
Mary-Ann Holden, Commissioner of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, presented “Regulated Utilities Current and Future Needs—A Macro View.” As a new commissioner, she spoke about her time as Mayor and her town’s local utilities operation. She also remarked that the NJLM Education Foundation has provided her with valuable insights into the statewide utilities operation. She expressed her commitment to using her local experience to make sure towns’ opinions are heard at the Board of Public Utilities.
The second part of our event was dedicated to exploring the state’s infrastructure needs from a local prespective. Our first presenter, Bill Neary, President of Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) and the former Mayor of East Brunswick, explained his organization’s focus. Since 1988, KMM has partnered with commuters, employers and local, county, and state government to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. They remain committed to improving air quality and being a part of the solution.
David Zimmer, Executive Director of the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT), addressed “Views on Local Funding Needs.” David addressed the programs offered by the NJEIT and the Trust’s work on a Natural Disaster Emergency Financing Program.
The event’s presentations can be accessed at www.njlmef.org/121212-event/index.html. We hope to see you at our next event. We all have a role to play in shaping the future of our municipalities.