Editor’s Note: This story was originally prepared for our content partner, GlobeSt.com.
NEWARK, NJ—Former New Jersey Gov. James J. Florio was praised by smart growth advocates “one of the best public servants in our state and nation” as he received the Cary Edwards Leadership Award from New Jersey Future last night.
About 300 people thronged the Great Hall at Rutgers University’s Newark Campus for the advocacy group’s Smart Growth Awards, which also honored seven development projects across New Jersey.
Florio “has had a really enduring impact on our state and on our nation,” said Carl Van Horn Ph.D., director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and Distinguished Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, who introduced Florio and cited his many public policy accomplishments, including clean environment legislation, bans on assault weapons, and smart growth policies for New Jersey.
“His explanation for doing what many regarded as politically risky was very straightforward. ‘If we are fortunate enough,’ he said, ‘to be chosen for public office, we must accept the responsibility of making difficult decisions.’”
Listen to an audio report on the New Jersey Future Smart Growth Awards here.
Florio received the award named in memory of W. Cary Edwards, who served as New Jersey’s attorney general from 1986 to 1989. The award recognizes individuals who have an outstanding commitment to improving quality of life and promoting smart growth in New Jersey through sustainable land-use policy and practice.
“Good public policy can be advanced, most often, as a result of good planning,” Florio said in accepting the award. After the presentation, he told GlobeSt.com exclusively that “The whole idea of investing time to determine how we can get long term goals achieved, doesn’t happen that often anymore. Short term goals predominate, and they’re not always the best thing.”
Speaking of New Jersey, Florio offered some optimism for the future based on New Jersey’s resources.
“We have the capability of having a very prosperous economy, if we use those resources smartly,” Florio says. “I’m hopeful that the new administration will make some good decisions.”
Florio sat for a TV interview with State Broadcast News in March, and suggested that urban development would be key to the state’s future growth.
The projects honored with Smart Growth Awards were:
- 700 Jackson in Hoboken, a transit-oriented mixed-use, mixed-income development that includes public uses and an innovative storm water management feature
- Aerofarms Newark, a sustainable, locally focused urban agriculture enterprise (previously covered in a video news report for SBN)
- Great Falls Circulation Study, an analysis of opportunities for redevelopment, improved circulation, enhanced pedestrian mobility, and expanded access to Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson, Passaic County
- Harvard Printing Company, Orange, NJ, a transit-oriented development combining new construction with a repurposed art deco factory building to provide mixed-income housing
- The Roebling Lofts, Trenton, NJ, a transit-oriented project transforming a long-vacant historic industrial building into residential rental lofts
- Somerville Smart Growth in Action, a long-term, comprehensive plan to revitalize the downtown retail district of Somerville with mixed use live-work-play opportunities
- Union Eagle Senior Apartments, Bordentown, NJ, an adaptive reuse of an abandoned industrial building into affordable housing for seniors and veterans
“They’re meant to be models of what is possible,” says Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future. “How can developers, how can municipalities make their communities better stronger through better design, better planning, and better projects.”