Intra-City Coordination

Written by Christine Donahue

Being human is itself difficult, and therefore all kinds of settlements (except dream cities) have problems. – Jane Jacobs

I. Executive Summary

II. Trenton Water Works

III. Office of Asset Management

IV. Coordination of Services

V. Civic Associations as an Agent of Change

VI. City Council Members as Catalysts

VII. Closing Remarks

I. Executive Summary

Trenton is a city of strengths and untapped value, a city of neighborhoods and ethnic groups, religious organizations and educational institutions. Each brings a different element to the Trenton experience. Trenton has a tremendous resource in its people and its history.

Intra city usually implies coordinating activities throughout the city. The coordination would offer a higher quality experience for all. In my opinion, intra city coordination is about amplifying strengths so that they have an effect city wide. This essay will touch on such as asset management, preserving assets, safety, and marketing.

I make the following assumptions:

  • The need to be connected is greater than any personal or logistic difficulty faced
  • That coordination and collaboration provide a higher quality experience and product
  • That an asset can be considered almost anything from brand equity to transportation routes to natural resources

II. Trenton Water Works

The City of Trenton has a valuable asset in its water utility. More than the asset of the utility, the city has a very resource in its access to the Delaware river. Here are some ideas for coordinated city wide efforts to use and maintain the water asset

  1. Energy production – Thermo-electric energy producers are the largest water users. Trenton could support either trash to energy or gas turbines that burn natural gas. These would utilize cooling water from the Delaware River . PSE&G or AES may be interested in collaboration on this.
  2. Water Treatment products – These companies typically use water to regenerate some of their treatment mediums. Demand for water is creating new challenges in many areas around the world. GE has recognized this and purchased the major water treatment companies in the U.S.. Production of water treatment products could be performed in Trenton .
  3. Re-start the Trenton steel industry. Forged steel is likely to be in demand as the power industry builds new power equipment. GE, Siemens, Alstom, and ABB constantly purchase forged steel for their power products. Siemens re-builds small turbines in the Trenton area and may need small forgings.
  4. Start a plastic manufacturing plant – collaborate with Dow Chemical, or DuPont to manufacture plastics in Trenton . A plant would provide good jobs to a small community with a relatively small footprint (~20 Acres of land).
  5. Produce glass used for construction or bottling. Glass production requires cooling water and glass continues to increase in construction of buildings and furniture. It is a completely sustainable product that can be re-used over and over again. PPG, Dow – Corning, Schott, Guardian, Durand, or Anchor Glass are a potential collaborators. Durand is already operating in Millville, NJ.
  6. Transportation – Build a small water transportation terminal to import raw materials and export waste on barges on the Delaware River . Access to the Interstate Highways could make this an interesting transportation hub.
  7. Ethanol production – green technology from waste cellulose. Import waste cellulose on barges, produce ethanol, and export ethanol to refineries in Philadelphia
  8. Hydrogen or Coal Oil Production – Import coal and export hydrogen and diesel fuel. Power the NJ Transit busses with hydrogen and diesel fuel produced from coal. This could create jobs by eliminating fuel from oil imports. This would need collaboration from nearby companies like Sunoco, Hess, or BP.
  9. Aquaculture –Pump Delaware River water into a cascade of trays in the abandoned buildings in Trenton . The trays would be deep enough to harvest fish and the water would flow back into the river. I don’t know what kind of fish or for what they would be sold. You would need some help from Rutgers on this idea.
  10. Build a brewery – I’m sure the recipe for Trenton Champale is still accessible. These are relatively low technology and easier to startup

III. Office of Asset Management

The city of Trenton has an amazing infrastructure that is ready to support industry and housing development. I recommend that Trenton create an Asset Management Division, within the Transportation and Public Works department. This would allow for the division to systematically collect infrastructure data and to embark upon a long-term approach to maintain, operate, rehabilitate, and replace City infrastructure (assets) to ensure they will provide the vital support of health and prosperity to the citizens and business community and out children of tomorrow.

What is infrastructure?

Infrastructure includes the pipes that move water to and from city homes/businesses and the roads sidewalks that connect our neighborhoods. Residents and business people have come to count on the services provided by this infrastructure, and this is why it is so important to invest in the maintenance and or replacement of the assets that are aging within the city.

Asset Management Strategy

This approach provides a strategic approach to implementing asset management. It would lead to targeted maintenance, renewal, and replacement programs based on condition, service levels and risk using life cycle principles. The strategy begins with a valuation of assets based on a life cycle principle:

  • Construction of new infrastructure and upgrades to existing infrastructure that is required because of growth is typically funded by developers as new subdivisions are constructed.
  • All money collected from water customers is used to fund water related costs.

City Owned Properties

City owned properties should be managed by the Office of Asset Management. The asset strategy should seek to provide affordable housing opportunities by developers which would involve the collaboration of the entire community. Development projects would be used as a catalyst in promoting activities beyond housing. Turning over the city owned properties will help to attract private investment, create job opportunities and effect positive change in the neighborhoods. Other objectives would include:

  • Demolition of unsafe structures
  • Improved personal safety
  • Elimination of drug activities

Historical Significance of Trenton

Over the past few years, there has a groundswell of support for historic preservation throughout the city by Trenton residents. Preserving the historic significance of each neighborhood through landmarks is an excellent way for the city to focus its efforts. Landmarks preservation builds civic pride, improves visibility outside of the city and increases Trenton’s brand equity. Each neighborhood can work with its civic organization to build its unique sense of identity. In the future, the city should work to coordinate these efforts. If the city were able to provide a model of how to establish an historic neighborhood and use civic leaders to work with groups the city could make progress quickly in this area.

With an effective marketing campaign, Trenton can continue to build the brand equity and capitalize off that equity through tourism and area events. Patriot’s Week should be the flagship of the tourism program in Trenton and events to support the activities should be coordinated city wide. The city of Trenton should seek to create as many historic districts throughout the city for the purposes of seeking federal funds. These areas can be showcased during major city wide events such as Patriot’s Week.

Additional Assets

Any property or on going entity where the city has at least a 51% stakehold in the business, property or entity, the city should develop a long range strategy for maximizing the use of the asset. That 51% asset strategy could be calculated from tax abatements or service cost reductions such as payments for water or sewer. Additionally, properties held in this manner should not be concentrated in any one part of the city but should whenever possible be located in neighborhoods which could profit most from the effects of the city government presence.

III. Coordination of Services

The Trenton Police have done an excellent job at working with the community through civic associations and community watch groups. The Trenton police academy is an excellent way for residents to coordinate efforts city wide. I would also male the following recommendations to support the coordination and improve the overall delivery of services.

  • Improve the ratio of police on by eliminating 4 on 4 off
  • Charge business and residence for alarm system calls
  • Improve technology on the city for traffic ticketing and surveillance
  • Close the satellite police stations because they are not being used adequately
  • Reduce the number of detectives and lieutenants

IV. Civic Associations as Agents of Change

The civic associations are one of Trenton’s greatest strengths will over 100 organizations city wide. In order to use this resource more efficiently, let’s look more closely at the activities of each meeting and the objectives that each civic organization hope to achieve.

The most powerful objective of each of the civic organization’s is that they give the citizens a voice and when banded together behind one idea, the organization gives that voice power. The question is then how can Trenton City Government work in the future to put that voice and that citizen power into action.

To help citizens aggregate their collective opinion, an annual survey should be conducted by an independent group to provide feedback on city services, response times, general neighborhood perception through the city organization. The feedback would provide a baseline for city officials. The survey could be funded by a Princeton Area Foundation grant.

Secondly, meetings within Wards should be coordinated so that once a month rather than several times a week, police officers provide statistics and information to residents concerning criminal activity in the area.

Further to that, each association in every Ward should focus on an area of public life and continue to be the voice that reflects community concerns. Civic associations could invite members of the school board, city council, the PTA, developers, business owners in the community to present and discuss long term goals and how the community could work with them to create a more prosperous ward.

Coordinate Events City Wide

Jim Carlucci’s civic calendar is an excellent example of how the flow of information can help to improve attendance and visibility outside the city. The calendar which is sent out weekly at a regularly scheduled time is not limited geographically which helps to raise Trenton’s overall image outside the city.

Creating a Website

The TCCA provides a solid platform for civic organization to communicate citywide. Let’s build on this strength and the relationship that the TCCA has already established with the municipal government. The Trenton Community would benefit greatly from a website that coordinates events city wide with pages for the arts, civic groups and entertainment and finally, a page that brings all the events together in a single place. A website with this function would help to:

  • bring more people into the city for entertainment purposes
  • create the image of a lively and vibrant community
  • improve the overall sense of well being of the Trenton community
  • increase civic pride

that are all building blocks for community development.

A site like this would need to be constantly edited and developed. Artworks or Passage Theatre may be able to take on this initiative as an ongoing project. With a grant from the Princeton Area Foundation and the Trenton Downtown Association, equipment could be purchased and staff trained or hired to build and monitor the site.

IV. City Council Members as Catalysts

A PARC system for Trenton residents

The PARC system or Project Application Review Committee is currently used for real estate projects by developers in the city. Before a project begins, all interested city department employees meet to discuss the requirements of the project.

The PARC system could be used to help city residents coordinate projects and get assistance from council on how to make their project a reality. The PARC could be available on the web or at city hall. A city council member would be responsible for reviewing PARCs and then contacting the resident or group. A city council member would organize a meeting between the city departments and the citizens.

PARCs would allow city council members to have an overview of all citizen requested projects city wide. City council members could then avoid duplicating efforts and would be able to identify whether any previous projects had been undertaken in the same area.

A Do It Now Crew

Each city council person should be assigned a go to person in each area of public works. The city employee and the council person would work together to respond quickly to situations throughout the city.

VIII. Closing Remarks

Recently, Jorge Aguilar, an advocate from Food and Water Watch commented on the continuity he perceived in the Trenton community. He furthered commented on Trenton’s residents ability to organize quickly when faced with the impending sale of the public water utility. The ability to organize quickly comes from a string sense of community, continuity, a sense of being interconnected. Our sense of what it means to be part of the city is significant, so significant that people who now live in Hamilton, Lawrenceville, Ewing and outside the immediate are consider themselves part of Trenton.

Let’s continue to reach out, coordinate and connect people so that we can continue to learn from one and other and work with our strengths. The future looks bright as long as we are able to continue to work together.The key to Trenton’s continued development will be its ability to coordinate services and maximize the use of its assets to produce jobs, to support the quality of life in the city. Trenton’s community is its’ greatest asset.

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