The fall 2018 Bloustein School graduate planning studio, “Reimagining Bloomfield Streets: Planning for Health, Equity, and Safety through Walking, Biking, and Transit around the Watsessing Avenue Station Neighborhood,” was the recipient of the 2019 American Planning Association-New Jersey chapter Outstanding Student Project Award. This award is presented to outstanding class projects or papers by a student or group of students that contribute to advances in the field of planning.
As part of the studio, second-year MCRP students explored ways to improve access by all modes of travel to the Watsessing Avenue Station in Bloomfield and provided recommendations that enhance the community’s existing assets and advance systemic change to support overall health and wellness. The final report, prepared for the Township of Bloomfield, highlights existing infrastructure needs for both transportation and housing, and analyzes equitable, strategic, and innovative plans for the Watsessing neighborhood. In the process, students investigated several topic areas and techniques including Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), Universal Design, Creative Placemaking, tactical urbanism, Complete Streets, Green Streets, equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD), TOD scenario planning, community engagement, gentrification, potential future funding sources, and health in all policies.
The award is designed to acknowledge student projects that demonstrate excellence in originality; transferability or potential to apply its application to other projects; quality of analysis, writing, and presentation; implementation, and comprehensiveness.
This studio uniquely asked students to take a holistic approach to address housing, multi-modal transportation access, placemaking, and best practice in policy change all informing a comprehensive set of recommendations. It was co-directed by Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center senior research specialists Stephanie DiPetrillo and Leigh Ann Von Hagen, and collaborated with American Planning Association-NJ Chapter (APA-NJ) Community Planning Assistance Program and New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
“The students incorporated sound planning principles through tasks including a thorough literature review, examination of existing Township policies, zoning and plans, as well as best practice in housing, transit-oriented development, bicycle and pedestrian design, placemaking, and other areas of livability and community planning,” said Von Hagen. “They enhanced their project with advanced analysis including scenario planning to capture the short-term and long-term impacts of current and alternative zoning regulations, going above and beyond client expectations.”
DiPetrillo noted that the studio was designed to take a comprehensive approach towards planning a neighborhood that is currently in transition, emphasizing accessibility, vitality, community engagement, health, and equity as core values at every step of the process. “Bringing together these perspectives and data on each into planning decisions enhances collaboration among different kinds of planners, public health practitioners, and decision-makers,” she said.
Graduate students in the class included Eric Derer, John Donadio, Samantha Donovan, Sharon Eilbert, Eve Gabel Frank, Ian Girardeau, Ashley Hong, Tyler Peter, Jaime Phillips, Thomas Ricci, Katie Shepard, Rebecca Son, John Witsch, and Chen Zhang.