Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,
I'm a thinker-and hopefully not an idealist as much as a pragmatist. Growing up I thought I wanted to be an engineer, but only later did I realize I was mainly preoccupied in the learning of the concepts, physics, more than the application, engineering, of the craft. It was not because I did not want to apply what I learned in the classroom in the real world, but was because I wanted to apply knowledge on a deeper level. I soon realized politics and political philosophy allowed me to study the learning and application of human organization. There is a real science of these relationships just as much as their is a science to the more physcial and natural sciences. No doubt science has become an integral part to pushing human organization via industry and the studying of such has enhanced human potential immensely.
I often like to think about how cities can improve to become more city-like or even just plainly more convenient for the residents. I grew up in the suburbs, where you cannot walk on any sidewalk in the town except when in a neighborhood. A well-off town 12 miles from Philadelphia, 90 minutes from New York City, and there really is no way to get around besides using a car. I've researched the town's mission statements to add accessibility and walkability but have yet to see it in practice. This and other discernable weak points in this town and in cities and other types of organization have all lead me to think of solutions- real pragmatic solutions.
Of the towns I have created my own "solutions" for were Camden, Trenton, New Brunswick, Newark, and Atlantic City. These were the flagship cities as I saw it, each connected the state or connected to greater America. Camden's origins match that of Philadelphia- a tough nosed manufacturing city. Trenton is the seat of the state capital, New Brunswick is home to the state college of New Jersey. Newark is the state's largest population and Atlantic City perhaps the most notorious. This has been to my personal experience, and I have visited these places all at least a few times. I am sure there are other towns worthy of consideration. These towns are special- they have been great, are great, but can be greater.
I then in my own character felt like the solution of one of these towns may lie in the solution of all towns. This may be for a variety of reasons, but mainly I believe the improvement of one town is complementary to the improvement of the other town. This is because the state as a whole, in its history and thinking, has exercised similar decision making which has lead to the general decay and similar status of all of these towns. The state's focus has clearly not been the internal improvement of these towns, more so they have been conducted as a means for business. I am not alone in my thinking, I have always heard "why is there no "big city" in New Jersey, why is the state university not "special", why is Atlantic City, constructed of tons of high-rises that if occupied would droop the next closest population in Newark? My theory has been the general characteristic of state decision making has lead to the subpar performance of towns and cities, state run organizations, and industries. Perhaps a new general solution will be the missing link these towns and our state need.
I apologize for the rather long unraveling of information not directly connected with the original article at hand, which stated the state capital should be moved to New Brunswick out of cost concerns for the new building project. I was finally glad to see someone had thunk similar to how I have. In my plan I too had the capital moving to New Brunswick for it's more centrally located, population wise, and an already established state university city. This idea is crazy, and you were crazy enough to think it, but for New Jersey's case it is not crazy enough.
I'll just list my points and then expand on them in a paragraph or two. But these are the solutions and vision for these 5 towns/cities to achieve sustainable growth and international prestige.
- Move State Capital from Trenton to New Brunswick
- Move State University to Newark and Newark's campus to Trenton
- Make Camden, Trenton, and Atlantic City Flagship Cities
- Make New Brunswick head of State Community College System
This list is not what is best for each town, and is not even necessarily specific to any particular town's needs. It was rather a compromise which I believe would be necessary to completing the transaction and pushing New Jersey on the proper stage for the future. I had to answer- why would Trenton settle for losing the state capital, why would New Brunswick settle for losing it's state university, and what other cities are integral to enhancing New Jersey's potential? Trenton may feel happy in becoming a flagship city, totally renewed and focused on the future with a state promise of investment, after losing the state capital. Sure your article would keep Rutger's University in New Brunswick, why does it have to give up anything?
But it is what New Brunswick should give up. With New York City being the financial and cultural mecca of the world, a campus being within site would instantly and exponentially boost Rutgers University status and prestige. It would not be a hollow move, only increasing the potential of the university in name, but would continually draw in higher level talent as well as be better able to conduct state research and business. To make up and be able to use the existing infrastructure of the city, New Brunswick could become home to a post-associate 2 year college and masters school. Make New Brunswick home to a new college concept, one that takes the community college graduates and graduates of any associate degree, and place them in a university they can relate to, one committed to the same and now increased public good.
You now have an increased network of state-to-county and who knows how this could eventually help state business and public services, especially next to the new state capital. Have an increased vision of college and master's programs and use the huge infrastructure left by Rutgers to create another great college in New Jersey, a world changing one. Rutgers could still be the main partner in this university, but it will definitely be a different entity focused on different goals conducive to the community college students.
I thought I would be able to explain the details of the compromise and then be able to explain the benefits in the next paragraph, but it seems like my rambling on of both was the only real solution, and this next paragraph will just finish off the rest of those numbered points I made. Newark would gain the state university and be able to use this as a resource to enhance and rebuild the city, as Newark as a venue is beneficial to the state university being close to New York City. Rutgers in New Brunswick, while making great improvements, has never had that "wow" feel. I believe Newark could have that being next to such a magnificent world class city.
So Newark would not need its branch university in the same place, so it could move it to Trenton, rebuilding and taking urban parts of the city and really being connected with the state and state university in making it a great university that makes the city great. Trenton and Camden would both be revitalized to become flagship national cities, if not as big as the major ones, then as big as the mid-major ones. There should be population goals to reflect this status. Atlantic City should continue to think about a future model for this shore destination and entertainment city. Make and keep a few casinos that specialize in this, but then make the properties no longer used for this into viable business and investment operations.
There is much more to say about these cities and their relationships, and much more to say about unnamed cities. But perhaps an idea so crazy, yet oddly pragmatical, is exactly what New Jersey has been lacking, and exactly what it needs to help steer the next millennia of prosperity and history.