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Building a better Asbury Park through redesign


rebuild-c-pageBy DON STINE

So many people turned out in Asbury Park March 4 to hear more about Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded competition seeking to design permanent solutions to minimize damage caused by future severe storms, that another presentation was added.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the first 7 p.m. session in the main viewing room at the Showroom on Cookman Avenue.

Tuesday’s presentations were to garner public comment about the program.

“Community feedback is a major criteria,” said Alexis Taylor, a project manager for the design competition.

Rebuild by Design at The ShowRoom.

Rebuild by Design at The ShowRoom.

Ten teams, from Connecticut to New Jersey, are part of the Rebuild by Design competition created by President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force. By the end of the competition, the top design teams will be given Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief funds to put their ideas into action.

Asbury Park is one of the target towns in the research competition which will have experts in planning, design, engineering and science critically analyze the task of rebuilding after a major storm.

“The intent of the program is not just to rebuild the Jersey Shore, but to rebuild it better. A lot on underlying vulnerability was exposed (during Superstorm Sandy) and we want to find fundable solutions to better protect our residents from future climate events,” Taylor said.

Team members have interdisciplinary expertise in various fields, like hydrology, engineering, or academics and they have spent months analyzing data at the Jersey Shore and final recommendations are due to be presented at the end of April.

Initiatives under the local project include repairing damaged coastal lakes, improve and diversify transportation options, protect coastal infrastructures, like the Asbury Park sewer plant at the beachfront, or possibly create sand dunes systems and redesign boardwalk and oceanfront buildings to withstand future storms.

A parade promoting Rebuild by Design will be held in Asbury Park on Saturday, March 22, leaving St. Stephen AME Zion church at 1001 Springwood Avenue at noon and heading toward the boardwalk. A party will be held after the parade at the Langosta Lounge on the boardwalk beginning at 2 p.m.

Information gathered during the competition will eventually be shared through public meetings, exhibitions and presentations. Similar studies are also being conducted in the Union/Keansburg area and in Toms River.

Rebuild by Design is a unique competition that responds to Hurricane Sandy by asking the world’s most talented design professionals to envision solutions that increase resilience across the Sandy-affected region. The project is an initiative of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, with advice from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in collaboration with the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, Municipal Art Society of New York, Regional Plan Association, and Van Alen Institute, according to the competition’s web site.

Once teams present regional research identifying places and opportunities that are key for the rebuilding process, each team will then work on a single project, selected by HUD, aimed at addressing problems identified during the research

In March, teams will transform their chosen design opportunities to implementable and fundable design solutions. In April, a jury will evaluate the ten proposals and winning design solutions may be able to be implemented with disaster recovery grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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