(via City of Hoboken)
ABOVE: (left to right) Sharp, Gonzalez, Stratton
Three City of Hoboken staff members were honored by the American Planning Association earlier this month, receiving “Distinguished Emerging Planner Awards”. Jennifer Gonzalez, Hoboken’s Director of Environmental Services, Ryan Sharp, Hoboken’s Director of Transportation and Parking, and Caleb Stratton, the City’s Chief Resilience Officer, were cited as three professional planners under the age of 35 who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the field of planning in the State of New Jersey.
“I’m extremely proud to have such accomplished individuals serving in leadership positions in the City of Hoboken,” said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “Jennifer, Ryan and Caleb are a big reason why we are moving forward on so many projects that have substantially improved the quality of life for Hoboken residents, and also recognized at the international level. Hoboken is a leader in resiliency and innovation thanks to their contributions to our City, and I extend my congratulations to them for this impressive recognition.”
According to the City of Hoboken’s nominating application to the American Planning Association, “All three planners have worked tirelessly to advance and implement sound planning principles and have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the field of planning by advancing smart growth and sustainable development strategies which have made Hoboken an example of sustainability and resilience on an international level. All three have participated in either national or international conferences to speak about Hoboken’s plans, projects, programs or policies. They have all demonstrated leadership and courage by advancing projects and programs, sometimes in the face of adversity, which have effectuated meaningful and positive change on the local and statewide levels and have made both Hoboken and the State of New Jersey better and safer places to live and work.”
Jennifer Gonzalez is Hoboken’s Director of Environmental Services and Chief Sustainability Officer. During her tenure with the City, she helped draft and facilitate approval of Hoboken’s Green House Gas Emissions Reduction and Climate Action Plan. She managed the procurement of Hoboken’s municipal energy auction, which achieved 100% renewable energy in early 2019. Jennifer helped renegotiate Hoboken’s long term water concession with Suez and facilitated the creation of the City’s newly created water utility. Jennifer managed the preparation of Hoboken’s $30 million drinking water renewal plan and directly oversees construction of over 7,000 linear feet of new water mains, including new water services and the elimination of lead service lines. She manages Hoboken’s sanitation and recycling program and has worked tirelessly to encourage recycling and composting, as well as the ban on single-use plastic bags and styrofoam containers. Perhaps her greatest achievement to date is the design, financing and contracting of the Northwest Resiliency Park. The park will add over 5 acres of open space to a densely populated neighborhood, capture over 2 million gallons of stormwater run-off and reduce combined sewer overflows to the Hudson River. Jennifer’s efforts were recently recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council which certified the City as the first LEED Gold community in the State of New Jersey.
Ryan Sharp is the Director of Transportation and Parking for the City of Hoboken, one of the most challenging and demanding jobs in city government. Ryan started his career in Hoboken in 2010 as an intern and later became a principal planner in the Parking Utility. He worked on Hoboken’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan which sought to improve safety and connectivity in the “Mile-Square City”. He is responsible for redesigning many of Hoboken’s post-industrial roadways into bicycle and pedestrian friendly corridors. Ryan has advocated and implemented “complete streets” policies in Hoboken, including a project for citywide bicycle lanes. Among his many accomplishments is the $4 million redesign of Observer Highway, a previously unsafe 4 lane roadway which was transformed into more pedestrian friendly corridor with new traffic signals, countdown pedestrian timers, dedicated turning lanes, and separated bicycle lanes apart from vehicular traffic. Ryan was the chief architect of the Washington Street project, which included 15 new traffic signals with countdown pedestrian timers, bump-outs on every corner to reduce pedestrian crossing times and distances, dedicated bicycle lanes, delineated bus stop stops for NJ Transit and new loading zones to reduce double parking for deliveries. Ryan managed the drafting and implementation of Hoboken’s Parking Master Plan and has advocated for a market-based approach to dynamic pricing. Most recently, Ryan has been the driving force behind Hoboken’s “Vision Zero” campaign to eliminate all traffic-related injuries and fatalities in Hoboken by 2030. In addition, Ryan has advanced multi-modal strategies including Hoboken’s corner-cars for car-sharing, a bike-share subscription contract with Jerseybike, and a “micromobility” pilot project with Lime for electronic scooters.
Caleb Stratton is Hoboken’s Chief Resilience Officer. Caleb also began his career in Hoboken as an intern and later principal planner, however Superstorm sandy forever changed his career path. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Caleb began working on Hoboken’s Disaster Recovery Plan, which became the first such plan approved by the NJ Department of Community Affairs. Caleb administered a $200,000 CDBG/DR grant for disaster recovery which was used to update Hoboken’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, and Hoboken’s Emergency Operations Plan and Hoboken’s Flood Protection Ordinance, which included illustrated guidelines for property-owners and developers. Caleb prepared many applications for assistance under the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Section 404 and 406 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. He successfully acquired funding and oversaw installation of emergency back-up generators at seven critical community facilities. After Superstorm Sandy, Secretary Shaun Donovan of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development made funding available through an extremely competitive national design competition called “Rebuild by Design.” Caleb tirelessly advocated for Hoboken’s proposal for funding, which resulted in Hoboken, Jersey City and Weehawken being selected for the $230 million grant. Caleb also worked with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratory, the NJ Board of Public Utilities, and Public Service Electric and Gas to design Hoboken’s “Microgrid” project for distributed energy, a $50 million project that will provide energy distribution to critical community facilities during disaster and peak energy events.