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Join the fight to redevelop New Jersey waterfronts.

Throughout time, man has been drawn to water. From the winding canals of Venice to the shores of the Nile, some of the most amazing architecture in the world has been created.

New Jerseyans, in particular, thrive on their freedom to visit the shore of Cape May, meander along the Delaware and camp near the lakes surrounding High Point Mountain.

But in many areas of New Jersey, there is still coastline littered with factories, warehouses and dilapidated marinas and boatyards--all of which block people from enjoying our most precious commodity--the waterfront.

As the demand for waterfront living reaches its peak, there is enormous opportunity to create an amazing renaissance.

Town leaders across the Garden State are breaking the locks off old properties and asking redevelopers to dream about what can be. As a "Jersey Shore" resident and statewide waterfront redeveloper, I am excited at the endless opportunities to transform already developed areas into what I call "Rivieras."

Still, the challenge remains. The state's coastlines and waterways are precious and irreplaceable resources. In many urban and blighted areas of our state there are regional economic treasures that are being ignored. There is much we, as developers, are responsible for in advancing change and completely restoring parts of our forgotten waterfronts.

It is evident by the number of civic organizations committed to protecting New Jersey's water and beaches that others feel as I do. In fact, most "Save the Waterfront" organizations in New Jersey have similar missions as mine: protect scenic views and public access, preserve quality of life and promote sensible growth that benefits all parties involved.

We all agree that waterways and beaches provide recreation, support tourism, nurture wildlife and are the foundation of our fishing and clamming industries.

Redevelopment of run-down parts of our waterfronts, including full public access to water and beaches, is the only solution to balance the environmental and economic needs of these areas.

The stakes are high: There are 40 million seasonal residents of the Jersey Shore and more than 27 million additional people expected to reside along U.S. coastlines by 2017. With a burgeoning $16 billion tourism industry in New Jersey, the time for a responsible renaissance is now.

I encourage state planners and municipal officials to think about the future of their waterways and beaches before making decisions on redevelopment. Our waterways are a precious commodity; only the finest redevelopment plans should be considered and adopted.

Town leaders need to recognize that the decisions they make regarding redevelopment will have ramifications for generations. It is an enormous responsibility. That is why they need to work with true waterfront redevelopment experts, who can address any problems or pitfalls before they become irrevocable errors.

Hopefully, with some ingenuity and planning, New Jersey can completely transform itself in the upcoming decades, maximizing public access to waterfronts, building stronger communities and keeping our beaches beautiful.

STEPHEN S. JEMAL

PRESIDENT, SSJ DEVELOPMENT LLC
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Title Annotation:PROFILE in Construction & Design
Author:Jemal, Stephen S.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1U2NJ
Date:Sep 21, 2005
Words:486
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