Earlier this fall, Stockton University unveiled plans to establish a research and educational site in Atlantic City’s inlet that would focus on coastal resiliency and marine studies.
The project seemed destined for fast tracking based on Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman’s aggressive timeline for establishing an educational foothold in the city’s inlet by 2024.
The estimated cost of the project is $75 million. Funding, land acquisition and many other elements still must be hashed out, but nevertheless, the vision is a bold one and the steps for reaching the goal are outlined in a 33-page report the college released in late September.
Building a coastal resiliency center and marine field station in the city’s inlet has many advantages for the college, the city and the region. A resiliency center would establish the region and city as a hub for climate research, advance research in shore protection, foster a burgeoning wind energy industry and help some of the city’s more traditional industries such as commercial fishing and tourism meet the challenges of the 21st century economy.
With so much happening now in the realm of climate change and policies, a successful collaborative venture like this would put Atlantic City and the university at the forefront of coastal cities and institutions addressing climate change.
It’s the kind of overture you expect from your academic institutions, especially one with its roots in marine and environmental sciences. It’s suitably located in an urban center whose inhabitants are particularly vulnerable to our changing environment and in need of good jobs.
Compare that proposal to the fits and starts and reversals that mark climate resiliency and energy policies at the national and international level and it’s easy to see why much of the progress in the climate response is happening at a state or lower level of government.
This is also appropriate, as cities and tourist areas do more than their share of contributing to the degrading of our natural environment. One has only to see a miles-long traffic jam on the parkway in summer, or feel the blast of cold air shooting from the open doors of a casino hotel to know the amount of energy expended for our leisure.
But also, it is becoming more apparent that state and local governments can be more effective at addressing the effects of climate change than their national and international counterparts. The issues has fewer sharp political edges the closer one gets to the ground (and ocean). Flooded or storm-ravaged homes aren’t theoretical here and many local communities are starting to recognize the need for both defensive and proactive actions, no matter which party they represent.
For these reasons, it’s encouraging to see a coalition of industry, academic and government agencies forming around the concept of resiliency in Atlantic City. The project also appears to be in good hands, as the college, its president and the committee that crafted the proposal seem to be smartly leveraging the power of their network of interested parties.
We expect that helps push this project to the top of the hill and that in short time the rewards will be ready to reap, both for Atlantic City and for other communities.