RESILIENCE CENTER: TOMS RIVER

WB unabridged with Yale ARCADIS
New Jersey

The coastal barrier islands of the Jersey Shore have been traditional summer destinations for over a century.  Maintaining this tradition in the face of sea level rise and increasing storms will require occupying a smaller footprint. In the interim condition of 2050, a mixed-use satellite on the barrier island will depict the new safe elevation by building on a plinth between the commercial routes, at the edge of the anticipated 6’ sea level rise. Net-zero commercial uses, a community gathering space, and public safety uses are parts of the program, along with vacation housing units above.

By 2080, there may be no more auto access, and a water taxi service will replace roads and bridges. Boardwalks will link communities along the high ground and provide a spine of hard infrastructure. Ferry stops will be located 20 minutes walking distance apart, and interspersed will be public amusements on barges: the natatorium, arcades, restaurants, and rides that were characteristic of a trip to the shore.  The original design standard of Dover Beach is a model for restoring permeable streets and reducing infrastructure along the beach island, transitioning property owners to self-sufficiency.

In order to support maritime activity, the mainland community of Toms River will provide safe harbor for these mobile features during the winter months, as well as training for their construction and repair. The resilience center will coalesce around a new ferry terminal enhancing the downtown economy immediately through retail functions; a community gathering space along the waterfront, offering public education, arts, and job training skills; and new housing. These developments are supported by the existing resilient infrastructure of a downtown at roughly +30’ elevation: a strong public library, civic complex, high school, and emergency services to serve the population of 90,000 people. Over time, the resilience center will become the starting point for water taxis to the beaches, and additional housing and mixed use developments will infill available space in the downtown area.

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