Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs

The need for and appeal of water is universal. Here in the United States, we have a tendency to take access to this building block of life for granted. We’re spoiled by its natural abundance, whether it’s the Great Lakes, the two oceans that border our country, the huge Gulf of Mexico or various, impressive rivers cutting through our land and giving life to all in their path.

Recognizing the importance of this national resource and the magnitude of its management, the federal government passed the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to “provide for a unique federal-state partnership that is a proven basis for protecting, restoring, and responsibly developing the nation’s important and diverse coastal communities and resources.”

One of the major advocacy groups for this act (and there were many, too many to name), was the Coastal States Organization (CSO), created in 1970 to “represent state governors in oceanic and coastal affairs. The association’s membership consists of delegates appointed by the governors from each of the 35 states, territories and commonwealths having an ocean, Gulf or Great Lake boundary.”

Almost 40 years later, this act and the resulting Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs (LWRP) have enabled communities as big as New York City and towns as small as Tonawanda, N.Y., to protect, preserve, rebuild, and/or develop their waterfront in accordance with citizens’ wishes while, at the same time, ensuring they are using best practices as defined by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service.

In short, it’s a win-win for everybody.

LWRP Defined

To shed a little light on the power and potential of an LWRP, we looked to a state that aggressively promotes its use–New York.

According to the New York State, Department of State, Division of Coastal Resources (NYS DOS Division of Coastal Resources), a LWRP “is both a plan and a program. The term refers to both a planning document prepared by a community, as well as the program established to implement the plan. The Program may be comprehensive and address all issues that affect a community’s entire waterfront or it may address the most critical issues facing a significant portion of its waterfront.

As a planning document, a LWRP is a locally prepared, land and water use plan and strategy for a community’s natural, public, working, or developed waterfront through which critical issues are addressed. In partnership with the Division of Coastal Resources, a municipality develops community consensus regarding the future of its waterfront and refines State waterfront policies to reflect local conditions and circumstances. Once approved by the New York Secretary of State, the Local Program serves to coordinate state and federal actions needed to assist the community to achieve its vision.

As a program, a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program is the organizational structure, local laws, projects, and ongoing partnerships that implement the planning document. This is the part of the Program that will make the difference to your community–it’s the implementation that matters.”

LWRP Content

The core of the LWRP process is local input. All LWRPs are, by definition, voluntary programs prepared locally by the citizens and governments of the communities applying for aid. Like most public processes, the LWRP requires local governments to draft an extensive document detailing all the factors that need to be considered before any water revitalization plan can be effected and then present it to the public for discussion, analysis and approval.

New York State recommends every LWRP consider the following items:

·Waterfront redevelopment and land use

·Historic resources

·Scenic resources

·Flooding and erosion

·Water quality

·Fish and wildlife habitats

·Public access and recreation

·Water-dependent uses and harbor management


Preparation of a LWRP

The NYS DOS Division of Coastal Resources says “a LWRP follows a step-by-step process, which a community can use to advance from vision to implementation. These steps include:

·Getting community involvement

·Developing a vision

·Identifying and analyzing the key issues and opportunities

·Developing partnerships with all who can help

·Refining the vision into a plan of action

·Organizing to implement the plan

·Adopting necessary laws and practices

·Undertaking project planning and feasibility

·Obtaining financing and finding markets

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