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The City of Asbury Park’s Newly Adopted Arts & Culture Plan Wins County Recognition for Leadership in Planning, Exemplary Public Private-Partnership
12/19/23, Asbury Park, NJ – The City of Asbury Park, known for its vibrant, multi-faceted arts scene, was recognized on Monday, December 18, by the Monmouth County New Jersey Planning Board for the creation and adoption of the Arts & Culture Plan as a component of the City’s Master Plan. The plan articulates a vision and strategies to promote the City’s cultural assets, stimulate economic growth and improve residential quality of life.
The Arts & Culture Plan is the result of an 18-month collaboration between the City of Asbury Park and the non-profit Asbury Park Arts Council (APAC). In 2017, one of the co-founders of APAC, Mike Sodano, participated in the City’s decennial Master Plan Re-examination Committee. As a local creative business owner, he worked with other committee members to formally recognize the need for an Arts & Culture plan for Asbury Park. As a result, the committee recommended that the City create and adopt an Arts & Culture Plan as a component of the City’s Master Plan. With the official recommendation for an updated master plan Sodano, then owner of the ShowRoom Cinema, enlisted Jenn Hampton, co-owner of Parlor Gallery and curator of the Wooden Walls Public Art Project, to form the Asbury Park Arts Council. They added several more like-minded townspeople and APAC was officially incorporated in 2019, with a primary goal to work with the City on the creation of an Arts & Culture Plan.
The Covid-19 pandemic slowed but didn’t stop APAC’s progress. They began an active dialogue with City officials and advisors, conducted research into other plans. During this time, they also raised their first grant funds to support the project from Monmouth Arts, the local county arts agency. The groundwork and research paid off in 2022, when APAC received significant grant funding from the Monmouth County government from COVID-19 relief funds earmarked specifically to support non-profit organizations. APAC and the City of Asbury Park then engaged leading architecture, planning and design firm, FCA, to work with them on developing the Arts & Culture Plan. There was an added bonus that FCA’s Director of Planning and Urban Design, Eric Galipo, is a life-long resident of Asbury Park.
With the City, APAC and FCA ready to start work on the Arts & Culture Plan, a steering committee of creative leaders, local, regional and state government representatives kicked off the project in August 2022. The planning process began with inventory, information gathering and public outreach activities that included online surveys, appearances at many community-based events, individual interviews, topical focus groups, and multiple public open houses. The information gathered informed the development of goals and strategies for the plan that culminated in six major recommendations and an implementation framework that lays out sequential steps for achieving the goals of the plan. The recommendations focus on funding, staffing, partnerships, branding, placemaking and the development of a new community culture center.
The plan was adopted by the City’s Planning Board this past fall, as an amendment to the Master Plan, incorporating it as an official part of Asbury Park’s vision for long term growth and development. At the Planning Board presentation of the document, Steering Committee member and Asbury Park resident, Mary Eileen Fouratt, who works for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, noted, “I am impressed with the amount of outreach conducted in creating this Plan. I work with communities statewide and not all of them take this much time to see what residents need.” The Merit Award recognizes the partnership that brought the Arts and Culture Plan to fruition, as well as the way it advances many of the goals and objectives of the Monmouth County Master Plan, including supporting comprehensive planning approaches, promoting the protection of cultural resources, and supporting creative placemaking.
“As a collective, our goal was to develop a strategy that uplifts the arts and culture within the Asbury Park community––through detailed research and local engagement, the plan outlines initiatives to bolster access to activities for creators, residents, and visitors,” says Eric Galipo, AICP, LEED AP. “As a life-long Asbury Park resident and professional urban designer, I was honored to be part of the Plan’s development and it’s affirming to see the Plan receive this recognition and award.”
“The City of Asbury Park appreciates the recognition by the Monmouth County Planning Board for our Arts & Culture Plan. I believe we may be the only municipality in Monmouth County that has a plan like this, and I could not be more proud of the teamwork that went into getting it done,” said Asbury Park Mayor John Moor, who is also a Planning Board member. “I especially like the way the recommendations of the Plan are presented as not "all or nothing," or "now or never," but laid out in incremental steps that are more realistic for the government to achieve.”
For the Asbury Park Arts & Culture Plan, visit www.cityofasburypark.com/artsandcultureplan.
For more information:City of Asbury Park: https://www.cityofasburypark.com; @cityofasburyparknj Asbury Park Arts Council: https://asburyparkartscouncil.org; @asburyartscouncilFCA: https://www.fcarchitects.com; @fcarchitects_inc
Pictured Left to Right: Ross Licitra, Monmouth County Commissioner & Member, Monmouth County Planning Board, Eric Galipo, FCA (Director of Planning & Urban Design), Carrie Turner, APAC (Executive Director), Barbara Krzak, City of Asbury Park (Planning Board Chair), Marcy McMullen, Member, Monmouth County Planning Board, Michele Alonso, City of Asbury Park (Director of Planning & Redevelopment), Mike Sodano, APAC (Co-Founder & Board Chair), James Gianell, Chair, Monmouth County Planning Board