There’s a new web-based toolkit for coastal communities looking to sustain and improve the infrastructure needed for their water-based businesses.
The National Working Waterfronts Network (NWWN) website has been expanded to include case studies, a searchable financing database, economic analysis, law and policy tools, and a historical overview of waterfront trends, all designed to help communities across the U.S. share problems and solutions for managing and improving their local waterfront infrastructure.
Seven organizations from around the country announced the new and improved NWWN site on March 27 at the third National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium held in Tacoma, Washington.
As one of the project partners, Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) provided technological support. VASG, with “its internationally recognized web-based marine education capacity,” was an obvious choice for developing the website, said Tom Murray, a Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) economist and VASG extension leader.
The launch of the site and it’s tools comes at a time when working waterfronts across the country face challenges from competing uses, changing regulations, and emerging waterfront-dependent activities. When working waterfronts disappear, the coastal cities and towns built around them can lose their cultural and community identities—and experience economic consequences.
“The whole website will serve as a way for communities to get information to help them sustain or improve their working waterfronts,” said Lisa Lawrence, VIMS educator and VASG education leader, who acted as one of the web developers on the project. In addition to the reports and data on the site, Lawrence points to the online community center as a sort of living resource for those involved in planning and maintaining working waterfronts. “By implementing an online Community Center, we’re encouraging planners and leaders to stay abreast of working waterfronts issues and share their own case studies and lessons-learned.”
The need for these kinds of tools sprang up during the 2011 Working Waterfronts Conference, when attendees asked repeatedly for best practices and online resources to help them address their own local working waterfronts concerns. The idea being that because communities across the country are faced with similar issues, solutions from one region could be applicable to another.
Natalie Springuel of Maine Sea Grant, another member of the project team, expressed the group’s long-term vision for making success stories and strategic action steps widely available. “We have great data, we have all these tools, and we hope that by sharing them with symposium participants, we can figure out how they might inform the future of the National Working Waterfront Network and more importantly, the future of the nation’s working waterfronts and waterways.”
The new NWWN and the working waterfronts community tools were made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and developed by member organizations of the National Working Waterfront Network.
Access the NWWN tools and the Working Waterfront Community Center at http://www.wateraccessus.com