Colette Santasieri

Urban Environment


Work Position
Director, Strategic Initiatives at NJIT

Date passed dissertation defense
March 6, 2012


Colette Santasieri currently serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives in NJIT’s Office of Research and Development where she is responsible for overseeing and conducting externally funded research, projects and programs in the areas of land use, transportation and environmental planning, and public policy.  Colette possesses extensive environmental planning and civil engineering experience in both the public and private sectors in the areas of transportation planning and design; environmental planning, permitting and NEPA compliance; capital programming; brownfields; port security; and land use planning. 

Colette holds a BS in Environmental Planning and Design from Cook College, Rutgers University, an MS in Civil Engineering (Construction Management concentration) from NJIT, and a PhD in Urban Systems from NJIT.

Title of the Dissertation

Port of Call or Port of Conflict: The Evolution of the Port of New York and New Jersey, Port-city Relationships, and the Potential for Land Use Conflicts on the Newark Bay Waterfront

Dissertation Proposal Abstract

This dissertation, a case study of the Port of New York and New Jersey, covers three major research topics: 1) the evolution of the port spanning a period of over 200 years; 2) the relationship between the port (and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) and five municipalities on Newark Bay; and 3) the potential for land use conflicts between the commercial port operations and redeveloping waterfronts for non-industrial uses. 

Research about the historical evolution of the Port of New York and New Jersey centers exclusively on the waterfronts and facilities on the Hudson and East Rivers and Upper New York Bay.  Sources of information include books, news articles, journal articles, government reports, maps and photographs. The contemporary port-city relationship is studied with respect to the port and the Port Authority, and the municipalities of Elizabeth, Newark, Kearny, Jersey City and Bayonne.  Sources of information include news articles, government reports and interviews with local elected officials and staff and representatives from advocacy groups, state agencies, and businesses. Potential for land use conflicts in the Newark Bay area between the commercial port operations and redeveloping waterfronts for non-industrial uses is explored using the same sources as topic 2, with the addition of journal articles and site observations.

In this research, the Port-city Evolution Model by Hoyle is tested on the evolution of the Port of New York and New Jersey and is found to be too general and attends only to the relationship between one port and one city.  The scale, scope and level of complexity of the Port of New York and New Jersey do not fit the model’s general framework.  A new model, derived from this research, captures the evolution of the Port of New York and New Jersey, taking into account the complexity of this port, which has: multiple cargo handling terminals in multiple municipalities in two states; multiple and different port-city relationships that have several relational aspects; and multiple forces shaping the port’s evolution.  Analysis of the relationship between the port (and the Port Authority) and five Newark Bay municipalities reveals dynamic, multifaceted associations characterized not only by spatial and functional aspects, but also by economic, political, and societal aspects. 

The final stage of Hoyle’s Port-city Evolution Model suggests that port-city associations are being renewed.  One aspect of the contemporary port-city relationship is conflict between an operating port and redeveloping waterfronts.  Research on the Newark Bay area reveals no observable or reported conflicts.  However, the potential for conflict exists.  Future conflicts could include daily friction from incompatible land uses and loss of waterfront property for commercial maritime use.  These conflicts can be exacerbated by the multiplicity of stakeholders involved in waterfront development and port operations.

The Port of New York and New Jersey Port-city Evolution Model, derived from this study, adds to the body of literature regarding not only how ports have grown and changed over time but also the causes and consequences of that growth and those changes.  This dissertation extends Hoyle’s general and narrowly focused model.  It is a comprehensive account of the evolution of the Port of New York and New Jersey that weaves together myriad political, economic, regulatory, commercial, global and societal events, issues and actions into a complex tale.  The complexity of this tale mirrors the complexity of this port’s history and conditions in 2011. 


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