Aerial view of Des Moines. Photo by Ron Reiring via Flickr
Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on May 13 and 14, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide the region with tools and techniques to help implement The Tomorrow Plan, the region’s plan for sustainable development. The MPO hopes to build on broad community support for The Tomorrow Plan through a better understanding of the plan’s economic and fiscal benefits.
“With the recent approval of The Tomorrow Plan and the work on the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s next long-range transportation plan, the time is now to work with our member communities to invest in infrastructure as wisely and as efficiently as possible,” said Todd Ashby, Executive Director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
On the first day of the workshop, Des Moines area residents gathered for an introductory presentation that featured an overview of the fiscal and economic benefits associated with smart growth practices. On the workshop’s next day, professional staff, elected officials, private sector representatives, local residents and members of the non-profit community discussed how smart growth approaches could make the municipality more competitive and reduce taxpayer burdens.
In January, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization was one of 18 applicants selected by Smart Growth America to participate in the free technical assistance program. Stretching from New Hampshire to Idaho, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers and rural towns alike.
The technical workshop program is made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities, which seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Three other nonprofit organizations—Forterra, Global Green USA and Project for Public Spaces—also received competitively awarded grants under this program to help communities get the kinds of development they want.