The New York Times adds to the ongoing debate over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to move one of its regional offices out of Kansas City, Kan., to an office park 20 miles from downtown. The article, published via Greenwire, explains the contradiction in such a move:
“[T]he decision runs counter to the goals of the Obama Administration’s “livable communities” initiative, run by EPA, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program is based on the idea that denser populations and more mass transit lead to less pollution and less need for sprawling suburban developments on the untouched land outside cities.
‘[The lease] is totally inconsistent with what the national office has been saying and doing,’ said Kaid Benfield, director of the smart growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in an interview. ‘EPA has been a government leader in thinking about sustainability and the importance of cities in relation to environmental issues. For some reason, in this particular case, all of that was apparently disregarded.'”
The General Service Administration (GSA), which oversees leases for federal office buildings, claims that the new lease was purely a matter of economics. GSA’s view seems shortsighted, however, in light how EPA’s move out of Kansas City will undermine millions of dollars worth of federal investments in the area:
“Just last year, the Obama administration gave $10.3 million for public transit upgrades along State Avenue, which runs through the heart of Kansas City. One of the new bus stops was supposed to be in front of EPA’s office building. These efforts have caused new townhouses and office buildings to multiply in the neighborhood in recent years, he said.
‘Had it not been for the federal government’s desire to invest in the area and stimulate the area, I don’t think we ever would have seen that last,’ he said.”
Read the full article: A City Feels Spurned as EPA Heads to the Suburbs [Greenwire via New York Times, 4/19/2011]