Learn about applying for free technical assistance from Smart Growth America

Interested in applying for Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance, but not sure where to start? If so, join Smart Growth America and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Sustainable Communities for an informational webinar on Friday, September 21, 2012 from 1:00-2:30 PM EDT.

The webinar will provide a comprehensive look at the free technical assistance available to communities, including the programs, processes, and application timelines that each grant recipient offers.

Also included on the webinar will be technical assistance from three other nonprofits – Forterra, Project for Public Spaces, and Global Green. All four organizations are gearing up for the second of five free annual technical assistance awards, made possible by the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.

Technical assistance

Evaluating land use codes and transportation performance in Oklahoma City

A view of downtown Oklahoma City. By Flickr user Travel Aficionado.

Oklahoma City was designed around driving, but community members and city officials want to create a street network that allows for a variety of transportation options.

City officials have been actively pursing new policies that will allow the city to grow in a more efficient and sustainable manner, but they needed help with the technical details that would allow them to tie their new plans to their local setting. Officials asked Smart Growth America to help.

Technical assistance

Partnership in the News: Massachusetts to Study Old Railbed with Help of EPA Grant

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council selected Newton and Needham, Massachusetts as one of five communities to receive an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant. The free technical assistance will be used to study options for a defunct railbed that connects the two communities, reports the Needham Patch. The funding for this project comes from the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.

“We are excited to lend our expertise to a wide range of communities,” Andre Leroux, executive director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, said in the press release. “This opportunity advances the Alliance’s goal to help communities here in Greater Boston enhance their quality of life, economic strength, and affordability.”

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Greer, SC explores transit options along Route 29 with help from Smart Growth America

Community leaders in Greer, South Carolina, are trying to figure out if and how the town might create better transportation options for its residents and earlier this month, Smart Growth America went to Greer to help those leaders answer some of these questions.

Smart Growth America and our partner Strategic Economics led a workshop on Implementing Transit-Oriented Development. Transit-oriented development, or TOD, means building homes, offices or stores close to public transportation stations. This strategy supports the businesses along the public transportation line, and makes commuting more convenient for residents – even those who don’t ride public transportation. The one-day workshop laid out both the short and long-term benefits such a strategy would bring to Greer’s transportation and planning staff members as well as business and community leaders.

“Greer is extremely interested in smart growth solutions, as our fiscal and environmental well-being depends on having a thoughtful and reasonable pattern of growth across our region,” said Mayor Rick Danner in a statement. “In fact, we see smart growth solutions as the only responsible way to address our transportation needs. Our community faces a choice between an expensive expansion of the I-85 corridor or an enhanced transportation corridor along Highway 29.”

Technical assistance

Partnership in the News: Technical Assistance for Simsbury, Connecticut

Simsbury, Connecticut is one of six New England towns soon to benefit from a technical assistance grant through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, reports the Simsbury Patch.

“The EPA is going to send in a private firm to assess things like walkability, such as sidewalks, street crossings and parking,” said Hiram Peck, Simsbury’s Town Planner.

The technical experts will work with the communities on actions they can take to improve the economy, the environment, and quality of life.

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Smart growth news – December 22

What the End of the Sustainable Communities Grants Means For Planning
Governing Magazine, December 21, 2011
One reason the program may have suffered is a general lack of appreciation for planning. “It’s a hard thing to defend in the sense that it’s not putting a piece of infrastructure in the ground,” said Geoffrey Anderson, head of Smart Growth America. “But then you think about building a building without planning. The idea is absurd.” Indeed, a different Sustainable Communities initiative, the Transportation Department’s TIGER grants, survived. It provides over $500 million to highways, transit, bridges and ports.

Cities Face Tough Choices as U.S. Slashes Block Grants Program
New York Times, December 21, 2011
The shrinking federal program, called Community Development Block Grants, was devised by the Nixon administration to bypass state governments and send money directly to big cities, which were given broad leeway to decide how to spend it. This year the federal government is giving out just $2.9 billion — a billion dollars less than it gave two years ago, and even less than it gave during the Carter administration, when the money went much further.

Transit as a Stepping Stone to Prosperity
Regional Plan Association Blog, December 21, 2011
Christmas came early to the tri-state region this year. In the span of a week, two high-profile, competitive awards landed on Long Island and in Stamford, Conn. While they have different objectives and scopes, both should help further the twin goals of revitalizing the metropolitan economy and supporting more sustainable, transit-oriented development.

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Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Technical Assistance webinar materials now online

Communities across the country interested in fostering development that supports thriving local economies while protecting the environment and sense of place can turn to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program for resources and tools to help them achieve desired development goals.

A recent informational webinar by the U.S. EPA, Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy), Global Green USA, Project for Public Spaces and Smart Growth America provided an overview of the available resources and the application process of the Building Blocks program. Materials from this webinar are now available online.

Technical assistance

Further free smart growth technical assistance available to communities

The application period for Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance closed last week, but communities still have an opportunity to apply for assistance from the other organizations part of the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

In response to record demand for smart growth resources from communities across the country, the EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities created the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program to help communities get the type of development they want and need. The office has awarded grants to four nonprofits — Smart Growth America, Cascade Land Conservancy, Global Green USA, and Project for Public Spaces — that all have extensive experience helping places grow in ways that protect the environment while fostering a thriving local economy and preserving a sense of community and place. This support allows these nonprofits to offer free technical assistance to communities across the county.

Technical assistance