Upcoming Webinars: August 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

Preserving Affordable Housing Near Transit: Program and Policy Models for Success
***NOTE: This is a rescheduled webinar from July 24 that was cancelled due to technical difficulties.****
Monday, August 5, 2013 – – 2:00-3:30 PM EDT
Click here to register.
Regions and cities across the country are struggling to preserve affordable housing near their current and future high frequency transit. This webinar will provide a brief overview of the need to preserve affordable housing near transit at the national level and will focus on three unique examples from the Boston, Denver, and Washington DC regions. The examples will highlight the ways that policy, cross sector collaboration, and financing can begin to address the need for affordable housing preservation near transit.

Building Vibrant Local Economies: Creating Entrepreneurial Communities in Rural Places
Thursday, August 15, 2013 – – 2:00-3:15 PM EDT
Click here to register.
Oftentimes, attracting and retaining entrepreneurs is overlooked as a vital way to build on existing assets to strengthen rural economic development on the local and regional levels. Communities across the country are finding ways to attract and retain an entrepreneurial community to help achieve their land use planning, economic development, and sustainability goals. Join NACo to learn more about strategies and resources for developing entrepreneurial communities in rural and small towns.

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Partnership in the News: Railroad towns aim to spur economic growth through federal grant

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is a commuter rail system that services the entire length of Long Island, New York from Manhattan to the tip of Suffolk County. With 124 stations and over 700 miles of track it is the second busiest passenger rail service in the nation, serving approximately 81 million people per year.

Earlier this year, HUD awarded the New York & Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium (NYCSCC) a $3.5 million regional planning grant, which the group hopes to use to, “develop livable communities and growth centers around the region’s commuter rail network to enhance affordable housing efforts, reduce congestion, improve the environment and continue to expand economic opportunities”.

NYCSCC will help fund 16 interrelated projects across the region., including awarding Nassau County $350,000 to “conduct an Infill Redevelopment Feasibility Study for properties within a half-mile radius of up to three existing Long Island Railroad stations located within and surrounding the Nassau Hub Transit Study Area”. The towns of Baldwin, Lynbrook and Valley Stream were selected to receive a portion of these grant funds because of their desire to rethink land use patterns, foster transit oriented development, reduce auto dependence, lower their carbon footprint, and expand their population and tax base.

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Partnership in the News: Kansas transit center opens thanks to TIGER grant


Mission Transit Center. Image via the Federal Transit Administration.

Mission City, Missouri recently celebrated the grand opening of the Mission Transit Center, a new transportation hub serving Johnson County designed to enhance service for current riders, attract new riders and connect transit to key areas where people live, work and play.

In 2010, the greater Kansas City region was awarded a $50 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to assist transportation and infrastructure projects in the region. As part of the grant, Johnson County was awarded $10.7 million to upgrade its transit system.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Puget Sound building communities around transit

A Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional planning grant is helping the Central Puget Sound region plan for future growth and leverage a significant transportation investment.

Sound Transit Light Rail; credit: LeeLeFever

Investing in Puget Sound

The Central Puget Sound region approved the Sound Transit 2 Plan (ST2) in 2008 to develop and construct more robust regional rapid transit. At an estimated $17.8 billion cost, the majority of which is devoted to 36 additional miles of light rail track, the project will more than double the current system, expanding service to three counties and connecting the larger Seattle metropolitan area. Upon completion, slated for 2023, the project’s planners expect half of all trips to Downtown Seattle will be on transit. ST2 will help support the projected growth of the Puget Sound region in the coming years, with an anticipated 1.5 million new residents by 2040.

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), an organization focused on planning for regional transportation, growth management and economic development, realized the need to prepare the Puget Sound area for a projected population of 5 million. Working with residents and county, city, and local officials, PSRC developed VISION 2040, a regional strategy for accommodating the area’s projected growth. Complimenting ST2’s efforts, VISION 2040 is a set of regional policies that local jurisdictions must consider when planning their decisions addressing land use, economic, and environmental issues. While an effective framework for regional growth, the plan does not focus on the individual community level and local benefits, opportunities, and potential impacts of ST2. Says Ben Bakkenta of PSRC, “There wasn’t that bridge from the regional vision to the local jurisdiction.”

Growing Transit Communities

To address this gap, PSRC applied for a HUD Regional Planning Grant in 2010. The $5 million grant they received has helped develop strategies for communities receiving new light rail stations, as well as those with other high capacity transit, such as bus rapid transit. Growing Transit Communities seeks to ensure that ST2’s investments help to concentrate housing, jobs, and services near transit, promoting faster and safer travel. Led by a diverse consortium of 39 partners including local governments and regional transit agencies, business organizations and non-profits in the central Puget Sound region’s 3 counties, the project has a particular focus on housing affordability and equal access to opportunity and transit.

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Upcoming Webinars: July 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

Adopting CSS: The Florida Greenbook
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – 2:30-4:00 PM EDT
Click here to register
In May of 2011, the Florida Department of Transportation revised their Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways, commonly referred to as the Florida Greenbook. The addition of Chapter 19: Traditional Neighborhood Development adopts a context sensitive approach to transportation and land use as standard practice, focusing on network functionality and design standards that support communities.

FDOT District One Secretary Billy Hattaway will discuss Chapter 19 and explain how CSS is essential to diverse projects from maintenance to major construction, in settings both urban and rural. Florida’s experience provides clear direction for other states striving towards safety and livability outcomes in a 21st Century transportation system.

Green Infrastructure: Achieving Stormwater Management, Neighborhood Stabilization, and Complete Streets Using Formula Funds
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – 2:30-3:45 PM EDT
Join here, no pre-registration necessary
Experts from HUD, DOT, EPA, and the city of Indianapolis will discuss ways communities can use green infrastructure to manage stormwater, help revitalize neighborhoods, and create complete streets, and how federal formula funds can be used to finance green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure involves using landscape features to store, infiltrate, and evaporate stormwater. This reduces the amount of water draining into sewers and helps reduce the discharge of pollut¬ants into water bodies. Examples of green infrastructure include rain gardens, swales, constructed wetlands, and permeable pavements. Green infrastructure solutions can cost less than typical grey infrastructure solutions, such as installing large drainage pipes, and can be equally effective.

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Partnership in the News: EPA report shows link between land use, public health, natural environment

The way communities plan neighborhoods has profound effects on the natural environment and public health. A new study released by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Sustainable Communities’ Smart Growth Program finds a link between environmental quality and land use and transportation strategies.

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 3.56.43 PM
Credit: EPA Office of Sustainable Communities

The second edition of Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions Among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality, an update to a 2001 report of the same title, details how development can impact human and environmental health. “As the U.S. population has grown, we have developed land that serves important ecological functions at a significant cost to the environment,” the report states, going on to say, “Changing where and how we build our communities can help mitigate these impacts, improving how development affects the environment and human health.”

The report identifies hows our development patterns have negatively affected the natural environment, the report finds, “Transportation is responsible for 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions; residential and commercial buildings contribute 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.”

As solutions to these mounting problems, the report demonstrates the benefits of specific development strategies. The report recommends preserving ecologically valuable sites and placing a stronger emphasis on infill develop and transit oriented development. Each of these strategies reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled and, in turn, greenhouse gas emissions. The report also emphasizes the need for community design that addresses development’s potential downsides, offering investing in mixed-use development and improving street connectivity as solutions.

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Partnership in the News: EPA Smart Growth Assistance recipients announced

Three areas across the country will receive assistance to implement smart growth strategies from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The State of Rhode Island; Mississippi County, Arkansas and Kelso, Washington hope to strengthen their local economies while protecting public health and the environment through intentional planning efforts.

Technical assistance

Partnership in the News: West Virginia recognized for Brownfields Redevelopment

Ranson and Charles Town, West Virginia were recently recognized for their joint brownfields redevelopment efforts at the National Brownfields Conference in Atlanta on May 16, 2013.  The cities were awarded a Phoenix Award for Excellence in Brownfield Redevelopment in recognition of the ongoing redevelopment of the Ranson & Charles Town Commerce Corridor, a 1.5 mile former industrial stretch of land across both cities. Between the two cities, the corridor is marked by at least 15 significant brownfields sites.

“The fact that we were recognized for the Phoenix Award puts Ranson and Charles Town on the map,” said Ranson City Manager David Mills. Charles Town City Manager Joe Cosentini added, “It emphasizes that all we tried to do in the last 10 years contributing to revitalization was worth it.” The corridor was recognized as the preeminent brownfields effort in a region that includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Ranson and Charles Town began revitalization efforts for the Commerce Corridor in 2001, partnering with a local environmental consulting firm. Since the project’s inception, major brownfields sites in both cities have been redeveloped into valuable community assets. An exemplary redevelopment of Ranson’s former Maytag Spray Painting/Dixie Narco plant transformed the distressed, vacant property into the Ranson Civic Center. The new facility houses the Ranson Parks and Recreation Commission, and functions as a venue for athletic events, social functions, trade shows and job fairs.

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Partnership in the News: High Demand for 2013 TIGER Grants

Applications for The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) FY 2013 TIGER grants have once again far exceeded the program’s available funding. More than $9 billion has been requested by applicants, surpassing the program’s $474 million budget. 568 applications were submitted from all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke of the value of the TIGER program,

“President Obama challenged us to improve our nation’s infrastructure to provide the transportation choices people and businesses want and the efficiency and safety they need. TIGER projects do exactly that – across the country, they are helping relieve congestion, create jobs and generate lasting economic growth.”

Now in its fifth round of grants, the TIGER program helps communities fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. The grants will be rewarded on a competitive basis. Over the program’s 5 years, the Department of Transportation has received 4,618 applications requesting more than $114.2 billion. The initial four rounds of grants have funded 218 infrastructure projects across the country, and awarded more than $3.1 billion.

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