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Across the country, communities are using Partnership assistance to create development that strengthens their economies, leverages assets, and provides residents with more housing and transportation choices. The following case studies are just a few examples of communities working with federal agencies to attain their livability goals.
The Ranson-Charles Town Corridor in West Virginia
Ranson is a town in eastern West Virginia, located less than an hour from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Realizing the development pressures coming from these metropolitan areas, Ranson developed four principles for creating a sustainable community: investing in its core and downtown; building for the 22nd century through implementing green infrastructure, code revisions, and green building practices; utilizing regional assets and capitalizing on economic, intellectual and natural resources; and optimizing collaboration with its neighbor community, Charles Town. These principles, as well as the dedication of staff and residents, have inspired the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to invest in Ranson through federal grants, programs and initiatives.
In October 2010, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities awarded the city of Ranson, along with Charles Town, with three planning grants to build economic competitiveness and livable, sustainable communities by creating and implementing regional plans that integrate affordable housing, economic development, and land use and transportation. The grants were an EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grant, a DOT TIGER II Planning Grant, and a HUD Challenge Planning Grant. EPA also provided technical assistance through a Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities workshop to help Ranson determine the best locations for growth.
The implementation of the EPA Area-Wide and HUD Challenge Planning grants is underway and will help Ranson prioritize brownfields site assessment and cleanup as well as develop site-specific reuse plans based on community input. The TIGER II Planning Grant will focus on creating a Complete Street for Fairfax Boulevard/George Street, a main corridor leading from downtown to the northeast. Finally, Ranson will use the HUD Challenge Planning Grant to develop a Smart Code that encourages development to focus on the form of the structure to create more compact, walkable development patterns. City Attorney Andrew Blake explains how the Building Blocks project helped kick-start efforts in his community.
Regional Plan for Sustainable Development by the Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota
With funding through the HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program, a consortium of community organizations, nonprofits, and Oglala Lakota tribes led by the Thunder Valley Community Development Organization will implement an unprecedented two-year sustainable development plan. To encourage grassroots development and community empowerment, the grant was awarded to a diverse alliance of stakeholders in addition to local government, thus involving all facets of the local Lakota community. The plan seeks to integrate housing, land use, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure across a wide southeastern swath of South Dakota in order to tackle the interlinked challenges of sustainability.
In one part of the plan, Thunder Valley will work with a green architecture and design firm to sustainably develop 85 acres of land in the Lakota reservation’s Porcupine District near Sharp’s Corner, SD. Not only will the development be environmentally sustainable, it will also be based on the spiritual and cultural values of local residents. The development will include a shelter and community center for at-risk youth. The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program supports metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments.
Piedmont Triad Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, North Carolina
Population within the Piedmont Triad region in North Carolina is expected to grow by 15 percent within the next ten years, bringing a new set of transportation challenges. With funding through the HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program, the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation will develop a plan for sustainable development in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad region that helps it move from its agricultural and manufacturing history to a strong position in the new, knowledge-based economy.
The integrated regional plan will encourage investment in and near urban areas and towns to reduce sprawl, investigate expanding access to non-automobile transportation to lower costs, assess the need for, and optimal placement of, affordable housing, and define a structure for taking advantage of existing assets in higher education institutions. The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program is supporting this North Carolina region as it aims to invest in urban areas, investigate low-cost and sustainable forms of transportation, and assess affordable housing needs to further tackle the challenges of the future.
Greening Little Rock, Arkansas
The city of Little Rock has been investing in its local economic, environmental, and civic sustainability by revitalizing key neighborhoods. The Greening America's Capitals design team helped Little Rock explore streetscape improvement options to help catalyze the redevelopment potential of the Main Street corridor. Focusing on key activity centers along the corridor, the design concepts highlighted how new pocket parks and reuse of vacant parking lots could encourage future redevelopment and more pedestrian activity to support ground-floor retail and a future trolley line.
This project built on work the city had already begun through the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to engage the public and identify key assets and challenges in the Main Street area. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola discusses how the assistance from the Partnership is part of a broader community revitalization effort.
Boston, Massachusetts Fairmont-Indigo Corridor
Also featured on the White House blog, the Fairmount Corridor in Boston has received multiple grants and other forms of assistance from the Partnership agencies for transit station-area development. The Fairmount Commuter Rail Line in Boston passes through three low-income neighborhoods—Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. For decades, however, the rail line did not stop in these communities. Boston is now using investments from the Partnership to turn the rail line into an engine of economic development and community revitalization. DOT’s Federal Transit Administration is supporting four new stations and the renovation of two existing stations in the three neighborhoods. HUD’s funding provided support for a significant portion of the more than 2,000 new housing units that are being built along the corridor. EPA has provided funding to clean up more than 30 brownfield sites within a half-mile of the new and renovated stations and will be providing technical assistance to a Green Jobs Incubator on a former brownfield.
This assistance is supporting ongoing work by the city of Boston to assess and clean up multiple city-owned brownfields along this rail line and plans to provide environmental assessments on several more. In addition, the Fairmount Collaborative has developed a master plan for the greenway and identified opportunity sites, and is now developing resources for its realization. This video features several of the community members and elected and federal officials involved in the corridor project talking about how important it has been in their community.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Partnership agencies are working together to help the community achieve its environmental, social, and economic goals. In 2009, Bridgeport received an EPA Environmental Justice Showcase Community Grant, which led to many improvements in the distressed East End and East Side neighborhoods, including a new fishing pier and renewed access for residents who had been unable to get to the waterfront. In 2010, Bridgeport received $11 million in TIGER multimodal transportation funding from DOT to build and upgrade roads around the East Side’s Steel Point Peninsula to prepare for redevelopment.
Bridgeport is also a partner in the New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium, a large stakeholder group of city, county, and regional representatives that received a 2010 HUD Regional Planning Grant. As part of this grant, the consortium is studying the feasibility of opening Barnum Station, a proposed rail station in Bridgeport’s East End, on a cleaned-up brownfield. The city hopes the station will anchor its East Side redevelopment plan, leading to new business investment; mixed-use, transit-oriented development; and affordable homes.
“The Partnership’s efforts have helped further a vision of the future of Bridgeport to become New England’s greenest city,” says Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “By the federal government coordinating resources and technical expertise, we have a chance of realizing a vision such as the Barnum Station project.”
Redevelopment in Montgomery, AL
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is helping communities along the 54-mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail grow and develop, while celebrating their history and creating new opportunities for residents. Designated in 1996 by Congress, the trail commemorates the 1965 Voting Rights March along U.S. Highway 80, beginning in the small town of Selma and ending in the historic Peacock neighborhood in Montgomery. Communities near the trail want to preserve its history for future generations while reviving the struggling neighborhoods surrounding it.
To build on this federal, state, and local collaboration, partners used the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march to catalyze the process. Revitalization began with 18 brownfield site assessments done by the state and EPA to determine the best sites for redevelopment in the rural and underserved communities along the trail. Nine community visioning sessions supported by EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Park Service helped draft plans to connect historic points of interest in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the march. The city of Montgomery conducted community outreach sessions with HUD Community Development Block Grant funds to create a collection of plans with strong local support in the city and rural communities along the trail. Funding and assistance from the Partnership and other federal agencies was used for stormwater infrastructure, construction of a greenway and an attractive community park with an entrance to the trail, streetscape improvements, affordable homes for police and teachers, and repairs to the historic Mount Zion Church, where the march concluded. The Greening America’s Capitals program helped the city explore green design options for a segment of the trail that connects downtown Montgomery with the city’s west side.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange says of the trail, “It’s fitting that this stretch of land—that demonstrated to the world the great things that can be accomplished when people unite to strive for a common purpose—is illustrating the dramatic results that can happen when federal agencies combine their talents and resources with state and local governments to transform areas of blight and neglect to places of natural beauty and sustainable viability. We are proud of what has been accomplished here by working together.”
Historic Preservation and Green Building Meet, Moline, IL.
The return of passenger rail service to Moline and the Quad Cities along with the anticipated Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which will be anchored by the Moline Multimodal Station, have been a cornerstone of Moline’s planning and development efforts to enhance the community’s quality of life while embracing sustainability as the overarching goal.