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EPA Technical Assistance Will Help Rhode Island Communities with Sustainable Growth and Development

Release Date: 10/18/2010
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – October 18, 2010) – Recognizing local governments' challenges in addressing infrastructure constraints, protecting water quality, setting development standards and creating options for housing and transportation, EPA has chosen the KeepSpace Program in Rhode Island as one of eight recipients nationwide to receive targeted technical assistance on growth and development issues. The project will receive approximately $65K in consulting services in addition to direct assistance from EPA staff.

U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding announced the technical assistance at a Harvest Fair in Pawtucket, where he was joined by both Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, along with Richard Walega, the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

To assist Rhode Island communities with their challenges, the EPA team will work with Rhode Island Housing, the coordinating body for the KeepSpace Advisory Committee, which consists of several of the state’s government agencies and statewide nonprofits engaged in smart growth implementation. The purpose of the technical assistance is to identify programs, policies, and funding streams that can be aligned across state agencies to support more sustainable communities and develop metrics to assess the effectiveness of this coordination. This work is intended to mirror the cross-agency coordination at the Federal level under the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

The national Smart Growth Implementation Assistance projects from EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities will focus on key topics central to the Partnership’s work: cross-departmental coordination of sustainability policies; cities undergoing economic transition; infrastructure financing; historic preservation as part of downtown revitalization; and, incorporating climate change adaptation as part of long-term plans.

All of these projects are being coordinated through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which began in June 2009, when HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, and EPA Administrator Jackson came together to announce that they would work together to coordinate federal actions on housing, transportation, and environmental protection. This interagency collaboration gets better results for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently. Coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services meets multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent.

A new publication has just been released that looks at the progress the Partnership has made in its first year in targeting resources to help communities strengthen their economies by developing more sustainably, removing regulatory and policy barriers to make it easier for state and local governments to access federal resources.

“I am optimistic that our coordinated efforts will help Rhode Island communities and KeepSpace develop practical approaches that make good sense across the board, for housing, transportation and the environment,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

"I am glad to see the KeepSpace program continue to grow and become a Rhode Island sustainable community success story. Congratulations to all the partners on the completion of a bountiful growing season at the Garden of Life community garden, and congratulations to KeepSpace on winning this competitive Smart Growth Implementation Assistance grant from the EPA," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a cosponsor of the Livable Communities Act.

"As we continue to grapple with the threat of climate change, we need to expand efforts to make our cities and towns more sustainable and environmentally friendly," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "KeepSpace is at the forefront of that effort here in Rhode Island, and I thank EPA and HUD for this welcome support."

“We congratulate KeepSpace for receiving this grant,” said HUD Regional Administrator Richard Walega. “The philosophies of KeepSpace are in line with the national sustainable communities initiative, and we applaud all the partners involved for being forward thinking by creating more collaborations to build a better, more sustainable Rhode Island.”

“Congratulations to KeepSpace on being selected to receive this grant,” said FTA Regional Administrator Mary Beth Mello. “We look forward to working with KeepSpace and our Federal partners at HUD and EPA on the implementation of this important sustainability initiative.”

“It is both exciting and reassuring to us that the Obama Administration’s philosophy and mission parallel those of KeepSpace,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “Knowing that HUD, EPA and DOT are working together further reaffirms the goals we set out to achieve when we launched KeepSpace in 2007. We are grateful for the technical assistance and look forward to collaborating with the EPA and its partners.”

For more information on the Smart Growth Assistance Program:
http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia.htm

For more information on the Partnership: 
http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html

For the Partnership Progress report:
www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/partnership_year1.pdf

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