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Chicago, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, Kansas Communities Praised for Environmentally-Sensitive Development

Release Date: 11/15/2006
Contact Information: Dave Ryan, (202) 564-4355 / ryan.dave@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Nov. 15, 2006) EPA today presented its 2006 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement to the City of Chicago; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the City of Wichita, Kan.; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and the City of Winooski, Vt. These award winners were recognized for their innovative approaches to development that strengthen community identity and protect the environment.

The awards ceremony was held today in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

As communities around the country look for ways to grow that protect and enhance their natural environments and create prosperity, many are turning to smart growth strategies. They are cleaning and reusing previously developed land; providing more housing and transportation choices; preserving critical natural areas; and developing vibrant places to live, work, shop and play. In addition to creating great communities, these smart growth strategies also protect the quality of our air, water and land.

"President Bush and EPA see smart growth as smart for our environment, smart for our economy and smart for our quality of life," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "It is a pleasure to recognize the innovative efforts of these award-winning communities, who are responsibly building toward a healthier, brighter future."


The awards categories and winners are:


Overall Excellence
: Commonwealth of Massachusetts for creating the Office of Commonwealth Development (OCD) to better coordinate state spending and policy decisions that influence where development happens, encourage innovative development locally, and make private investment in good projects easier. OCD uses financial incentives and outreach tools to ensure wise use of state tax dollars and to promote sound growth policies in the state's 351 communities. Better natural resource stewardship is a key motivation for OCD's smart growth efforts. For example, OCD has protected approximately 35,000 acres of land and taken growth pressure off of natural lands and undeveloped sites.

Built Projects: City of Wichita, Kan., for the environmental clean-up and redevelopment of an abandoned warehouse district into a lively, pedestrian-friendly community known as "Old Town." Among brick-lined streets, historic lampposts, and a collection of brick warehouses (circa 1870 – 1930) are approximately 100 businesses and 315 housing units. Through a public-private partnership, the city leveraged funds to encourage private investment for redevelopment. Old Town's stores, recreational amenities, and homes capitalize on its walkable design, mix of uses, and the historic beauty of downtown Wichita.

Policies and Regulations: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development, for the Pennsylvania Fresh Foods Financing Initiative (FFFI), a public-private partnership between the state and three non-profit organizations which provides grants and loans to help supermarkets locate in underserved communities. The program gives lower-income people easier access to healthy foods and spurs development in neighborhoods that desperately need it. By restoring vital market opportunities and services to existing communities, the program reduces the pressure to develop farms, wildlife habitat, and open space; increases local farm income; and enhances the vitality of urban and rural communities.

Small Communities: The City of Winooski, Vt., for revitalizing its downtown using Smart Growth principles. Winooski preserved or restored nearly 100 acres of natural habitat, returned vacant properties to productive use, and created several neighborhood parks. Building on the town's rich history, the Winooski Downtown Revitalization project created a thriving, attractive center with much-needed housing, stores, offices, and public spaces. The city reestablished the street grid that had been demolished in the 1970s and added wider sidewalks. The city also opened RiverWalk, a promenade that gives the town a beautiful new connection to its beloved Winooski River. The redevelopment capitalized on the city's historic charm and once again made Winooski a place people and businesses want to be.

Equitable Development: City of Chicago for funding the development of Bethel Center, which provides employment services, child care, retail space, and banking in a "green" building erected on a former Brownfield site. Bethel Center is the anchor for a transit-oriented development and a key step in the revitalization of the West Garfield Park neighborhood. The center's transit-accessible, walkable location gives residents choices in how they get around. Bethel Center provides the community with amenities such as employment counseling, commercial services, a technology center, child care, and retail space within a "green" building (which incorporates healthier and more resource efficient design features than conventional buildings). Bethel Center provides access to highly needed services while reducing environmental impacts.

Now in its fifth year, the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement has recognized an impressive array of projects, policies, and programs that protect the environment and promote healthy, vibrant communities.

The 2006 call for entries drew 50 applications from 22 states. The competition was open to state, regional, and local governments and other public sector entities. Winners were selected based on how effectively they used Smart Growth strategies to improve their communities and how well they engaged citizens and fostered partnerships

The awards were presented by EPA Chief Financial Officer Lyons Gray, on behalf of EPA's Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation (OPEI). OPEI is home to the agency's Smart Growth program which, in addition to presenting the annual awards, conducts research and policy analysis on growth issues, provides direct technical assistance to state and local governments, delivers outreach and public education and collaborates with partners in the Smart Growth Network (www.smartgrowth.org), a coalition of more than 30 state and national organizations focused on development issues.

More information about the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement and this year's winners: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/awards.htm

More information on EPA's smart growth program: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/