|Clockwise from top left: Smart growth projects in Baltimore, New York City, San Francisco and Maine.|
The Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement were awarded yesterday to five projects from across the country deemed “exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, and enhance quality of life.” The awards were given in five categories.
The Civic Places award went to San Francisco’s Mint Plaza, which turned a derelict alley into a public plaza that reclaims stormwater and provides a flexible gathering place for neighborhood residents. The Rural Smart Growth Award went to the Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan in midcoast Maine, a collaboration of 20 townships in the state to preserve the environment and economy along the corridor. The Programs, Policies and Regulations award went to Portland, OR, which has used city ordinances to encourage sustainable land use for future population growth. The Smart Growth and Green Building Award went to Miller’s Place in Baltimore, MD, which rehabilitated an abandoned building on a brownfield site to create housing and office spaces for teachers and non-profits. And the award for Overall Excellence went to New York City’s Smart.Growth@NYC program, a multiagency coordination to bring smart growth ideas to all five boroughs.
A recurring theme throughout the Award recipients’ remarks was the multiple benefits smart growth development brought to the community. In a video about the Gateway 1 Corridor project, a shop owner in Maine explained that better land use and development practices along the highway will benefit her small business; the Miller’s Place project in Baltimore renovated a property that was a drain on the neighborhood and improved the environmental condition of the land in the process. By restricting development on pristine farmland, Portland has protected its natural resources AND encouraged greater economic development in the city’s downtown. Mint Plaza, which used tax incentives to spur private investment in the project, now collects and filters millions of gallons of stormwater runoff. New York City remains stalwart in its commitment to safe, green, walkable neighborhoods. In a video about the project, Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained that smart growth benefits residents, businesses and the city alike: “Smart growth makes fiscal sense,” he said.
These awards are given to communities looking to grow more environmentally and create thriving, sustainable economies. To learn more about the awards and all of this year’s winners, go to EPA.gov/smartgrowth.