Author Archives: Rayla Bellis

Downtown revitalization helps Cheyenne, WY remain competitive

The WranglerDowntown Cheyenne, WY. Photo by Cliff, via Flickr.

Cheyenne, WY is at a crossroads. As the state capital of Wyoming, the city of 65,000 residents has long represented the cultural identity and values traditionally associated with the rural American West. Yet just 90 miles north of Denver, CO, Cheyenne is also a growing participant in the economy of the Front Range region, which includes Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins among other major and mid-sized metropolitan regions in northern Colorado.

“Residents in Cheyenne want to become a part of that growing Front Range economy, while still being rooted in the values of Wyoming,” says Cheyenne’s Planning Services Director Matt Ashby, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. For Ashby, balancing these two sides of the city is about attracting new investment to Cheyenne while preserving the city’s unique character.

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Leaders from communities around the country gather at the opening reception of the Local Leaders Policy Forum

Local Leaders Policy Forum reception
More than 70 mayors, councilmembers, commissioners, agency directors and other local officials from around the country gathered in Washington, DC on Sunday, June 15 for the opening reception of the Local Leaders Policy Forum, a conference for local elected and appointed leaders using smart growth strategies to revitalize communities. The Policy Forum is the first national convening of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

The opening reception provided an opportunity for members of the Local Leaders Council to meet with each other and Smart Growth America staff to begin to discuss their strategies for redeveloping downtowns, revitalizing commercial corridors and making neighborhoods great for all residents.

Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City, OK and former Mayor Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, OH, co-chairs of the Local Leaders Council’s advisory board, welcomed leaders to the reception. Both mayors pointed to the importance of building on the shared goals of the group and learning from each other’s experiences and approaches over the days ahead.

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Councilmember Steve Hansen is working with community members to create a vibrant and healthy Sacramento, CA

sacramento-urban-agA community garden in Sacramento, CA. Photo by Annie & John via flickr.

Councilmember Steve Hansen has a history of advocating for and working with community members in Sacramento, CA’s historic downtown neighborhoods, serving in recent years on his neighborhood association, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership Board of Directors, and the Sacramento Redistricting Citizens Advisory Committee. Now, just one-and-a-half years into his first term in elected office, Councilmember Hansen is working to promote policies and encourage development that will make Sacramento’s downtown more vibrant for residents.

“We have such an opportunity – particularly in the older parts of the city – to build housing, to bring vitality back, and ultimately to create a vibrant modern city,” says Councilmember Hansen, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “We want to respect historic structures but revitalize them, and to bring communities that were displaced by redevelopment and highway construction back to life.”

Hansen explains that redevelopment projects in Sacramento’s downtown neighborhoods currently face a number of barriers, including policies and standards that make infill development and redevelopment complicated and costly compared to new development in the city’s outer suburbs.

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Amanda Martinez is making strides to make Deerfield Beach, FL safer and more sustainable

deerfield-beach

Deerfield Beach was the first community in the state of Florida to adopt Complete Streets guidelines in 2013, and that’s just the start of the city’s efforts to grow sustainably, encourage active transportation and make streets safer for residents. Amanda Martinez, Interim Director of the City’s Planning and Development Services Department, is finding the right partnerships and opportunities to make these changes happen with limited funds.

Deerfield Beach is a suburban community located in Broward County, FL with a population of 78,000. The beachfront city is a popular destination for both permanent and seasonal residents including the region’s senior population.

Deerfield Beach’s village feel distinguishes it from many neighboring communities, yet like much of Broward County it is essentially built out. With just three percent vacant land, the city is now looking at how to accommodate future growth through infill development and redevelopment while preserving the village quality that residents love.

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Attend the 2014 Local Leaders Policy Forum

policy-forum

Elected and high-level appointed leaders in local government are invited to attend Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Policy Forum on June 15-16, 2014, in Washington, DC.

The Policy Forum will provide a unique opportunity to meet fellow leaders from around the country who are using smart growth strategies to help their communities compete and grow in today’s economy, to provide housing and transportation choices for residents and to create great places to live, work and play.

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Local Leaders Council members share insights at the 2014 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

St. Louis, MO Council President Lewis Reed, Smart Growth America's Neha Bhatt, Columbia, MO Councilmember Barbara Hoppe, Queen Anne's County, MD Commissioner David Dunmyer and Las Cruces, NM Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Thomas participate in a panel discussion at the New Partners for Smart Growth conferenceFrom left: St. Louis, MO Council President Lewis Reed, Smart Growth America’s Neha Bhatt, Columbia, MO Councilmember Barbara Hoppe, Queen Anne’s County, MD Commissioner David Dunmyer and Las Cruces, NM Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Thomas participate in a panel discussion at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference.

Members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council gathered in Denver, CO last week to share their smart growth experiences and ideas at the 2014 New Partners for Smart Growth conference. Over the course of the three-day event, Council members brought their unique perspective to the smart growth development discussion.

“Eight to ten people working really hard can go far in mobilizing a community,” said Councilmember Barbara Hoppe of Columbia, MO, expressing one of the core themes of the conference—the power of public engagement. 

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EPA recognizes Dubuque, IA and Mayor Roy Buol among top smart growth projects of 2013

Dubuque, IA's Millwork DistrictFormerly vacant factories in Dubuque’s Millwork District will include affordable housing units, retail space for small businesses, and a variety of art, social and civic spaces. Photo by “turn off your computer and go outside,” via Flickr.

Congratulations to Dubuque, IA, one of seven communities chosen to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies’s annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement this year. Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol is a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council and played an instrumental leadership role in Dubuque’s award-winning project.

The award recognizes exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

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Laura Jackson of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield on creating healthier communities

Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council recently spoke with Laura Jackson, an Executive Vice President of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, to get her perspective on why smart growth strategies should be a priority for the health care industry and how the way we build communities can help abate rising health care costs and improve public health.

“Smart growth practices are a way to help people understand that there are certain things you can do, either low cost or no cost in many cases in communities, to live a longer healthier life,” says Jackson.

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Five Local Leaders Council members join President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Local Leaders Council at the White HouseLocal Leaders Council members Mayor James Brainard and Mayor Ralph Becker (center) at a meeting of the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last week. Photo via the Office of Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Congratulations to the five members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council who have been appointed to President Obama’s new Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a group of 26 state, local and tribal leaders from around the country charged with advising the Administration on how the federal government can respond to the needs of communities dealing with the impacts of climate change.

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Vice-Mayor Anu Natarajan on building better in Fremont, CA

Vice-Mayor Anu Natarajan believes her city of Fremont, CA, can be an economic leader in the region and the country. Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council sat down with Vice-Mayor Natarajan to learn more about her ideas for building on the city’s existing diversity to make Fremont more vibrant and economically competitive.

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