Tag: Kansas

Spotlight on Sustainability: South Central Kansas plans for a sustainable future

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Historically, local jurisdictions in South Central Kansas often competed against each other for jobs and economic growth. But thanks to a Regional Planning grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), they can now focus on working together on collective vision for their future development, instead of competing with one another.

Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, is the population and economic center of the South Central Kansas region; a region that includes Butler, Harvey, Reno, Sedgwick and Sumner counties. In February 2012, the region’s council of governments, the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP), received a three year, $1.5 million grant from HUD to create a long-term regional plan for ensuring the health and productivity of the local economy – a plan now known as the South Central Kansas Prosperity Plan.

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Photo Gallery: Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards

Guests at Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards cheered (literally!) for smart growth, as well as the three recipients of this year’s awards.

Progressive Insurance was honored for its Snapshot program, the most widely available usage-based auto insurance program on the market today. Mayor Laura McConwell and the City of Mission, Kansas were honored for their commitment to investing in infrastructure. And Mayor Randy Rhoads and the City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri were honored for their focus on healthy, active transportation systems.

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Mayor Laura McConwell and Mission, Kansas: A small city with big smart growth ambitions


The Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center in Mission, Kansas.

Earlier this week we announced the winners of our 2013 Leadership Awards. Mayor Laura McConwell and Mission, Kansas were one of the winners.

Mission is a first-generation suburb of just under 10,000 people, located 8 miles south of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. At just 2.7 square miles, Mission feels like a small town despite being minutes away from the center city.

Some might see Mission’s small size as an obstacle to economic vitality. But the community in Mission saw smart growth strategies as a way to raise the profile of the city far beyond it’s small size.

Mayor Laura McConwell has helped make those plans a reality. McConwell has served as the City of Mission’s Mayor since 2002, replacing Sylvester Powell who served as mayor for the previous 25 years. Originally inspired to serve on the town council to speak for young families who at that time were not well-represented, McConwell has become a driving force behind several impressive smart growth and sustainability initiatives in the city.

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Announcing the winners of Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards

Two mayors and one company are being honored this week with national awards for their leadership on better development strategies.

Mayor Randy Rhoads of Lee’s Summit, MO and Mayor Laura McConwell of Mission, KS have been selected to receive Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards. They are joined by Progressive Insurance, for its Snapshot pay-as-you-drive auto insurance.

“This year’s award winners are doing remarkable work,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Lee’s Summit and Mission are creating vibrant neighborhoods through strategic policy and investment decisions. Progressive Insurance is an industry leader in recognizing new trends among American drivers. Smart Growth America is proud to honor them with this year’s Leadership Awards.”

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Economic growth through transit-oriented development in Kansas City

As Kansas City prepares for a special election on a proposed downtown streetcar line, KCPT and the Mid-America Regional Council‘s Imagine KC series examines the impact of transit-oriented development on Kansas City’s metro. KCPT’s Randy Mason and LOCUS President Chris Leinberger toured some of Kansas City’s streetscape along the proposed line, and discussed the commerce and development streetcar proponents predict will follow.

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Partnership in the News: City of Wichita Votes to Participate in $1.5 million HUD grant

The Wichita Eagle reported recently that the Wichita City Council voted 6-1 to join Sedgwick County in participating in a Regional Area Economic Partnership funded by a Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Planning grant. The Regional Area Economic Partnership (REAP) will focus on producing a sustainable community plan to address transportation, water, and health issues. REAP has an existing 23-member consortium that includes 4 other counties as well as Wichita State University.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri

The following is based on an interview with Tom Gerend, Assistant Director of Transportation, Mid-America Regional Council

While anyone who is involved in regional planning can appreciate the difficulties of trying to work across multiple local jurisdictions, Kansas City faces a unique set of challenges. Kansas City lies on the border of Missouri and Kansas, which means the Kansas City Transit Corridors and Green Impact Zone TIGER (Transportation Invesment Generating Economic Recovery) grant, by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is working across not just city and county lines, but state lines as well. That makes the project complex, but also rich with opportunity because numerous streams of federal revenue can be tapped to focus on one region.

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In deciding to leave Kansas City, EPA fails to practice what it preaches

The New York Times adds to the ongoing debate over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to move one of its regional offices out of Kansas City, Kan., to an office park 20 miles from downtown. The article, published via Greenwire, explains the contradiction in such a move:

“[T]he decision runs counter to the goals of the Obama Administration’s “livable communities” initiative, run by EPA, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program is based on the idea that denser populations and more mass transit lead to less pollution and less need for sprawling suburban developments on the untouched land outside cities.

‘[The lease] is totally inconsistent with what the national office has been saying and doing,’ said Kaid Benfield, director of the smart growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in an interview. ‘EPA has been a government leader in thinking about sustainability and the importance of cities in relation to environmental issues. For some reason, in this particular case, all of that was apparently disregarded.'”


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Tell the EPA: Don’t leave downtown Kansas City in favor of costly sprawl!

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to move one of its regional offices out of downtown Kansas City, KS, to an office park nearly 20 miles outside of the city. The EPA employs nearly 600 people at these offices, and leaving downtown will hurt both the environment and the economy of the region.

The EPA’s decision to leave downtown contradicts its own mission, hurts employees, hurts Kansas City and wastes taxpayer dollars.

TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPA to stay in downtown Kansas City.

First and foremost this decision contradicts the mission of the EPA, which aims to reduce air pollution. Many employees will now have a longer commute that must be done by car, meaning higher emissions and more congestion on roads in the region.

Tell EPA and GSA: Leaving downtown Kansas City will raise emissions.

Equally troubling, EPA’s decision wastes valuable taxpayer dollars. The U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – both of which work closely with EPA in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities – have invested millions of dollars in projects meant to support the Kansas City region’s economy through smarter growth strategies. EPA’s decision goes against these efforts and undermines other federal agencies’ work and investments.

Tell EPA and GSA: Leaving downtown Kasnas City undermines federal investments.

The EPA’s offices in Kansas City have been a cornerstone of the city’s economic revitalization, and its decision to leave undermines these efforts. In addition, as gas prices reach all time highs the EPA’s decision will also be a burden on employees and their families. More money spent on gas and car maintenance also means less money to spend in other sectors of the economy, further hurting the Kansas City region.

The EPA’s decision is irresponsible and hurts U.S. taxpayers as well as Kansas City’s environment and economy. Help us hold the Agency accountable for its actions.

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EPA announces plan to abandon Kansas City – at the cost of the city and taxpayers

Crossposted from the Huffington Post.

To avoid small costs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be creating big costs for everyone, including the federal government.

The EPA announced on Monday that it plans to move the Agency’s Region 7 headquarters, currently located in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, to Lenexa, a site nearly 20 miles outside of downtown. The EPA’s decision violates Executive Order 13514, which requires federal agencies to locate their offices in downtown areas and town centers whenever possible. Not following the Executive Order will cost a lot of money for everyone — including Kansas City and its businesses, EPA employees and U.S. taxpayers too.

As one of Kansas City’s major employers, EPA’s decision hurts the city, which has made great strides in the last decade to revitalize its downtown. “The EPA regional headquarters has been instrumental in our urban revitalization efforts,” Mayor Joe Reardon said in a statement on Monday, and the value of such an employer’s presence in a city’s revitalization efforts goes beyond their immediate impact. The EPA headquarters helped anchor renewed economic development in an area that had seen decades of decline, and the Agency’s decision undermines efforts to build a stronger economy in Kansas City.

The relocation will also mean increased traffic on I-35 and the higher maintenance costs associated with additional cars on the road. The Town of Lenexa projects I-35 to capacity by 2020, just 7 years into GSA’s 20-year lease. The EPA’s move will only hasten the arrival of that saturation point, creating costly delays or requiring even more (federal) money to improve conditions.

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