Tag: Local Leaders Council

Local leaders share strategies for revitalizing underserved neighborhoods

East Baltimore

How does a community pursue smart growth in underserved neighborhoods where infrastructure problems, concentration of poverty and concerns about gentrification and displacement abound? Two-dozen leaders from diverse communities discussed this very question during the Local Leaders Policy Forum, held on June 16th in Washington, D.C.

Mayor Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, MD shared her experience from living in several different cities over the years. “Gentrification and displacement are real, not perceived, concerns,” said Goodall. “Lower income and minority families can be very vulnerable to neighborhood changes that drive up costs even moderately. As leaders, we cannot overlook that threat.”

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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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Maryland local leaders gather to discuss revitalization

MML panelistsMayor Tracy Gant, Mayor David Gysberts, Commissioner Susan Burdette and Council President Jake Day discuss their strategies for revitalization during a reception at the Maryland Municipal League Summer Convention.

Over 45 Maryland local leaders, including members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, gathered on Sunday, June 8 to share their revitalization successes and challenges during a reception at the Maryland Municipal League Summer Convention in Ocean City, MD. Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland cosponsored the event.

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Vice Mayor Gant: Environmental initiatives making Edmonston, MD more attractive

Edmonston Green Street

Tracy Gant, Vice Mayor for the Edmonston, MD, is using environmental initiatives to make her community stand out. “We are using green technology to attract residents to Edmonston, and also to let people know about Edmonston,” says Vice Mayor Gant, who is the Vice Chair for the Advisory Board of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

The Town of Edmonston, an historically working class town of 1,400 residents, sits on a branch of the Anacostia River in Prince George’s County, just two and a half miles from Washington, DC. “Edmonston is a great little town. We are a beautifully diverse community that can meet any need. The city is a just a couple of minutes away, but come within Edmonston and it is like you are walking into beautiful countryside,” says the Vice Mayor.

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Councilman Jon Snyder on how Complete Streets are helping to improve Spokane, WA

Bike lanes in downtown Spokane. Photo by Orin Blomberg, via FlickrBike lanes in downtown Spokane. Photo by Orin Blomberg, via Flickr.

During his first term on the Spokane, WA City Council, Councilman Jon Snyder, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, experienced a lesson that he has carried with him since. “As a leader, you need to understand the difference between a policy that may take several years to develop, and those that represent a flaw in the system that should be called out and remedied quickly.”

Councilman Snyder worked for two years to pass a Complete Streets ordinance (PDF) in Spokane, a process that took time, perseverance and creativity. Snyder credits a broad coalition of support to the ordinance’s eventual passage in 2011: During the meeting where the City Council approved the ordinance, a diverse group of community members, including representatives from schools, older adults, persons with disabilities, the local farmers’ market, and businesses all spoke in favor of policy adoption.

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How a single parking space represents change in Ithaca, NY

Smart growth strategies are helping improve economic mobility in Ithaca, NY.Smart growth strategies at work in downtown in Ithaca, NY.

If you walk by the mayor’s office building in Ithaca, NY, you might notice a curious sight. Outside in the parking lot, in what once was a parking space reserved for the mayor, now lies what appears to be a small park—complete with benches, plantings and nearby bicycle parking. It may seem odd that a standing mayor would forgo his or her own reserved parking space to make way for a park, but that’s exactly what Mayor Svante Myrick did. The unconventional move is just one indication of Myrick’s commitment to smart growth strategies and how they can benefit all residents of the city.

Myrick is the mayor of Ithaca and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. First elected to Ithaca’s city council at the age of 20 and then to the mayor’s office in 2011 at the age of 24, Myrick saw the parking space outside his office as an opportunity to show residents it’s possible to think differently about their community—especially the role of public space, mobility and active streets.

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Local Leaders Council members convene at National League of Cities conference

Members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council gathered in Washington, DC on Sunday for a reception at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. Local Leaders Council members from communities around the country had the opportunity to connect with Smart Growth America staff and introduce fellow colleagues who are passionate about building great communities to the benefits of the Local Leaders Council.

After a welcome from Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoff Anderson and Transportation for America co-chair John Robert Smith, two Local Leaders Council members discussed how the Council has helped them to address issues in their communities. Bill Fulton, Director of Planning for the City of San Diego, CA (and former Vice President of Smart Growth America) explained how both Democratic and Republican mayors in San Diego were supportive of smart growth strategies. This approach is crucial as San Diego aims to attract aging baby boomers looking for more walkable, convenient neighborhoods while also appealing to younger millennials, Fulton explained.

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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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Local Leaders Council members in Maryland meet to learn and share ideas for building community support

Maryland local leaders gather for a "Communicating Smart Growth" workshop on February 6, 2014.Local Leaders Council members in Maryland gather for a workshop on February 6, 2014.

Maryland county and city officials and staff met on February 6, 2014 for a half-day workshop designed for members of the Local Leaders Council and co-sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland.

The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to share and learn from each other’s experiences building community support for smart growth initiatives. Participants discussed the values that resonate in their communities, from economic prosperity and fiscal responsibility to environmental stewardship and quality of life.

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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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