Tag: New York

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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Partnership in the news: Rochester, NY awarded TIGER grant for Amtrak station upgrades

Rochester Amtrak station
Amtrak station in Rochester, NY. Photo via New York Railroads.

Rochester, NY is building a transportation gateway to the city that will serve the region and become a landmark for generations—thanks in part to a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

In August, USDOT dedicated $15 million in TIGER grant funding to replace the city’s current Amtrak station, which first opened its doors in 1978, with a new intermodal transit center. The new 12,000 square foot, $26.5 million facility will include high passenger platforms, an underground concourse and two new passenger sidings.

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Partnership in the News: Railroad towns aim to spur economic growth through federal grant

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is a commuter rail system that services the entire length of Long Island, New York from Manhattan to the tip of Suffolk County. With 124 stations and over 700 miles of track it is the second busiest passenger rail service in the nation, serving approximately 81 million people per year.

Earlier this year, HUD awarded the New York & Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium (NYCSCC) a $3.5 million regional planning grant, which the group hopes to use to, “develop livable communities and growth centers around the region’s commuter rail network to enhance affordable housing efforts, reduce congestion, improve the environment and continue to expand economic opportunities”.

NYCSCC will help fund 16 interrelated projects across the region., including awarding Nassau County $350,000 to “conduct an Infill Redevelopment Feasibility Study for properties within a half-mile radius of up to three existing Long Island Railroad stations located within and surrounding the Nassau Hub Transit Study Area”. The towns of Baldwin, Lynbrook and Valley Stream were selected to receive a portion of these grant funds because of their desire to rethink land use patterns, foster transit oriented development, reduce auto dependence, lower their carbon footprint, and expand their population and tax base.

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Town of Campbell, NY hosts workshop on smart growth zoning codes for small cities

campbell picture

Photo courtesy of Dougtone via Flickr

Officials and local residents in Campbell, NY met with representatives from Smart Growth America on April 24 and 25, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshops gave Campbell the tools it needs to preserve its character, while creating strategies that allow the town to move toward a more sustainable future.

“The Town of Campbell feels very fortunate to have been selected for this technical assistance workshop,” said Town Supervisor David Tennent. “We’re eager to learn what Smart Growth America has to teach us regarding strategies for improving our zoning code and planning for sustainable growth in our town.”

Nicolette Barber, AICP, with Hunt Engineers, Architects & Land Surveyors, a consultant for the town and working closely with the technical assistance team said, “Campbell is a small town that would like to maintain and enhance its rural character. In planning for its future, the town is not looking to compete with the regional shopping centers or expand its population by leaps and bounds. Rather, what residents would like are more opportunities for local shopping, social events and recreation. To the extent that the Comprehensive Plan Committee could help promote that through smart growth strategies learned from Smart Growth America, they would like to do so.”

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Partnership in the News: Blueprint Binghamton launches community planning efforts

A local Binghamton resident’s idea for community improvement. Photo courtesty Blueprint Binghamton

Over the past 60 years, the city of Binghamton, New York gradually lost residents due to a shrinking industrial economy, eventually falling to about half its population from 1950. Unemployment rates above the national average and education and income levels below national averages present Binghamton with many challenges. However, a comprehensive plan for the region, supported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is an opportunity to build upon Binghamton’s valuable community assets and existing infrastructure.

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Small places with big goals win national awards for smart growth achievement


Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America (left) with representatives from seven communities honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

On Wednesday evening in a hearing room on Capitol Hill, the winners of this year’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement gathered to discuss how their projects are helping their communities become better places to live and work.

The awards this year went to projects that have improved streets, redeveloped historic buildings, built new homes and stores in the heart of downtown, created better transportation choices and more. And though the projects are all very different from one another, none would have been possible without community support and collaboration.

“That’s the word of the day, partnerships,” said Kenneth Chandler, former City Manager of the City of Portsmouth, VA. Portsmouth’s comprehensive overhaul of the city’s development and land use regulations won it the Programs and Policies award. Portsmouth’s new codes are already creating a more livable and pedestrian-friendly city with opportunities for economic development and reinvestment.

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Senator Schumer calls on Congress to extend tax credits for brownfield redevelopment


Senator Charles Schumer has called on Congress to extend the EPA’s Brownfields Tax Credit. Image via Flickr user ProPublica.

Just last week, the New York Times chronicled the difficulties of creating new development on former gas station sites. Now, New York Senator Charles Schumer is asking Congress to support property owners, municipalities and developers who want to clean up these difficult pieces of land and get them back into productive use.

“Scores of gas stations sit vacant and abandoned across upstate New York, acting as detriments to downtown development and potentially serious hazards to human environmental health,” Schumer was quoted by the Buffalo News. “Gas stations can look like small fixer-uppers above ground, but may have lots of problems beneath.”

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Smart growth stories: New York City Councilmember Brad Lander on building better neighborhoods with community participation

Where does change come from? Who comes up with the ideas and proposals needed to reinvigorate neighborhoods?

Ask New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and he’ll tell you.

“The community.”

To Lander, who has represented the 39th district of Brooklyn on the New York City Council since 2009, community involvement and outreach aren’t just buzzwords. They’re a source of the best inspiration and help shed light on the real reasons to move forward with any project; those that live in a community tend to know what’s best for that community.

In the 39th district – which encompasses the neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Kensington – Lander hears the concerns of a racially and economically diverse constituency. From young urban-dwellers with higher education degrees to working-class immigrants, Brooklyn – like the rest of New York – has it all. For Lander to do his job successfully he must find ways to integrate planned improvements and Council agenda items with the personal goals of the people who elected him.

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Momentum Continues in the States

Though all eyes have been on federal transportation policy the last few weeks, states have continued to push forward with their Complete Streets efforts. Bills have been introduced in West Virginia and Rhode Island, and several states with Complete Streets policies in place move ahead with implementation.

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Partnership in the News: Erie County Prime For Economic Development Plan

An editorial in the Erie-Times News details an exciting planning process about to begin in Erie County, NY. With the help of a $1.8 million Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Planning grant, the country will undertake the creation of a new Master Plan in order to:

…add jobs, improve housing, provide better transportation service and, in general, spark economic development.

Barbara Chaffee, the [Erie] Regional Chamber’s president, promises that the plan will be “actionable.” In other words, there will be specifics about such issues as public transportation, job training, education and government efficiency that can be put in place. “It gives us an opportunity to redefine ourselves,” says Chaffee.


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