Tag: Transportation

Alderman Jane Grover is working to make Evanston, IL “the most livable city” in America

A cycle track on Church St. in Evanston, IL.A cycle track on Church Street in Evanston, IL. Photo by Steven Vance, via Flickr.

“Our vision is to be the most livable city,” says Alderman Jane Grover of Evanston, IL. A member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Grover is full of enthusiasm for her city and the work being done there.

Evanston, IL is an urban community with a population of 74,000 located north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. Northwestern University, a major institutional anchor in the city, has helped spawn businesses and contributes to the culture and demographics of this progressive community.

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Making Complete Streets real in Maryland

Maryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MDMaryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MD.

Maryland members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council met last Thursday for a workshop titled “Making Complete Streets Real,” sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Councilmember Brent Bolin hosted the event at the Mount Rainer City Hall and gave an insider’s tour of local smart growth initiatives after the workshop.

Many of the leaders who attended the workshop are currently developing new Complete Streets policies, and the conversation focused heavily on how to move from policy adoption to effective implementation and talking publicly about the value of this work. Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening noted, “It is important to make clear how Complete Streets relate to larger and deeper community goals.”

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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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Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on the challenges and opportunities of governing a rapidly urbanizing area

rsz_1rsz_6281804196_d5c3f601f2_bSalt Lake County, Utah. Photo by Photo Dean via Flickr.

Not every mayor can say that they govern nearly half of a state’s population in one single county. But that’s exactly the case for Ben McAdams, Mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

Salt Lake County, with a population of over 1 million people, is located in a narrow valley sandwiched between two mountain ranges. Population growth over the past decade has reshaped the County, particularly following the 2002 Winter Olympics. Throughout the county, isolated pockets of development amidst farmlands and open space has evolved into an interconnected urban area that is populated from north to south and east to west. That population is projected to double in the next 20 to 30 years.

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Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales has big ideas to support small town life in Artesia, CA

Artesia, CA residents at the 2013 Diwali Street Festival. Photo by The City of Artesia, CA via Facebook.

Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, hopes employing smart growth strategies now will help protect and shape Artesia, CA for the next generation. For Canales, serving on the city council is a natural extension of a career spent educating students about the political process in his job teaching high school social science, economics and government courses.

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Councilmember Ian Thomas on building a healthy, sustainable Columbia, MO

Columbia, MOColumbia, MO. Photo by Chris Yunker via Flickr.

When Columbia, MO Councilmember Ian Thomas, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, first moved to the United States from his native London in the 1990s, the impact of the built environment on quality of life became abundantly clear. First settling in a suburb of Nashville, TN, Thomas found its car-oriented design limiting to an active, healthy lifestyle and lacking in access for residents to fresh food, safe places for recreation, and accessibility to necessary services.

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Calvin Mercer on linking natural assets in Greenville, NC

The South Tar River Greenway in Greenville, NC.
The South Tar River Greenway in Greenville, NC. Photo by Mark A. Neal via Flickr.

Calvin Mercer, At-Large City Councilmember in Greenville, NC and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is a champion for active living, recreation and broader community awareness of smart growth.

Mercer has served on Greenville’s City Council since 2007 and stresses walkability, bike paths and greenways and parks as important components of what he calls “quality growth.” Greenville is home to an extensive greenway network, and though its inception predates Mercer’s elected leadership, he views it as a vital part of Greenville’s continued pursuit toward quality growth. Since 1991 the city has added 4.5 miles to the greenway system, which consists of multi-use paths and repaired or added sidewalks.

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Councilmember Dave Richins on using form based code in Mesa, AZ

Councilmember Dave Richins discusses the ins and outs of form based code – – making development decisions based on how a building aesthetically interacts with the street and the other buildings in the area instead of based on what the …

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Elizabeth Tyler on infill development and downtown improvements in Urbana, IL

Urbana, ILUrbana, IL’s Community Development Department runs the city’s farmer’s market (above), in addition to several other programs. Photo by Jeff E. via Flickr.

Urbana, IL has a lot to build on. The city of 41,000 is home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the school’s students and faculty make the most of Urbana’s great transit system, thriving downtown, small businesses and art scene. Urbana is working to improve all these features, and Community Development Director Elizabeth Tyler is helping to make it happen.

Tyler is a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a bipartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. Since 2001 Tyler has served as Urbana’s Community Development Director and oversees planning and economic development initiatives in the city that range from providing assistance to new and existing business to managing the city’s public arts program and farmers’ market.

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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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