Mayor Article

Winners of 1999 Sustainable Community Awards Honored in White House Ceremony December 13

By Kimberly Peterson

The fifteen winners of the 1999 Sustainable Community Awards gathered from around the country December 13 to be honored at the White House for their collaborative efforts at making their communities more sustainable. The city/county or city/city partnerships covered topic areas ranging from brownfields redevelopment to park restoration to workforce development. The winners were selected from a group of 48 applicants and represent the best examples of collaborative efforts at sustainability.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development co-sponsored the awards. HUD also named five Secretary's Awards for City/County Innovations. Secretary's Awards went to programs in Yuma, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Northampton County, Virginia. The Secretary's awards honor innovative city/county collaboration in areas such as governance, economic strategies, affordable housing, reducing housing discrimination, and sustainable growth.

Mickey Ibarra, Director of White House Intergovernmental Affairs, welcomed the winners to the White House and also offered words of congratulations from President Clinton. Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles and Howard County Executive C. Vernon Gray praised the work of the cities and counties and lauded them as being examples for future collaborations. The awards were presented by HUD Assistant Secretary Bill Apgar following release of a video and publication describing the award winning projects. Following are brief descriptions of the award winning projects.

For Regional Growth Management and Joint Land Use Planning:

Yuma City and County, Arizona have developed a joint land use plan that provides a common "blueprint" for land uses and development policies within and around the City of Yuma. Under this plan, the primary economic assets of the area-agriculture, the airstation/airport and tourism-are protected, reinforced and enhanced by new industrial opportunities that will provide more year-round employment.

Northampton County and the Town of Cape Charles, Virginia, are leading a sustainable development initiative designed to build a strong and lasting economy that benefits all of the people of the community and protects the region's natural and cultural assets. The most significant result of this effort is the design, financing, and construction of the Cape Charles Sustainable Technology Park, America's first eco-industrial park.

Ada and Canyon Counties along with the Cities of Boise, Meridian, Garden, Nampa, Caldwell, Eagle and Kuna in Idaho have created the Treasure Valley Partnership (TVP), a proactive coalition that allows neighboring area leaders to unite to discuss regional growth issues. The TVP's efforts are strengthening cooperative activities in areas such as transportation, parks, water supply and quality, air quality, public safety, emergency management and disaster preparedness.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and its 60 independent municipalities have come together to address development in a unified and coordinated manner. Hundreds of public meetings, countywide surveys, and citizen opinion polls have resulted in the adoption of The Lancaster County Growth Management Strategy-an action agenda to manage growth; contain sprawl; preserve greenspace and agricultural land; protect water quality; and clean up brownfields.

For Reusing Existing Public and Private Infrastructure and Brownfields Redevelopment:

With local government leadership from the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee, and the support of the private sector, neighbors and business owners have worked with planners to redesign a decaying mall and its surrounding area into a new town center, called Eastgate. The project represents a sustainable reuse of public and private infrastructure and provides a model of redevelopment that is not dependent on the provision of new roads, sewers, and utilities.

The City/County of Denver and the City of Aurora, Colorado, launched a community-based effort to plan for reuse of the Lowry Air Force Base when it was placed on the federal base closure list in 1991. The resulting Lowry redevelopment plan is designed to promote sustainability through in-fill development; increasing affordable housing; and reducing homelessness. As a consequence, it is helping to stabilize older surrounding neighborhoods and address the need for mixed-use development in a centralized accessible location.

Maricopa County, in concert with the City of Tempe, Arizona, have created the Rio Salado Project, a community-inspired effort to transform Tempe's portion of the Salt River from a barren urban utility corridor into an exciting attraction for the county's three million residents. Rio Salado-dominated by a large Town Lake and surrounded by parks and habitat-is an ambitious and comprehensive undertaking that simultaneously provides flood control, encourages economic development, and promotes recreation.

The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, have established the Port Authority for Brownfields Redevelopment to reverse the environmental, social and economic consequences of its industrial and urban heritage, including 500 acres of potential brownfields. The agency is an independent economic development authority, created exclusively to target brownfields through the remediation and reuse of land, buildings and infrastructure.

Three small Maryland towns-Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, and Cottage City-have partnered with Prince George's County to implement a successful community revitalization strategy, called the Port Towns Revitalization Initiative. Major accomplishments include creation of a common Port Towns identity; attraction and retention of new businesses through infrastructure and fa?ade improvements; acquisition of historic properties and plans for their reuse; and reconstruction of the waterfront park and marina.

The Cities of Youngstown, Struthers and Campbell in Ohio have created a broad-based public/private coalition to encourage dialogue, planning, priority setting and action to responsibly redevelop industrial brownfields along the Mahoning River. The Mahoning River Corridor of Opportunity, as the coalition is called, is breathing new life into this 900-acre brownfields site and generating interest in promoting the site's balanced and sustainable clean up and redevelopment.

Three Cities in southwest Ohio-Kettering, Oakwood and Dayton-have banded together with hundreds of volunteers in a cooperative effort to reclaim a 57-acre park from years of neglect and abuse. The park can now be used safely by the community and has served as a catalyst for further improvements.

For Workforce Development:

In response to new demands in the local labor market, Multnomah and Washington Counties and the City of Portland, Oregon, have created a vision for a world-class workforce development system that meets the needs of all employers, jobseekers, career-advancers, and youth. This vision has led metro Portland's elected leaders to replace two regional boards, The Private Industry Council and a Regional Workforce Quality Committee, with a newly appointed Workforce Development Board made up of diverse community leaders from the private and public sectors. The board is charged with transforming the region's fragmented employment and training programs and initiatives into a cohesive workforce development system.

For Better Environmental Services Management:

The Cities of San Bernardino and Colton, California have partnered with a regional water agency to build an innovative tertiary wastewater treatment plant. The process the plant uses, called rapid infiltration/extraction, has saved local taxpayers millions of dollars in construction and operating costs, and produces extraordinarily high quality recycled water that benefits downstream, recreational users and the environment.

The Sonoma Green Business Program is a collaborative effort of Sonoma County, California, and the cities within it to create a unified program that streamlines environmental requirements for the business community, and provides incentives to businesses for sustained environmental compliance. Distinguishing characteristics of the program include: a regionalized, environmental regulatory approach; a focus on business education rather than enforcement; and a cooperative, coordinated program between businesses and regulators.

For Reducing Violence and Creating Healthy Communities:

The City of Westminster and Orange County, California have created a collaborative team known as the "Family Protection Unit." The team, which is physically located within the Westminster police department, includes a domestic violence detective, child abuse detective, deputy district attorney, senior social worker and victim services specialist, who all work together to collectively assess and respond to domestic violence cases.

For a copy of the "First Annual Joint Center Sustainable Community Award Winners 1999: Outstanding City/County Collaborations" call Kimberly Peterson at (202) 861-6784 or visit the Joint Center's website at

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