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sustainability

5 Steps for Enhancing Downtown Orlando's Northern Gateway

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5 Steps for Enhancing Downtown Orlando's Northern Gateway

Cities are places to enjoy being in the presence of other people, creating with others, sharing ideas and transacting business. Those all depend on easy access and connectivity, comfortable and attractive public space and inviting gateways, which are key elements of Project DTO, Orlando's downtown vision and new redevelopment plan. A key part of the emerging Project DTO vision is of an "awesome outdoor city with highly connected neighborhoods and districts; a city with an iconic visual identity, built for the future so that open space supports recreation, air quality, tree canopy cover and water quality needs." Downtown Orlando's relationship with its lakes, a signature feature of the City Beautiful, is a centerpiece of that vision.

Downtown Orlando's northern boundary offers a wonderful opportunity to support the vision. It lies along a series of small to mid-size man-made lakes, known collectively as Lake Ivanhoe, created for fill as part of the 1960 construction of I-4 from Lakeland through Orlando, and used for stormwater retention for most of the downtown basin. Interstate 4 bisects Lake Ivanhoe, bringing commuters and freight to and through Downtown Orlando. Across its tranquil shores lie the tidy neighborhoods of College Park, Orlando's 1920s and 30s first ring suburb, and Ivanhoe Village, a dynamic mixed use district of bungalow homes, industrial uses, warehouses, specialty retail, bars and restaurants along North Orange Avenue. Gaston Edwards Park, on the lake's eastern shore at the intersection of Virginia Drive and N. Orange Avenue, offers a boat launch, an Italian restaurant with outdoor dining, exercise trails, volleyball courts and a fishing pier.

The boat launch at Gaston Edwards Park serves many types of users.
The boat launch at Gaston Edwards Park serves many types of users.

The lake is in the Lake Jesup drainage basin, a part of the Middle St. Johns River Basin, drawing from some 16,000 acres in central Florida, from Lake Dot in Downtown Orlando to Lake Jesup in Seminole County. The basin, principally Lake Jesup itself, is trying to recover from decades of growth. Each rainfall flushes lawn fertilizers, motor oil and other contaminants into the streams and lakes, fostering undesirable, mucky sediments that degrade habitat quality and reduce sport fish populations. Efforts to restore Lake Jesup occur through the Lake Jesup Interagency Restoration Strategy, of which the City of Orlando is a participant to improve water quality through its Greenworks Orlando sustainability initiative.

The turn on I-4 at Lake Ivanhoe is the first opportunity for southbound travelers to take in the full grandeur of Orlando's lakeshore skyline. Lake Ivanhoe also offers a scenic vista for those able to take the slower surface street routes, such as along North Orange Avenue linking Florida Hospital Orlando's Health Village and the Ivanhoe Village Main Street District with Downtown, or Edgewater Drive and Lakeview Avenue, connecting Orlando's venerable College Park neighborhood to downtown. Their confluence is at the mini Statue of Liberty, amid a sea of flowers. Gaston Edwards Park shimmers under a canopy of Live Oaks and other trees, a winding path offering convenience and comfort through the park to connect offices, hotels, antiques and restaurants.

The historic Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center building - a former OUC plant - is in dire need of a rehab.
The historic Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center building - a former OUC plant - is in dire need of a rehab.

But Downtown Orlando's northern gateway could be so much more. The I-4 Ultimate makeover will offer some opportunity to brighten up the dark and dreary overpass above Lakeview Street, but it really feels like Downtown Orlando has turned its back on its front door. Letting a disjointed convergence of interstate highway ramps, one-way surface streets, discontinuous off-road paths, disconnected commercial buildings and impenetrable flora dominate the landscape hinders the creation of publicly accessible and visible space that could serve as an iconic gateway for Downtown Orlando. Stemming from mostly unintentional actions, there is a significant barrier to access and connectivity of adjacent northern neighborhoods to Downtown Orlando.

The Ivanhoe off-ramp creates a visual and physical barrier to Downtown Orlando.
The Ivanhoe off-ramp creates a visual and physical barrier to Downtown Orlando.

The enjoyment of Downtown Orlando's iconic Lake Ivanhoe should not be limited to those who live along the lake or who can launch a boat to fish, paddle around or ski across its surface.  It should also welcome those who want to experience the lake habitat from the shore. There are more than 30 acres of publicly owned land, including right-of-way, on Lake Ivanhoe's shoreline. It may be time to open up access to Lake Ivanhoe as part of an overall strategy to better connect Orlando's neighborhoods with Downtown, create an awesome outdoor city, celebrate Orlando's iconic visual identity, and sustain the city and its natural resources for future generations. With the idea that more visibility and access goes hand in hand with better understanding and sustainability, here are five ideas that could help further that vision:

Lilly pad flowers blooming adjacent to I-4.
Lilly pad flowers blooming adjacent to I-4.
  1. Expand Gaston Edwards Park to include a lakeshore beach and public swimming area.Bring back a prime public spot for beach blankets, wading, kayak launching and swimming, drawing people from surrounding neighborhoods. Perhaps Winter Park's Dinky Dock shoreline provides an example. Access from nearby hotels, residences and businesses would make this a popular draw.

2. Re-new efforts to create a shared use path around Lake Ivanhoe. 

This city initiative died about 10 years ago amid vociferous neighborhood opposition, but maybe it's time to try again. The linkage between College Park and Downtown Orlando is difficult at best, and the lack of well-defined and comfortable path around Lake Ivanhoe is a huge missed opportunity. A growing retail, jobs and entertainment destination on the east side of the lake is an increasing draw for residents of all parts of the city and visitors. Creating continuous linkages between neighborhoods, retail and downtown, with Orlando's Urban Trail as the spine, is critical for shared success.

3. Create interpretative wayfinding signage to convey habitat and resource information.

Providing interactive visual and informative clues about natural character, distances to other destinations and a display of  historic and cultural or artistic resources is the connectivity lubricant of a city. This could help create an emerald necklace among all Downtown Orlando parks and natural areas, from Lake Ivanhoe to Lake Eola, Lake Davis and Lake Lucerne.

A Florida Snowy White Egret feeding among the shore grass.
A Florida Snowy White Egret feeding among the shore grass.

4. Establish public access/fishing areas underneath I-4 as part of the Ultimate I-4 makeover.

A fishing pier underneath I-4 linked by a walking path would be amazing.
A fishing pier underneath I-4 linked by a walking path would be amazing.

Lake Ivanhoe is a stocked lake and part of Fish Orlando! intiative of Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Walking/cycling paths to enable people to fish under the I-4 bridge, perhaps with a pier out into the lake, would add destination appeal.

5. Encourage and support events and festivals along the shore.

Opportunities abound for surprise and delight. Acoustic concerts beneath gangly Live Oaks and Cypress trees at the water's edge; rehabbing and repurposing the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts building for performance and recording space; restaurants showcasing their menus with an "A Taste of Ivanhoe Village" event; water craft and ski shows on select days and times, and street parties on N. Orange Avenue between Ivanhoe Row and the lakeshore with the street closed could make this a more visible and attractive downtown destination.

The future is beckoning. Let's make it happen, Orlando!

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Renaissance's Tampa Office Goes Green

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Renaissance's Tampa Office Goes Green

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DSC_0256Earlier this year,  Renaissance's Tampa office completed 12-week long sustainable business certification program. Run by the Sustany Foundation, a local non-profit focused on promoting sustainability, the program is aided with the help of the Tampa Downtown Partnership and given the final seal of approval by the City of Tampa. The program also helps students develop their skills in sustainability by pairing them with organizations to provide research and help develop recommendations. This was the first time the Sustany Sustainable Business Program (SSBP) has focused specifically on downtown businesses. Ten businesses participated in the program, most of them restaurants, two offices, and one bike shop. Because this was the first time it was downtown business-focused, the businesses were guinea pigs in a way. The program included three workshops that covered the topics of energy, transportation and waste, and each business was paired with a student sustainability specialist from the University of Tampa or the University of South Florida who helped guide them through the program and develop the final action plan. The students researched sustainable business practices and identified opportunities for the businesses to implement more green practices. At this point, the focus of the certification process is more about education and awareness than creating a strict certification process.

What We Learned

What we learned is that we are already fairly environmentally-conscious; we recycle the paper that we use, leave lights off and use natural light, and offer a monetary incentive for those not driving to work, to name a few. The areas where we can make the largest improvements are paper usage and plastic cutlery.

Some key highlights from Renaissance’s Sustainability Action Plan include:

  • Consider the sustainable attributes and service of our vendors when making a purchasing decision
  • Select materials with the least amount of packaging or use recycled packaging
  • Track the use of paper to ensure that there is no unnecessary waste
  • Reduce the use of plastic cups and cutlery and offer reusable options

Click here to read the full Sustainability Action Plan.

Because the Tampa office is located in a large multi-story building overseen by a property management company, we are limited in certain areas to make improvements. For example, the office has little control over temperature (even though it might be 90 degrees outside, it is always wise to dress for winter). Hopefully in future rounds of the green business certification, property management companies will get involved and begin addressing the ways in which they can make positive changes at the building level. This will have a much bigger impact on the overall sustainability of downtown Tampa.

The Sustany Foundation will continue to follow-up with businesses that have gone through the program to track their progress and evaluate if they are achieving their goals. If you would like to read more about the program and the other participating businesses, visit the Sustany Green Business website.

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–Alana Brasier, Cities That Work Blog

[For regular news and updates, be sure to follow Renaissance on Twitter @CitiesThatWork]

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A Word is Worth a Thousand Images

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A Word is Worth a Thousand Images

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One of the challenges of the planning industry is that we have tons of acronyms that we practitioners toss around in casual conversation that tend to either confuse or turn off the casual, otherwise-interested observer.  By the way, a good team-building event at your next agency or corporate function is to require everyone to donate $5 into a kitty every time they use an acronym without stating its components words ASAP (as soon as possible). You’ll learn a lot about your patterns of speech and be able to enjoy a pretty nice happy hour at your local watering hole with the proceeds. It seems to me that we’re at risk of developing the same dangerous pattern with the words we are now using to describe state-of-the-practice planning.  At least those acronyms usually stand for something quite specific.  In contrast, the adjectives we sometimes use casually and interchangeably are beginning to sound like the “new and improved” labels printed in brightly colored Starbursts vying for attention on your grocery store shelves.

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The challenge we face isn’t really new; words have always been evolving to suit the common vernacular.  This how “inflammable” came to mean “flammable” and “literally” came to mean “figuratively” (and when I learned that fact, I was like, literally beside myself…).  What can we do to be more precise in our communications?  Well first, to paraphrase Yogi Berra:  Use your words carefully; someone might actually be reading or listening.  Second, don’t be afraid to do a little research; sources like Google, Wikipedia, and the old Merriam-Webster can really be your friend.  Even just quickly checking the Google hit counts on something like flammable (five million) versus inflammable (less than one million) can help you spot trends these days.

Seeking Sustainability

Sustainability is one of the terms that fascinates me the most.  I’ve been fortunate to be associated with a team of really good planners putting together an Informational Report for the Institute of Transportation Engineers on the state-of-the-practice in thinking about Sustainable Transportation systems.  The transportation planning and engineering industry has latched on to this important and valuable concept, originated by the Brundtland Commission in 1987, that we should be creating development and infrastructure that meets the needs of the current generation while allowing future generations to meet their needs as well.  The primary concept is that the three pillars of sustainability, economy, ecology, and social equity (some prefer the equally alliterative “people, planet, profit”) are often found in tension with each other and need to be balanced.  For instance, in the US, we’re not consuming vehicle-miles of travel at the rate we did five years ago; this is a good thing for the environment, but the challenge is how we can sustain that improvement while returning to a healthy economy where those who want jobs can find them.

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While on the Montgomery County Planning Board, Wendy Perdue noted in one worksession that terms can be misleading, “It occurs to me that throughout our history we’ve demonstrated that income inequality is pretty darn sustainable; but that doesn’t mean we should support it.”  So the goal of sustainability is not to perpetuate the past of least resistance, but instead to seek solutions that improve social, economic, and environmental outcomes on an inter-generational timescale.  Several analysis systems, ranging from tools like INVEST or Greenroads for highways to ENVISION for all infrastructure are now available to help qualify the definitions agencies and firms can apply to sustainable projects.

Thinking Globally and Acting Locally

The same concern that sustainability should be equated with the path of least resistance has real global implications as well.  Pedro Ortiz of the World Bank was on my ITE meeting panel on sustainable solutions in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this week.  Pedro has noted that as we move towards accommodating two billion more urban residents worldwide in the next 20 years, we frankly should be constructing 10 new Manhattan blocks every day to accommodate that growth.  However, due to resource and governance limitations, we’re not building high quality compact development, but rather are allowing new slums to expand organically across the landscape.  Part of the key in the developing world is to bring the land use to where the rail infrastructure already exists.  The same concept can be applied to thinking about North American metropolitan areas to conceive of alternative urban topologies such as how Washington and Baltimore might be organized differently if the primary connective tissue were along freight rail lines.

Source: PedroBOrtiz.com

Scenario planning today is often applied in one of two formats: either as tinkering around the edges with land use that would require some potentially challenging yet feasible policy changes or, alternatively, as considering a reaction to an exogenous variable such as sea-level rise or energy crises.  Pedro’s maps suggest a potential future that might be a blend of the two types of scenario planning; not a formal proposal, but an intriguing “what if?”

The Only Constant is Change

One of the frequent lamentations in our ITE Sustainability Task Force has been that one thing that definitely appears sustainable is debate about what sustainability means.   This, to me, is part of what makes the concept exciting; there’s no textbook or cookbook answer.  Even the developers of the rigorous sustainability ratings and certification systems note that their processes are always evolving as we get better data, improve analytic connections, and learn more about our social, cultural, and natural environment.  This one word, sustainability, has generated dozens of rating systems and influenced many more creative ideas for how we might move smarter.  What’s yours?

–Dan Hardy, Cities That Work Blog

 

 

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Sports and Sustainability?

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Sports and Sustainability?

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What do Rays, Lightning, and a Storm all have in common? (I know, I know, this sounds like a joke setup you’d hear at your corner bar…just go with it.) Well, if you guessed that they are all sports teams in Tampa Bay, you would be correct. Additionally, all of these sports teams are avid stewards of our environment and are striving to make the world a little bit more sustainable each day. In honor of the 44th Annual Earth Day Celebration, held on April 22, 2014, I thought it would be nice to highlight some of the ways in which sports teams in Tampa Bay are trying to preserve our precious environment and resources. Each of the sports teams mentioned is a member of the Sustainable Business Coalition of Tampa Bay, Inc.

HooRAY for Sustainability

The Tampa Bay Rays are a major league baseball team and play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. They have worked hard over the last few years to commit themselves to sustainability through various changes in their business operations. There are three main areas of sustainability in which the team is focused: In the Office, At Spring Training, and On the Field/In the Stands.

In the Office, similar to other office models, the Rays focus their efforts on recycling and green materials. Office employees were given on-line training to educate them about the importance of recycling everything from plastic bottles to aluminum cans. Additionally, all utensils and cleaning supplies used in the Rays’ office are eco-friendly.

At the Rays' Spring Training Facility, the Rays have a 2,000 square foot education green roof available to teach the public about responsible stormwater management practices. Additionally, the facility has a recycling center for materials such as metal and wood.

On the Field/In the Stands, the Rays encourage alternative transportation modes and more recycling. Bicycle racks are available throughout the area outside of the stadium and people who carpool with at least four people get to park for free! During the 2008 season, 29% of cars had four or more passengers. Typically, it cost $10.00 to park, so why not try carpooling next time you’re at a Rays game and put that money towards some good ole ballpark food and beverages. Additionally, fans are encouraged to recycle throughout the game and are reminded by signage, video promos, and “clean-up hitters.”

Greening the Forum

The Tampa Bay Lighting, part of the National Hockey League, and the Tampa Bay Storm, part of the Arena Football League, both play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. These teams, like the Rays, have devoted themselves to sustainability. The Tampa Bay Times Forum is focused mainly on recycling efforts and environmentally conscious building transformations. The facility, on average, creates about 3,800 pounds of waste a day. That’s around 1,387,000 pounds annually! To put that in perspective, that is equal to about 146 adult elephants. The good news is that the facility is able to recycle roughly 26% of materials and many of the commodities recycled create revenue for the Forum.

During the facility’s 2011 renovations to become more sustainable, the Forum was able to recycle about 68% of its building materials. New green initiatives, such as a recycle compactor, touchless faucets, and energy efficient light fixtures, have allowed the Forum to reduce its electricity costs by around 12% and natural gas usage costs by around 20%.

So remember, while Earth Day is only one day a year, being an environmental steward is a year-round job. Take the time to check out sustainability efforts at some of your favorite sports teams facilities and if you see anything interesting let me know!

–Amanda Douglas, Cities That Work Blog

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Take Me Way Out to the Ballgame

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Take Me Way Out to the Ballgame

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Pic1 Ah, spring, when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of glove.  And bat, and ball.  And a place to get together with thirty or forty thousand of your closest friends and root, root, root for the home team.  But where should that place be?  And how does that choice, and its ripple effects on other land use and transportation system elements, affect the sustainability of a community or a region?

The Good Old Days Are Now

Source: http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/imagebase/chimaps/Chgo1900.gif

The best cities seem to be those that have a mix of public and private sector investments, and while there’s plenty of room for debate about the wisdom of subsidizing private sector entertainment, there’s definitely a historic synergy between an urban ballpark and its environs. The oldest two surviving examples, venerable Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, were transit accessibile from the get-go, but that was practically a necessity in those days to connect them to the rest of their cities.  On Wrigley Field’s (then Weeghman Park) opening day, Chicago Tribune columnist Ring Lardner, noting the park’s location just south of the end of the line at Wilson, wrote wryly that “many of our citizens will today visit the North Side for the first time”.  And Fenway Park, while closer to town, was built on drained swampland (the fabled fens; seems the practice of naming something new for what’s no longer there anymore is also a long standing practice).

Ebbets Field, although smack in the geographic center of Brooklyn, was also at the periphery of the borough’s developed area when it was built and included the site of a garbage dump called Pigtown.  And the fact that the local club was known as the (Trolley) Dodgers demonstrates that today’s concern for safe, multimodal, complete streets is really also nothing new.   (Amazing how transportation infiltrates sports names:  Trailblazers, Spurs, Mariners, Pistons, Flyers, Jets, Supersonics, and arguably the Pacers and Colts as well just among the big four major leagues.)

Source: http://chibdm.tumblr.com/post/23096720752/trolley-passing-by-ebbets-field-in-brooklyn-new

The Dodgers’ move from Ebbets Field to Los Angeles in 1958 was a symbol of the transportation revolution engendered by the jet age, shattering the outer limits that had been marked by that famous southwestern outpost called Saint Louis.  The new Dodger Stadium also marked the beginning of the movement of stadiums from downtown (or at least arguably urban) neighborhoods to sprawling complexes where the parking and noise associated with special events wouldn’t be thought of as so annoying to the neighbors.

But times change. Los Angeles is now known less as the kingdom of sprawl and more for its high population density (even when considering population-weighted density as opposed to average metro area density).  And Dodger Stadium is now part of baseball’s old guard; the third oldest Major League Baseball (MLB) park after Fenway and Wrigley.

Not all the cookie-cutter stadiums of the ‘60s and ‘70s were out in the ‘burbs, but even those with an in-town address like Fulton County, Veterans, and Riverfront, really only boasted a skyline view – and that was only from the parking lot or the topmost row. Then the pendulum swung back to retro stadiums with a placemaking element beginning with Camden Yards in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  Many of the new stadiums are built adjacent to their predecessors, but are nonetheless viewed as a redevelopment anchor.  But Coors Field, AT&T Field, Target Field, Petco Park, and Nationals Park are all examples where baseball was introduced within an urban fabric in or near the city center.  And hopefully the linkage between baseball and transportation planning has been strengthened by the relocation of the United States Department of Transportation to their New Jersey Avenue headquarters a couple blocks to the east of the Nats’ ballpark.

Do You Have to Park at the Park?

Our oldest ballparks are still located along their legacy transit lines.  For the newer parks, it’s a pretty mixed bag.  Not surprisingly, if you want to attract fans to use transit, it helps to be centrally located in a major metro area.  In 2007, Dan Boyle and Tom Larsen examined transit access and use at the 30 MLB parks.    At that time, the championship went to the brand new Nationals (36 percent), with strong showing from other teams in centrally-located homes, including the Yankees and Mets (both at 27 percent), the Cubs, Red Sox, A’s and Giants (all at or above 20 percent), and the Cards, Jays, Padres and Twins (above 14 percent).  About a third (12 out of 30) of the teams have less than 1 percent transit mode share.

Brave Consequences

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But being near downtown and near transit may not be enough.  In Atlanta, the decision of the Braves to abandon their second stadium near downtown since moving from Milwaukee fifty years ago has generated a wide range of reactions; with even commentators sympathetic to the business decisions faced by team ownership lamenting the abandonment of a central location and the apparent public/private consensus that a stadium lifespan may now be considered only 20 years long.  In this case, a big question for Atlanta is whether or not the departure of the Braves will create a revitalization opportunity in the Summerhill neighborhood that the stadium site (and its demand for parking) never catalyzed.

One of the Braves’ stated reasons for the move is to get closer to their suburban fan base, indicated by a dot map of season ticket holders.  This map has served as an interesting Rorschach test; one can arguably suggest that the new stadium site would reduce total vehicle miles of travel, which is a key goal of balancing land use and transportation.  But it raises the interesting question of whether an improved geographic match between a product and its customer base is better for society when fiscal and social considerations are included.

Rebalancing the Books

Switching from backstops to backboards, major league sports are also moving the ball forward regarding the evolution of transportation and land use planning in California.  The amendment to the California Environmental Quality  Act (CEQA) implemented by SB 743 allows jurisdictions to rethink the definition of transportation impact in transit-oriented or infill development.  SB 743 was passed with the intent of streamlining the development of a new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings.  In this case, an analysis of the Kings’ fan base indicating that the new downtown site would result in a 20 percent reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) was a key element in helping win public support.

Professional sports is big.  It’s big business, big politics, and a big part of regional pride.  The big issues associated with developing a sports venue aren’t really new, although the details keep evolving.  In fifty years, we’ll have a new perspective on baseball in Atlanta and basketball in Sacramento.  What do you think we’ll be thinking then?

–Dan Hardy, Cities That Work Blog

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So What's the Big Deal?

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So What's the Big Deal?

Walkability Audit, Highland Park, Randolph County WV Not long ago a reporter called me.  She had gotten word at some conference that interesting things were happening in Randolph County, West Virginia.  She heard that the Randolph County Housing Authority staff had received HUD community challenge grants and were using these and other matching funds to embark on a variety of sustainability and livability initiatives.  They had conducted a transit study, a housing study, and some neighborhood mobility studies; studies I had worked on and thus her call to me.  Still, she asked, what's so special or different about this place. It was a logical "so what" reporter question.

"Where do you live?" I inquired. "Los Angeles." "Have you ever been to West Virginia?" "Sorry, no," she replied.

Ah, where to begin?  She sorely needed some context.  Rural Randolph County is in the heart of the Allegheny highlands, a 1000 sq mile county, with 28,000 people - 8000 of which live in the City of Elkins.  It is rural, and not near any major metropolitan area.  It faces many challenges that other Appalachian communities do, poverty, lack of economic opportunities.  Many industries are natural resource based, wood, coal, agriculture, tourism and recreation.  Like many Appalachian communities, the people are resilient, proud, hard-working and possess a hearty I-can-do-this individualism.  Survivability is a more common theme than sustainability.

Where Seldom is Heard

From a planning perspective the county is still somewhat like the wild west.  A comprehensive plan was attempted a few years back, but the process was aborted due to some outspoken local opposition.  Zoning exists in the city, not the county.  There are no planners on staff, only code officials, assessors and administrators.  The efforts to put Randolph on a path to sustainability (view the Vimeo video below for their own words), I argued, is in itself a remarkable 'so what' difference.  They are operating in an environment that is traditionally hostile to planning and so far have had positive results, and that itself should partly answer her  so what  question. But there is more.

They are thinking about the aging population, about housing needs, about how people will get around, and whether can they walk, ride bike or take transit.  Is housing where it needs to be?  Is it near services, work and amenities.  Are neighborhoods accessible to destinations? Is the housing stock diverse enough to allow for youth to stay, for older people to live, for employees of potential companies to find housing?  They are thinking about the land use, housing and transportation systems and framework. They are talking with people in the community.   They are doing all this, and have the general support of local elected officials, and have generated much enthusiasm.

Good Article, But Here's My Take

In my estimation she did a good job with her article. She did her homework.  She found a hook, namely the Silver Tsunami (link to article) aspect of how they are wrestling with plans to cope for a fast aging population.  The article is informative.  The video (below) produced by AmeriCorps volunteer with RCHA, is the story in their own words, and worth the view.  But my personal take away from this effort is that the RCHA staff  are taking initiative. They are making a lot happen with little, and are embracing a holistic approach to sustainability that looks beyond just housing availability and affordability. They are working nimbly and humbly and are managing to move things forward for Randolph County, and are taking a long-term view of both issues and solutions. They are thinking in a proactive and integrated fashion, and that for me is the "big deal" answer here.

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