Five Iowa communities will receive "smart growth" assistance on rebuilding

A friend alerted me to this news release from the Rebuild Iowa Office. I’ve posted the whole release after the jump, but here is an excerpt:

Five Iowa communities affected by the tornadoes and floods of 2008 will receive assistance in recovering stronger and smarter through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) program.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO) and the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) recently announced that New Hartford, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Coralville and Iowa City have been chosen to receive expert technical assistance to help with growth and redevelopment.

This is good news, because rebuilding with smart growth principles in mind will bring economic and environmental benefits to those cities.

March 24, 2009

FIVE IOWA COMMUNITIES SELECTED FOR SMART GROWTH ASSISTANCE

State & Federal Agencies Team Up to Help Disaster-Impacted Communities Better Plan for Rebuilding

(DES MOINES) – Five Iowa communities affected by the tornadoes and floods of 2008 will receive assistance in recovering stronger and smarter through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) program.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO) and the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) recently announced that New Hartford, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Coralville and Iowa City have been chosen to receive expert technical assistance to help with growth and redevelopment.

This assistance is typically awarded through a competitive application process. No Iowa cities have been chosen in the past. However, FEMA and EPA worked together to make sure federal resources would be available to Iowa after last summer’s level of devastation and to build on the progress with which FEMA has already helped. For this application, ten cities in Iowa were eligible for the program. Eight cities applied and five were chosen.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to tap into some outside expertise,” said Bob Miklo, senior planner for Iowa City. “Bringing in a consultant from the EPA and a consultant who has worked with other cities will bring us some input we wouldn’t have thought of locally.”

Under a federal contract that supports EPA’s Smart Growth assistance program, each selected community will receive direct technical assistance from a team of national experts organized by EPA and other partners to work on redevelopment plans with local leaders. Team members will have expertise in disciplines relevant to each community’s unique needs.

“This is an excellent example of how partnerships between various state and federal agencies ;benefit the communities most severely affected by a disaster,” said FEMA ESF #14 Long-Term Community Recovery Branch Director Steve Castaner.

Aaron Todd, a community planning specialist with the Rebuild Iowa Office, helped coordinate the application process, and will continue to work with the EPA and other agency partners to provide assistance. Coordinating recovery and redevelopment of Iowa’s communities in a sustainable manner is a priority outlined in the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission’s 120-day Report.

“Incorporating sustainable redevelopment policies in Iowa’s recovery not only reduces our impact on the environment, but also fosters economic growth and helps to reduce the potential damage of future natural disasters,” he said.

Special Projects Coordinator Stephanie Weisenbach with the Community Development Division of IDED, is also collaborating with the communities and various agencies on the Smart Growth program.

“Cities are still faced with complex challenges about how and where to rebuild after last year’s natural disasters,” she said. “Expert help on sustainable redevelopment choices can help overcome these challenges and create more vibrant places for businesses and families.”

The selected communities have a unique opportunity to redevelop in ways that can help revitalize their economies, protect environmental resources and public health, and enhance quality of life for their citizens. Community officials are also interested in putting into place development approaches that will help the community become more resilient to future flooding.

Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews said city officials are appreciative of the technical assistance, adding that city staff found out about the SGIA program shortly after returning from a Smart Growth conference in New Mexico.

“It was perfect timing. Hopefully this will help us grow well and thoughtfully, taking into account transportation, land use issues, flood plain management and planning more green development.”

Initial visits to each of the communities by the technical assistance teams and representatives from the various agencies involved will take place between March 24 and 26.

The community projects are:

   * Cedar Falls will receive assistance in expanding home ownership and rental choices in portions of the city deemed most appropriate for new growth and infill development. The city also wants to identify strategies for implementing green infrastructure approaches in flood-prone areas.

   * Cedar Rapids will receive assistance in identifying existing or potential barriers to more sustainable development in current development policies and codes.

   * Coralville will receive assistance with creating a vision and ensuring that codes and ordinances can help accommodate future growth through infill redevelopment and dedication of well-designed open space in flood prone areas.

   * Iowa City will receive assistance in redeveloping the South Gilbert Street Commercial Corridor. EPA will help identify strategies for accommodating future growth in this corridor and for increasing green infrastructure and open space areas that could help mitigate future flood events.

   * New Hartford will receive assistance with its storm water management and prevention of future flooding. EPA assistance will be used to organize a workshop outlining green infrastructure strategies New Hartford could adopt to address its storm water and flooding challenges.

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  • Chuck Grassley was born in New Hartford

    I’m sure that community needs the assistance.  I admit, I’ve never been to New Hartford.  But it struck me as odd that Grassley was born there and they’re getting help.  Are there other communities worse off than New Hartford?

    I don’t trust Grassley… a big Senate salary and on the take from farm subsidies, helped author Medicare Part D legislation that undermines his fellow senior citizens (Iowa has the 4th largest senior population just behind FL, PA, WVA, according to the 2000 census report).  His comments to Obama are practically an open admission of his preference to big pharma over the public option on universal health care.  The more I read, the worse it gets.

    Anyone?

    • New Hartford

      As far as I know (not having been there myself) New Hartford got hit pretty bad by both the Parkersburg tornado and the flood last year. I think they probably deserve reconstruction funds as much as anyone.  

    • I agree with American007

      this was a tornado-damaged community. It probably didn’t hurt that Grassley is from there, but I think they legitimately need the help.

  • Thanks

    I remember the Parkersburg tornado that leveled the high school.  In fact, I voted on line to help the school win $25,000 in funds from a sponsoring organization to help them rebuild.  I didn’t realize the tornado and New Hartford were one and the same.

    …still keeping an eye on Grassley, tho’

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