Call for Iowa's best sustainable developments and river towns

The non-profit organizations 1000 Friends of Iowa and Iowa Rivers Revival are accepting nominations for this year's Best Development Awards and Iowa River Town of the Year. More details are after the jump.

1000 Friends of Iowa recognizes sustainable developments in the following six categories: New Residential, Renovated Residential, Renovated Commercial/Civic, New Commercial/Civic, Mixed Use, and Leadership. This page on the group's website contains a link to the application form and instructions on how to nominate a project, as well as background on past winners. Bleeding Heartland covered last year's best developments here and previous winners here.

Note: I am an active volunteer with 1000 Friends of Iowa, but I have never been involved in selecting the Best Development Award winners. A panel of experts evaluates the nominees based on the following criteria:

Projects will be reviewed and awards granted based upon the project fulfilling the objectives of Smart Growth as defined below. You may also read the Principles of Smart Growth by clicking here.

Smart growth is the efficient use of our resources to develop sustainable communities that provide a high quality of life.

Smart growth efficiently utilizes our tax dollars and private investments through. . .

* Reinvesting in existing communities that have experienced decline. This includes rehabilitation and reuse of older buildings and in-fill development.

* Focusing new development around walkable, mixed-use town centers with a balance of housing and jobs.

* Coordinating the provision of utilities and public services amongst local jurisdictions in a metropolitan region.

Smart growth is sustainable because it. . .

* Distributes affordable housing throughout the region to improve access to employment opportunities and avoid concentrations of poverty.

* Utilizes green building practices to conserve energy.

* Attracts new business and industry, which increasingly consider quality of life factors when selecting communities in which to locate or expand.

* Balances urban expansion with the protection of agricultural land and natural areas.

* Empowers citizens to take responsibility for their community and become actively involved in the planning process.

* Recognizes the interdependence of the social, natural and built environments.

* Considers the impact of development on future generations.

Smart growth provides a high quality of life by . . .

* Creating a framework to build community and establish a sense of place.

* Providing walkable, mixed-use community centers that include civic, commercial and residential uses.

* Offering residents a variety of choices in housing options and transportation modes.

* Establishing urban green spaces and protecting environmentally sensitive areas from inappropriate development.

* Engaging residents in a more active, healthy lifestyle.

* Reducing health threats from air and water pollution.

The deadline for submitting an application is October 8. Winners will be announced at the 1000 Friends of Iowa annual meeting on Saturday, November 10, at the Park Inn Hotel in Mason City. The world's last surviving hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the 2011 Best Development Award winners. Learning about the best development projects around the state is always a highlight of the annual meeting.

Iowa Rivers Revival is accepting nominations for River Town of the Year through November 1.

PURPOSE:  This award celebrates the many vibrant river communities across the state that are reclaiming riverfronts as anchors for economic development, recreation, and ecological practices, and addressing challenges and solutions related to water quality of Iowa's rivers. Iowa Rivers Revival is the statewide river advocacy group working to engage individuals, organizations, communities and government leaders in river awareness, responsibility and enjoyment.  IRR is committed to protecting some of our most precious natural resources - our rivers and streams.

WHO CAN APPLY:  Any Iowa city or town can apply.  Applicants must demonstrate community commitment and involvement in protecting and maintaining river quality and promoting the river as an asset to the town.

AWARD:  One Iowa river town will receive the River Town of the Year Award in January 2013 at a reception hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival at a location in the award-winning town.

Click here for the application (pdf). This memo explains what the selection committee is looking for:

The River Town of the Year award recognizes a city's outstanding work to enhance connections to its river. For example, Charles City was honored for responding to severe floods in 1999 and 2008 "by embracing the Cedar River with new ideas and bold projects," including transforming a low-head dam into Iowa's first whitewater kayak course and installing the state's largest permeable paving system. Applicants must demonstrate commitment to protecting and maintaining river water quality and promoting the river as an asset to the town.

Other activities might include: dam-safety efforts, river-oriented tourism efforts, river clean-up projects, Water Trail designation projects, innovative storm water and river protection projects, walking trails along the river, education and advocacy by local river or watershed groups, and efforts for river use and appreciation (restaurants, bed & breakfasts, bait shops, boat rentals), etc.

Bleeding Heartland covered Charles City's award here. Iowa Rivers Revival previously recognized Webster City (2007), Elkader (2008), Coon Rapids (2009) and Cedar Falls (2010) as River Town of the Year. Each of those cities' winning applications can be downloaded on this page of the Iowa Rivers Revival site.

Login or Join to comment and post.