On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that 25 communities will receive technical assistance to pursue development strategies that advance clean air, clean water, economic development and other local goals.
EPA selected the communities from among 76 applicants to the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. In 2017, EPA staff and national experts will conduct one to two-day workshops to help the community address development-oriented issues.
“Through our Building Blocks program, local leaders can guide their communities towards a healthier, more vibrant future,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Communities shouldn’t have to choose between protecting the environment and creating economic opportunity.”
EPA selected the following communities, located in 19 states: Skykomish, WA; Willamina, OR; Bishop, CA; Apache Junction, AZ; Questa, NM; Raton, NM; Pueblo, CO; Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge, SD; Randolph, NE; Brownsville, TX; Logansport, LA; Acadia Parish, LA; Winona, MN; Detroit, MI; Fairview Park, OH; Manatee County, FL; Miami, FL; Myrtle Beach, SC; Pocomoke City, MD; Baltimore, MD; Kingston, NY; Central Falls, RI; Wareham, MA; Hartford, CT; and Lenox, MA.
The agency is offering five assistance tools this year:
- Green and Complete Streets;
- Equitable Development;
- Planning for Infill Development;
- Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas; and
- Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities.
Using the Green and Complete Streets tool, for example, EPA will assist Manatee County, FL by exploring how the county could develop long-term stormwater plans for the 15th Street corridor. These plans would create green space, encourage redevelopment, and reduce flooding while cleaning runoff before it pollutes the Sarasota Bay. EPA will also work with Winona, MN to create a plan that will help the community develop within geographical constraints that include the Mississippi River on one side and bluffs on the other.
Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 41 states. As a result of this assistance, community groups, local governments, and tribal governments across the nation have increased their capacity to grow and develop in ways that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs and economic opportunity, and improve overall quality of life.
Photo of Brownsville, Texas by Jaedza via Wikipedia.