By Jeffery Robichaud
Congratulations are in order to the City, of Des Moines Iowa, the third recipient in Region 7 for a Greening America’s Capitals project. Greening America’s Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green building and green infrastructure strategies. According to the release:
Des Moines will receive assistance to incorporate green infrastructure elements into a proposed streetscape plan for a one-mile segment of 6th Avenue. The 6th Avenue corridor, which serves as the northern gateway to the city’s downtown, is a Main Street Iowa Urban Neighborhood District with direct access to the Des Moines River. The Greening America’s Capitals project will create design options to revitalize this commercial street, such as wider sidewalks, narrower traffic lanes, better lighting, and improved bus stop shelters, as well as street trees, permeable pavement, and rain gardens to minimize stormwater runoff. The city plans to use the 6th Avenue project to guide designs for other planned streetscape improvements throughout the city.
You can view the previous awardees in Region 7, Jefferson City, MO and Lincoln, NE to find out more about plans for greening these State Capitals. What I found interesting about these (as well as from other State Capitals throughout the country which you can visit here) is that an important part of visualizing future green development, taking stock of community assets, and communicating the public is a good map.
In both of the design plans for Jefferson City and Lincoln, maps help to anchor the effort and depict where activities might occur to help green the Capital. In my experience folks always want to know the “what” involved with a potential project but more often the “where” is just as important. Communicating activities visually through mapping, provides greater transparency and allows the public to become better informed in order to provide comments and ideas to decisionmakers. You can also check out more about the Smart Growth Partnership here.
About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.