Five state capitals have been selected to receive design and planning assistance in pursuing smart growth and green development projects as part of the Greening America's Capitals program. Private sector experts will visit Boston; Jefferson City, Mo.; Hartford, Conn.; Charleston, W.Va.; and Little Rock, Ark., and consult with city planners and leaders to facilitate each city's sustainable development goals.
Greening America's Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities agreement forged between the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Its ultimate goal is to inspire state leaders to expand sustainable development throughout their jurisdictions to yield unique neighborhoods that provide a variety of social, economic, environmental, and public health benefits. Beginning in 2010, the program will provide assistance to three to five communities per year.
The program will fund a team of urban planners and landscape architects to travel to each city and support them in developing visions of environmentally friendly communities that incorporate green building and green infrastructure strategies, as well as advise them on creating implementation plans.
Each city submitted a proposal outlining its project and need for design assistance.
- Boston—The city requested help in greening its City Hall Plaza and City Hall building. The plaza's seven acres currently fail as a public green space, being mostly paved in brick and incorporating little vegetation, so the city plans to create well-defined edges and entrances, improve bicycle access and parking, connect the plaza to existing streets, increase trees and other plants to help with stormwater management, and support the green enhancements planned for City Hall and nearby buildings.
- Charleston, W.Va.—The city plans to redesign Slack Plaza, a focal point of Charleston's downtown and the site of a major bus transfer hub, as part of a significant design shift in the district's heart. Charleston's leaders want to establish a common vision for Slack Plaza that will transform it into a multi-modal transportation hub and well-used town square, incorporating green space, establishing a sense of place, and improving safety.
- Hartford, Conn.—The city seeks assistance in creating a redevelopment strategy for a mile-long stretch of Capitol Avenue that connects to nearby residential and retail areas and also includes the state capitol and legislative buildings, the state library, the Supreme Court, and the state armory. Redesign plans focus on the overall aesthetic character of Capitol Avenue and on public open spaces, including parks, state building grounds, green street improvements to manage stormwater, and pedestrian access and environment improvements.
- Jefferson City, Mo.—The city plans to develop aesthetically and functionally valuable landscape architecture designs for an area of the city that is prone to flooding and is largely forgotten and abandoned: the Wears Creek and Millbottom sections. The goal is to benefit both water quality and the surrounding community by improving public access to the Missouri River, reclaiming and redeveloping brownfields and vacant land, and revitalizing the community.
- Little Rock, Ark.—The city requested help in developing streetscape improvements for the revitalization of its Main Street corridor. Little Rock's redevelopment plans focus on key activity centers along this strip, which connects to another recently revitalized neighborhood, with a particular focus on creating new pocket parks and reusing vacant parking lots to encourage greater pedestrian activity that could support ground-floor retail businesses and a future trolley line.
For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities' Greening America's Capitals project, visit www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/greencapitals.htm.