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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Kansas City’s Green Impact Zone: making great use of stimulus funds

Kaid Benfield

Posted September 28, 2009 in Environmental Justice, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming

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There has been a lot written about how federal stimulus money has not done as much as one might hope for existing urban communities.  By contrast, quite a bit of the money has instead been slated for highway projects.

Rep. Cleaver presents the Green Impact Zone to his constituents (by: Mid-America Regional Council)A shining exception, though, may be found in Kansas City, whose Congressman Emanuel Cleaver has championed what he has called a "Green Impact Zone" in that city.  The idea is to bring federal stimulus funds and other federal program support in a range of categories to a single distressed area of the city to aid in its restoration and improvement.  From a description written by the Brookings Institution:

"Some specific plans include weatherizing every home that needs it to save homeowners money; demolishing dangerous buildings; repaving streets; replacing a key neighborhood bridge; establishing a bus rapid transit system, providing a comprehensive job training and placement program, providing integrated community policing and neighborhood services, and expanding the capacity of neighborhood-based organizations. The zone strategy also involves developing a sustainable strategy for the area, instituting a smart-grid project, and demonstrating how climate protection strategies can be implemented at the neighborhood level, benefiting both the neighborhood and the region. A key feature cutting across all these plans is training the jobless in the zone to do all the new work and connect with opportunities outside of the zone."

Kansas City's Green Impact Zone (via Brush Creek Community Partners)In addition to the federal involvement, which prompted a proud visit from federal leaders (including HUD secretary Shaun Donovan and DOT deputy secretary John Pocari), private capital is also being attracted to the area. To that end, local utility Kansas City Power & Light has announced plans to spend $24 million on new technologies in the area. (The company is also seeking $24 million in stimulus money to expand the program.)  The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has also started construction on a new bus rapid transit line (with help from federal stimulus dollars).

Earlier this year, the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department was awarded a grant to plan a $50 to $70 million Climate Sustainability Center for the neighborhood.  According to a story in the Brush Creek Community Partners newsletter, Rep. Cleaver "says the center's mission will be to develop a sustainable workforce for green jobs, environmentally friendly applications and products, and research for the 21st Century":

the proposed Climate Sustainability Center (via Brush Creek Community Partners)"It would include a green small business incubator and a botanic garden. [The Congressman] envisions significant partnership between the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the area's corporate, institutional and labor communities, and the City of Kansas City.

"The building itself will be planned to go beyond LEED platinum and be a 'Living Campus,' generating its own electricity, and performing on-site storm water collection for reuse or treatment through green practices."

Read more about the various Green Impact Zone initiatives here.  Let's wish them well.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

 

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Comments

Jolene SnyderSep 28 2009 01:22 PM

Since I am a Kansan, this is great news. I hope other communities will follow suit and take advantage of this type of opportunity. It is also important to realize that every single thing we do as individuals can add up to making our communities greener and less toxic. It starts by eliminating the use of unsafe chemicals right in our own homes and yards.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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