Posted on February 18, 2010 11:30 PM
Weekly Update, 2-19-10
GO TO 2040 brownbag sessions. CMAP is coordinating a series of brownbag sessions to engage partners in planning issues that will be major priorities in GO TO 2040. The first session is next Friday, February 26, 2010, at 12:00 p.m. and will focus on water. The session will include a recap of the newly approved Northeastern Illinois Water Supply/Demand Plan and a brainstorming session about how partner organizations can educate and inform people about water, one of our region's most precious resources. To attend, please contact Joey-Lin Silberhorn (email@example.com or 312-386-8814), and view our upcoming partnership schedule.
RTA cash flow. State of Illinois financial obligations to the Regional Transportation Authority continue to go unpaid due to the State's cash flow problems. Unless funds become available soon, the current $250 million budget gap will significantly affect riders and employees. This is especially disconcerting in light of cuts that the CTA already made recently due to budget issues unrelated to the State shortfall. Transit is critically important to our region's residents and businesses, and disruptions in service represent a serious setback for public confidence in the system. CMAP is working with RTA and our other partners to emphasize the importance of putting RTA and the transit carriers on solid financial footing.
CREATE stimulus grant. The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program (CREATE) will receive $100 million in stimulus funds for 16 rail projects, according to an announcement this week by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). CREATE is a public-private partnership between railroads and transportation agencies to ease congestion related to freight. The funding from USDOT's TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program will also have truly national benefits due to metropolitan Chicago's status as the leading U.S. freight rail hub. This was the largest TIGER award in the Midwest and the second largest nationally. The top three awards all are for freight-related projects. CREATE leaders estimate that the stimulus grant will cut rail transit delays by 57,631 passenger hours per year and reduce motorist delays by 344,499 hours annually, supporting 1,087 jobs through the projects' completion in 2012. The grant is among $1.5 billion awarded nationally through TIGER.
Steve Schlickman. News also came this week that RTA executive director Steve Schlickman will be stepping down effective in October 2010. These weekly updates usually don't note career-related announcements, but I'd like to make an exception in this case. Steve has been a consistent advocate of regional planning and a reliable ally of CMAP. I believe he has done his best in difficult budget times to preserve the transit system for today's residents and tomorrow's. Please join me in wishing him all the best in his transition.
Housing event. CMAP is co-sponsoring an event on March 1 to release "Confronting the Vacant Property Challenge: A Tool Kit for Municipalities" with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC), Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The tool kit details strategies that local governments have implemented to address the vacant buildings left behind by foreclosures. The event will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., and the registration deadline is Tuesday, February 23. Contact MMC's Beth Dever (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-201-4507) to register.
Recovery blog. The latest Economic Recovery Update came out this Wednesday, the first anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). We also blogged about the $100 million grant awarded to CREATE. In the news, today the Trib has an interesting first-year recap of the stimulus in Blair Kamin's blog. While the ARRA's near-term emphasis was clearly on immediate job creation -- and the region's roads and transit were (and are) in serious need of maintenance -- I share his frustration over some of the missed opportunities to achieve longer lasting benefits.
The D-word. This week the Cityscapes blog also looked at changing views of density. This will obviously be an important aspect of the GO TO 2040 plan, which will recognize that each community has its own concept of the word.
Soles and Spokes. CMAP's bike-ped planning blog featured new maps that visualize and analyze bicycle and pedestrian crashes throughout the region. Other posts include information on a webinar for professional planners and engineers, and the upcoming Grand Illinois Trail tour.
Economic development data webinar. CMAP is conducting a webinar, "Getting Economic Data Using the American Community Survey (ACS)," on March 3, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Finding data from the ACS is convenient and easy and can help your community assess its economic profile. This webinar can help you learn to write successful grants with information on the age and education level of your workforce, the largest local economic sectors, and detailed tables and data. Register online or contact Jon Hallas (email@example.com or 312-386-8764) for more information.
Support for transit-oriented development. The chance of foreclosure is higher in neighborhoods that are more dependent on cars, according to a new report from the Natural Resource Defense Council, which used data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Mary Wisniewski of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote an article about the report and its promotion of location-efficient mortgages for first-time homebuyers.
CREW event. I was privileged to speak at Commercial Real Estate Executive Women (CREW) Chicago luncheon on January 27, where we discussed GO TO 2040 and the results of last summer's Invent the Future outreach efforts. Yvonne A. Jones of the Zifkin Realty Group posted a nice program recap.
Reminder: Energy webinar. CMAP is conducting a webinar, "Geothermal Energy in Your Community," on February 26, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. Panelists will discuss the design, applicability, benefits, and funding sources for geothermal heating and cooling, which is the cleanest alternative energy source, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
FLIP photographer. Congratulations to Lauren Arendariz-Bast, a participant in CMAP's Future Leaders in Planning (FLIP) high school leadership development program. One of Lauren's photos was chosen for the cover of the Naperville Park District's Spring Program Guide. The senior at Waubonsie Valley High School is a passionate photographer, and more of her photos are featured within the guide.
In the GO TO 2040 blog. We featured a bright photo from Milwaukee Avenue's storefronts for our weekly Flickr photo. CMAP's Diana Torres blogged about our new "My 2040" blog series, where you can share your thoughts on the future of our region. Torres also blogged about the February session of FLIP, where students interviewed regional experts.
Reminder: Planning workshop. CMAP will be the site of a workshop and focus group, "Developing Agent-Based Models for Urban Planning" on March 5, 2010, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Attendees will learn how to use the NetLogo simulation program, and their feedback will be used to design software especially for urban planning. Space is limited to 16. RSVP to Dr. Moira Zellner (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-996-2149).