Posted on September 18, 2009 5:04 AM
Weekly Update, 9-18-09
Federal policy makers. Congratulations to the Metropolitan Planning Council on yesterday’s annual luncheon celebrating their 75th anniversary. Additional congratulations to Chicago Metropolis 2020 on winning the Burnham award for excellence in planning. The event brought the secretaries and top administrators of USDOT, HUD, USEPA, and the White House Office of Urban Affairs to Chicago. They discussed the federal focus on coordination across agency lines and addressed other issues of concern to metropolitan areas. Following that luncheon, I was fortunate to attend a roundtable with Adolfo Carrion (director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs) and Derek Douglas (special assistant to the President for urban affairs), and other White House staff to discuss some of the activities happening on the ground here and how we can move the region’s agenda forward. I was extremely pleased with the discussion as a whole and particularly our DC guests' understanding of the need to change how the federal government supports regional and local activities in metropolitan areas.
CREATE stimulus. On Tuesday, IDOT announced the proposal for $300 million in stimulus funds to support CREATE's efforts to address freight rail-related congestion in our region. Here's the grant application for this project, which I believe can significantly benefit not just our region, but the entire nation due to metropolitan Chicago's status as the national freight hub.
Recovery blog. In addition to the news about CREATE, this week we provided some helpful tools related to ARRA grant recipients' reporting requirements and discussed the White House Council of Economic Advisors' first quarterly report on impacts of the stimulus.
CDBG opportunities. Click here for a letter from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) notifying interested parties that the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Plan will be posted on the web for comment by close of business today. Illinois will receive $169 million in additional CDBG funding on behalf of communities (listed in the letter) that were impacted by 2008 flood, storm and other disaster. The letter provides important deadlines over the next two weeks leading up to the submission of this plan and the receipt of this funding.
CMAQ in the news. Paul Merrion of Crain's wrote about a high-profile CMAQ project, the Navy Pier bike path, which is moving through our committees' stages of approval.
Green city. Congratulations to the city of Chicago for having the most LEED-certified buildings of any U.S. urban area. An interesting contrast is this NPR story (with audio) about the rate at which Houston consumes energy, and a related one about development patterns there.
Greening for the Olympics. The New York Times has a lengthy article about efforts to improve the Chicago 2016 bid chances by expanding green projects. One example is the recent replacement of a West Side parking lot with a park, allowing water to drain through soil instead of running off asphalt. Other proposed ideas include clustering venues to make them pedestrian and bike friendly. Chicago 2016 Chairman and CEO Pat Ryan remarks that the goal of planning for the 2016 games is to "leave a sustainable legacy for our environment for generations to come." The article also discusses plans put forth by our partners at the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Openlands.
Environmental conference reminder. Early-bird registration ends on September 25, 2009, for "Bringing Green Down to Earth," the 2009 Environmental Leadership Conference. To be held September 30 in Oak Brook, the conference has been approved for "Certification Maintenance" credits through the American Institute of Certified Planners and "Certified County Official" credits through the University of Illinois Extension's Local Government Information and Education Network. Attendees will get "shovel ready" ideas, make contacts with other local officials, and learn about energy, green buildings, stormwater management, sustainable landscaping, and solid waste. Attendees will receive a copy of "Green Recovery: Get Lean, Get Smart, and Emerge from the Downturn on Top" by keynote speaker Andrew Winston. Visit http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/elc/ for conference details and registration.
RTA comment period. Until September 30, 2009, the Regional Transportation Authority is seeking public comments on new projects from its Community Planning, Subregional Planning and Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom Preliminary programs. Public comments may be submitted by telephone (312-913-3143), email, or at one of the scheduled RTA Public Budget Hearings.
Car-Free Day. Don't forget that Tuesday, September 22, 2009, is the first "Car-Free Day" in metropolitan Chicago. By taking the pledge at the Active Transportation Alliance website, you can get $1 off any large beverage at Caribou Coffee.
Conservation Congress. Does your organization represent land conservation, hunters or fishers, parents or educators, or people who recreate in the outdoors? Help create a better future at Conservation Congress on Saturday, October 24 (registration 8:15 a.m., program 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and Sunday, October 25 (check-in 8:30 a.m., program 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) at the IDNR Headquarters in Springfield. Click here to register, or visit the Conservation Congress website. Participants will review, propose and vote on recommendations to elected and appointed Illinois officials in three issue areas: Public Access, Youth Recruitment and Retention, and Conservation Funding. Recommendations will protect and conserve natural resources while ensuring that sustainable use, recreational opportunities, and enjoyment of these resources are available for this and future generations.
Building Green event. On October 21, 2009 at the Hilton Chicago, the Building Green Chicago Conference and Expo will combine a trade and product show with educational seminars. Register online at the early bird rate of $69, which increases to $89 after October 2. Call 312-644-6977 for more information.
In the GO TO 2040 blog. We recapped Invent the Future workshops including Aurora, the Field Museum, Grayslake, Hegewisch, Montgomery, and Palos Hills. CMAP’s Shana Alford also wrote about savings from workplace commuter benefits.
Safer roads program. Visit ROADWAY SAFETY+, a program of the road construction industry that includes videos and webinars with free information about how to promote safety on our roads.
Quote of the Week. "Federal investment must be driven by smart regional planning," Adolfo Carrion, director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, at MPC’s annual luncheon.