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New funding streams for sustainability

Marc Lefkowitz  |  01/07/10 @ 3:42pm

  • A new year brings a fresh supply of major funding opportunities for sustainability. The Ohio Department of Development has compiled a list of state and federal grants for advanced energy research and development, for transit (circulators and light rail), biofuels, for a $30 mil climate change center, training centers for home weatherization, fellowships for advanced degrees in transportation, even an environmental video contest. See the list here.
  • Heather Bowden was hired as the newest Bike and Pedestrian Planner at the Ohio Department of Transportation at the end of 2009. In a recent email with cycling and walking advocates, Bowden suggests that Cleveland and other Ohio cities might fund new bike and pedestrian projects by "thinking more creatively on how to achieve your project goal. For example, if you can prove that there is enough of a potential demand for shifting mode share to bikes in a bigger city, then your area could receive CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality) money to install bike racks.
  • "Another example I have seen is in the City of Logan," she continues. "One year they decided instead of using their allocated CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies for storm/sewer projects, which is the typical use for the funds, they upgraded all of their curb ramps in their historic downtown central business district to meet ADA compliance."

    Northeast Ohio's transportation agency (NOACA) has a poor track record of tapping CMAQ funds, which total roughly $10 million a year, for bicycling and pedestrian projects. Nonetheless, Bowden is right to suggest that cities that want attractive streetscapes and healthy mobility options tap the following resources at the state: Clean Ohio Funds (ODNR and MPOs), State and Capital Improvements Program (OPWC), Recreational Trails Program (ODNR) and Community Development Block Grant (Entitlement City/County Admin).

    Bowden has broken down the funding source by eligible project type here.

  • MMPI and Cuyahoga County have struck a tentative deal on the Medical Mart which includes a purchase and possible use of eminent domain to take private property on St. Clair Avenue. It raises a series of questions, starting with, How will the county use eminent domain to take property after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that private property cannot be taken with eminent domain solely for private development? (In a bitter twist of irony, the case that led to the Ohio High Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London-the company that New London took Ms. Kelo and her neighbors' property for, Pfizer, decided to pull the plug on the re-development last November.) Johnston also recounts the city's anger when MMPI dropped their committment to refurbishing the existing Cleveland Convention Center and Public Auditorium due to cost. How does this deal address the city's concerns for green building and historic preservation?
  • "We're finally beginning to understand the depth of how nature works-how it creates not only beauty, but does so with efficiency and a lack of waste," Cuyahoga County Planning Director Paul Alsenas describes to the Plain Dealer the new 'biomimicry' initiative which led to pilot green bulkheads in the Flats. The PD and the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative celebrate the coming together of CIA industrial designers with this vision for greening the rust belt.
  • The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District voted in favor of new fees for impervious surfaces today. We suggest, instead of viewing this as 'just another fee' that we see this as the dawning of a new age for clean water in Northeast Ohio and the creation of a green infrastructure agency. We expect innovation and cooperation between the Sewer District and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank will lead to catalytic re-greening projects in Cleveland and the suburbs. We fully expect this agency to take the lead on restoring wetlands and urban streams and creating sustainable solutions to our flooding and water quality issues.   

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