A round-up of sustainability stories and opportunities for January 14, 2014.
South Euclid deserves props for getting out ahead of the subprime-lending fueled vacant property problem that’s starting to impact the suburbs. S. Euclid was one of five suburbs to jump early on federal assistance for foreclosure. It secured a slice of Cuyahoga County's $40 million Neighborhood Stabilization II Fund that it used to rehabilitate and list seven vacant homes for sale around the former Oakwood Country Club. The city decided on a rehab strategy of energy efficiency. This vacant-to-green program is being marketed, smartly, as the Green Neighborhood Initiative. It has also included demolishing eight, harder-hit homes and turning them into five community gardens and three pocket parks.
This week, South Euclid announced it will partner with Cleveland Restoration Society, First Federal of Lakewood and Cuyahoga County to launch a Home Heritage Purchase Program.
“It will help homebuyers get technical assistance and the financing necessary to purchase and rehabilitate vacant homes,” said South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo. “This unique program will help fill an existing gap in the real-estate market which has prevented interested and credit-worthy homebuyers from purchasing real estate owned properties, not only in South Euclid, but across the County.”
This is a scaled-up version of the Restoration Society’s Heritage Home Loan Program which provides very low interest loans (2%) for historically sensitive home rehab projects and technical assistance on how to do them. Similarly, the home purchase program will be available throughout the county, to any city participating in the loan program (such as Cleveland and Cleveland Heights).
–In an article titled, “Why adding even a small amount of coastal wetlands to the Great Lakes Region was a significant feat” Next City reports on a concerted effort to reverse trend. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, launched in 2010 with a promise of $1 billion, added 13,610 acres of coastal wetlands to the eight-state region, including an amazing story in the western basin of Lake Erie.
“A recognition of just how important the Great Lakes are to the country’s health and security,” Next City writes. “After all, they contain 84 percent of the surface freshwater in North America and provide drinking water to 30 million U.S. citizens.”
That’s the good news. Now the (potentially) bad.
Funds for the restoration of natural coastal ecosystems—which provide invaluable clean water services and provide high-quality habitat for birds and fish (which is why hunters and fisherman have eagerly participated)—are being slashed by Congress. Next City calls on concerned citizens in the Great Lakes to contact their Representative and ask them to hold firm on their $60 million commitment.
“At a time when the vital importance of clean water is becoming ever more apparent, this remarkable ecosystem—the largest freshwater system on Earth—seems more precious than ever, and more worthy of protection.”
–Restoring the East Coast wetlands will brace an economy that dwarf’s Ohio’s $1 billion fishing and tourism’s. The New York Times reports in “The Storm Next Time” that records dating back to 1880 confirm a really scary 8-inch rise in Atlantic Ocean tides. Scientific models show globally seas could rise as high as five feet. Adding to fears that New York City will soon have to fend off even worse storm surges than Hurricane Sandy threw at it—the coastline is rapidly disappearing. The worst spot might be the Chesapeake Bay region. Whole island communities that contained hundreds of residents in the 19th century have already disappeared.
–Policy Matters says Ohio’s going too easy on the extraction industry around hydrofracking when it comes to doling out tax breaks in its House Bill 375.
"Severance taxes pay for the loss of a valuable resource that can be removed only once," said Wendy Patton, author of a report that found $800 million in tax breaks over a 10-year period. "Communities deserve a share of that value to make up for costs of extraction, to diversify the economy after the resource is gone, and to meet critical needs."
–Access Ohio 2040 is the state’s long-range transportation plan. It includes a comprehensive inventory of transportation services and infrastructure, forecasts of transportation demand, asset condition and performance, and an analysis of the trends affecting transportation in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) developed this plan to guide, inform, and support ODOT’s policies and investment strategies for the coming years. Please review the Plan, and provide your feedback before the January 16 deadline.
–2014 Ohio Safe Routes to School funding round is open. Deadline for School Travel Plan, Infrastructure and Non Infrastructure applications is March 3.
–The call for proposals is now open for the next Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference, which will take place in Pittsburgh, September 8-11, 2014. They are accepting proposals under four conference tracks—Change, Connect, Prosper, and Sustain—until January 31.