Earlier this year, MARC launched the new Planning Sustainable Places Program, which provides grants on a competitive basis to local governments and nonprofit organizations to prepare and carry out plans that advance sustainable development in the region’s activity centers. In late October, we awarded $1.575 million to 18 projects through the program’s first funding round.
Planning Sustainable Places is modeled after similar programs around the country, like the Livable Centers Initiative in Atlanta, underway since 1999. The program is designed to support MARC’s Creating Sustainable Places initiative and Transportation Outlook 2040’s activity centers and corridors framework. It focuses on integrating multimodal transportation options, redevelopment and sustainable land-use patterns, and environmental stewardship through targeted planning and meaningful public engagement.
A variety of local sponsors submitted 37 applications totaling $3.7 million. The interdisciplinary Planning Sustainable Places Committee evaluated all projects and ultimately recommended 12 sustainable places plans and six implementation activities receive funds, spanning six counties in Kansas and Missouri. The committee tried to balance between the funding categories, geographic distribution, innovative ideas and projects that could be replicated in other areas.
Examples of awarded projects:
- Comprehensive plan to revitalize aging infrastructure in downtown Louisburg, Kan. ($50,000)
- Implement four community development projects around the area of Emanuel Cleaver II and Troost Avenue to remove blight and repurpose land use and structures ($120,000)
- Roadway improvements along the downtown corridor in Grain Valley, Mo., improving access to businesses and supporting multiple modes of travel ($120,000)
Initial funds came from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Grant Program and the federal Surface Transportation Program. MARC expects a second grant round to take place in 2014.