The EPA has published a new report to help low-income, minority and tribal communities with smart growth strategies for physically, economically and environmentally healthy communities. Greenville, S.C. is benefiting from following the suggestions in the current West Side development.
In February 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities. The basic principles are:
- mix land uses and transportation modes
- use compact building designs for more open space
- provide a range of housing choices for various incomes
- create walking neighborhoods
- develop community values with culture, history, economy and geography
- preserve natural areas and open space
- invest in existing communities--do not just tear them down
- collaborate with investors and developers for fair, predictable and cost effective development
- encourage community engagement and collaboration with developers.
The goal is to meet low-income residents' needs by cleaning up existing neighborhoods, providing affordable housing and transportation, and improving access to places of employment, shopping and recreation areas. Featuring seven communities in the U.S., examples are given of how the goal has been reached with safe street designs allowing for bikers and walkers in addition to cars, cleaning up and reusing once contaminated properties like the brownfield projects in Greenville, reducing exposure to facilities that are potentially environmentally hazardous, and repairing existing infrastructure and current affordable housing.
Lisa Garcia, with the EPA's Office of Environmental Justice, said the report can "help community-based organizations, local planners, and other stakeholders achieve healthy and sustainable communities for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status."
Greenville was chosen in 2005 as one of four communities to participate in the EPA-funded Smart Growth Leadership Institute’s Implementation Assistance Program and revitalize older neighborhoods, provide housing and transportation choices, and enhance the environment. Read the Smart Growth America article about Greenville, S.C. and the West Side.
One of the solutions the planners have come up with is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route to connect the West Side and downtown to help residents get to jobs and other parts of the city. A Livability Educator has been assigned the tasks of creating an elementary curriculum to teach community involvement, and setting up a speaker series to reach adults in the community so they will help shape their neighborhood. Planners are encouraging economic growth in that area for benefit of the residents.
Smart Growth America also has an article about their helping neighboring Greer, S.C. with transit options along Route 29. Watch the video of Mayor Rick Danner of Greer, S.C. explaining the smart growth issues and choices for his city, which was one of 15 communities selected to receive smart growth training tools in 2012.