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April Upfront News & Views

April Upfront News & Views

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    Has your department submitted a project for economic-stimulus funding?

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    A sound optionManufacturersThe Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission saved 43% on a 7.5-mile renovation near the Ohio border using Centria's Eco Sound Barriers. Comprised of a polymer composite core with galvanized or aluminum substrate, the panels are entirely recyclable and as effective as precast concrete. Weighing 2.25 to 4.25 pounds/square foot, the 1,800-foot-long, 15-foot-tall panels were shipped in six truckloads. Photo: Centria

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    These fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) pile jackets don't have to be sandblasted for epoxies to form an air- and watertight seal. Photo: Molded Fiber Glass Construction Products

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    Fleet department leads by exampleOperationsChicago is the first Illinois city to add a diesel hybrid utility truck to its inventory of lower-emission vehicles. Once Department of Streets and Sanitation crews reach a worksite, they'll turn off the Navistar DuraStar and use the electric power take off to lift, lower, rotate, and extend the boom at heights of up to 40 feet. “A hybrid truck used heavily for aerial bucket work versus transportation could reduce fuel usage by 50% when compared to a standard aerial bucket truck,” says Fleet Management Commissioner Howard Henneman. Photo: Navistar

Now the district reports a 23% increase in recycling and diversion rates from last year. Elements of the plan include a districtwide recycling system in all school cafeterias and lunch areas, increased recycling service levels at five sites and increased recycling capacity at all sites, and on-campus composting training for school staff and parents.

Counties honored for conservation, park creation

Parks & rec

The Trust for Public Land and the National Association of Counties recognized three counties with County Leadership in Conservation Awards:

Large county category (500,000+): Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, Hillsborough County, Fla. Created in 1986, the ELAP Program formed a citizen-led group to identify and protect the natural lands in the Tampa Bay area. The program acquired more than 44,700 acres of environmental significant lands for 51 projects, nearly tripling the county's protected open space, habitat, and parklands. It expanded two state and five county parks, helped create a new state recreational area, and created numerous trailheads.

Since its inception, citizens have voted three times to provide funding for the program. The $130 million of local taxpayer funds have been leveraged by $76 million in funding from state, federal, and private grants and donations.

Medium county (150,000 to 499,999): Regional Open Space and Natural Resource Management Plan, Washoe County, Nev. The program balances the priorities of constituents; land developers; conservation organizations; private entities; and city, county, state, federal, and tribal government to create more than 60 parks and trails, and preserve nearly 10,000 acres of open space.

Voter-approved funding included a $28.3 million county bond for parks, trails, and open space and a $200 million state bond, of which $10 million was earmarked to acquire land along the Truckee River. A statewide capital series bond created $12 million for land acquisition. The county leveraged an additional $14 million from state, federal, and private sources.

In addition, the Truckee River Flood Project used $45 million from a one-eighth cent sales tax to acquire nearly 140 acres of future parkland and trails in the river's flood zone. And the sale of public land through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act provided $183 million to help consolidate a patchwork of federal land, and preserve 40,000 acres of open space.

Small county (Less than 150,000): Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program, Beaufort County, S.C. In 1998, the county teamed with a group of citizens to prioritize the protection of land most at risk of development. Using revenue generated from a property tax allocation, and a combination of outright purchase, purchase of development rights, and conservation easements, the program has preserved 16,751 acres.

Voters approved a $40 million bond in 2000, and a $50 million bond in 2006 to continue funding the program, and the program leveraged $19 million from federal, state, and private sources.

The award program recognizes leadership, innovation, and excellence in land conservation and park creation initiatives by counties. Awards were presented in partnership with the National Association of County Planners and the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials.

Readers respond

www.pwmag.com quick-poll question:

A blessing or a curse?

Reviews are mixed on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's use of existing federal-funding programs to award and distribute monies for infrastructure.

“We were told politely to apply, but explicitly not to waste our time, unless the projects were already accepted and near completion through the state DOT.”

“Due to a municipal budget crisis, we're looking at layoffs and staff reductions. Thanks to the stimulus, we'll be expected to oversee more projects with fewer people and resources.”

“'Shovel ready' was a joke once the timelines were finally announced.”

“The speed demanded by the legislation is resulting in some bad decision-making. The problem isn't the short time frame; it's the entrenched interests of state highway departments and their efforts to keep as much money as possible at the expense of local government interests.”

“The applications and submittal deadline are driving us crazy.”

“Funding should have been distributed as gas tax to get it straight to locals. Sending it through regional planning organizations and treating it as a normal federal grant created too much red tape. Why are we being asked to do cultural resource research to repair potholes? Study flood plains to add a 2-inch overlay between existing curbing? It's maddening when trying to meet deadlines and do something positive for the economy.”