Two New England state capitals are in a select group of only five nationwide, chosen by EPA to demonstrate high quality green community development practices and receive special technical assistance.
Through its new Greening America’s Capitals program, EPA will provide design assistance from private-sector experts to help Boston, Mass. and Hartford, Conn. use sustainable designs to create interesting, unique neighborhoods with multiple social, economic, and environmental and public health benefits.
Greening America’s Capitals is a new project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). HUD and DOT were involved in the review and selection process and will be providing technical expertise on relevant portions of each project. The other state capitals selected for this effort include Charleston, W.Va., Little Rock, Ark. and Jefferson City, Mo.
“New England is often at the vanguard of applying environmental principles to our lives, and striking a balance to promote healthier communities and a sustainable lifestyle. Boston and Hartford are continuing this tradition,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
Boston and Hartford were selected from a total of 38 letters of interest received following a solicitation of interest by EPA. The Agency will now organize teams of urban planners and landscape architects to provide direct, customized technical assistance as requested by each community. This design assistance will help selected state capitals envision ways to clean-up and recycle vacant lands, provide greater housing and transportation choices, reduce infrastructure and energy costs, and build civic pride in neighborhoods and the city as a whole. Longer-term, this assistance will help create models that many other cities can look to in creating their own sustainable designs.
The City of Hartford will work to re-imagine a mile-long portion of Capitol Avenue, a focal point of the city that includes the Connecticut State Capitol and Legislative Building, the State Library, the Supreme Court, the State Armory, as well as residential and retail areas. The Greening America’s Capitals workshop will help Hartford staff and stakeholders create a redevelopment plan for the Capitol Avenue corridor and connections to nearby locations, such as the Frog Hollow neighborhood and a proposed Sigourney Street bus rapid transit station. Redesigns will focus on public open spaces, such as parks and state building grounds, as well as green street improvements that better manage stormwater, improve the pedestrian environment and aesthetic character of Capitol Avenue, and encourage future redevelopment. EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals work will complement the National Endowment for the Arts iQuilt project to link cultural assets and integrate new public spaces along the Capitol Avenue corridor.
'With this award, Hartford will, in partnership with the EPA, undertake the “Capitol Avenue Visioning” project, which will allow us to showcase the best and the brightest assets in the Capitol Area and connect it with the 'iQuilt' -- our arts-based public realm strategy for economic growth in the Downtown area. This work further refines and brings to life our newly adopted 'One City, One Plan' for conservation and development. Combine this with the EPA expertise, and we will create a healthier, greener, and better connected Hartford, giving our historic city and 21st technology edge,' said Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra.
Boston City Hall is at the epicenter of one of America’s most historic and vibrant cities. The plaza surrounding Boston City Hall was originally conceived as an outdoor civic space, but today the seven-acre brick plaza has yet to realize its great potential as a public green space. With few trees and little vegetation, the plaza is unshaded and wind-swept and is hard to access or navigate, especially for those with disabilities. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has designated the larger Government City area that includes City Hall and City Hall Plaza as a beacon for green and sustainable growth to unlock development potential in downtown Boston.
'Our cutting edge green building, clean energy, and sustainable transportation programs have put Boston on track to become one of the greenest cities in the world,' said Thomas M. Menino. 'Through the Greening America's Capitals program we will develop a vision to transform government center into a showcase of efficiency that embodies Boston's strong commitment to environmental sustainability.'
With EPA’s assistance, the City of Boston will work to create realistic greening options for City Hall Plaza that can be realized in the near-term. Goals of the redesign will be to create well-defined edges and entrances, provide more bike access and parking, connect the plaza to existing streets, increase green elements such as trees and vegetation for better stormwater management, and support energy efficiency and green building improvements in City Hall and nearby buildings.