Author: leb14010

New! Literature Review – Economic Impact of Multi-Use Trails

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 9.53.47 AMThe Naugatuck River Greenway (NRG) is a planned 44-mile long regional greenway and trail that will extend from Torrington in the north to Derby in the south, passing through eleven communities.  In Spring of 2015 the Naugatuck River Greenway Steering Committee, with members from each of the eleven NRG communities, and the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments approached the University of Connecticut to assist to better understand potential economic impacts of the proposed trail as well as best practices for helping local communities capitalize on the trail when it is completed. To date, a literature review regarding trail impact studies and background on the NRG has been completed and partners have co-designed the economic impact analysis and trail user survey that will be assessed this fall. Read the newly public literature review here.

Reflections from the Southern New England APA Conference

Paeter Kageyama 9-15Anyone who’s been in this field will attest that community development takes grit.  Sometimes the day to day work is monotonous, exhausting, and trying.  We’re challenged by conflicting personalities, politics and bureaucracies and given the charge of changing the status quo when the tides seem turned against us.  That’s why a couple of times a year I make it a point to get together with colleagues, to reflect, and zoom out of my work work and world and learn about amazing things happening around the state and beyond.  Almost without fail when I make the effort to get out of my routine, I find myself utterly in awe, humbled, and reinvigorated.   The Southern New England American Planning Association Conference held in Hartford last week did that for me, even if my time there was short.

The Thursday keynote speaker, Peter Kageyama has written several books about community place-making.  I haven’t read any of them but we got a good feel for his approach to place-making through the bits of advice he shared using examples from cities like Detroit, Michigan and Greenville, South Carolina.  Not having read the book I can’t say how much of this advice is based on actual research versus anecdotes but the stories from communities across the country were compelling and inspiring.  I’ve always found this kind of storytelling, viral education, between communities to be one of the most effective ways to share community development. Here are a few of the tidbits I took away:

  • We should ask ourselves are we asking more from our cities other than to be safe and functional?  We should be aspiring for cities that are safe and functional but also interesting and comfortable.
  • Cities will give us back what we put it- we can think of these as “love letters” 
  • Sometimes you have tho break the rules to get where you want to be.  Rule challengers can help us think in new ways and explore what might be if things were different.  Peter gave the example of a spectacular lantern release  in Grand Rapids that involved thousands more lanterns than were approved originally by the city.
  • Think easy- garden hose solutions work.  Some times I think we tend to overthink the issues we face in our communities- assuming that we need big complicated solutions to simple problems. Simple solutions, like a garden hose sprinkler in a park, can make our communities better places to live and work, even if they don’t require thousands of dollars to implement.
  • People need to play– We love to be surprised and delighted by our cities. The Mice on Main campaign inspired people to look for tiny mouse sculptures all over Greensville, South Carolina. Anther fantastic example involved an artist in Seattle who painted this “graffiti” on sidewalks that only appears when it rains.
  • We cant look at everything through the lens of cost- Those of us with a bit more analytical than creative brain love to crunch numbers.  While there is certainly a financial realty to every project Peter inspired the audience to consider “what is the cost of ugly and boring cities?”  My artist husband has taught me that there is immense value in beauty and inspiration- if only that it makes the heart sing.
  • We usually get the big stuff right- we need to focus on the small stuff– In my mind this meant really engaging change makers; new people, unique minds, in thinking about our communities and the issues we face.

– Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UCONN Extension

Save the date – Wed, Aug 19: 10-11:30 am/eastern Evaluating the Effectiveness of the First Impressions Program in the Northeast

Save the date! Join us for the final webinar in this series:  

  • Wed, August 19: 10-11:30 am/eastern Evaluating the Effectiveness of the First Impressions Program in the Northeast:  A Discussion of Scholarship

This webinar series is made possible through a  “Regional Collaboration of Successful CRD Extension Programs Planning Grant”  from the North East Regional Center for Rural Development. 

Thurs July 23 – Adaptations of the First impressions Program: Engaging Millennials, Youth, Main Streets, and Urban Neighborhoods

Thursday, July 23

Webinar – 10:00 – 11:30 am/Eastern

Presenters:  

Geoff Sewake, Extension Field Specialist, Grafton County, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

Neil Klemme, Youth Development Agent, Iron County, University of Wisconsin Extension

Myra Moss, Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA, Ohio State University Extension

Ann Weid, Community Development Educator, Waukesha County, University of Wisconsin Extension

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Use the following link to join the webinar:

First Impressions Webinar 3

Thu, Jul 23, 2015 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM US Eastern Standard Time

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/912881837

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States : +1 (872) 240-3312

Access Code: 912-881-837

The original First Impressions program, developed in the 1990s by Andrew Lewis, University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension, and James Schneider, has undergone a variety of changes according to audience, place, and purpose. Each location has its own needs, challenges, population, and unique characteristics that should be encompassed in a meaningful assessment.  In this webinar, presenters will share more of the innovative adaptations that have been developed  to ensure program participants receive a valuable, relevant assessment of their communities, Main Streets and urban neighborhoods, and how youth and Millennials are included in the process.

Save the date! Join us for the final webinar in this series:  

  • Wed, August 19: 10-11:30 am/eastern Evaluating the Effectiveness of the First Impressions Program in the Northeast:  A Discussion of Scholarship

This webinar series is made possible through a  “Regional Collaboration of Successful CRD Extension Programs Planning Grant”  from the North East Regional Center for Rural Development. 

How Small Towns and Cities Can Use Local Assets to Rebuild Their Economies – Report from the EPA

Lessons From Successful Places

Over time, all communities experience changes that affect the industries, technologies, and land use patterns that help form the foundation of their local economies. Economically resilient towns, cities, and regions adapt to changing conditions and even reinvent their economic bases if necessary. Even if the community has lost its original or main economic driver, it has other assets that it can use to spur the local economy. While most economic development strategies involve some effort to recruit major employers, such as manufacturers or large retailers, many successful small towns and cities complement recruitment by emphasizing their existing assets and distinctive resources. Read this report from the EPA

Wednesday, June 24- Webinar Adaptations of the First impressions Program: Tourism Destinations and Small Communities

CTFirstImpressionsNewHeader

Adaptations of the First impressions Program: Tourism Destinations and Small Communities

Wednesday, June 24

Webinar – 10:00 – 11:30 am/Eastern

Presenters:  

Doug Arbogast, Extension Specialist, Tourism, West Virginia University Extension Service 

Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, University of Connecticut Extension 

Robin Frost, Program Coordinator, Community Resources & Economic Development, West Virginia University Extension Service

Cynthia Messer, Extension Professor, University of Minnesota Extension

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Use the following link to join the webinar:

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/825905701

Audio connection:

+1 (646) 749-3122

Access Code: 825-905-701

The original First Impressions program, developed in the 1990s by Andrew Lewis, University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension, and James Schneider, has undergone a variety of changes according to audience, place, and purpose. Each location has its own needs, challenges, population, and unique characteristics that should be encompassed in a meaningful assessment.  In this webinar, presenters will share some of the innovative adaptations that have been developed  to ensure program participants receive a valuable, relevant assessment of their small communities, neighborhoods, tourism destinations, or tourism facilities.  Updates made to the manual to assess web presence, social media use, and other modern technologies will also be discussed.

May 27, 2015 Introduction to the First Impressions Program Webinar

CTFirstImpressionsNewHeader

A tool for community assessment and improvement

Wednesday, May 27

Webinar – 10:00 – 11:30 am/eastern

Presenters:  

Daniel Eades Extension Specialist, Rural Economics, West Virginia University Extension Service 

Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, University of Connecticut Extension 

*******************************************

Use the following link to join the webinar:

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/292212341

Audio connection:

+1 (872) 240-3212 Access Code: 292-212-341

As the old saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” For first time visitors, the way a community presents itself is of equal importance. The look and feel of the community experienced by a visitor will most likely influence how long they stay, if they will return, and whether or not they will speak about the community positively or negatively. The First Impressions program is a structured assessment and participation tool designed to provide communities with a fresh look at strengths and shortcomings through the eyes of first-time visitors.  The program is often integrated into existing planning processes and is a dynamic way to engage new audiences and leaders in planning processes.  Through the program, volunteer teams undertake unannounced visits, record observations, and give constructive feedback to an exchange community. Team members receive training, conduct the visit and develop presentations and reports that may be used by the partner community inform community policy and action. Participants in the webinar will learn how the First Impressions program works, how to use data collected from a First Impressions visit, and roles for Extension colleagues in implementing the program.  Future webinars will discuss innovative adaptations that focus on tourism, revitalizing urban neighborhoods, and engaging new and diverse audiences including youth and millennials as well as a proposed regional evaluation project.

The First Impressions Program was first developed by Andrew Lewis, University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension, and James Schneider in the early 1990s. Since then the program has been evaluated extensively at the community level and adapted for use by Extension programs across the United States and Canada. The program draws from goals and processes of both traditional needs assessments (Watkins, Leigh, Platt, & Kaufman, 1998) and asset-based community economic development strategies (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003) to construct an inventory of a location’s assets and challenges that can be used to raise local awareness and guide public action from within.

Save the date! Join us for additional webinars in this series:  

  • Wed, June 24:  10-11:30 am/eastern Adaptations of the First impressions Program: Tourism Destinations, Small Communities, Main Streets, Urban Neighborhoods
  • Thursday, July 23: 10-11:30 am/eastern Adaptations of the First Impressions Program for unique audiences:  Engaging youth and millennials
  • Wed, August 19: 10-11:30 am/eastern Evaluating the Effectiveness of the First Impressions Program in the Northeast:  A Discussion of Scholarship

This webinar series is made possible through a  “Regional Collaboration of Successful CRD Extension Programs Planning Grant”  from the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development.

Trees Sprouting Across Connecticut, 19 Municipalities Lead the Way

Tree City USA is an honor earned by cities and towns that meet four standards set by theArbor Day Foundation and have their application approved the State Forester.

Connecticut currently has 19 municipalities with the Tree City USA designation, which cover 31 percent of the state’s population. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Connecticut’s longest running Tree City is Fairfield, which recently surpassed 26 years.  The largest community is Bridgeport, the smallest, by population, is Brookfieldthumb-grid-shaded-path

The four standards are having:

  • A tree board or department
  • A tree care ordinance
  • An urban forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita
  • An Arbor Day observance and proclamation

The other Tree City USA communities in Connecticut are Branford, Danbury, East Hartford, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Monroe, New Canaan, New Haven, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Southbury, Stamford, West Haven, Wethersfield andWilton.

Norwalk and Wethersfield, for demonstrating a higher level of tree care, have received Growth Awards from the organization.  Overall, there are 3,400 Tree City USA honorees across the country, with a combined population of more than 140 million.logo-tree-city-usa-color

Annual participation as a Tree City USA community provides the opportunity to educate people who care about their community about the value of tree resources, the importance of sustainable tree management and engage individuals and organizations in advancing tree planting and care across the urban forest.

The organization also offers on-line education courses for individuals interested in learning more about trees, or about serving in a citizen advisory role in their local community.

The Arbor Day Foundation indicates that an effective tree program can:

  • Reduce costs for energy, storm water management, and erosion control. Trees yield up to three times their cost in overall benefits to the city, averaging $273 per tree.
  • Cut energy consumption by up to 25%. Studies indicate that as few as three additional trees planted around each building in the United States could save our country $2 billion, annually, in energy costs.
  • Boost property values across your community. Properly placed trees can increase property values from 7-21% and buildings in woodedareas rent more quickly and tenants stay longer.

tree in BridgeportThe Arbor Day Foundation also has a campus program, designating colleges and universities as a Tree Campus USA.  The University of Connecticut is the only college in Connecticut to earn the designation.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Urban Forestry Program is available to work with any community interested in exploring whether it qualifies as a Tree City USA and what is needed to earn that designation.

DEEP officials indicate that “many communities might be surprised at how close they are.”  Applications for next year’s honor are due in December.  The program was initiated by the Arbor Day Foundation in 1976.

Measuring Municipal Fiscal Disparities in Connecticut

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New England Public Policy Center Research Report 15-1

MEASURING MUNICIPAL FISCAL DISPARITIES IN CONNECTICUT

by Bo Zhao Jennifer Weiner

is now available on the Boston Fed’s web site:

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-Abstract-

Fiscal disparities exist when some municipalities face higher costs for

providing a given level of public services or fewer taxable resources to

finance those services than others. A municipality’s economic and social

characteristics can affect both costs and resources.

The potential for fiscal disparities in Connecticut is particularly high given

the vast socioeconomic differences observed across the state’s 169 cities

and towns.  This paper measures the non-school fiscal health of Connecticut

municipalities using a “municipal gap.” Municipal gap is the difference between

the uncontrollable costs associated with providing public services and the

economic resources available to a municipality to pay for those services.

<http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/neppc/researchreports/2015/rr1501.htm?wt.source=neppc_ctgap_email>

AARP Publishes Liveable Communities Index

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AARP Livable Communities

You can find out right now by typing your address — or any U.S. address, zip code, town or city name — into the AARP Livability Index, a new online tool that calculates a score based on the latest data and indicators about an area’s housing, transportation, economy, community services and more. Since the index is customizable, users can find scores based on the features that matter to them most.

Try the tool »

Livability Score

This score rates the overall livability of a selected neighborhood, city, county, or state on a scale from 0 to 100. It is based on the average score of seven livability categories—housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity—which also range from 0 to 100. We score communities by comparing them to one another, so the average community gets a score of 50, while above-average communities score higher and below-average communities score lower.

All scoring begins at the neighborhood level. Cities, counties, and states receive a score based on the average scores of neighborhoods within their boundaries. Most communities have a range of more- or less-livable neighborhoods, but for a community to get a high score, neighborhoods throughout it need to score well. This makes it even more challenging for a city, county, or state to get a high score: the more neighborhoods there are within a given boundary, the less likely it will be that all of them have high scores.

Creating a livable community is challenging, and so is getting a high livability score. To get a perfect score of 100, a neighborhood would have to be among the best in the country in each of the seven livability categories. Scoring highly across all categories is difficult. For example, a transit-rich neighborhood has its benefits, but it can also drive up housing prices. To help that neighborhood score highly in both categories, community leaders would have to commit to ensuring affordable housing near public transit is available.

http://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/