TULSA, OK – [March 19, 2013] – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that Tulsa, Okla. is among 43 communities in 27 states that will receive technical assistance to pursue sustainable growth that encourages local economic development while safeguarding health and the environment. EPA staff and national experts will conduct one to two-day workshops that focus on the Sustaining Equitable Development tool. Tulsa requested assistance with evaluating its needs around equitable development and identifying the most effective tools and strategies for incorporating housing affordability and community consensus decisions to the planning process.
The Tulsa County community of Oakhurst will be the focus of the workshop. The Tulsa Health Department, Tulsa County, the Environmental Protection Agency, Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith and other community partners will participate in the program.
“Oakhurst is a community of less than 900 people sandwiched between Tulsa and Sapulpa and straddling the county line between Tulsa and Creek Counties. In essence it is a ‘no man’s land,’” said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith. “Over the years there has been virtually no planning, minimal code enforcement, and no access to public transportation. This exercise is an opportunity to create a plan and seek long term improvements to this underserved area.”
The purpose of this tool is to help local governments, partner organizations, and community members: (1) understand the challenges and opportunities associated with neighborhood change, and (2) identify strategies to manage change and support community goals around housing, culture, local businesses, and jobs. This is accomplished through a self assessment, identifying goals and strategies appropriate for community conditions, and the development of next steps to address these community specific issues.
“EPA’s Building Blocks program has proven to be a cost-effective way to help communities get started with planning for a better future,” says EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “This short-term, targeted assistance is helping communities make smart planning choices that can have a lasting impact for generations to come.”
During the workshop with private-sector experts, participants will explore the selected tool, as well as other ways to make progress toward community goals for environmentally responsible, economically healthy development.
“We are pleased to have been selected for the program,” said Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department. “Creating a sustainable community is crucial to protecting public health and the environment. From a public health standpoint we see this as a valuable opportunity to convene city leaders and other community partners to strategize and support the goals of our community.”
To date, EPA’s assistance through the Building Blocks program has reached 141 communities. EPA selected this year’s recipients from 121 applicants through a competitive process in consultation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Together, the three agencies form the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which coordinate investments in housing, transportation, and environmental protection to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.
In addition to Tulsa, the selected communities for the Supporting Equitable Development Tool are: Stamford, Conn.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Atlanta, Ga.
More information on the Building Blocks program: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm
More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html