The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Selects the City of Oak Ridge for Sustainable Communities Initiative: Public Meetings May 11 & 12

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that the City of Oak Ridge is among 32 communities in 26 states that will receive technical assistance to develop tools for neighborhood revitalization.

Under its Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program, EPA will visit Oak Ridge on May 11 and 12 to advise the community on a specific, development-related challenge in the city. Sustainable strategies will be explored that could result in a more environmentally and economically sustainable plan or redevelopment proposal for the selected area.

The Building Blocks program is part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint effort among EPA, HUD, and DOT to coordinate federal actions on housing, transportation, and environmental protection. The primary goal of this interagency collaboration is to invest federal funding more efficiently in infrastructure, facilities, and services that meet multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives.
“It is a tremendous honor for the City of Oak Ridge to be selected for participation in this program,” said Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson. “EPA’s approach is to integrate a number of community development program areas, which fits nicely with the comprehensive planning we’re undertaking in transportation, housing and sustainability. This is an opportunity to help us recreate the more pedestrian-friendly and socially-oriented community centers that Oak Ridge has been known for---where residents can gather for shopping and dining and casually meet with their neighbors,” Watson added.

In conjunction with the EPA visit, the City of Oak Ridge will host two public meetings. The first will be held on Wednesday, May 11th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the amphitheater of the Oak Ridge High School. The meeting will include an educational presentation on sustainable development and a facilitated discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of individual neighborhoods and associated redevelopment opportunities in Oak Ridge.

The second pubic meeting will be held on Thursday, May 12th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., also in the amphitheater of the Oak Ridge High School. This session will be an “open house” where attendees can review the information developed by the EPA-led team of experts and community stakeholders. Site specific redevelopment concepts and a sustainable development checklist will be on display.

Information collected will be used to establish a blueprint for redevelopment of the Jackson Square residential neighborhood and commercial center. The goal is to develop skills and a methodology for redevelopment which can be applied to other residential/commercial centers throughout the city.

More information on the Building Blocks program:
http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm

For more information about the public meetings, contact Athanasia Senecal Lewis at (865) 425-
3574 or asenecal@oakridgetn.gov.

News media contact: Amy Fitzgerald (865) 425-3554 or afitzgerald@oakridgetn.gov.