Governor Jay Inslee announced winners of the 2018 Smart Communities Awards. Now in its 13th year, the program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure in Washington State. This year’s honorees include the first tribal project nominated for an award.
“Outstanding local collaboration is key to creating sustainable communities with a shared vision for their future growth and prosperity,” said Gov. Inslee. “These community projects demonstrate why Washington is such a special place to live, work and play.”
Following are the 2018 Governor’s Smart Communities Award winners, highlighted with comments from the judges.
Smart Vision Award for comprehensive planning
Town of Twisp. Economic Revitalization Master Plan, developed in partnership with community groups to identify barriers to business vitality, focused especially on the downtown area. Judges commented that the plan identifies specific actions town leaders can take to increase economic success while preserving and enhancing the character and uniqueness of the community. Utilizing “Gallery Openings” to provide open houses for the public to review and comment on the proposed vision and approach went over very well with the community. The techniques used to prioritize projects, and formalize the plan were innovative and impressive for a smaller community. The town’s process and vision development provides an excellent model for any other small town seeking economic revitalization.
City of Ellensburg. Housing Element of the 2017 Ellensburg Comprehensive Plan is a model for effecting meaningful change in a community. Using an innovative Heart & Soul® process for community planning, the city reached unheard voices and encouraged participation from residents who don’t normally participate. In addition, the assessment process findings identified a need for a future affordable housing commission, and as a result, Ellensburg became the first city in the State of Washington to pass a sales tax increase for affordable housing and related services. Ellensburg’s model has scalability and can be implemented in other cities.
Smart Choices Award for implementation of a comprehensive plan
City of Kent. “Meet Me on Meeker” Meeker Street Streetscape Design and Construction study of the Meeker corridor resulted in a multimodal promenade concept that is a tangible engineering standard for private development. The Meet Me on Meeker streetscape standards provide urban design and engineering details needed for construction and funding. The standards are the key to going from concept to implementation for all projects transforming the community. This place-making effort directs investment to the urban core of Kent, and encourages efficient multimodal transportation by connecting regionally significant trails and local destinations. This directly implements the city’s comprehensive plan and creates a sense of “being somewhere.”
Smart Projects Award for a project implementing a comprehensive plan
Skagit County. Community Justice Center Brownfield Redevelopment clearly carries out the goals and requirements of the Growth Management Act (GMA). This project demonstrates a strong understanding of the value of productive farmland and encouraging reuse of underutilized properties rather than expansion into undeveloped lands. With the support of partners, including the Washington State Department of Ecology, Skagit County successfully completed the necessary environmental cleanup and construction of a state-of-the art essential public facility to serve county citizens for decades to come.
City of Renton. The new downtown Sartori Elementary School is located in a designated Regional Growth Center, where it will serve 650 students and meet projected growth over the next 10 years. This project is a step in the right direction toward achieving the city’s vision, so that the city center and downtown become “a cohesive, identifiable urban center where people live, work, learn, play and visit.” The Sartori project will serve as a new prototype for school campuses to support high-density development, eliminating the need for a larger project site. In addition, the vertical design creates more open space available to students and the surrounding community for recreational use.
Smart Partnership Award for a joint public project implementing a comprehensive plan
City of Kennewick and partners. Vista Field Redevelopment Master Plan 2017. Working in partnership with the Port of Kennewick and Benton County, Kennewick sought to create a redevelopment plan for the recently decommissioned 103-acre airport, located at the core of the city. It took over four years to complete the plan due to the extremely robust public involvement process, which included design charrettes, pattern language exercises and numerous open houses. The plan’s vision to create “a vibrant, pedestrian-focused regional town center” will utilize New Urbanism concepts and infill development, and clearly carries out the goals and requirements of the GMA.
City of Spokane and partners. Developed in partnership with the Spokane Regional Health District, Community Frameworks, East Spokane Business Association, and other partners, the East Sprague Targeted Investment Pilot Initiative is a targeted investment initiative for housing, public infrastructure and safety, leading to increased private investment and measureable long-term vitality. The collaborative initiative represents an innovative new strategy for public and private investment, recognizing that investment in the public right-of-way is not enough to influence quality of life factors that encourage, create and support truly vibrant neighborhoods and business districts. This partnership model is replicable in most communities, and demonstrates effective prioritizing practices, high-quality design, and sustainable principles.
Judges’ Merit Award highlighting a nomination judged to be a model or shining example of the best work in a particular topic.
Quinault Indian Nation. Taholah Village Relocation Master Plan is unique, and clearly carries out the goals of the GMA, as well as hazard management planning practices. The Taholah Village planning effort was exceedingly thorough and well thought out. It was a heavy lift to plan for the relocation of an entire village in a way that is culturally sensitive and focuses on the effects of climate change. The incorporation of chapters addressing resilience to disaster and sustainability planning is in line with the Governor’s Resilient Washington State Subcabinet goals, and demonstrates quality design and sustainability principles. Bringing in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide outside expertise was very clever and extraordinary because Taholah is a small, non-GMA planning community. They clearly built it as an impressive model for other communities to use.
Other notable submittals recognized by the judges are:
Thurston County — Economic Development Strategic Plan
City of Redmond — 162TEN Project
City of University Place — Regional Growth Center Subarea Plan
City of Renton — Civic Core Vision and Action Plan
City of Newcastle — Downtown Strategic Plan
“The 2018 Governor’s Smart Communities Award winners again showcase some truly exciting efforts toward sustainable growth and resilience that will strengthen communities for the future,” said Commerce Director Bonlender.
Washington’s comprehensive Growth Management Act has been in place for 28 years. Using it as a framework, local communities plan and implement their vision for the future. For more information on the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards or the Growth Management Act, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/growth.
– Washington State Department of Commerce