City wins green grant

The newest developer of the Jefferson City riverfront might just be the federal government.

In a Wednesday announcement, a government program called “Greening America’s Capitals” named Jefferson City as one of five state capitals to receive federal assistance to help develop neighborhoods surrounding the Capitol that incorporates green building and infrastructure strategies.

The other four cities chosen are: Boston, Mass.; Charleston, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; and Little Rock, Ark.

The program is the result of a cooperative effort between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation.

Melva Fast, assistant to the city administrator, has been heavily involved with the program from the beginning of the application process. She said the project was a prime candidate for the program because the area around Wears Creek, the Millbottom and Adrian’s Island required elements of improvement that involved the areas of expertise from each of the agencies.

“It’s because of its proximity to the Capitol and because it fit the criteria of the assistance program that we were able to make it work,” Fast said.

Connecting

The project that the city will work on with all of the agencies, Fast said, will involve finding a way to promote connectivity between all of the areas in an effort to stimulate growth around each of the individual locations and in the area as a whole.

“As we looked, we found that we have many positive things going on,” Fast said. “We’ve got the pedestrian bicycle bridge. We’ve got talk about a conference center. We’ve got some movement here on the south side. We’ve had some revitalization. We’ve got the prison redevelopment, that is moving forward. Of course we’ve got the federal courthouse. We’ve got Adrian’s Island. We have several opportunities.

“As we plotted this out, we looked at it on a map and we found that, in the center, that the connectivity wasn’t there. Surrounding it, we had much activity and were doing many positive things.”

According to a press release from the EPA, the program will fund private sector experts to provide sustainable design assistance to the city. Fast explained that while this will not fund the actual construction of the project, it puts Jefferson City and the other capitals that have qualified for the program in a solid position to qualify for grants when they are made available because the projects will be designed by the same agencies that will be approving the grants at a later date.

Fast said preliminary discussions she has had with officials with the program indicate that the project designs will begin in October and that the projected finish date will be sometime in January. Once the design work is completed, Fast said, any construction that would come as a result would not come until individual grants are announced.

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