Willoughby District may benefit from federal greening program

Downtown Juneau could a green facelift. The City and Borough of Juneau Lands Committee recently discussed the idea to enter Alaska’s capital in the Greening America’s Capitals program.


The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Policy, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation have partnered to help U.S. capitals develop a vision of “environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green building and green infrastructure strategies,” according to the program’s request for letters of interest.

Planning Commissioner and Lands Committee liaison Nathan Bishop reported to his fellow commissioners on June 12 the program could be applied to the Willoughby District.

“It was an excellent idea and I commend (city Lands Manager Heather) Marlow for that,” Bishop said.

To enter, city staff would submit a letter of interest to the Office of Sustainable Communities.

“If you are accepted, they’ve accepted five communities in the previous two years, five communities in each year,” city staff said, “they send design professionals … to come and work with the community. The concept here is to take the conceptual Willoughby plan and take it to the next step.”

One example of “greening” Willoughby is to look at whether Juneau’s LEED energy efficiency building standards are sufficient, staff said. The city may also look at public transit and the possibility of a trolley in the area.

The designers are funded by the EPA and would help Juneau produce schematic designs and illustrations “intended to catalyze or complement a larger planning process for the pilot neighborhood,” according to the Greening America’s Capitals website.

Juneau introduced a land use plan for the Willoughby District in 2011. The plan works as a blueprint for development in the district for the next two decades. The plan was adopted in the city’s Comprehensive Plan in April.

Jackson, Miss., Lincoln, Neb., Montgomery, Ala., Phoenix, Ariz. and Washington, D.C. were the capitals the EPA chose in 2011. As an example, Jackson’s city officials asked Greening America’s Capital’s designers to help make a main street friendly for bike and pedestrian traffic as well as line the street with trees to shade pedestrians, according to EPA’s website.

Letters of interest are due to EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities by July 29.

For more information visit goo.gl/ZmCaF, or contact EPA’s Abby Hall at hall.abby@epa.gov.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.


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