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Lancaster among seven cities recognized by EPA for 'smart growth'

November 28, 2012 | 10:20 am

The city of Lancaster is among seven American communities chosen this year by the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be recognized for its achievement in “smart growth,” the federal agency announced Wednesday.

Created in 2002, the EPA’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement recognizes exceptional approaches to development that protect the environment, encourage economic vitality and enhance quality of life, according to a statement from the federal agency.

The 2012 winners were chosen out of 47 applicants from 25 states and are being honored for their accomplishments in four categories: overall excellence in smart growth, equitable development, main street or corridor revitalization, and programs and policies.

The prize-worthy initiatives included projects aimed at ”improving transportation choices, developing green, energy-efficient buildings and communities, and providing community members with access to job training, health and wellness education,” the agency said.

Lancaster won an award for “overall excellence” for the redesigned Lancaster Boulevard, the city’s main thoroughfare, which the EPA said had helped transform the High Desert locale’s downtown into a “thriving residential and commercial district.”

The BLVD Transformation Project, as it is commonly known, took eight months to complete and revolves around new streetscape design, public facilities, affordable homes and local businesses. EPA officials praised the project for demonstrating “how redesigning a corridor guided by a strategic vision can spark new life in a community,” and for its success in generating almost $300 million in economic output and around 2,000 jobs.

Other winners included projects in Denver,  Battleboro, Vt., and Portsmouth, Va. Honorable mentions for community revival  and development projects also went to Northwest Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the Larkin District of Buffalo, N.Y., while the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund of San Francisco was praised for providing loans for developers to build affordable homes near public transportation.

The EPA will host a ceremony Dec. 5 to recognize the seven award winners, the agency said.

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-- Ann M. Simmons in Santa Clarita

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