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NEOSCC Board to Consider Vibrant NEO 'Final Vision'
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium’s board of directors will take a final vote Feb. 25 on approval of the vision crafted for the 12-county region. The NEOSCC board voted Dec. 17 to release the Vibrant NEO 2040 vision, framework and action products to its member organizations for review, consideration and potential approval.
NEOSCC receives its primary funding through a competitive, first-of-its kind grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative. The initiative is an interagency collaboration among HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, NEOSCC's fiscal agent, was notified recently that HUD has authorized a five month, no-cost extension to NEOSCC. The extension will enable the program office to continue its work in presenting the vision, framework and action products to the Northeast Ohio community and allow some additional time for grant close-out.
At its December meeting, the NEOSCC board also passed a resolution in support of the continuance of the organization once the grant is completed. The executive committee has been charged with exploring and proposing the framework for NEOSCC 2.0.
"Over the course of the last year, NEOSCC has engaged residents, elected officials, and experts throughout our 12-county region in a rigorous scenario planning process to identify the choices we can make now to help create a Northeast Ohio that is more vibrant, resilient, and sustainable in the future," said Hunter Morrison, NEOSCC executive director.
Based on the input and feedback from residents and leaders during the process, the overarching objectives to be pursued are:
- Promote investment in Northeast Ohio's established communities;
- Protect soil, water, air and ecologically sensitive areas;
- Improve regional fiscal health;
- Develop the regional economy with accessible employment opportunities;
- Enhance the region’s transportation network;
- Cultivate and celebrate local assets and places of public value;
- Expand parks and the open-space network; and
- Preserve and value prime farmland as a regional economic asset.
NEOSCC and the Vibrant NEO 2040 team presented the objectives and potential recommendations this fall during a series of public meetings, seven subject matter caucuses and to its board. Using the feedback received, nine recommendations and 41 initiatives emerged as the foundation for the Vibrant NEO 2040 vision and framework.
The nine Vibrant NEO 2040 recommendations, and their related initiatives, are:
- Focus new residential and commercial development on sites within established communities;
- Develop a robust network of regional job centers connected by multi-modal transportation corridors within and between counties;
- Pursue the remediation, assembly, marketing and redevelopment of abandoned properties at both the local and regional levels;
- Encourage a higher frequency of mixed-use development and a range of diverse, affordable housing options;
- Enhance and coordinate the region's rail and bus services;
- Enhance walking and cycling as transportation options to increase regional mobility and improve public health;
- Preserve natural areas for future generations, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and develop a regional approach to protecting air, water and soil quality;
- Support sustainable agriculture and the local food system in Northeast Ohio;
- Increase collaboration among the region's government agencies to expand information sharing and find more cost-effective means of providing essential services.
"We recognize the recommendations and initiatives are not "one size fits all" solutions," Morrison said in a statement. "We understand that some of initiatives will not be applicable to all parts of the 12-county region. Lastly, implementation of individual initiatives will be a decision made at the local level."
In addition to the vision and framework, the board also reviewed and approved the action products, developed this year by NEOSCC to encourage, equip and support Northeast Ohioans to learn, share, create, and act together to build a more vibrant future. The Vibrant NEO 2040 vision, framework and action products are meant to inspire and guide decision-making at the metropolitan planning organization, council of governments and local level to ensure that land use, transportation, and environmental considerations are simultaneously addressed by their processes.
After Jan. 1, the action products will be added to the Vibrant NEO website. Through the end of February, NEOSCC will publish a variety of pieces that will communicate the vision, framework and action Products. Each of the pieces will be created to communicate to different audiences throughout Northeast Ohio.
Anyone interested in hosting a presentation or receiving a PDF copy of the materials is invited to email Jeff Anderle, deputy director of communications. A newsletter also will be distributed in early 2014 with links to the final documents.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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