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Renton Receives Sustainable Communities Building Block Grant

April 11, 2011

For more information contact:
Erika Conkling
, Senior Planner 425 430-6578
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director 425-430-6569

Walking Audit to Benefit Benson Community Planning

RENTON, WA - The City of Renton is among 32 communities out of 354 applicants selected to receive technical assistance under the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program. Renton’s Department of Community and Economic Development applied for the grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to receive additional assistance in the development of a plan to improve the pedestrian environment in the Benson Community area.

"The city is pleased to have been awarded this grant and sees it as an important step in developing strategies that will help enhance the Benson Community Planning Area," said Renton Mayor Denis Law. “We’re confident that this effort will act as a catalyst for strengthening this community’s economic vitality and improve the quality of life for its residents.”

Much of the Benson Community’s one square mile area was built in the 1960’s following a typical suburban model of single-purpose zoning. The area has over 4,000 single-family homes along with a commercial shopping area, four schools, two neighborhood parks, a privately owned baseball field, and easy access to three separate bus lines that connect residents to neighboring cities and Seattle. However, the area fails to provide a pedestrian friendly environment, which has negatively impacted the growth and vitality of the community.

As a grant recipient the city will participate in a day-long session with the EPA, private sector experts, community leaders, staff and stakeholders to participate in a walkability assessment, as well as explore other ways to make progress toward community goals for an environmentally responsible, economically healthy development.

This process will spearhead other walking audits the city plans to complete throughout the Benson Community Planning Area. The defined objectives include developing an action plan for improving connectivity, calming traffic, creating a sense of place, and providing adequate landscaping and lighting to make the street environment safer and more comfortable for residents and visitors to the area. This plan will also act as a prototype that can be repeated, solving similar smart growth issues in other Renton neighborhoods.

The Building Blocks program is part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint effort between EPA, HUD, and DOT to coordinate federal actions on housing, transportation, and environmental protection. This interagency collaboration’s primary goal is to invest federal funding more efficiently in infrastructure, facilities, and services that meet multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives.

For more information on the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program contact Erika Conkling, Senior Planner at 425- 430-6578 or econkling@rentonwa.gov.