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Idaho Smart Growth doles out annual awards

Matt Witt, Tricia Nilsson, Bill Hamlin and Andy Erstad sit on a panel at Idaho Smart Growth's 2012 Grow Smart awards ceremony Nov. 8 at The Grove in downtown Boise. ISG handed out nine awards and hosted a panel with architects, builders, planners and more representing eight of the projects. Erstad, an architect, spoke about some of the challenges and hurdles the Crescent Rim project had to overcome, including a surprise: gaining acceptance from neighbors who were unhappy at first with the project. “To make (Crescent Rim) be compatible and contextually responsive to the neighborhood was paramount,” he said. Photo by Pete Grady

While the Nov. 8 news cycle was abuzz with post-election high-fives and hand wringing, more than 100 people, disregarding political stripes, but high on the future, quietly gathered at The Grove to honor nine winners. It was Idaho Smart Growth’s 2012 fete for Grow Smart awardees – those who, selected by a jury, best exemplified smart growth principles in nine categories.

Founded in 2001, Idaho Smart Growth is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, statewide organization with a mission of bringing Idahoans together to keep communities vibrant and lands healthy. It has been handing out Grow Smart awards since 2005.

“As more people call Idaho home, Idaho Smart Growth works with communities to ensure that growth is manageable and sustainable,” said Rachel Winer, Idaho Smart Growth executive director. “Smart growth is really what makes our communities great places to live. Transportation and housing choices that are near jobs, shops and schools makes for strong communities and successful neighborhoods. These award winners are excellent on-the-ground examples in communities throughout Idaho.”

In addition to this year’s award recipients, the jury added an honorable mention, recognizing the Boise School District “for taking the initiative to remodel two elementary schools – Roosevelt and Lowell – and keep them in their existing neighborhoods,” said Winer.

Former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a national leader in the anti-sprawl movement, coined the term “smart growth” in 1996 when the state was dealing with rapid growth and loss of farmland. It was all about growing without urban sprawl and looking at ways to grow while sustaining the community, the environment and neighborhoods.

Today, like Idaho Smart Growth, organizations around the globe are working to instill smart growth principles that include mixed-land uses, creative uses of housing opportunities, creating walkable neighborhoods, preserving open space, and offering a range of housing opportunities and choices.

According to Smart Growth America’s website: “Americans want to make their neighborhoods great, and smart growth strategies help make that dream a reality.”


Idaho Smart Growth 2012 Grow Smart Award Recipients

Northwest Bank Commercial/Industrial Award: The Biomark Building in Boise. The building was redeveloped, improving and rejuvenating the site and Boise’s cultural district.

D.L. Evans Bank Redevelopment Award: Idaho State Capitol in Boise. The building was saved and the visual look of the structure preserved. Bicycle parking also was improved.

McClendon Engineering, Inc. Public Policy and Planning Award: Blueprint Boise. With input from the community, the City of Boise adopted a citywide comprehensive plan that incorporates smart growth principles.

Green Remodeling Smart Growth and Green Building Award: McCall-Donnelly High School. By renovating and expanding a former elementary/high school building, the city was able to keep the high school downtown. In addition, many materials from the former building were reused in the renovation.

Midas Gold Inc. Small Community Award: McCall Lakefront/Legacy Park and 2010 Improvement Project. The project revitalized a city park, enhanced public access to Payette Lake and added interpretive panels, street lighting, sidewalks, pathways and more, creating a downtown focal point.

Givens Pursley LLP Residential Award: Crescent Rim in Boise. A condominium development was built within walking distance of the city park system, the Greenbelt, the arts and the downtown core, using many green-building elements.

Citizen Advocacy Award: Moscow Active Living Task Force. This project laid the foundation for the City of Moscow to become an increasingly healthier community through education and support of all modes of transportation, including nonmotorized options, and provided policies and programs to support active lifestyles.

HDR Inc. Smart Growth and Transportation Award: Boise State University Sustainable Transportation. Created increased campus housing choices and more transportation alternatives, including more walkways, bicycle paths and “complete streets” – roadways that accommodate all users (motorized vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians) – making sure streets can be safely used by everyone.

Charles Hummel Award: Stephen Meyer, Coeur d’Alene. The Charles Hummel Award recognizes leaders exemplary in dedication to and implementation of smart growth principles, reflecting a respect for place as well as for design and function. Among other accomplishments, Meyer is a partner in the Parkwood Business Properties real estate development firm in Coeur d’Alene and also is a partner in the Jefferson Building and Crescent Rim developments in Boise. He was chair of the Kootenai County Planning Commission for about 10 years and presently serves on the board of the Hayden Lake Urban Renewal Agency.

About Jeanne Huff

Jeanne Huff is the special sections editor at IBR, editor of Women of the Year, Accomplished Under 40, CEOs of Influence, Money Makers, Leaders in Law, Corporate Guide to Event Planning as well as editor of custom publications including Welcome to Boise, Dining Decisions, Idaho Heartland Living and Travelog.

One comment

  1. The new environmental book, Green Illusions, shows the importance of addressing smart growth as a first step in combating our broader energy and environmental challenges. The author argues that smart growth is a better project to pursue than new energy technologies, which have many negative side effects and limitations.

    This book also details a hidden “boomerang effect” that is undermining green energy investments.