Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smart Growth Retains Young Talent

Our very own Nichole Strack was recently featured in the Hartford Courant's "FreshTalk" for her views on how Connecticut can improve its retention of young professionals:

"I live in Connecticut partly by choice, but mostly by coincidence.

I left Ohio to attend Trinity College in Hartford on a full scholarship. When I graduated, I faced two options. I could leave Connecticut and start fresh in Tampa, Fla., living for free with my favorite grandparent, or I could accept the job that I had been offered here.

I stayed.

I am now the voice of 1000 Friends of Connecticut, a coalition of smart growth advocates determined to curb sprawling development and improve our quality of life. One of the first conferences I attended in my new role posed a way to measure sustainability in Connecticut: How many 15- to 25-year-olds want to stay in the state after graduating from high school or college?

Now, seven months have passed and I cannot help but wonder, "Why do I want to live here?"

...Read the full op-ed at the Courant's web site.

Smart Growth = Economic Development

1000 Friends of Connecticut hosted the final event in its Speaker Series on Thursday, January 19, in the Great Hall of Union Station in downtown Hartford, featuring Tom Condon from the Hartford Courant and Commissioner Catherine Smith from the Department of Economic and Community Development. The overarching message that Smart Growth is economic development was heard by all throughout the evening. Moreover, the Smart Growth group demonstrated a shift in its own message as Tom Condon and Commissioner Smith highlighted not only what Smart Growth prevents, but what it produces.

Commissioner Smith spoke to using her agency to promote healthy cities, rational mass transit, and compact, walkable communities. She reported meeting regularly with the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Dept. of Transportation to ensure that moving forward, economic development happens around individuals and existing communities, as opposed to automobiles and parking lots.

If you missed the event, there are a few ways to catch up: You can read Tom Condon's opinion editorial, "Smart Growth is Economic Development," by clicking here, or you can watch the evening's program on CT-N.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DECD Commissioner to Outline Smart Growth Agenda


For more information, Contact:
Nichole Strack, Executive Director
1000 Friends of Connecticut
(860) 523-0003 or (860) 906-4020

HARTFORD, CT—Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, will outline her proposals for sustainable economic development in Connecticut on Thursday, January 19, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM in the Great Hall of downtown Hartford's Union Station. Special guest, Tom Condon of the Hartford Courant, who is known for his outspoken commitment to smart growth and improved quality-of-place, will moderate the event.

The event, sponsored by 1000 Friends of Connecticut, is the third in a series concerning the Malloy Administration's smart growth agenda. Previous events included talks by DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty and ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker, each of whom were asked to speak to how their offices can work together to promote a future in Connecticut marked by economic prosperity and environmental conservation.

“We are encouraged by the caliber of these Commissioners, their grasp of smart growth issues, and especially by their willingness to work with one another,” said Nichole Strack, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Connecticut. “We look forward to working with Commissioner Smith to make real progress on an agenda that includes revitalized downtowns, compact and walkable town centers, remediated brownfields, and the multi-modal transit options and smart-energy practices that create healthy, thriving regions.”

1000 Friends of Connecticut is a statewide organization whose mission is to promote and shape growth to ensure a prosperous economy, a healthy natural environment, and distinctive, integrated and attractive communities while promoting opportunities in education, housing, transportation, and employment for ourselves and future generations.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the group’s web site at www.1000Friends-CT.org.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Curbing Costs in Connecticut with Public-Private Partnerships

The Board and Staff at 1000 Friends of Connecticut recently asked over 4,000 of our followers if they thought Connecticut can "grow smart" now that strong leaders for our cause are in the Administration. Their responses are still streaming in, but the public at large leans towards wondering whether or not Governor Malloy and his executive agencies are "walking the walk," as opposed to just "talking the talk."

The Commissioners from the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Transportation (ConnDOT), and Economic and Community Development (DECD) have risen above and beyond in terms of staying in the public's eye, but our Friends still want to know more. In theory, linking the environment with transportation, energy-efficiency and the economy makes perfect sense to everyone, especially as election season approaches. But what does it look like in practice?

At Connecticut Transit (CTTRANSIT), it looks like a sixty-foot accordion on wheels. Just yesterday, Commissioners Esty of DEEP and Redeker of ConnDOT applauded the new "bendy buses," as they are known in Britain, for meeting the Federal EPA's 2010 near-zero emissions requirement.

According to CTTransit's web site, Commissioner Esty stated, "DEEP and DOT are working together to create a 21st century transportation network that is a key to rebuilding Connecticut's economy, creating jobs, and making our state an attractive place to live and work. The type of larger-capacity, low-emission bus being deployed ... will help us accomplish those goals--while protecting our air quality and the environment."

Two of these hybrid buses began service on Wednesday, January 11 in Hartford on Park Street and Farmington Avenue. They join CTTransit's fleet of nearly fifty diesel-electric buses and five hydrogen fuel-cell powered buses. In addition to that, their flexible centers allow for their greater size and safe turns, translating into more passengers on the bus and less vehicles mile travelled. The innovative design seats up to fifty-seven people with enough space left over for fifty-five standing passengers, and the interiors of the buses resemble what
one might see in Britain.

The costs of the new buses were fully covered by Federal funds, exemplifying the very opportunities that 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Speaker Series has aimed to highlight. This cross-sector partnership between the privately-owned CTTransit with ConnDOT and DEEP is essential to furthering a Smart Growth agenda that makes real progress in areas including rational mass transit, enhanced energy practices, and the land-use decisions that support them; however, where do the revitalized downtowns and compact, walkable communities come into play? Join 1000 Friends of Connecticut on Thursday, January 19 at Union Station in Hartford and learn how Commissioner Smith's vision for the Department of Economic and Community Development will complement it's sister agencies in a way that maximizes infrastructure investments in a sustainable manner.

For more information on 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Speaker Series, click here.

CTTRANSIT is the ConnDOT-owned bus service serving Greater Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford. Read CTTRANSIT's press release on their new hybrid-electric 60-foot articulated buses here, or contact Phil Fry at pfry@cttransit.com.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rewire State's Electrical System

An Op-Ed from the Hartford Courant
By Jefferson B. Davis of Pomfret, who serves on 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Board of Directors.

"Now that Connecticut's electrical power has been fully restored, the typical governmental responses are kicking in: point fingers, hold hearings and propose changes to existing practices. And, as is also typical, the discussions will take place within a distinct silo of a single issue. In this case it is the pre and post storm performance of Connecticut Light & Power.

It doesn't have to be that way. By thinking more broadly and strategically, Connecticut could turn its view forward instead of backward and become a trailblazer in how power is created and distributed while driving new job creation."

Read the rest of the op-ed in the Hartford Courant by following this link: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-davis-independent-generation-key-to-energy-s-20111218,0,6027764.story

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Smart Growth P.O.V. on CTLCV

Environmentalists gathered earlier this week in downtown Hartford to discuss “Environmental Excellence in a time of Economic Constraint,” signaling the Connecticut League of Conservation Voter’s understanding that Connecticut’s economy can grow while still respecting our state’s historic environmental traditions. The League’s 12th Annual Environmental Summit featured three riveting panel discussions—spanning across public officials, advocates, and private entrepreneurs who engaged in passionate discussions about topics that are essential to Smart Growth policy and near and dear to 1000 Friends of Connecticut's heart: brownfield remediation, green infrastructure, energy-efficiency, transit-oriented development, and ensuring these initiatives result in a more business-friendly environment (literally) that creates jobs for our residents.

Susan Merrow, President of 1000 Friends’ Board of Directors, spoke on a panel with the commissioners from the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Transportation, along Peter Malkin of Malkin Holdings, LLC about “Transportation, the Environment, and the Economy.” Joe McGee of the Business Council of Fairfield County moderated the discussion, ensuring a proper mix of questions to address the business community’s and environmentalist’ concerns. All agreed that Connecticut’s sprawling development patterns have had disastrous impacts not only on our state’s environment, but also on our residents’ and businesses’ pocketbooks.

According to Commissioner Redeker from ConnDOT, we must invest in developing in areas along transit lines and the government must be upfront with the development community about where state funding will facilitate private investment. Peter Malkin, Chairman of Malkin Holdings LLC, Malkin Properties, and their affiliates, appealed to environmentalists in the room by his response to a question on climate change and the effects of unpredictable weather, brought to the public’s awareness by two recent storms that left hundreds of thousands without power for days on end. Malkin described the “tragedy in cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees to address problems raised by current infrastructure.”

Commissioner Dan Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection provided the keynote speech of the evening. According to the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green, Commissioner Esty stated, “It's not retrenchment. We have an opportunity to remake environmental protection for the 21st century. You can't focus on the environment in isolation.'' CTLCV’s guests left the event with an encouraging sense that the public-private partnerships needed to protect our state’s limited natural resources in a time of economic disparity are finally upon us and everyone involved has moved past “talking the talk” to “walking the walk.”

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters has identified their legislative priorities for the upcoming session as Water Quality, Land-Use and Open Space Preservation, Energy-Efficiency, a Multi-Modal Transportation System, reducing exposure to Toxins and Waste, and ensuring DEEP has the resources needed to be effective. 1000 Friends of Connecticut gives kudos to the League for its efforts in keeping issues moving forward in a way that benefits the environment and the economy at the same time.

If you missed the event, you can listen to it on WNPR or watch it on CT-N.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Commissioner Redeker Outlines ConnDOT's Vision

1000 Friends of Connecticut joined Commissioner Redeker from the state Department of Transportation and Mayor DeStefano last Thursday in downtown New Haven to discuss the new Commissioner's vision for his agency. Commissioner Redeker brings with him a deep experience of mass transit--bus and rail--to the agency, along with an invigorating commitment to institutionalizing principles of Smart Growth within ConnDOT.

In addition to his experience and commitment, Redeker has the support of the Malloy Administration. His agency is working closely with the Department of Economic and Community Development and the new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection--a prerequisite to 1000 Friends' Smart Growth Agenda that restores economic vitality to our state's regions.