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Off and Running:
Workshop launches with flourish

More than 80 folks turned out on a rainy Thursday night, September 8, for the kick-off of a weeklong workshop to shape the future of the Ranson/Charles Town region.

The evening was part celebration of what’s already taken place, the coming-together of the two towns in an historic planning effort, and part introduction to an intensive week of collaboration.

The celebration inched up a notch or two Thursday night when Ranson Mayor A. David Hamill announced to the crowd at Washington High School in Charles Town that Ranson had been chosen to receive an additional $1.5 million grant, plus a $3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The money will help redevelop a former factory site.

Added to the $1.5 million already funding the week’s workshop planning, the new money means federal agencies are investing a total of $6 million in Ranson and Charles Town with the conviction that this region is a good place to leverage taxpayer dollars to create economic opportunity and shape more compact, walkable, livable places for broad cross-sections of people.

“These are cities on the right track,” said the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mathy Stanislaus, one of a half-dozen federal officials on hand for the planning workshop launch.

Ben Brown interviews Mathy Stanislaus post-presentation.

Former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, delivered the evening’s keynote address. He lauded the Ranson/Charles Town partnership as a key example of the type of planning that’s necessary in an era in which community ambitions must pass the bang-for-the-buck test before they can be supported by public or private investment.

From the federal agencies to local communities, planning and engineering officials know they have to consolidate efforts and focus on getting the most results from diminished resources. Planning in silos is out; collaboration is in.

The Obama Administration’s commitment to a multi-agency Partners in Sustainable Communities initiative is evidenced in grants like the ones that have made the Ranson/Charles Town project possible. To address the workshop’s goals in a comprehensive way, the towns have combined targeted funding from the EPA, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and HUD.

To get a sense of the goals of specific components of the project funded by the separate grants, check out the column to the immediate right. And follow the path to this point in the posts preceding this one.

Over the next six days, a team of consulting planners and designers will work alongside Ranson and Charles Town city staffs, property owners, developers and residents to test ideas and draft plans that integrate goals for growth in harmony with community character. To see the full array of opportunities to participate directly, check out the week’s schedule. And even if you can’t be with us in person, follow and comment on the daily updates here on these web pages.

Posted in Workshop Weekwith No Comments →

Former Md. Gov. Glendening,
EPA’s Stanislaus and Others to
Help Kick-Off Sep. 8 Event

The introduction to our week-long planning workshop in Ranson and Charles Town will feature national officials who back exactly the sort of comprehensive, collaborative effort the towns are undertaking.

The evening program begins at 7 p.m. on September 8 at Washington High School. For a complete schedule of the week, go here. And to get an overview of the workshop and its goals, check out the column to the immediate right.

Former Maryland governor Parris Glendening will deliver the keynote address at the Ranson Renewed kick-off presentation, September 8.

           

Keynoter for the kick-off will be former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening. Expected to join Glendening at the event are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistant administrator Mathy Stanislaus and other federal officials from the EPA, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Why all the national interest?

Both during his two terms as Maryland’s governor between 1995 and 2003 and in public life after leaving office, Glendening became nationally known as a proponent of growth planning with energy conservation, environmental responsibility, housing affordability and expanded mobility choices in mind. This project represents that kind of comprehensive approach. It also exemplifies the goals of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a HUD/EPA/DOT initiative that encourages the silo-busting approaches that integrate transportation, housing and energy planning.

The Ranson/Charles Town project leverages $1.4 million in complementary grants from those federal agencies to plan for the revitalization of former factory sites and the towns’ Fairfax Boulevard-George Street commercial corridor. It also enables the drafting of a new zoning code that will guide growth in harmony with the towns’ traditions and character well into the future. By the end of this ambitious week of planning, the Ranson Renewed effort could become a model for regional planning throughout the country.

Whether or not you’re able to join the collaboration in person, by all means, follow the progress on these web pages.

Posted in Preparationwith 1 Comment →

  • Headline

    SPU Logo

    Ranson and Charles Town's next 100 years begin now.

    From September 8 through the 14th, we're charting the course for our next century. And everyone's invited.

    In an unprecedented week-long mega-workshop, city officials, residents, business community and a team of international consultants will be considering ideas and actions to help guide Ranson, Charles Town, and Jefferson County towards a future rich in opportunity for our families and businesses.



    The Ranson-Charles Town community has been selected by HUD, DOT and EPA to serve as a national model for how small rural cities on the fringe of a major metropolitan area can foster sustainable economic development, transit, and community livability through targeted and strategic planning and infrastructure investments.



    To facilitate this transformative change, planning funds are being used for the following linked and interdependent project components:

    + Develop a new zoning overlay district for downtown, as well as undeveloped, outlying areas of the Cities;

    + Redesign the Fairfax Boulevard-George Street Corridor into a "complete street" with green infrastructure, to promote a better transportation route for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit;

    + Design a new regional Charles Washington Commuter Center in downtown Charles Town that will facilitate access to regional rail and bus transit systems for Ranson, Charles Town and Jefferson County; and

    + Create a master plan for downtown Ranson that spurs job growth and economic development in former dilapidated manufacturing sites.

    It all starts with an opening presentation on September 8.

    “We couldn’t be happier about the way this process is shaping up,” says Ranson Mayor A. David Hamill. “It is our goal to continue evolving Ranson into a vibrant community where residents can live, work, and recreate within cohesive neighborhoods. Exciting things are beginning to happen, and I expect the next 12 to 18 months to be even more exciting as the real work begins to plan our future.”

    Come, and lend your voice. There'll be all kinds of ways to participate, even for events you can't attend in person. So don't miss it.





  • FILES AVAILABLE
    Review adopted files of our Comp Plan update and new zoning option here. FEDERAL GRANTS
    Moving forward, whenever appropriate, you'll see our news posts identify the respective source(s) of project funding with one or more of these icons:

    This video explains the grants, along with the process overall.
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