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It's Time to Showcase "Smart Growth" Projects in Iowa

Elkaderís Whitewater Park and River Access was recognized as a Smart Growth Project in 2015.  (Elkader Whitewater Project)
Elkaderís Whitewater Park and River Access was recognized as a Smart Growth Project in 2015. (Elkader Whitewater Project)
September 19, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Innovative ideas are spurring projects that advance sustainability in Iowa, and some of those efforts will soon receive special recognition.

The group 1000 Friends of Iowa is taking nominations for its 15th Annual Best Development Awards. The awards showcase projects and programs that encourage smart growth and development, and recognize the people behind them.

Kari Carney, executive director at 1000 Friends of Iowa, said this year’s awards have been expanded to include three new categories: Renewable Energy, Complete Streets/Transportation, and Urban Placemaking/Green Spaces.

"We were starting to see projects pop up around the state that were not necessarily fitting in the categories we had already had,” Carney explained. "And we really wanted to not only recognize these projects, but really encourage more of these projects to happen."

Carney said the awards highlight the ways responsible development and planning practices benefit communities, the environment and the quality of life for future generations.

Nominations will be accepted through November 15th, and the awards ceremony will be held at the state capitol in January.

Carney said she believes the annual awards have helped inspire other sustainability projects through the years.

"We've heard from past winners that, once their name got out there, other folks had contacted them to learn about what they did,” Carney said. "Winners from this past year were really happy and had said, because of the recognition, other people were doing it."

In 2015, 13 projects from 11 communities were recognized. They included Elkader's Whitewater Park and River Access.

"It's a really great example of a community trying to create a sense of place, recreation and something that celebrates the water and the beauty of the area, and brings people in and gives residents a sense of community,” Carney said.

A streetscape project, a library and a permeable parking lot were among the other award-winners in 2015.

For more information, visit 1000FriendsOfIowa.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA