Thursday, February 19, 2015

Strategies for Improving Vacant Lots

Cristina Hipp 
Kayla Kinsel

        One example of a city working together with an organization to improve vacant lots is a program called Reimagining a more Sustainable Cleveland in Cleveland, OH. There are 8 working groups that focus on a particular land use type or treatment. The eight categories include; stabilization, urban agriculture, storm water management, green space expansion, alternative energy, land assembly, contamination remediation, and sustainable development patterns.

       There was action in updating and changing zoning and land regulations in order to remove obstacles to keeping small farm animals and beehives in the city. Zoning regulations were added to support areas that are appropriate for the use of wind turbines. Abandoned rail lines were used in creating greenways and trails.

      $500,000 was used to create 56 different sustainable vacant land re-use projects in 2009. 5,152 buildings were demolished between 2006 and 2010 and property values of nearby areas increased by 17%.

      Some of the goals and opportunities created by the 8 groups are as follows:

1. Stabilization- Improve economic and aesthetic benefits to restore market confidence by supporting local art, improving air quality through tree canopies, and creating jobs through the stabilization activities.
2. Urban agriculture- Support local food markets and improve health of local residents by re-establishing local greenhouses and improving access to healthy food.
3. Storm water management- Vacant lots are used to support stormwater runoff by using best management practices to mitigate run off due to the increased number of impermeable surfaces.
4. Green space expansion- Provide recreational areas that are accessible and meet the needs of all income levels and physical abilities by expanding green space, green ways, greenspace educational opportunities, and increased tree canopy while preserving existing ones. 
5. Alternative energy- Use appropriate vacant land for installation of alternative energy facilities by using new government mandates, educational opportunities, and job creation using existing infrastructure.
6. Land assembly- Assemble and prepare lots to be used in the future by creating jobs that locate, acquire, hold, and improve lots.
7. Contamination remediation- Address contaminent issues and implement practices that improve environmental health issues. 
8. Sustainable development patterns- Develop a pattern of use that supports local businesses, enhances existing patterns for future development by utilizing public transport, concentrating services near populations, creating walkable neighborhoods, and connecting to the town center with bike paths.

The website 
offers detailed issues that are addressed, statistics of facts and figures, and important keys in moving forward that can be used to educate and mobilize students to become involved. Some important steps include identifying suitable land, developing a funding mechanism, develop low, medium, and high level design treatment options that include members of the community in a reasonable and accessible way. It is important to work with districts that have information on where the best areas for use are located and to collaborate with organizations with ongoing community projects in order to expand and support improvements.

Storm water management decreases the amount of run off in communities:

52% of people offered assistance with food say that they desire an increase in fresh fruits and vegetables. Community gardens offers nearby residents an opportunity to access fresh food:

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