January 2005 Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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January 2005 Media Tips

New Year, New Directions, as MPC Sets 2005 Policy Agenda

Experts predict that in the coming decades, only a handful of American metropolises will emerge as truly “global cities,” those that support the most talented workers, dynamic companies, and culturally vibrant communities by ensuring that all residents can attain a high quality of life.

MPC wants to help secure a place for metropolitan Chicago – and its 8 million residents – among the world’s great places to live, work and play. Major concerns and specific action items that will drive the Council’s work in 2005 are education funding, quality and accountability reform; property tax relief; improved workforce housing availability; better transportation funding and planning; and preservation of open space and water quality and quantity. Specific recommendations for action at the federal, state and local levels are featured in the Council’s 2005 Policy Agenda.

“There is a strong connection between all of MPC’s policy pursuits,” said Peter Skosey , MPC’s vice president of external relations. “We must ensure that all of our residents have access to quality housing options, better schools, convenient transportation systems, and healthy communities.”

The 2005 Policy Agenda will be available soon on MPC’s Web site, www.metroplanning.org.

MPC Co ntact: Peter Skosey, Vice President of External Relations
312.863.6004 or pskosey@metroplanning.org

State, Local Leaders Want Education Reform to Top 2005 To-Do List

A week after Senate President Emil Jones urged the 94 th General Assembly to overhaul Illinois’ “terrible, terrible, outrageous” school-funding system, some 200 educators and community leaders from metropolitan Chicago met in Lombard to discuss how to make that vision a reality.

The Jan. 21 event, “Building Consensus for School Funding Reform,” was sponsored by A+ Illinois, Better Funding for Better Schools Coalition, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and Illinois Principals Association. Speakers included MarySue Barrett, MPC president; Dean Clark, member, Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE); school superintendents; and members of A+ Illinois.

“With prominent state legislators calling for education funding reform and folks from across the state building consensus around proposals such as HB750, we have hope that 2005 will be the year Illinois finally fixes its broken school funding system,” said Bindu Batchu, A+ Illinois campaign manager. “We can’t afford to fail another generation of Illinois children.”

Also, on Friday, Jan. 28, and Monday, Jan. 31, those concerned about Illinois ’ school-funding crisis can make their voices heard at ISBE’s Finance and Audit Committee’s FY06 budget hearings. (For details on these and other events, visit www.aplusillinois.org/calendar/calendar.asp.)

A+ Illinois Contact: Bindu Batchu , Campaign Manager, A+ Illinois
312.863.6014 or bbatchu@metroplanning.org

Paving the Way for More Thoughtful Road Construction in Illinois

In the world of transportation design, “getting there” traditionally has been the aim, with the focus on increasing flow of traffic along wider, faster, straighter roads. However, according to a new MPC Issue Brief, that emphasis is changing. Today, the public wants roads that satisfy safety and mobility concerns, but also incorporate innovative designs and embody community values.

To accomplish such “context-sensitive” transportation projects, early community involvement is vital. This feedback allows the resulting road to be many things to many people: more attractive, cost-effective and environmentally-sensitive; serving multiple modes of travel, with adjoining bike paths or transit lanes; and even sparking new economic development opportunities.

“Examples of context-sensitive transportation projects exist in Illinois ,” said Natashia Holmes , MPC senior transportation associate. “However, transportation and land use decision makers – from IDOT to local planners – must work together to develop and apply a consistent method for accomplishing context sensitivity in all transportation projects.”

The brief, “Improving Transportation Design,” will be available soon at www.metroplanning.org.

MPC Contact: Natashia Holmes , Senior Transportation Associate
312.863.6022 or nholmes@metroplanning.org

Contact: Diane Legge Kemp, FAIA ASLA, Principal, DLK Civic Design
312.322.0911 ext. 102 or dleggekemp@dlkinc.com

Campaign-ULI Community-Assistance Model Gaining National Attention

To help local communities turn development challenges into success stories, the Campaign for Sensible Growth and Urban Land Institute (ULI) Chicago have brought Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) to 11 municipalities since 2001. TAP volunteers – local experts in planning, development, market analysis, finance and more – spend two days examining a community’s challenges, then provide an action plan for overcoming challenges and realizing opportunities.

This model has attracted national attention. Campaign Manager Ellen Shubart will join other planning experts in Miami , Jan. 27-29, to speak about successful community-assistance initiatives at the “ 4th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building Safe, Healthy, and Livable Communities.”

“The beauty of the Campaign-ULI TAP model is that it is a cost-effective, flexible, hands-on approach to helping low-capacity communities,” said Shubart. “Since 2001, our TAPs have addressed problems ranging from transit-oriented development to redeveloping a disinvested, privately owned housing project. With a little outside help, communities are addressing their problems with confidence, and creating new models for sensible growth.”

In 2005, the Campaign will organize a TAP in south suburban Midlothian , Ill. , and in other locations to-be-announced. To learn more about TAPs and other Campaign for Sensible Growth initiatives, visit www.growingsensibly.org.

MPC Contact: Ellen Shubart, Manager, Campaign for Sensible Growth
312.863.6004 or eshubart@metroplanning.org

Contact: Gregory W. Hummel, Partner, Bell Boyd & Lloyd, LLC; Chairman, Campaign-ULI TAP in Elburn, Ill., October 2004
312.372.1121 or ghummel@bellboyd.com

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