Norwalk Among 15 Finalists for City Livability Awards; Energy Program Highlighted

The City of Norwalk and Mayor Harry Rilling have been chosen as one of fifteen finalists for the U.S. Conference of Mayors City Livability Awards in the national division of cities with populations under 100,000.  The awards recognize mayoral leadership for developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities. The program is characterized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors as “the most competitive award program” sponsored by the organization, and honors mayors and city governments for developing innovations that enhance the quality of life in urban areas.        livibity

In its application, the City of Norwalk recognized the work of the Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force, chaired by Council member John Kydes, according to city officials.  Mayor Rilling created the Task Force in February 2014 to promote environmentally responsible use of energy and natural resources among citizens and businesses in Norwalk, and to offer them green energy alternatives.

As a finalist, The City of Norwalk has been invited to submit a second application to the judges for the final round of decisions, which will take place in late spring.  A first-place city and four runners-up will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting in June.

The other cities reaching the second round are Aguadilla, PR; Camuy, PR; Carmel, IN; Davie, FL; Hattiesburg, MS; Norcross, GA; Orland Park, IL; Pontiac, MI; Renton, WA; Rochester Hills, MI; Sumter, SC; Sunrise, FL; Warren, OH; and Westland, MI. NorwalkSeal

Last year, New Orleans, LA Mayor Mitch Landrieu and West Sacramento, CA Mayor Chris Cabaldon were awarded first place honors – for cities above and below 100,000 population respectively -  in the 2014 City Livability Awards, from a pool of over 200 applicants. Honorable mention for cities with populations of less than 100,000 was given to Beverly Hills (CA), Braintree (MA), Roanoke (VA) Tamarac (FL) and York (PA).

Mayor Bill Finch and the City of Bridgeport were recognized with an Outstanding Achievement Award among cities with populations over 100,000 in 2012, for the city’s Brownfields Remediation and Redevelopment Program – the City’s focus on reclaiming dormant brownfields to spur redevelopment.  That same year, Hartford and Mayor Pedro Segarra also earned an Outstanding Achievement Award.

Established in 1979, the City Livability Awards are given annually to ten mayors and their cities--a first-place award and four Outstanding Achievement Awards for cities under 100,000 population, and a first-place and four Outstanding Achievement Awards for cities of 100,000 or more inhabitants.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

3 Cities, 3 Towns from CT Take Up National Challenge on Pedestrian, Bicyclist Safety to Launch Thursday

Six Connecticut towns and cities are among the first 150 in the nation to respond to a challenge issued by U.S. Secretary of Transportation (USDOT) Anthony Foxx aimed at promoting bicyclist and pedestrian safety.  The year-long nationwide initiative will officially kick-off this Thursday. The chief elected officials of the cities of Hartford, Stamford, and Bridgeport, and the towns of Glastonbury, Simsbury, and South Windsor have signed on to the Mayor’s Challenge, announced earlier this year at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  The Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets is a call to action by Secretary Foxx for mayors and local elected officials  to take significant action to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year.mayors

The challenge is based on the 2010 USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. In the policy statements, USDOT recognizes the many benefits walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life.

The challenge calls on Mayors, First Selectmen and other chief elected officials to:sign_ped-bike-share

  • Issue a public statement about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety
  • Form a local action team to advance safety and accessibility goals
  • Take local action through seven Challenge activities (listed below)

In Connecticut, the advocacy organization Bike Walk Connecticut is urging Connecticut's chief elected officials to participate in the challenge and engage their residents in carrying out the initiative’s objectives. They applauded Foxx, a former Mayor of Charlotte, N.C., for making “bicycle and pedestrian safety is his signature issue as the head of USDOT.”

The challenge activities, as outlined by USDOT, include:

  • Take a Complete Streets approach
  • Identify and address barriers to make streets safe and convenient for all road users, including people of all ages and abilities and those using assistive mobility devices
  • Gather and track biking and walking data
  • Use designs that are appropriate to the context of the street and its uses
  • Take advantage of opportunities to create and complete ped-bike networks through maintenance
  • Improve walking and biking safety laws and regulations
  • Educate and enforce proper road use behavior by all

A total of 154 cities nationwide have signed on as of March 6, with the official kick-off later this week in Washington, D.C.  Additional municipalities in Connecticut and across the country are expected to add their names to the list of participating cities.  USDOT has invited Mayors' Challenge participants to attend the Mayors' Challenge Summit kick-off event at USDOT’s Headquarters’ office in the nation's capital on Thursday, March 12. The Summit will bring together participating cities to network and learn more about the Challenge activities, and USDOT staff members will share the resources and tools available to help cities with Challenge activities.

Federal officials note that the lack of systematic data collection related to walking and bicycling transportation, such as count data, travel survey data, and injury data, creates challenges for improving non-Cycling to Workmotorized transportation networks and safety. Communities that routinely collect walking and biking data, they point out, are better positioned to track trends and prioritize investments.

In advocating a “complete streets” approach, USDOT emphasizes that complete streets “make it safe and convenient for people of all ages and abilities to reach their destination whether by car, train, bike, or foot” and they call for “a policy commitment to prioritize and integrate all road users into every transportation project.”

Bike Walk Connecticut has reported that there were 49 bicycle or pedestrian fatalities in Connecticut in 2012, the most recent data available.  There were an additional 1,226 injuries to bicyclists or pedestrians.  In total, from 2006 to 2012, there were more than 10,000 injuries and nearly 300 fatalities from crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists, according to the organization, based on federal and state data.

13 Connecticut Mayors Head to D.C. for National Conference

When 300 of the nation’s Mayors convene in Washington for a three-day conference beginning on Wednesday, a baker’s dozen from Connecticut will be among them.  Thirteen chief elected officials from Connecticut comunities, including two who serve as co-chairs of key committees, will be participating in the 83rd Winter Meetings of the National Conference of Mayors.  The organization convenes on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, just as the new Congressional session gets underway. us_conference_mayors The Mayors will engage with Administration officials, Congressional leaders business leaders to “ensure the health and economic recovery of America’s cities,” according to program organizers. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the Mayors on Thursday.

Amayorsttending from Connecticut are Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Norwich Mayor Deberey Hinchey, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Stamford Mayor David Martin, Stratford Mayor John Harkins, Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.

On Wednesday, the Mayors’ Energy Independence and Climate Protection Task Force, which is co-chaired by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch will meet.  The panel is co-chaired by the Mayor of Carmel, Indiana.  The session will include a discussion of recommendations of the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

On Thursday, the Immigration Reform Task Force, which is co-chaired by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait will gather to hear from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson.

Topping the agenda, according to officials are community policing, the economy, innovation & transportation.   The Mayors will head to the White House on Friday afternoon, concluding the conference.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1400 such cities in the country today.