CNT Brings Green Infrastructure Planning Tools to Detroit & Toledo
In mid-May, CNT’s Ryan Wilson, Stormwater Program Manager, and Hal Sprague, Water Policy Manager, traveled to Toledo, OH and Detroit, MI, as part of the Livability Solutions coalition. The pair provided targeted technical assistance on the use of CNT’s Green Infrastructure planning tools—the Green Values Stormwater Toolbox, the Green Infrastructure Benefits Guide, and the Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard.
CNT’s two community two partners—the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission (TLCSC) and Detroit’s Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP)—worked closely with the CNT Water team to impart an understanding of the unique regulatory and development challenges each city must overcome before implementing stormwater green infrastructure. The resultant workshops, tours, meetings and other interactions with local stakeholders laid the groundwork for a successful project partnership. The lessons learned in Toledo and Detroit will inform CNT’s recently launched “Smart Water for Smart Regions” initiative for the Great Lakes states.
Upon arrival in Toledo, Jeff Grabarkiewicz of TLCSC led CNT and city engineering staff on a tour of several recently completed green infrastructure projects. Stops on the tour included the permeable parking lot and bioretention area at a local firehouse, a permeable alley, and a Toledo Grows urban farming operation where recently installed rain gardens are designed to manage 100 percent of a typical rainfall on-site. The tour set the tone for a dynamic discussion with local stakeholders at the following day’s workshop, hosted by TLCSC at the University of Toledo.
The workshop began with a presentation of an exemplary green infrastructure installation along Maywood Avenue in Toledo. Jamie Brescol of Tetratech and Patekka Bannister of the City of Toledo shared insights from the planning, construction, and maintenance of the project, as well as monitoring results and lessons learned with an engaged audience of engineers, planners, city officials, activists, and academics. As a follow-up to this local case study, CNT shared how green infrastructure planning tools can be used to lower the costs of developing and maintaining stormwater infrastructure. A lively discussion followed the training session, demonstrating a clear demand for increasing the local capacity for green infrastructure projects in Toledo.
In Detroit, Khalil Ligon of LEAP led CNT on an extensive tour of the 15 square mile engagement area on the eastside of Detroit: an area currently marked by extensive parcel vacancy, but where residents are planning for a change of course. LEAP, a coalition agency, has engaged these local stakeholders in envisioning how and where redevelopment may occur in their community. Residents see green infrastructure as part of the action plan.
During a workshop hosted by LEAP at the Northeast Guidance Center, a part of CNT’s technical assistance, Professor Joan Nassauer of University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment shared her thoughts on how green infrastructure can be utilized in the context of the LEAP engagement area and the positive impact it will provide for local stakeholders.
CNT followed Professor Nassauer’s presentation with a training on the use of our green infrastructure planning tools. During a breakout session, CNT conducted a mapping exercise with groups of citizen stakeholders to pinpoint occurrences of local flooding, and to build a dialogue around the impact of property flooding on Detroit’s residents. The insights gained from this exercise, and CNT’s preparatory engagement with local officials, planners and community groups, show a clear desire to align future development with cost effective solutions for Detroit’s water infrastructure.
In both cities, CNT met with amazing and engaged community leaders: advocates for building more sustainable communities where they live. While CNT’s technical assistance through the Livability Solutions partnership is just a point along the continuum to the ultimate development of a truly sustainable water infrastructure, it is an exciting point to experience. CNT looks forward to continued partnerships with the inspiring communities in Detroit and Toledo.
CNT is a partner in Livability Solutions, a coalition of organizations that works with communities to achieve their livability, sustainability, placemaking, and smart growth goals. CNT is providing technical assistance to Toledo and Detroit through a 5- year grant awarded to the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities under the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. These cities were 2 of 10 communities selected from 64 applicants and represent the strongest commitment to, need for, and capability to achieve livability solutions using our tools.