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Archive for Saturday, April 11, 2009

K.C. Green Zone project gets praise from representative

April 11, 2009

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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver says $200 million in federal stimulus money aims to make some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods a model for green living.

Cleaver, D-Mo., who came up with the idea for a Green Impact Zone, said part of the program’s goal is to create jobs. He met Thursday with more than 50 neighborhood and community leaders.

Cleaver, who’s from Kansas City and was the city’s mayor in the 1990s, called the plan “a perfect storm of opportunity.”

“The key is we are investing federal money wisely and building an inclusive green economy strong enough to create jobs for residents,” he said.

Kansas City will be funneling as much stimulus money as possible over two years into rebuilding the area, Cleaver said.

Local, state and federal governments will work on the plan.

The money is to be spent on various upgrades, including weatherizing every home that needs it in a 150-block area and training the jobless on how to do that work.

The weatherizing will include installing energy-efficient windows and furnaces and making other improvements that will reduce residents’ energy bills.

Margaret May, executive director of the Neighborhood Council for Kansas City’s Ivanhoe section, said some residents have monthly gas bills of $600 and $800 during the winter.

“Some don’t have incomes that are much more than that,” May said. “There are so many needs here, and we need to make sure we are spending this money in a manner that really benefits this area.”

The zone is bordered on the west by Troost Avenue, on the north by 39th Street, on the south by 51st Street and on the east by Prospect Avenue and Swope Parkway.

Other plans for that area include developing a smart-grid energy project that features state-of-the-art wiring for electric cars and computers that control household appliances.

Bus services are to be increased and 25 new green-friendly stations built, complete with real-time passenger information.

A sustainable land-use plan is to be developed for the area.

A key neighborhood bridge is to be replaced to accommodate an improved rapid-transit bus route.

“Emanuel Cleaver’s innovative idea shows that we can build a clean energy economy block by block,” said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Our nation’s cities are laboratories for energy solutions.”

The Kansas City Council unanimously approved a resolution last week to support the Green Impact Zone and partner with the Mid-America Regional Council to coordinate funding and work.

Kansas City Power & Light will be involved in developing the smart grid and looking into alternative energy options for businesses and institutions.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is providing the city with demographic data about the neighborhoods in the zone.

The zone has some of the highest unemployment rates in Kansas City — up to 55 percent in some parts.

The median household income for the area is $22,397 per year, the city’s lowest. And in some of the neighborhoods, up to a third of the residents are without cars.

Cleaver said so far $42 million in stimulus money has been identified to start improvements, an investment that he thinks will bring more money.

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