Workshop targets future growth

Staff Writer 

PI city logoThe City of Port Isabel is one of 22 cities to be awarded Smart Growth America’s 2013 free technical assistance.

According to its website, Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide.

Margie Jacobs, assistant to the Economic Development Corporation administrator and grant writer for the City of Port Isabel, submitted a grant for the award.

Jacobs submitted a letter of intent to apply for the grant with the EPA for Smart Growth Implementation Assistance. It was declined. The grant was resent in the fall of 2012 and in December Smart Growth announced that Port Isabel had been awarded.

The Smart Growth 101 workshop provides local leaders and communities with the best options to create housing, transportation choices near jobs, aiming to familiarize the community with 10 principles of smart growth. Those principles consist of mixed land uses, taking advantage of compact building design, creating a range of housing opportunities and choices, preserving open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environmental areas.

“We are trying to tie the north side of Queen Isabella highway with the south side where we are now building a visitors and events center,” Jacobs said.

The Economic Developments Corporation is focusing on the areas bordered by Garcia Street and South Shore Drive and all of the residents in between.

Due to Port Isabel’s limited available land, Jacobs says upward growth is necessary since it can’t expand. This would include adding housing above shops and restaurants.

“This award is to help us learn to improve what we already have,” Jacobs said.

Elizabeth Schilling of Smart Growth will facilitate the sessions with a presentation that is open to the public on Tuesday, May 21, and workshop on Wednesday, May 22, by for local leaders and business and land owners.

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