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NLC honors five cities for urban enrichment.

Local initiatives to increase public safety, repair dilapidated housing, promote affordable housing and minority business, and improve the lives of children won top honors in the 1993 Urban Enrichment Awards competition.

From among more than 110 entries, this year's winners were San Diego, Calif. (over 500,000 population category); Greensboro, N.C. (150,000-500,000 population); Macon, Ga. (50,000-150,000 population); and Hoffman Estates, Ill., and Surfside Beach, S.C., who shared top honors in the under 50,000 population category. Honorable mentions went to New York, N.Y.; Dayton, Ohio; and Hartford, Conn.

The winning cities of San Diego, Greensboro, and Macon will receive cash awards of $2,000 each. As co-winners in the small community category, Hoffman Estates and Surfside Beach will split a combined $2,500 award, and receive $1,250 each. Cities awarded honorable mention recognition will receive $500. The winning cities will donate all cash awards to a community nonprofit organization of their choice.

The awards will be presented to winners at NLC's Congress of Cities in a special ceremony and reception on Friday, December 3, at 4:00 p.m. at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

"These local projects are outstanding examples of what resourceful, collaborative, and creative leadership can do to help make our cities towns better places for everyone," said NLC executive director Donald J. Borut.

The James C. Howland awards, sponsored by NLC and the CH2M Hill company since 1989, are designed to encourage and reward innovative city efforts and public-private partnerships that preserve, enrich, or promote high-quality, sensible, and sustainable development. The award is named in honor of the founding partner and retired chief executive officer of CH2M Hill, a leading national engineering consulting firm.

Judges for this year's competition were four former city elected officials: Larry Cole (Beaverton Ore.); Frances Huntley Cooper (Fitchburg, Wisc.); Cora Pinson (Olympia, Wash.); and Steve Roberts (St. Louis, Mo.)

Winning Programs

San Diego's "Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol" won top honors in the big city category. The program uses 35 men and women over 60 years of age as volunteers to conduct patrol and other service activities in the community of Rancho Bernardo. The volunteers undergo thorough background checks and receive 40 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of field training. When certified, they are outfitted with uniforms and police radios.

In addition to patrol, the volunteers check on vacation homes, visit shut-ins, conduct home security inspections, tag abandoned vehicles for towing, note street lighting problems, and give talks to school children on public safety. All operating expenses for the program are funded by citizen donations to the Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation. City population: 1,110,550. Details: Fred Wilson, (619) 538-8146.

Greensboro's winning entry was a unique public-private partnership which led to a tenday "Affordable Homes Show" that attracted thousands of visitors. The show provided construction and marketing opportunities for minority and women-owned builders and subcontractors. The city donated surplus land for a 112-lot subdivision, and set aside eleven lots as affordable home show lots.

Builders for the lots were selected by lottery, floor plans were approved, homes were built, and then sold during the show. Builders received their lots at no upfront cost, and then reimbursed the city after the homes sold during the show. All eleven homes were sold. Participants in the initiative were the city, a local Housing Development Partnership, a regional builders association, and civic groups. City population: 183,521. Details: Andrew Scott, (919) 373-2349.

Macon's award was for a process and project that led to the rehabilitation of 25 houses in city's Pleasant Hill section, the oldest African-American neighborhood in Georgia. Housing stock previously perceived as worthless was redeveloped with sensitivity to its neighborhood sensitivity. In the process, a variety of groups that had not worked together previously united to leverage funds and achieve a common goal.

The city economic and community development department joined forces with a local nonprofit historical housing corporation to develop the project. Funding sources included Section 8, historic rehabilitation tax credits, state housing assistance, tax abatements and low-interest loans from the city, and grants from a community foundation. All restored homes are now rented to low and moderate income persons. City population: 106,612. Details: Mayor Tommy Olmstead, (912) 751- 7170.

Hoffman Estates won for a project that renovated a 150- year-old farmhouse and turned it into a modern, comfortable, 6,000-square- foot center for sexually and physically abused children - all at no cost to the taxpayer. The Children's Advocacy Center had been housed in a cramped basement. The city offered the farmhouse, formerly the site of city offices, to the Center for a rent of $1 per year.

To renovate the structure, local trade unions and businesses donated more than $350,000 in labor costs and materials over a ten-month period. Convicted DUI offenders did clean-up tasks so skilled workers were free to devote their full attention to necessary plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work. In all, twenty local trade unions and 72 other companies and individuals were involved in the project. Village population: 46,363. Details: Mayor Michael O'Malley, (708) 882-9100.

Surfside Beach's winning entry turned an eyesore public works storage yard into a muchneeded recreational facility designed specifically to permit physically disabled and ablebodied children to play together. The design and playground equipment in the "All Children's Park" is totally wheelchair-friendly. The town funded about half of the project costs, and used town employees to perform drainage, parking lot, and landscaping work. The state contributed $8,100 in grant money for playground equipment. The balance of the project costs came from community contributions of money, building materials, and labor. The park is the first one of its kind in South Carolin. It permits physically-challenged children to play on a level with their peers and helps to create bonds of understanding and acceptance among people. Town population: 3,845. Details: Billy Hendrix, (803) 238-2590.

In the Honorable Mention categories, New York City received recognition for its "Street Cinema" program, which uses vacant city-owned lots as outdoor movie theaters in the summer. Dayton won for its water well field protection program, which combines zoning, pollution prevention incentives, intergovernmental partnerships, and volunteerism in an effort that protects the city's acquifer. Hartford won for its "A Call to a Visionary Artist" program, an interdisciplinary educational program that teaches children in grades K-12 how architecture and urban design can serve as mechanisms for change and reform.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Fletcher, Jeff
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 15, 1993
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