Olympia was among three capital cities selected to receive “green design assistance” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In an announcement last week, the EPA chose Olympia along with Lansing, Mich., and Madison, Wis., for the Greening America’s Capitals program. Since 2010, the program has assisted 14 state capitals as well as the District of Columbia.
Instead of money, the EPA will provide consulting services for a design that incorporates green infrastructure along Capitol Way in downtown Olympia.
No timetable has been set for design or construction, said Keith Stahley, the city’s director of Community and Planning Development. The future project is intended to strengthen the “visual and aesthetic” connection between the Capitol Campus and the Olympia Farmers Market while improving access to the waterfront and businesses. The idea is to encourage more pedestrians and bicyclists to shop and dine in the area.
The upcoming urban design process will explore improvements to the streetscape, stormwater drainage and other environmental factors, Stahley said.
“It certainly puts you in a better position to compete for other grant funding down the road,” Stahley said of the EPA program. “This is work that we’re definitely interested in.”
Olympia applied for the highly competitive program in 2011 and 2012. Last year’s recipients were Baton Rouge, La.; Des Moines, Iowa; Frankfort, Ky.; Helena, Mont.; and Indianapolis, Ind.
In Baton Rouge, for example, the program helped plan a 2.75-mile pedestrian greenway to connect the city’s downtown with Louisiana State University. According to the design, rain gardens line the greenway to collect and treat stormwater runoff before it reaches Baton Rouge’s sewer system.Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 email@example.com