Monday, November 21, 2016

Retired city planner Renee Magee receives award for Smart Growth contributions

Renee Magee
Longtime Idaho Falls City Planner Renee Magee received the Charles Hummel Award from Idaho Smart Growth at its annual banquet, held last Thursday in Boise.

Named after Charles Hummel, an architect, historic preservationist and co-founder of Idaho Smart Growth, the award is given in recognition of an individual who demonstrates the same dedication to smart growth, and who exemplifies personal integrity and contributions to Idaho’s quality of life. Hummel died Oct. 22 at age 91.

Magee was Idaho Falls’ planning director from April 1997 to 2013. Since retiring, she has been active in guiding the Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission. She is active in Rotary and serves on the Museum of Idaho Board of Directors. She holds a master’s in city and regional planning from Ohio State University and a law degree from University of Wyoming.

As city planner and in retirement, Magee has been a guiding light in Idaho Falls’ downtown revitalization. With the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, she offered advice most recently on the Bonneville Hotel project, suggesting a mix of market-rate and affordable residential units with retail on the ground floor. Built in 1927 the five-story hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and most likely qualifies for historic preservation tax credits and low-income housing tax credits. A development team was selected in August for the project, cost of which has been estimated at roughly $10 million.

Other 2016 Smart Growth awards given Thursday included:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Way Livability & Storm Water Project; Pocatello – Transportation Award

This main road through Idaho State University was redesigned to serve pedestrians and transit better as well as to improve safety for all users. Landscape and green storm water treatments complete the improvements.

Blaine County Community Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan; Blaine County – Citizen Advocacy Award

This plan has implementation strategies in place and some elements have already been implemented. Kudos for tackling bike/ped planning at the regional level and conducting a health impact assessment as part of the process.

Willard Arts Center and Colonial Theater; Idaho Falls – Redevelopment Award

The project is a great example of infill redevelopment that includes historic preservation. More than a decade in the making, it clearly has succeeded in bringing more people downtown, stimulating cultural activity and economic vibrancy.

Teton View Regional Plan for Sustainable Development; Teton County – Planning & Policy Award

A high level of involvement and commitment is shown by the many players brought together to make this happen. The plan provides clear direction for the region’s growth and addresses regional resources beyond land use with an eye toward sustainability.

Idaho Avenue Placemaking; Meridian – Redevelopment Award

This is an example of the catalytic nature of the lighter, quicker, cheaper placemaking approach that helps trigger community development quickly. The first project to be implemented from Meridian’s Placemaking Downtown Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper action plan is an excellent example of repurposing underutilized road right-of-way to another use.

36 Oak; Garden City – Infill Award

NeighborWorks Boise is using infill as an approach to providing affordable housing and live/work options. This is a good example of cottage-style single-family infill that increases density somewhat without overwhelming the surrounding neighborhood and does a good job of fulfilling Garden City’s comprehensive plan.

Vista Avenue Healthy Corridor; Boise – Citizen Advocacy Award

Grow Smart Awards have never previously recognized a study, however this one by the Urban Land Institute showed very good community engagement and collaboration with the city’s LIV program and the neighborhood. As a result the study has stimulated conversation and excitement which gave the jury confidence it will be utilized and implemented.

Nampa Library Square; Nampa – Commercial Award

This development did a great job of recognizing community needs as reflected in the variety of services provided. Keeping the library downtown and using it as an economic catalyst, including a mixed use development with structured and bike parking, are strong smart growth elements of the project.

Highway 55 Payette River “Lardo” Bridge; McCall – Small Community Award

More than just an aging bridge replacement, in this project the city worked with ITD to accomplish community development goals that emerged from previous planning efforts with good public engagement. The project completes a gap in the walking and biking network and provides space for public art; it’s as much a placemaking project as it is a transportation project.

For more information about the Grow Smart Awards and Idaho Smart Growth go to www.idahosmartgrowth.org.