EPA program to help Bemidji with sustainable planning

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The Environmental Protection Agency has picked Bemidji to participate in a federal program that aims to help cities with revitalization efforts.

Bemidji is one of 32 communities in 26 states chosen for the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program. The designation doesn’t come with any big cash grant. But it does provide city leaders with a day-long session of technical assistance to achieve sustainable planning goals.

The Building Blocks program is a public-private partnership designed to give communities new redevelopment tools. In a daylong session later this spring, EPA-funded private sector experts will help city officials identify smart growth principles for fiscal and economic health.

Smart growth principals include creating a range of housing opportunities within a city; creating walkable neighborhoods; encouraging collaboration with community organizations; and fostering distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.

Bemidji City Manager John Chattin said the city won’t focus on a particular project during the session. He said city leaders will benefit from a fresh set of eyes reviewing the city’s needs and its potential.

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