The Quality Communities Clearinghouse
The content below is from the site's 2005-2007 archived pages.
About This Site
The Quality Communities Clearinghouse Web Site has been created in response to requests by local governments, community organizations, businesses and citizens to consolidate and organize those state agency services which support the development of Quality Communities. The Clearinghouse is an easy to use directory or ‘portal’ to 25 State agencies with brief descriptions of services and links to the appropriate agency web site pages.
It is generally organized by the eight Quality Communities Principles and sorted by four subcategories: Grant and Financial Information; Technical Assistance which includes training, publications, events and other information; Data and Regional inventories; and Success Stories. These subcategories are then organized by several topical areas such as transportation, business, energy, environment, planning and zoning.
The site will always be evolving to meet the needs and interests of its users. To accomplish this, we would appreciate having your feedback. Please forward comments and suggestions for improvements, additions and corrections to the Clearinghouse Coordinator: QC@dos.state.ny.us.
Governor George E. Pataki welcomes you to the new Quality Communities Clearinghouse Web site.
New York’s communities are the foundation of our future. Communities should be encouraged to realize a vision for themselves that restores the cherished qualities from traditional neighborhoods of the past, while at the same time takes advantage of the wonders of the 21st Century. Through the Quality Communities Initiative, I am committed to working with local governments, citizens and business to meet the challenges of revitalizing community centers, preserving neighborhoods, improving the environment and enhancing the quality of life for all of our residents.
These goals and more are embodied in the Quality Communities Principles. Our State agencies have embraced these Principles that now guide the application of available resources and focus technical assistance on local conservation initiatives, economic development planning and insuring that future growth contributes to a better quality of life.
Creating a Quality Community isn't easy. It takes time, know-how and tools. This new centralized Quality Communities Clearinghouse was designed to bring you steps closer to your goals by giving you direct links to useful information and many of the resources our State agencies have to offer a Quality Community in the making.
I invite you to explore this directory of State services and to learn more about making the place you call home one of the very best places to live, work and raise a family in the Empire State.
George E. Pataki
Welcome to the Quality Communities Clearinghouse
Just over four years ago Governor Pataki created the Quality Communities Interagency Task Force and charged this group of state agency leaders with helping to create places people want to call “home.” Early in 2001 the Task Force released its report, State and Local Governments Partnering for a Better New York, which includes 41 recommendations for enhanced partnerships between State and local government. The report also articulated principles for effective planning, community center revitalization, open space conservation, farmland protection, advancement of technology, sustainable economic development and improved transportation and liveable neighborhoods.
The Governor moved swiftly to encourage implementation of the recommendations and principles. He established an expanded Interagency Working Group of more than two dozen agencies, providing the structure to adopt the principles within these State agencies and to seek cooperation among agency personnel to support Quality Communities projects. We were proud to serve as the chair and vice chair of the original Task Force, prouder still to lead the new Quality Communities Interagency Working Group.
To make it easier for all communities to take advantage of State programs and assistance (and to fulfill another recommendation), the Working Group has collaborated to create the Quality Communities Clearinghouse Web Site. Organized by principle, the Clearinghouse is an easy to use directory of services, resources and best practice information offered by each of our member agencies. The Clearinghouse promises to be an important new tool to help focus creative energy at the State and local levels to take charge of our future.
As 2005 progresses, the Working Group will identify additional ways to partner with local government, the business community, not-for-profits and the people we all serve. We are now better positioned to leverage the resources needed to improve the quality of life in every part of the State from New York City to the North Country; from the Finger Lakes to the Great Lakes.
We look forward to working hand in hand with you and other community leaders to turn more local visions into dreams come true.
Mary O. Donohue
Chair, Quality Communities
Randy A. Daniels
Secretary of State
Vice Chair, Quality Communities
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.How does “Quality Communities” (QC) relate to the national “Smart Growth” phenomenon?
A. “Smart Growth” has emerged over the last few years as one of the hottest land use and development topics in the United States. Over that period of time, “Smart Growth” has received support from diverse organizations ranging from environmental groups to builders’ associations. While the “Smart Growth” movement has gained credibility, defining the term has become more difficult.
In researching other state initiatives and interviewing national experts, the New York State Quality Communities Interagency Task Force found that smart growth is most effectively defined at the individual state and local level. There is no one-size-fits-all solution or process. Each state, region and locality has unique economic, political, social and environmental conditions. In establishing the Task Force, Governor Pataki called on the group to craft a “New York” initiative that is responsive to the diversity of our communities and therefore enhances the quality of life of all our residents. For this reason, New York’s, “Quality Communities” approach is more appropriate and all-encompassing than the“Smart Growth” movement.
Everyone has their own ideas for desirable and sustainable economic growth, which is why the Quality Communities Interagency Task Force recommendations, centered on creating a collaborative process, with the State providing leadership in community development and environmental protection that is complementary to local self destiny. Overall, Quality Communities is a process that we hope will promote growth that is economically sound, environmentally friendly and supportive of community values. New York is implementing Task Force recommendations that will enable communities to take advantage of state policies, programs and processes that help them help themselves.
Q. What actions is the State taking in order to promote “Smart Growth” and encourage the creation of “Quality Communities?”
A. Twenty-five State agencies serving on the Quality Communities Interagency Working Group have embraced a set of Quality Communities Principles:
1. Encourage Sustainable Economic Development;
2. Help Create, Implement and Sustain the Vision of a Quality Community;
3. Revitalize Our Downtowns and Community Centers;
4. Conserve Open Space and Other Critical Environmental Resources;
5. Promote Agriculture and Farmland Protection;
6. Strengthen Intergovernmental and Community Partnerships;
7. Enhance Transportation Choices and Encourage More liveable Neighborhoods and
8. Enhance and Encourage the Use of Technology.
These Principles now serve as guidelines for agencies to follow in the development and implementation of State policies and programs and in the allocation and administration of State resources.
Q. “Smart Growth” is supposed to be all about stopping sprawl. Why doesn’t the Quality Communities project make recommendations, such as urban growth boundaries, to stop sprawl from spilling into the countryside?
A. The QC recommendations are proactive: they are pro-downtown, pro-agriculture, pro-open space, pro-neighborhood, and pro-community. We discovered through our roundtable discussions across the State that the best way to curb sprawl is by providing incentives to revitalize our community centers, not by telling people where they can’t live. And in New York, we also must abide by the “Home Rule” provisions in our Constitution and our history. This means each community must decide how it wants to grow and develop. What we can do is provide the tools for communities to work together to realize their visions, and to make sure that we give them the strongest possible support to apply the Quality Communities Principles.
Q. “Smart Growth” has largely been in response to urban sprawl and its effect on communities and the environment. In New York, however, many of our municipalities are not affected by sprawl, but are more interested in growth and economic development. How does Quality Communities respond to communities wishing to encourage growth?
A. QC recognizes that there is no single solution to community or regional planning issues but it also recognizes that successful communities all share one commonality – a vision for the future of shared and cherished community values. Their plans and actions reflect these values. In general, the goal of Quality Communities is to invest time, attention and resources in creating or enhancing a strong sense of community, whether the concern be sprawl, farmland protection, jobs or a reinvigorated Main Street. By applying the Quality Communities Principles, communities can grow in ways that make them the kind of places people want to call home.
Q. Other states, most notably Oregon, have established “urban growth boundaries” around each city to separate urban areas from rural land in order to contain urban sprawl. Did New York State consider this top-down approach?
A. The Task Force concluded that a bottom-up approach was more appropriate in New York State. The role of the State is to enable municipalities to achieve locally determined goals that are consistent with the Quality Communities Principles.
Q. Has New York State introduced Quality Communities legislation?
A. Yes. Governor George E. Pataki initiated legislation which was enacted into law in 2005 that established the Quality Communities Grant Program (chapter 63 of the Laws of 2005). The Governor has also developed comprehensive legislative proposals to implement many of the recommendations of the Quality Communities Task Force. The Governor’s Bill was introduced by Sen. Mary Lou Rath in the 2001-2002 and 2003-2003 legislative sessions. There have also been other legislative proposals that have a direct bearing on Quality Communities recommendations, such as the Bill signed into law by the Governor in 2002 which directed the Public Service Commission to recommend actions necessary to provide advanced telecommunications to rural areas (Laws of 2002, Chapter 132). This report was submitted February 1, 2003.
Q. Is there any State funding dedicated exclusively to Quality Communities?
A. New York’s approach to Quality Communities has been to use and target existing resources whenever and wherever possible to achieve Quality Communities Principles. This web site is designed to enable public access to the funding programs of the State Agencies that address the issues of open space conservation, downtown redevelopment, agriculture protection, transportation and liveable neighborhoods, technology, sustainable development, partnerships and community visioning. In the 2000-2001 fiscal year, the Legislature appropriated $1.15 million for a Quality Communities demonstration grant program, to fund awards to 28 communities. These awards have benefited more than eighty municipalities due to the high level of inter-municipal cooperation inherent in most of the projects. In fiscal year 2003-2004, $1.27 million was appropriated for use in twelve demonstration communities to create models in downtown planning and revitalization. (SeeQuality Communities Newsletters for information about these communities and other success stories.) In 2004-2005, the 2nd Quality Communities Grant Program awarded 30 municipalities $1 million and a new funding round under the Environmental Protection Fund has been announced with an application deadline of December 5, 2005. The 2006-07 program has been announced, and the application deadline is November 17, 2006. See the homepage of the Quality Communities Clearinghouse for more information.
Q. What is the Federal government’s involvement in “Smart Growth”?
A. Federal laws, regulations, policies and spending programs have a major impact on smart growth. Historically, however, the federal government has undertaken actions that have been counterproductive to smart growth. Notable examples include highway construction programs and the location of federal facilities including post offices located away from downtown and main street areas. Nonetheless, in recent years, the federal government has begun to recognize the importance of smart growth. The federal government has taken some positive steps to address smart growth; these actions are summarized in a report entitled, “National Incentives for Smart Growth Communities/The Challenge of Sprawl and the Promise of Smart Growth,” by Matthew W. Ward, Esq., available from the International Municipal Lawyers Association 1110 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20005, tel. no. (202) 466-5424.
Q. What are some positive examples of the federal government’s involvement in “Smart Growth”?
A. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) promotes smart growth policies. Programs include the “Clean Air Transportation Communities” initiative, through which the EPA provides grants for transportation alternatives. The EPA promotes smart growth in other ways, such as its >brownfields restoration program and its smart growth national awards programs. Finally, the EPA maintains an informative web site on smart growth.
Transportation: Federal transportation spending has an enormous impact on how growth occurs. The legal vehicle through which the Federal government finances transportation is the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (“TEA-21"). Tea-21 expired on September 30, 2003. President Bush has proposed full funding for the Transportation Enhancements program in the SAFETEA proposal he delivered to Congress in May, 2003. A 5-month extension was passed by the House, September 24, 2003. Re-authorization of a full 6 year transportation bill is expected to be considered by Congress this fall.
Location of federal facilities: Under Executive Order 12,072, Federal Space Management, President Carter directed the General Services Administration to require the location of federal facilities “to strengthen the nation’s cities and to make them attractive places to live and work.” The Executive Order established, among other things, a preference for placing federal facilities in cities and central business areas of urban and rural communities. Under Executive Order 13,006, President Clinton reaffirmed Executive Order 12,072 and added the policy of encouraging the location of federal facilities in historic buildings to promote their preservation. Pursuant to these executive orders, in 1998, the United States Postal Service promulgated regulations that essentially impose smart growth principles and a community consultation requirement upon the Postal Service when expanding, relocating or constructing new facilities. Finally, United States Senate Bill S.897 (H. R. 1861), the “Post Office Community Partnership Act of 2001", would, if passed into law, codify “smart growth” considerations for relocation, consolidation or construction of new postal facilities.