Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Saving America's Cities: The Speaker of the House Forms a New Task Force to Examine the Issues Facing the Redevelopment of Urban Areas

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Saving America's Cities: The Speaker of the House Forms a New Task Force to Examine the Issues Facing the Redevelopment of Urban Areas

Article excerpt

As the National Legislative Forum Luncheon began, participants had more to chew on than just salad. One of the featured speakers, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) discussed how the newly-formed "Saving America's Cities" working group that he chairs, is working to revitalize urban areas.

U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who charged the group with examining America's cities, formed the program in late 2000 to recommend policies that would help bring economic growth to the areas. A former mayor of Dayton, Ohio, Turner, was a strong proponent of urban revitalization, and created a development fund which provided $19 million to the downtown Dayton area in new investments and projects. His new "Saving America's Cities" working group has its work cut out for them.

"Our cities are facing a crisis--their infrastructure is aging, the population's revenue is decreasing, and the cost of delivering basic services are increasing," Turner said.

One of the ways Turner says his group will change America's cities, is to partner with organizations like the National Recreation and Park Association. Other groups Turner hopes to partner with include the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, Business Roundtable and National Urban League, among others.

Among the issues targeted is historic preservation within cities, turning brownfields into community green space, helping to create public housing and reforming tax codes to encourage development and hiring.

According to Turner's research, brownfields are the biggest impediment to attracting jobs to an area, not crime, as some believe. …

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