Four Cities Earn Howland Award for Boosting Quality of Life; Milwaukee, Tulsa, Gastonia, N.C. and Hopkins, MN

By Arndt, Randy; Ridnouer, Nathan | Nation's Cities Weekly, November 2, 1998 | Go to article overview

Four Cities Earn Howland Award for Boosting Quality of Life; Milwaukee, Tulsa, Gastonia, N.C. and Hopkins, MN


Arndt, Randy, Ridnouer, Nathan, Nation's Cities Weekly


Four outstanding local initiatives to enhance a community's quality of life -- through the development of a new arts center in Hopkins, Minn., a downtown riverwalk in Milwaukee, and the revitalization of neighborhoods in Tulsa, Okla., and Gastonia N.C. -- have taken top honors in the 1998 James C. Howland Awards for Urban Enrichment, conducted by the National League of Cities.

Honorable mentions went to Fullerton, Calif, and Memphis, Tenn., for downtown redevelopment projects, Modesto, Calif., for a neighborhood improvements program in an airport area, and Bainbridge, Ga., for landscape and park-use enhancements in a storm drainage area.

This year's competition attracted 123 entries, with awards presented according to four population categories: under 50,000; 50,000 to 150,000; 150,001 to 500,000; and over 500,000.

The Howland Award is named in honor of the founding partner and retired chief executive officer of CH2M Hill. In addition to the award plaques and certificates to be presented in December at the 1998 NLC Congress of Cities in Kansas City, winning cities also receive cash awards of $2,000 each, and honorable mentions receive $500, all to be donated to community non-profit organizations of their choice.

Judges for this year's competition were six former city elected officials who remain active in NLC: Hal Conklin of Santa Barbara, Calif, Larry Curtis of Ames, Iowa. Jewel Emswiller of Leesburg, Va., Sandy Pickett of Liberty, Tex., Steve Roberts of St. Louis, Mo., and Louisa Strahorn of Virginia Beach, Va.

Hopkins, Minn.

Hopkins, Minn., won in the under 50,000 population category for its efforts to create the Hopkins Center for the Arts, which opened in November, 1997, as a multi-disciplinary center for the performing and visual arts. Built for $4 million, the 35,900-square-foot arts center features a 723-seat theater for live performances. The arts center includes a second stage multi-use performance hall, dance studio, art gallery, art classroom, rehearsal and conference rooms, and a catering kitchen.

The arts center is projected to bring over 100,000 people through its doors annually, and its theater and other spaces are available for public use. The key objective of the Hopkins Center is to meet the need, for a high-quality arts center in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, as well as the need for a venue for Hopkins area artists and arts groups.

Contact: Jay Strachota, Facilities Manager, City of Hopkins, 1111 Main Street, Hopkins, MN 55343; (612) 979-1101; fax (612) 979-1103; e-mail: artscenter@hopkinsmn.com.

Gastonia

Gastonia won in the 50,001 to 150,000 population category for its redevelopment effort known as the Vance Street Project, involving part of an older, established neighborhood in West Gastonia where most of the residents are low- to moderate-income.

Vance Street was stigmatized by violence, high crime rates, a low standard of living and its blighting effect on the surrounding neighborhood. In 1994, the city purchased 52 multi-family and 30 single-family rental units and began a revitalization effort that included housing rehabilitation, new construction, relocation activities, blocking off the entrance from a main thoroughfare to deter drug traffic, and even changing the name of the street.

The project goal is to assure safe, decent and affordable housing while ridding the community of reminders of criminal infestation.

Contact: Thanena S. Wilson, Assistant Community Development Administrator, City of Gastonia, P.O. Box 1748, Gastonia, N.C. 28053-9732; (704) 866-6752: fax (704) 864-9732; e-mail: cdev@loclnet.com.

Tulsa

Tulsa won top honors in the 150,001 to 500,000 population category for a wide-ranging public private partnership, the Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Revitalization Project, which is dramatically reversing the diminished opportunities that once existed for this inner-city neighborhood. …

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