Radish Magazine – Going for green: Muscatine to receive EPA assistance for sustainable design

 

Check out Muscatine’s latest complete and green streets efforts on radishmagazine.com – Going for green: Muscatine to receive EPA assistance for sustainable design.

Source: Radish Magazine – Healthy living from the ground up

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Mississippi Drive Corridor Vision and Project Kick-off Event

As we prepare for the September 1, 2015,  Kick-off of the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project, I wanted to pass on an educational piece that highlight’s the vision for transforming Mississippi Drive. This piece was put together after 30 city staff, business and property owners, health practitioners, regional planners and resident leaders came together under the direction of Dan Burden, national walkability expert, to begin to re-envision Mississippi Drive.

We identified what Muscatine currently lacks in the Mississippi Drive Corridor and found ways to potentially address those needs with changes to the built environment. Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to connect our downtown to the riverfront with this project. We can transform this corridor into a key focal piece for our community. Transforming Mississippi Drive will serve as a catalyst for economic development, community health, well-being and overall livability.

Please take a look at the Mississippi Drive vision piece and plan to attend the kick-off on Sept. 1. More details about the kick-off event will be released soon.

Click here for more info on the Kick-off Event!

Mississippi Drive Today

BZ_MuscatineIA_Before

Mississippi Drive Tomorrow?

BZ_MuscatineIA_After

Check out the following links!

Re-envisioning Mississippi Drive

Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Resource Page

Muscatine’s Mississippi Drive Corridor Project

Mississippi Drive Corridor Project:  A complete streets project and signature entryway into the City of Muscatine!

The City of Muscatine, Iowa, is soliciting qualifications from interested engineering firms to provide design services and other related work for the “Mississippi Drive Corridor Reconstruction Project”. This proposal includes the reconstruction of 1.6 miles of U.S. 61-Business (pavement and curb/gutter); street lighting, landscaping, gateway features; pedestrian crossings and sidewalk improvements; traffic signals and geometric improvements; and storm drainage improvements and roadway embankment work intended to improve flood protection. The work would focus on four distinct areas adjoining Muscatine’s Central Business District. The improvement segments include the HNI Campus Area, Downtown Area, High Sidewalk (Bluff) Area and the Carver Corner Area. The objectives for the proposal include meeting the objectives of Muscatine’s complete street policy by improving both Muscatine’s quality of life and image by providing a safe and attractive environment for street users of all ages and abilities such as motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit, children, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, freight carriers, emergency responders and adjacent land users; modernizing U.S. 61-Business through the reconfiguration and reconstruction of the sub-standard, deteriorated roadway; and enhancing aesthetics throughout the corridor that are consistent with Muscatine’s riverfront improvements. Work will include plan development, public meetings, design development, final design, technical specifications and drawings.

Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

The following resources provide further background information, technical data, and the potential vision for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project.  These resources can be found at the following link: http://www.muscatineiowa.gov/941/Mississippi-Drive-Corridor-ProjectMississippi Drive Corridor Study

  • Corridor Alignment and Geometric Alternative Analysis
  • Traffic Analysis Geometric Alternative
  • IA 92 Pavement History Map
  • Mississippi Riverfront Study June 1997
  • Vision for Mississippi Drive
  • Comprehensive Plan
  • Complete Street Policy

The City is currently in the process of selecting an engineering firm to bring this project from concept to reality.

Our first step will be to engage the community, its residents and key stakeholders in a formal public process.

Mississippi Drive Today

BZ_MuscatineIA_Before

Mississippi Drive Tomorrow?

BZ_MuscatineIA_After

These images were prepared for Muscatine by Dan Burden and the Blue Zones Team.  “Dan Burden provides a framework and action plan for communities to change their environments into safe, walkable, bike-able and livable communities where individuals and businesses thrive.” (http://www.bluezones.com/walkability-3/)

For more information on Blue Zones, Dan Buettner, and Dan Burden’s efforts please see the following link: http://www.bluezones.com

Stayed tuned for more information and please participate!

City of Muscatine Complete Streets Policy

The above photo is from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute (WALC).  Their website and more information on complete streets can be found at http://www.walklive.org.  The WALC Institute helps to create healthy, connected communities that support active living and that advance opportunities for all people through walkable and bikeable streets, livable cities and better built environments.

The City of Muscatine has adopted a complete streets policy.  A complete street is a safe, accessible, and convenient street for all users regardless of transportation mode, age, or physical ability. Complete streets adequately provide for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and motorists, by matching the needs of travelers to the uses surrounding a street. It provides safe travel for people using any legal mode of travel. Every complete street looks different with component features varying based on context, topography, road function, the speed of traffic, pedestrian and bicycle demand, and other factors. Based on context, common features of complete streets include: sidewalks, paved shoulders, bike lanes, safe crossing points, accessible curb ramps, pedestrian refuge medians, bus stop access, sidewalk “bump-outs” at intersections, and access to adjacent trails in a “corridor”.

Complete Streets Policy

Additional information and awards:

Muscatine Small Business Forgivable Loan Program

Muscatine’s Small Business Forgivable Loan Program

Ready for you small business to take off?

The City of Muscatine is offering Small Business Forgivable Loans for startup and expansion cost. Businesses can obtain a loan for up to $25,000 for the business at a term of 5 years with 20% of the original loan forgiven annually at the anniversary of the origination of the loan. Funds are allocated up to $15,000 for startup cost and up to $10,000 for code compliance. Businesses receiving funding must be new businesses or be significantly expanding business operations to be eligible. Applicant must meet 1:1 (applicant investment v. grant funding) (may be waived in whole or in part by the City Administrator upon recommendation of the committee). Inventory is not an eligible grant funded expense but does count toward match. The City has allocated $100,000 in funding annually.  Funds will be awarded to qualifying businesses based on availability of funds.  This is a great example of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) at work in our community!

Purpose:  Promote in-fill and redevelopment in targeted areas throughout Muscatine.

Objective:
– Improve Building Infrastructure
– Assist with Capital Equipment Purchases
– Offset Cost of Historic Building Preservation
– Offset Cost to Address ADA Access Issues
– Offset Cost of Fire Code Compliance, Sprinkler Systems, Egress Issues
– Allow Businesses to Allocate Additional Funds to Grow and Expand Business

Program Documents

Application Packet – Small Business Forgivable Loan
Summary
Application
Project Budget Sheet
Sample Agreement
Small Business Forgivable Loan Documents
Downtown Small Business Forgivable Loan District
Park Avenue Small Business Forgivable Loan District
Grandview Small Business Forgivable Loan District

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Supporting small business and downtown revitalization in Muscatine!

For more information:  http://www.muscatineiowa.gov/923/Small-Business-Forgivable-Loan-Program

Here is a summary of forgivable loans to date:

Awards to date:
Home Run Hitters, Baseball & softball pro shop addition, $ 25,000.00
Big River Guns, Gun smithing and firearm sales, $ 16,000.00
Sign Pro, Building improvements and 3D printing, $ 15,000.00
Well Fit Nutrition Bar, Nutritional drinks, product sales and oxygen bar, $ 9,800.00
Rose Bowl, Arcade and laser maze addition to bowling ally, $ 22,350.00
In Process:
Sal Vitale’s Pizzeria, New pizza and pasta restaurant $ 11,850.00
Total $ 100,000.00

City of Muscatine Placemaking: Blue Zones Built Environment Projects

The linked map gives you an idea of the many built environment changes that have been accomplished during the Muscatine Blue Zones effort.  The map includes projects that are presently underway as well as future projects (trails, sidewalks, community gardens, outdoor dining, and complete street projects)!  Great changes are coming to Muscatine thanks to our local community, local Blue Zones team, Dan Buettner and his Blue Zones team, Dan Burden and team, as well as City Staff and Council! June 2014 Blue Zones Map

Import Commuting

 

Import Commuting….here is the issue or opportunity as described by the University of Iowa Marketing Institute during the recent Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities project here in Muscatine:  “Despite being the headquarters for well-known companies…Muscatine does not appeal as a place to live for a significant portion of people employed by these companies. This has led to the phenomenon known as “import commuting.” This has become a major concern to Muscatine’s community and business leaders who have invested a great deal of resources to make the city a more attractive and self-contained community for its residents.”  2014 Community Flows in the Bi-State Region IISC Branding Report2014 Community Flows in the Bi-State Region

We would love to hear your insights into how the City can address this issue.  The attached reports and links offer some insights into the issues.  Please feel free to comment here or email me at gmandsager@muscatineiowa.gov.

I would also like to offer the following evidence of programs our community has adopted or begun to address this issue of “import commuting”.  Please feel free to share and comment!

  1. Blue Zones Muscatine:  According to Bluezones.com, “Blue Zones are places in the world where people live healthy, happy lives well into their nineties, even 100s. The Blue Zones Project is a health and well-being initiative designed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.  To learn more visit: www.bluezonesproject.com/bluezones.  According to Bluezones.com. “The State of Iowa takes the first major step in creating a healthier community for all of its citizens and becoming a national leader in well-being improvement by implementing the Blue Zones Project™. In ten communities throughout the State residents will commit to change their environment, policy and social networks to increase their health, well-being and longevity.”  For more information on Muscatine’s process, please visit: https://www.bluezonesproject.com/communities/muscatine.  There have been several built environment changes that have come about through this process – trails, better crosswalk design, round-a-bout, safe-routes-to school sidewalks, and many more!  Our local team has reaped numerous rewards in working with the Dan Buettner Blue Zones Team, the Healthways Team, and multiple experts.  Their expertise, vision and infectious attitude has been a welcome addition to our community planning efforts! The community has completed the initial process and submitted our blueprint for success.  We hope to hear in the next 30 days that we are a Blue Zones Certified Community!
  2. University of Iowa – Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC):  According to IISC, “The IISC chose Muscatine as one of its three community partners for the 2013 – 2014 academic year after receiving requests from and interviewing numerous communities throughout eastern Iowa. The IISC – Muscatine partnership consists of students and faculty at the University of Iowa partnering with the city, community organizations, businesses and individuals in Muscatine to identify, design and implement sustainability-focused projects. The purpose of this partnership is to enhance the capacity of Muscatine to address the economic, social and cultural and environmental issues it faces today and build a more vibrant and sustainable future. In doing so, the IISC not only seeks to transform the Muscatine community, but also teaching and learning at the University of Iowa.”  IISC and the City of Muscatine cooperated on 13 different placemaking projects (Dog Park, Connectivity & Way Finding, Riverfront Improvements, Transportation Improvements, Branding and more) that will help to shape the community and raise quality of life.  Here is a list of those projects:  2013 IISC Projects List Muscatine.  Additionally, the student reports can be found at the following website: http://www.muscatineiowa.gov/index.aspx?nid=819.  City Staff and City Council are excited to be working the the Mayor’s Community Improvement Action Team to bring this plans forward to reality!  Volunteers are welcome!
  3. Planning:  The City recently complete a new comprehensive plan and is now in the process of implementation through the Capital Improvement Plan and a complete rewrite of the 1973 Zoning Ordinance. http://www.muscatineiowa.gov/index.aspx?NID=518
  4. Tax Abatement:  The City Council for the City of Muscatine, Iowa, has approved a plan to place designated areas in a program identified as the “2013 Muscatine Housing Urban Revitalization Area”. Property owners within the Area will be able to receive an abatement of taxes on eligible improvements to their property that increases the assessed value of the property by meeting one of several thresholds.  For more information: http://www.muscatineiowa.gov/index.aspx?nid=726
  5. $41 Million Dollar Iowa Reinvestment District:  As you may know, the City of Muscatine has submitted an application in support of Tom andAnn Meeker’s (Muscatine Downtown Investors) $10 million request for Iowa Reinvestment District funds.  This project has been given provisional approval subject to submission of the final application.  This downtown investment includes a hotel (Riverview Suites), convention center, parking ramp, and associate walkways.  For more details, please see the following Muscatine Journal article:  http://muscatinejournal.com/news/local/article_fccc26a9-218e-55ab-a94b-676027f1112e.html
  6. Property Taxes:  Muscatine is a great place to work, live and play, but there is a cost to providing city services.  The City has done a great job implementing street, trail, and other quality of life improvements and providing a high level of service to our residents and business community – all while doing more with less.  The City has not seen a property tax (tax rate) increase over the past five (5) years.  To continue down this path, we have joined the Iowa Lean Consortium and with the assistance of local industry (HNI), we have implemented a “lean” program here in Muscatine (opportunity for a future post). City of Muscatine Tax Rate History
  7. Economic Development:  Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Projects (Most Recent)
  • Meeker Downtown Project:  Projected to receive $6 million maximum TIF rebate by City after a $41 million dollar investment and generate 110 jobs.
  • Heinz:  $24 million dollar investment/expansion, $880,000 maximum TIF rebate by City, generating around 130 new jobs.
  • Wal-View:  Construct 576,000 square foot warehouse, 25 new employees with minimum payroll of $750,000.00, $5 million maximum City rebate.
  • Fridley Theatres:  $4 million investment in theatre plus street and related infrastructure, created 5 outlots for development, $1.5 million maximum TIF rebate by City,
  • Heinz:  Manufacturing plant addition and substantial investment in equipment , retained 90 full-time jobs, $425,000 maximum TIF rebate.

The above items are mainly city-related activities and are not an exhaustive list of the activities and projects going on around town, i.e. HNI expansion and renovations, Kent Corp./GPC renovation, and much more.  These are substantial investments in the downtown and around town, ongoing investments in high quality jobs, and in the overall quality of life in Muscatine.

Thanks for listening !  We would love to hear your comments!

Attached are several resources for review:

1.  Muscatine: Insights and Rebranding Recommendations, The University of Iowa Marketing Institute, May 8th, 2014  IISC Branding Report

2.  2014 County-to-County Commuting Flows in the Bi-State Region, Bi-State Regional Commission, March 2013  2014 Community Flows in the Bi-State Region

3. Tax Increment Finance 101 and Important Statistics, Iowa League of Cities 2014  Tax Increment Finance 101 & Important Statistics (Iowa League of Cities)