Developing and maintaining a sustainable community is vitally important, and we know that a vibrant economy, strong social fabric, and environmental quality are essential components of a healthy, livable, sustainable community.
Here in the City of St. Louis, we're lucky to have a number of features that are inherently sustainable.
We have great access to public transportation (though the system's future hangs in the balance of the county's April 6 election); wonderful mixed-use neighborhoods that make it possible to walk to work and to dining and entertainment opportunities; an earned reputation as a great place for bicycling; and buildings with strong bones and great architecture, well placed in intact historic neighborhoods, that can be reused.
(Reusing these existing buildings and the infrastructure that supports them is THE most sustainable building technique. It saves material, saves energy, and rejuvenates entire neighborhoods.)
As we make use of our existing sustainable features, it is essential that we move forward with additional initiatives - with recycling, with more cycling enhancements, with energy efficiency improvements in our municipal buildings, and with new partnerships with the private sector that encourage their sustainable practices.
There is a lot at stake.
For the first decade in a long time, we are growing our population. Many of our downtown's buildings, once used for manufacturing and offices, now house young professionals, families, and empty nesters. These people have been drawn to our City's center because of the many attractions and amenities City living offers ' and they like the fact that their "new'? homes have rich histories. Most importantly, they are drawn to us because we are the most sustainable place in our region. So, it is essential that continue to reward their investment with our actions.
Beyond the city limits, there are additional challenges.
Air quality and water quality issues do not respect geopolitical boundaries. These are regional issues that we all need to address together. That is a fact that President Obama, HUD Secretary Ron Sims, and HUD's new Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, Shelley Poticha, clearly recognized when they chose St. Louis last week to talk about federal grants to promote regional sustainability.
St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley and I have been talking for a while about new partnerships. Sustainability is at the top of our list.