Millvale Ecodistrict Pivot Plan
The Borough of Millvale is a classic western Pennsylvania milltown with a compact residential and commercial district woven into a dramatic landscape of hillsides and waterfront. Similar to many of the riverfront industrial communities, Millvale suffered a loss of business and population as the steel industry declined in the region. To further complicate matters, Millvale sits at the bottom of the Girty’s Run watershed where upstream development has repeatedly caused flooding in its business district and residential areas. Over the years, Millvale officials have worked to rehabilitate and rejuvenate the community in the face of economic adversity, flood events, and environmental challenges.
Recently, the community has seen return on these efforts as the community is receiving attention for its affordability and livability and proactive efforts. The community launched the Millvale Ecodistrict planning process in 2012, and evolveEA has been proud to facilitate Ecodistrict training and design projects with the community. The trainings have helped build the community’s capacity to catalyze renewal by introducing residents to Ecodistrict concepts, contextualizing current community efforts, and by asking residents to envision how Ecodistrict principles might be applied in future planning projects.
In collaboration with residents and council people in Millvale, we helped the community identify and understand critical information about Ecodistricts so that they could become advocates for future decisions. Our work created a collaborative vision, identified actionable projects, and strengthened community champions to see them to fruition. This has also has leveraged access to grants for continued planning and for project implementation.
Following the completion of the Millvale Ecodistrict Pivot plan, evolveEA and the community continued working to:
- Identify opportunities to implement green infrastructure and technologies in order to decrease negative impact of water-related issues and to identify where water can be considered as an asset
- Identify local actions and programs to support food and energy sufficiency and long-term supplies
- Use the inventory, analyses and recommendations from water, food and energy to inform development in a community projects, such as the Millvale Food Hub—a community enterprise located in Millvale’s Town Center.
Three years after the Millvale Pivot Ecodistrict Plan was completed, the community worked with evolveEA to expand Millvale’s Ecodistrict goals and strategies, incorporating Air Quality, Transportation and Equity goals into their plans along with updates to their existing Food, Water and Energy visions. The Plan has been nationally recognized, garnering awards from the American Planning Association, while building regional momentum in district scale sustainability and resilience as well. In 2020, the Millvale Ecodistrict became the second community in the world (after its neighbor Etna) to achieve EcoDistricts™ Certification.