While the architectural and environmental achievements at our Land Ports of Entry (LPOE) construction projects often receive the most press and publicity, there are less well-known GSA initiatives that engage and directly involve the communities that surround our ports. The Good Neighbor Program, a part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)’s Urban Development Program, is dedicated to identifying opportunities where we can leverage our federal real estate actions to support community goals.
In California, a multidisciplinary team of project managers, architects, asset managers and communications specialists are actively involved in Good Neighbor stakeholder outreach initiatives for their construction projects at the LPOEs in San Ysidro and Calexico. These teams work with government agencies at various levels and engage community leaders, planning organizations, chambers of commerce, and elected officials. Together, they make up a working group that helps us better understand their goals. This gives GSA a local, place-based perspective that identifies opportunities for collaboration.
At the San Ysidro LPOE, we are working with local stakeholders to improve directional signage for pedestrians near and around the port. A recent workshop moderated by GSA helped the community identify important destinations in San Ysidro and map popular travel routes. The workshop featured group exercises designed to explore design elements that embody the border community’s unique identity and aspirations.
In Calexico, the GSA team led discussions with local and state planning officials to review the city’s downtown development plan and determine how priorities outlined in the city’s 2009 planning documents could drive developmental action. As a result, some modest urban design elements were introduced. These elements are intended to spur economic growth by improving streets and supporting pedestrian-oriented retail areas.
These relationships are a key element to GSA’s Economic Catalyst initiative, and we’re committed to aligning our projects with local goals, and the work of other federal agencies, to maximize the beneficial impacts of federal buildings in communities across the country. The GSA Urban Development team has committed to assisting the city’s pursuit of appropriate grant opportunities to fund these design interventions, and are also committed to exploring ways to coordinate a proposed new multimodal transit center with the Calexico LPOE project.
These are just a few examples in which GSA demonstrates a commitment to be an integral part of its communities and to be a good neighbor. It’s not only our aim to build world class facilities but also strengthen our communities.