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Charles City, IA Certified as a 3-STAR Community for Sustainability Efforts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 24, 2016

Charles City, IA –Today, Charles City announced that it has been formally certified in the STAR Community Rating SystemTM (STAR). The city’s approved final score is 217.4, which qualifies Charles City as a Certified 3-STAR Community. Charles City joins Dubuque, Davenport, and Des Moines as the 4th community in Iowa and 46th nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable communities.

STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate their strengths and weaknesses across seven areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. For instance, communities get credit for reductions in energy use or increased transportation access. STAR Communities provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.

In making the announcement, Mayor Jim Erb expressed appreciation for the many efforts that helped Charles City to become a 3-STAR Community.

“We are the first community of our size to reach this goal. The long and the short of it is that if you want people to become part of your community, you have to be in it for the long haul, and you have to be competitive in every way across the board. We have every hope that we will be able to build upon this recognition to make Charles City an even better place to live,” said Mayor Erb.

In January 2014, Charles City joined STAR Communities’ Leadership Program, which provides extensive staff support and services to a cohort of communities as they collect data, measure progress, and work towards STAR certification. This effort enabled the city to gather a baseline assessment of local sustainability progress, as well as compare best practices with other communities nationwide.

Communities pursuing STAR certification accumulate points for their achievements that are used to determine their rating. There are three STAR certification levels: 3-STAR Community (200-399 points), 4-STAR Community (400-599 points), and 5-STAR (600+ points). The city received a final score of 217.4 points and the Certified 3-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability. Some highlights from the city’s application include:

  • Built Environment: Charles City has a robust park system that provides 37.36 acres per 1,000 residents, well above the 20.3 acre threshold set for low density communities. Citizens have easy access to enjoy these amenities – 99% of housing units are located within a ½ mile walk to a park and 100% of residents are within 3 miles of an off-road trail.
  • Economy & Jobs:  In recent years, Charles City has seen an improving economy. Employment has increased by 4.1% over the past 3 years.
  • Education, Arts & Community: Initiatives such as ART-A-FEST and the designation of downtown Charles City as a cultural and entertainment district help to increase participation and awareness of the arts in the community. Charles City residents demonstrate their appreciation for the arts by attending performing arts events and visiting art museums (72% and 35% of residents, respectively).
  • Health & Safety: Charles City takes the well being of its citizens seriously, as demonstrated by on-time response times by emergency services and a very high rating for fire protection. These commitments by emergency services teams are reflected in very low rates of violent crime.

Information and data was gathered for the certification application throughout 2014 and 2015 with the assistance of dozens of partners including city staff, community partners, state agencies, local and regional governments and private sector employers. Certification would not have been possible without your help, thank you!

“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities. “The data and information that Charles City gathered through the process will help them continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.” Hundreds of communities are actively using the STAR Community Rating System around the country, with more than 70 engaged in the certification process.

To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org.

STAR Communities works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communitiesThe organization administers the STAR Community Rating System, the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability. For more information, visit www.STARcommunities.org. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @STARCommunities.

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