NARRAGANSETT -- November 14, 2003 -- Where some gaze at open fields and see strip malls and parking lots, Michael Rauh sees open fields. And he'd like to keep it that way.
In recognition of his efforts to bring Washington County towns together to address shared growth issues, Rhode Island Sea Grant recently honored Rauh with its annual community service award.
"Mike's dedication to and tireless promotion of regional governance in Rhode Island has helped start an important new dialogue in our state. The future of Rhode Island's communities and environments depends on policy-makers who see the greater good of sharing advances in smart growth and other innovative planning approaches for determining the future of shared resources," said Barry Costa-Pierce, Rhode Island Sea Grant director.
Faced with increasing impacts from rapid and unplanned development, in 1992 Rauh established a forum, later the Washington County Regional Planning Council (WCRPC), where representatives from each of the county's nine towns could begin to address the growing concerns facing their communities. Under Rauh's facilitation, the WCRPC has grown from a loose-knit group of town council representatives to a cohesive organization with statewide recognition as a voice for regional planning and an example of all that can be accomplished when municipalities cooperate. Achievements include:
&Mac183; Developing common goals for the county in transportation, water use, economic growth, land use, and housing
&Mac183; Promoting legislation that has brought millions of dollars from the State Realty Stamp Tax back to the state's municipalities, which the communities of Washington County have used for open space and recreation
&Mac183; Adding staffing, thanks to a capacity-building grant (which Rauh wrote) from the Rhode Island Foundation
&Mac183; Undertaking planning projects targeting open space, affordable housing, and economic development. Partners include R.I. Department of Environmental Management, Grow Smart Rhode Island, R.I. Statewide Planning, and the Community Development Consortium.
Michael Rauh is senior vice president of corporate sales, planning and delivery for The Washington Trust Company. Rhode Island Sea Grant is a federal-state partnership, based at the University of Rhode Island, that promotes the conservation and sustainable development of marine resources for the public benefit through research, outreach, and education.