Request for Proposals

Sustainable Rhode Island

State of Rhode Island Division of Planning

Providence, RI

Posted: 11/21/2012
Submittal Deadline: 01/03/2013


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In February 2012, the State of Rhode Island, recipient of a $1.9 million HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant (SCRPG) began work on developing a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development designed to build on the regional planning exercises the state has been engaged in since 2006. Land Use 2025, the first of these regional planning efforts challenges all Rhode Islanders to work collectively to design, build and conserve the State’s Communities and landscapes over the next twenty years. It is the major connective state guide plan element and with Transportation 2030, the state’s long range transportation plan, and the state’s water plan, RI Water 2030, lays out a vision for Rhode Island as a unique and special place, retaining its distinctive landscape, history, traditions and natural beauty, while growing to meet its residents’ needs for a thriving economy and vibrant, affordable places to live. Through Sustainable Rhode Island the state seeks to advance the vision of the three existing plans by developing new state economic development and housing plans and strengthening the connections among all of the state plans through integrated performance measures and implementation strategies. Together the plans will comprise a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, which will guide the state in the coming years.

The grant is managed by a 19 member consortium of six state agencies, nine municipalities, and three nonprofit organizations. The Rhode Island Division of Planning is the lead member of the Consortium and the fiscal agent for the grant. The Rhode Island Division of Planning, working with the Consortium described above is seeking proposals for an approximately 24 month effort to develop Sustainable Rhode Island: A Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.

The SCRPG will support a program of key activities to advance sustainability and equity in Rhode Island as summarized below (specific details for each activity are provided in Section 2.3 Work Tasks). Also below are specific questions to be used in guiding development of responses to the specific work tasks listed in each element.

Social Equity: Social equity is a principal theme for Sustainable Rhode Island. The Sustainable Rhode Island planning process will work to advance social equity by improving both the involvement of marginalized communities in planning processes (procedural equity) and the outcomes of plans for those communities (distributional equity). The creation of a Social Equity Advisory Committee (SEAC), a panel of resident stakeholders and community organizations is underway. This group will work with the Consortium and consultant teams to infuse social equity throughout all of the Sustainable Rhode Island planning processes and outcomes. The grant consortium is very serious about using every element of this grant to further social equity throughout the state. Working with the Consortium, the social equity advisory committee, and local nonprofits, the consultant team will be expected to analyze the potential impacts of plan and policy recommendations on low income communities and minority communities across the State and ensure that they promote positive community impacts.

How can we ensure we reach nontraditional representatives, and how will your project approach ensure their perspective is represented in all our efforts?

Public Participation, Relations & Communications: Sustainable Rhode Island must have a robust, professional “two-way” public engagement and communications strategy using a range of media platforms to disseminate information and promote ways that Rhode Island’s residents, businesses and organizations can meaningfully contribute to the Sustainable Rhode Island planning process. Particularly important will be the development of strategies to reach and engage traditionally underserved populations such as minority groups, non-English speakers, low income individuals, and persons with disabilities.

How will your project approach ensure that Rhode Islanders are engaged and care about the Sustainable Rhode Island process and outcomes?

Economic Development Plan: Rhode Island, through the SCRPG seeks a new paradigm for economic development with an eye toward setting investment principles for the state, broadening traditional leadership networks, building on our strengths and understanding our current struggles in the context of our place in the local, regional, national, and even international markets. Over the past several decades, Rhode Island’s population has remained fairly constant, while developed land and infrastructure investments have spread. From a practical, economic perspective, such development habits are simply not sustainable. Rhode Island must focus on its assets, our small size, dense traditional population centers, and relatively concentrated infrastructure. A comprehensive community assets evaluation and economic development plan are needed to support job creation and enhance Rhode Island’s prosperity, while encouraging regional cooperation. Focusing on what Rhode Island is best suited to do and produce in relation to its neighbors will change the current dynamic of competition to one of cooperation. The economic development plan must provide a framework to underpin economic development activities in Rhode Island. It will use place-based strategies to ensure that economic growth doesn’t come at the cost of unsustainable land use and development.

How can Rhode Island build upon its existing assets to ensure future economic prosperity for all Rhode Islanders?

What can Rhode Island do locally to promote economic success in the regional, national, and international contexts?

Growth Centers Strategy: Growth Centers for Rhode Island are envisioned to be dynamic and efficient places that have a core of commercial and community services, mixed-use development, accessibility by foot, bicycle and/or transit, and natural and built landmarks and boundaries that provide a sense of place.

All centers will share common characteristics such as public and private investment in services, public facilities, access to public transportation or a “transit ready” layout, availability of drinking water and wastewater systems capacity, and some combination of housing, commercial and/or industrial buildings.

Recognizing the distinct urban, rural, and suburban areas of the state requires the development of various types of growth centers that differ in size, local and regional importance, and public services provided. Through this project element natural, cultural and economic assets will be identified and mapped, and growth center types will be defined. The assets and growth centers should support the vision described in Rhode Island’s Land Use 2025 plan.

How will Rhode Island’s growth centers nurture and accommodate future development and growth in the state while protecting its natural and cultural resources?

How can Rhode Island best determine where the different types of growth centers should be located and
how large they should be?

Housing Plan: Rhode Island recognizes that among its many challenges, providing quality housing for all residents is of paramount concern. As part of the SCRPG a new Housing Plan will be developed to direct housing development and investment at the state and local level. The Housing Plan will address existing and projected housing need by type and tenure and recommend goals, polices, and strategies to ensure that housing is accessible to all ranges of household income identified throughout the state. The housing plan will build off of the preferred development scenario identified in Land Use 2025 of compact, sustainable growth, and as such, will result in strategies that will promote equitable, diverse and affordable housing opportunities, expand energy efficient housing choices, and improve access to employment for all Rhode Island residents.

How does Rhode Island meet the housing needs of all its residents in a manner that supports a prosperous economy and aligns with Land Use 2025?

This question refers to the Economic Development Plan, Growth Centers Strategy and Housing Plan:

What are the key intersections among the Housing, Economic Development, and Growth Centers elements that will have the greatest positive impact on Rhode Islanders?

Technical Assistance and Capacity Building: This portion of the SCRPG seeks to build capacity within state and local governments, among Social Equity Advisory Committee members, with the Consortium, and among those who will implement Sustainable Rhode Island. Municipal officials and staff must be fluent and comfortable with the principles and practices of sound land use planning, economic development and other related subjects. Social Equity Advisory Committee members must be given a foundation of knowledge necessary to have a stronger voice in the state’s planning and decision making processes. Programs must be designed to build the capacity of communities and the state as a whole to adopt and implement land-use, economic development, and housing policies and practices that preserve community character and are equitable, environmentally sound and economically beneficial.

What are the tools Rhode Island professionals need to make technical assistance and capacity building meaningful?

Performance Measures: Performance measures and indicators that can be regularly tracked, compared, and published will be developed as part of Sustainable Rhode Island. These performance measures and indicators will be essential to benchmarking the state’s progress in achieving the vision outlined in the plan. Indicators will provide broad information about conditions in the state, while performance measures will track specific outcomes of planning, policy and programming. Indicators should be understandable and accessible to a wide variety of users, including the general public and the media, and reflect long term trends important to stakeholders. Relationships between performance measures and indicators must be clear. The performance measures developed will be coordinated with the implementation strategy so that progress can be tracked over time.

How can data and performance measures be used to tell the meaningful story of Rhode Island’s progress over time?

Integrated Implementation Strategy: Using the HUD Livability principles as a guide, the priority goals, strategies and actions of the five elements of Sustainable Rhode Island (Land Use 2025, Transportation 2030, Water 2030, the new Housing Plan and new Economic Development Plan, along with the growth centers strategy) will be synthesized into an integrated implementation program and matrix outlining the specific steps that will move Rhode Island from planning to action. The implementation program will articulate short, medium and long term actions that are necessary to move the region towards sustainability. The implementation document should serve as a living, publicly accessible document that will direct Rhode Island towards its sustainability goals. As part of the implementation program, the consultant will produce an executive summary of the entire project that will serve as the regional plan for sustainable development as well as a document that describes in-depth how to implement the priority goals, policies and strategies.

How will this integrated implementation strategy demonstrate positive progress towards the vision, goals, and strategies of Sustainable Rhode Island?

The RI Division of Planning’s seeks a team of consultants to accomplish the various tasks described in the RFP. It is absolutely essential that any team of consultants selected be able to work together. Such coordination must also extend to the work of the grant Consortium, its committees and any local organizations working on components of the SCRPG. This coordination must occur during and throughout the planning and implementation strategy creation processes. The RI Division of Planning strongly encourages proposals from teams with local or regional knowledge and experience.

In addition to any task-specific requirements described below, responses to any portion of this RFP must demonstrate:
1. The respondents’ understanding of the HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program objectives;
2. The respondents’ understanding of and qualifications to address and/or support the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant application submitted to HUD by the RI Division of Planning and;
3. The respondents’ qualifications to address and/or support the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ Livability Principles as part of this project.

The six Livability Principles are:
1) provide more transportation choices;
2) promote equitable, affordable housing;
3) enhance economic competitiveness;
4) support existing communities;
5) coordinate policies and leverage investment; and
6) value communities and neighborhoods.

Additional information on the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities and Rhode Island’s approved grant is available at:
1. Livability Principles:
2. Land Use 2025, Transportation 2030, and Water 2030:
3. Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities:
4. HUD’s notice for applications to which the State responded, please visit:
5. Rhode Island’s HUD approved grant application:
6. HUD – Rhode Island Cooperative Agreement