A national opponent of “urban sprawl” spoke in Iowa yesterday, and urged Iowans to cut off funding for suburbs that grow without planning. Thomas Hylton is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of “Save Our Land, Save Our Towns.” He says urban sprawl has led American to feel isolated because we drive everywhere, rather than walk.He says a “pedestrian-scale community” is culturally richer than isolating yourself in “cheap metal boxes,” and people shopping a Main Street enjoyed a pleasant place compared to today’s cinderblock Wal-Mart which is considered temporary and not expected to be attractive. Hylton says not only is urban sprawl less attractive, it’s more expensive. He says with more suburbs, government must build more sewers, more water lines and more highways. Then there’s the environmental damage he says we’re doing with all the paving. Hylton says he flew over the Mississippi and could tell what were the old and new parts of Davenport, because in older neighborhoods he saw trees and in “New Davenport” he saw lots of concrete. That kind of paved environment makes rainwater a runoff problem and worsens drought, in turn, he says. Hylton says urban sprawl is particularly devasting in Iowa because prime farmland is being paved over. Hylton says state government could limit sprawl by refusing funding for roads or infrastructure in newly-developed areas. The further apart you put things, the longer roads you have to build, with more pipelines to carry water farther, and it’s even more expensive to deliver the mail. Hylton says in recent years he’s seeing a trend of people moving back into the center of cities. He says retirees returning to Iowa are some of them who’re saying they’re sick of traffic and having to plan family trips every day because they have to drive everywhere they go. Hylton spoke yesterday (Monday) at a “quality of life” symposium at the state historical building.
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