Health Department receives grant to support Planning Cooperative

By on March 23, 2012

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department was awarded a $40,000 grant from the American Public Health Association (APHA) that will be used to further integrate a health component into Kane County’s comprehensive land-use strategies. The grant funds will be used to address the issue of chronic diseases—one of the six major health risks facing Kane County residents identified in the Community Health Improvement Plan—through the recently established Kane County Planning Cooperative.

Kane County was one of six Health Departments chosen from a competitive, nationwide field of more than 121 applicants. The project will accelerate implementation of the Kane County 2040 Master Plan and, in particular, six high priority policy recommendations. This will be done through an innovative policy implementation initiative—the Kane County Planning Cooperative—that will 1) engage and educate policymakers, planning and development staff, and members of the public in Kane County regarding the 2040 Master Plan, and 2) provide resources and technical assistance to municipalities and other public and civic organizations in Kane to adopt and implement one or more of the six high-priority policies.

“We are honored to have been chosen to receive this award,” said Paul Kuehnert, executive director of the Kane County Health Department. “Our innovative policy implementation initiative—the Kane County Planning Cooperative—will engage and educate policymakers, planning and development staff, and members of the public in Kane County regarding the integrated health, transportation and land use policies in Kane’s 2040 Master Plan.”

When the 2040 Master Plan is adopted by the County Board this spring, it will guide policy decisions for the next five to eight years (through completion of the next update cycle).The plan is also intended to guide land use and transportation decisions made by other public and civic organizations—municipalities, school districts, libraries, hospitals, the forest preserve and park districts—throughout the county. Most critical are the 30 municipalities within Kane that have policy jurisdiction over nearly 90 percent of the physical space of the county. Alignment of municipal comprehensive plans, as well as the plans and policies of other Kane public and civic organizations, with the 2040 Master Plan is critical if we are to realize the population health improvements we seek.

The Kane County Planning Cooperative will be staffed by planners from three Kane departments—Development, Health and Transportation. The cooperative will address the gaps that currently exists because of reduction (or elimination) of planning staff among municipal and other public and civic partners.

The 2040 Master Plan is now in its final stages of development and is in a public comment period. County Board adoption is anticipated in the spring. The following six high-priority policy recommendations are incorporated into the 2040 Plan:

• Developing municipal bike- and walk-ability plans
• Establishing/expanding Community gardens
• Expanding smoke-free campuses
• Expanding safe routes to school plans to all nine school districts
• Achieving USDA Healthier US School Challenge standards in all nine school districts
• Instituting comprehensive, evidenced-based workplace wellness policies

Widespread implementation of the six policies will have a positive, measurable population health impact, decrease chronic disease burden and reduce health disparities in Kane County. To view a draft of the 2040 Plan please visit www.countyofkane.org.

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