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Monday, January 21, 2013

Kingsport wins prestigious national livability award

KINGSPORT -- Kingsport's Livable Community Collaborative was presented an Award of Excellence in Program Innovation from the Archstone Foundation and the American Public Health Association at the APHA's recent annual conference in San Francisco.
Founded in 1872, the American Public Health Association is comprised of 50,000 members from more than 50 public health occupations, and drew more than 12,500 attendees to its 140th annual conference.
Kingsport resident Dr. Kathleen Beine, longtime promoter of the positive physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and economic impacts of community design, accepted the award on behalf of the city’s Collaborative.
"The award was presented for the Livable Community Initiative: A survey of seniors and community members, Kingsport, Tennessee," Beine said Wednesday. "The components of this project included the 2010 AARP Livable Community Survey, the follow-up Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Taskforce, and a summary of what has since happened in Kingsport. The award represents a major confirmation of our community’s improvement efforts."
The Archstone Foundation’s Award for Excellence in Program Innovation was awarded on the basis of creative design, documented outcomes, replication potential, collaboration, and dissemination strategy. The Archstone Foundation is a private grant making organization dedicated to preparing society to meet the needs of an aging population, and has awarded more than $77 million in grants towards that goal since it was founded in 1986.
In 2009 Kingsport, Tennessee was identified as a “pilot livable community project” by AARP. From this starting point, a collaborative effort evolved, including AARP, the City, local residents, and volunteer focus groups, to develop a survey assessing opinions and concerns of Greater Kingsport, Tennessee area residents in order to make the community more livable for persons of all ages.
"The survey covered aspects of community design and services, neighborhood issues, and personal concerns related to public health, aging, and livability issues," Beine said. "The end-goal was to provide guidance for Kingsport in a manner that could also be used by other communities. A total of 1,439 surveys were completed and returned, for a phenomenal 43.6% response rate, which provided a broad-based sample of opinions on community conditions."
In March 2010 the final AARP report was released. In follow-up, the Blue Ribbon Task Force reviewed the survey results and gathered additional information from city staff on key areas.  A report, including recommendations to the city, was issued in April 2011.
"The AARP survey helped us realize that we were doing a good job as a city providing a number of services considered necessary and useful by our residents, but we weren't always doing the best job publicizing these services," Assistant City Manager for Development Jeff Fleming said. "At the same time, several key areas were identified where we need to do some more work, particularly in areas of walkability and convenience to retail centers without having to get into a car."
Since the release of the AARP survey and the Blue Ribbon Task Force report, Fleming noted that follow-up actions by the City have included improved communications efforts, enhanced local transit services, development of a Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, additional sidewalk construction, expansion of community centers and recreational opportunities, efforts to expand the local library, and developing a database of retirees with specific business backgrounds to assist with industrial recruiting.
Findings from the survey have been presented to city staff, local civic clubs, businesses, and non-profit organizations. In addition, findings have been used to advocate for healthy community design and in successful grant applications by the City.
Since the completion of the AARP survey and Blue Ribbon Task Force report, synergistic efforts with multiple collaborators have resulted in several initiatives to create a more livable community, including Kingsport’s first community garden.  Recently, an Active Living Workshop by national expert Dan Burden is helping the City refine planning and transportation regulations to encourage a community safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Beine said the Kingsport survey has been replicated in modified versions in several other communities. Her goal is to continue the Collaborative’ s efforts to build a model community in Kingsport that others will want to copy.
Past community program winners for the Archstone Award include: Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Minneapolis, Marquette, Michigan, Evanston, Illinois, Hartford, Connecticut, Westbrook, Maine, and Mountain Iron, Minnesota. Past university program winners include: Johns Hopkins University, University of Washington, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts, and Boston University.
Dr. Kathleen Beine is a family physician, medical educator, and researcher. Over the past 20 years, as the principal in Beine & Associates, she has conducted extensive community-based research and advocated for improved community design with the recognition that a community’s physical design has significant impact upon physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and economic well-being of its citizens.
For further information contact:
Kathleen Beine, M.D., Beine & Associates, Kingsport, Tennessee, Phone: (423) 863-3304, E-mail:
Jeff Fleming, Assistant City Manager for Development, Kingsport, Tennessee, Phone: (423) 229-9381, E-mail

To learn more about the Livable Community Collaborative, please visit

Kingsport is located on the Tennessee-Virginia border at the crossroads of I-81 and I-26 near the geographic center of the Eastern U.S. This city of 50,000 in a metro of 308,000, was planned by renowned American planner John Nolen in his office at Harvard Square. Located in the lush green foothills of the Tennessee Valley, it is surrounded by the Southern Highlands and mountain lakes. Kingsport is home to Marriott’s and thousands of acres of unique, natural amenities at Bays Mountain and Warriors Path Parks. The natural geography provides a temperate, well-balanced climate with four seasons and a natural shelter from extreme weather. Population growth has also been well-balanced, ensuring you will not outgrow your decision to relocate. With no personal property taxes, special assessments, or state income taxes on salaries/wages, you’ll find that Kingsport has a very low cost of living coupled with an exceptionally high quality of life (see for yourself at The regional airport (TRI) has direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando and St. Pete/Clearwater with easy access, parking, and virtually no security lines. The public education system was planned by Columbia University and Newsweek has repeatedly recognized the local high school as one of the best in America. Year in and year out our graduates go on to the top colleges and universities (and without costly private school tuition fees). Harvard also recognized Kingsport in 2009 with the Innovations in American Government Award for its higher education initiative. What are you waiting for? It’s time to leave the high costs, traffic jams, and stress behind and discover this hidden gem.