The Midtown Neighborhood's "Green Retrofit Pilot Program" ended recently, and program officials have declared it an unprecedented success.

The two-year program designed to explore ways to retrofit and reinvest in some of Tucson's older neighborhoods wrapped up on June 30.

The overall lesson learned, according to a program summary prepared by the Tucson Institute for Sustainable Communities, was one of public/private partnership with an emphasis on livability.

"As a model for neighborhood reinvestment, the Green Retrofit Program has demonstrated that pairing home improvements with city-sponsored neighborhood/street improvements results in more resource-efficient, comfortable homes and safer, more livable neighborhood blocks," the program summary said.

The program, which officials eventually hope to implement in other older Tucson neighborhoods, was a collaborative effort involving TMM Family Service, the TISC, the City of Tucson Office of Special Projects, and the Midtown Neighborhood Association.

"It exceeded all of our expectations," said Terry Galligan of TMM Family Services. "We had some really high goals for the participation of the blocks and the amount of money people would invest, and we exceeded all of them."

The primary goal was to fashion and implement a pilot program that could reverse the dilapidation of Tucson's older neighborhoods, while introducing "green" elements into home and street improvements.

Retrofitting the midtown homes in this manner involved changing insulation, upgrading single-pane windows, installing more energy-efficient cooling systems, and changing to desert landscaping to cut down on water use.

The program offered participating homeowners affordable financing and grant funds for home improvements that would lower utility costs and add to the overall comfort of their home.

In addition, program money was spent on various pedestrian and traffic projects in the neighborhood n attempts to reduce and slow traffic and create a more resident-friendly atmosphere.

According to Eileen Alduenda, program director for TISC, a total of $340,000 was spent on home improvements.

$255,000 of that total was spent by home owners, with the other $85,000 provided by the program. $80,000 was spent by the program on street improvements, including a one-year commitment to the upkeep of plants and sculptures.

The ambition of any successful pilot program is to eventually go city-wide, and Alduenda said that her group is now in the process of figuring out how to do that.

"Right now we don't have the same funding source as we did during the project, so we are trying to figure how this can stand alone," she said.

"But we are exploring how we can take this program and integrate it into existing city programs or how could we figure out a way to make it available to other neighborhoods."

Alduenda said her organization has a meeting planned with city staff members to look into these possibilites.

One of the better by-products of the project, according to Anna Marie Patti, the neighborhood coordinator for the program, was its success in securing home upgrade loans and grants for moderate income participants, a demographic often forgotten by similar projects.

"People in the neighborhood who are of medium income have told us that they would have never gotten to do these repairs to their houses without the program," she said. "I wish we could do it in the entire neighborhood, because we are comprised of a lot of low-income and medium-income residents, and this program does emphasize help to people who are at medium income, and there are so many programs out there that only help people who are low-income."

The Midtown Neighborhood lies between Grant and Speedway and Swan and Alvernon. The target blocks for the Green Retrofit Program within the neighborhood were Justin Lane, Desmond Lane, and Bellevue Street.