Communications Initiative

Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is elevating the community conversation around planning with a strategic communications strategy for its long-range transportation plan, Mobilizing Tomorrow. Mobilizing Tomorrow sets four major goals: enhance multimodal transportation; manage and optimize transportation infrastructure and services; improve the region’s environmental health; and further the health, safety, and well-being of all residents in the region.

To help meet these goals, the plan includes performance measures or targets. For example, the plan established a target of maintaining pavement conditions at their current level, as measured by the Pavement Condition Index. At the time of the plan’s adoption in November 2014, 18 percent of the pavement was rated “Poor or Very Poor.” To meet the target, then, the metro would need to invest in pavement maintenance at a rate to keep conditions from worsening. The communications initiative is designed to reinforce these targets. The MPO measures the metro’s performance at meeting these targets, publishes its findings in the form of reports to the community, and publicizes the reports through presentations with key stakeholder groups, press releases and media interviews.  For more information, please contact Dylan Mullenix at 515-334-0075.

Innovation in Economic Planning and Development

City of Council Bluffs / Noddle Companies / HDR Engineering, Inc.

Playland Park Master Plan

Located in the West End of Council Bluffs, on the eastern bank of the Missouri River and across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge from downtown Omaha, the Playland Park neighborhood sits at a highly visible, economically prominent location. The site is unique within the region because of its riverfront proximity, adjacency to major thoroughfares and regional park amenities, and cleared, unoccupied state. The one-time home of a thriving amusement park, automobile race track, and recreational park, the Playland Park site has a long history as an iconic space that garners a great amount of community activity. The Playland Park Master Plan, adopted in October 2014, was developed to leverage these contextual and historical advantages into a world-class, mixed-use environment.

The plan strives to be a catalyst for the revitalization of the Council Bluffs riverfront district and ultimately the West Broadway corridor and entire West End of Council Bluffs. The design framework for the neighborhood is contextual to and compliments the established residential neighborhoods while accommodating future, more progressive expansion along the riverfront. The master plan has been well received by the community and the local development community. Civil engineering, landscape/site design, and architectural services for the public streets and streetscape and the first privately-held blocks is currently under way. Earthwork on the site will begin this fall, and the first buildings will begin to rise in early spring of 2016.  For more information, please contact Don Gross at 712-328-4629.

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

City of Cedar Rapids / RDG Planning & Design

EnvisionCR – City of Cedar Rapids Comprehensive Plan

In March 2014, the city formally kicked-off its new comprehensive plan – EnvisionCR, a plan to engage residents hands-on and inspire them to create a vision for Cedar Rapids’ future. The plan was originally conceived as an update to the 1999 plan, yet the public engagement process led to the development of an entirely new plan that looks beyond post-flood recovery to focus on proactive initiatives to change the entire city. EnvisionCR is a true document of the people.

The public turned up by the hundreds at open houses, and responded in droves online. Nearly everywhere the planning team turned, residents welcomed the chance to partner with city officials to build a dynamic future for its neighborhoods, downtown retail, entrepreneurship and industry, active riverfront opportunities, and more.

The theme that underpins all of these exceptional visions is faith in what Cedar Rapids is, and what it can become. City leaders heard the public’s desire to build on these themes and create a community of exceptional choices – a hub of the Midwest, where people clamor to live, work, learn, and play.  For more information, please contact Adam Lindenlaub at 319-286-5064.

Urban Design

City of Guthrie Center / MSA Professional Services

Guthrie Center Downtown Development Plan

In 2011, Guthrie Center’s downtown was plagued by vacant storefronts, deteriorating buildings and failing infrastructure. City leaders knew something needed to be done. The City, businesses, and residents banded together to take action and revitalize their downtown. The City’s primary goals, as the lead in the revitalization process, were to improve public infrastructure, encourage private reinvestment, and create a more vibrant and sustainable downtown.

The City initiated the effort by beginning a Downtown Development Plan (2012) and followed with downtown streetscape improvements (2013). In late 2012, business owners founded the non-profit Guthrie Center Revitalization Corporation (GCRC). The GCRC has renovated several downtown buildings, facilitating business growth. In 2014, with strong business and community support, the City was awarded Main Street Iowa status.

This summer (2015), the City led a Community Development Block Grant-funded façade rehabilitation project, which included the rehabilitation of 17 buildings throughout downtown. These actions and additional efforts by private business were part of the action plan developed in 2012. The City Council continues to lead the community and businesses in the implementation of the Downtown Development Plan. Guthrie Center is proud of what it has accomplished in a short period of time.  For more information, please contact Laura Imerman at 641-332-2190.

Environmental Planning

Polk County Public Works / Snyder & Associates

The Fourmile Creek Watershed Management Plan

The Fourmile Creek watershed encompasses approximately 119 square miles in Polk, Boone, and Story Counties. Urbanization is occurring at a rapid rate throughout the watershed, and increasing stormwater runoff and its accompanying pollutants drain to the stream, which drains to the Des Moines River. In addition, frequent flood events in the watershed have impacted numerous homes and businesses. Flooding, streambank erosion, nutrient loading, and bacteria are the primary concerns in the watershed, which led to the formation of the Fourmile Creek Watershed Management Authority (FCWMA).

Snyder & Associates coordinated the formation of the FCWMA in September 2012, which includes 100% of the jurisdictions eligible for the FCWMA. The FCWMA received a Watershed Planning Grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to develop a Watershed Management Plan and retained Snyder & Associates to develop the plan. Snyder led each meeting and involved a diversified team of stakeholders and technical experts to assist throughout the planning and development of the plan. The plan outlines the FCWMA’s goals and the accompanying recommendations and strategies for implementation. The plan will strengthen the partnership between rural and urban residents and help provide improvements to the surrounding communities.  For more information, please contact Robert Rice at 515-286-3705.

Public Outreach

City of Cedar Rapids

Winter & Company

City of Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Plan

Historic preservation is an important aspect of planning. Preservation means having properties and places of historic and cultural value in active use and accommodating appropriate improvements to sustain their viability while maintaining the key, character defining features which contribute to their significance as cultural resources.

For the first time in its history, the City of Cedar Rapids developed a plan that focuses specifically on historic preservation that works in cooperation with the City’s comprehensive plan, EnvisionCR. This Plan, which applies citywide, provides the policy direction for maintaining historic properties while also planning for the future of the city. Specifically, the Plan guides preservation efforts by identifying specific goals, policies, and initiatives. Furthermore, an implementation matrix allows the City to continually monitor progress on implementation.

The development of the Plan incorporated an inclusive stakeholder outreach process that brought together property owners, advocates, developers, and others. Together, this diverse group of stakeholders provided input that helped to inform the policy direction and vision for preservation. Finally, the Plan is not only a tool for the City staff and policy makers; it also helps businesses, property owners, and members of the community to learn about the preservation program and the status of preservation initiatives.  For more information, please contact Anne Russett at 319-286-5075.

Grassroots Initiative

City of Des Moines / Parks Area Foundation / Union Park Neighborhood Association / MSA Professional Services

Parks Area Foundation and Union Park Neighborhood Association

The Parks Area Foundation (PAF) and the Union Park Neighborhood Association (UPNA) knew the time was right to seek reinvestment in the Birdland Area, located in north Des Moines. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rebuilt the levee along the Des Moines River after the floods of 1993 and 2008 caused it to breach. Now there’s flood protection and redevelopment looks promising. The PAF and UPNA, in conjunction with the City of Des Moines and MSA Professional Services, worked on preparation of a Birdland Area Redevelopment Plan that included the input of the area’s diverse stakeholders. The plan outlines the participants’ vision for the future of the area that has a unique mix of residential and commercial properties.

Key plan components include: an inventory of infill sites, a development concept, street level infrastructure analysis and an action plan for implementation. The Birdland Area is now ready for public and private reinvestment. The Birdland Area Redevelopment Plan, started as a grassroots effort by the neighborhood, will serve as a guide for reinvestment in the area. The City is now seeking developers to build 15-20 new single-family homes by the end of 2017. This action was one of the plan’s first priorities.  For more information, please contact Leslie Blaize at 608-242-6635.

Implementation

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation / Snyder & Associates

High Trestle Trail

The High Trestle Trail is named for the former high bridge over the Des Moines River. This 25-mile trail was constructed on former railroad right of way through five cities in four counties in Central Iowa. The trail features an immense pedestrian bridge over the Des Moines River Valley between the towns of Woodward and Madrid. The project was divided into smaller construction packages for funding purposes. One segment was constructed in 2006, two in 2007 and four in 2008. Construction of the bridge over the Des Moines River began in 2009 and was completed in 2010. The Grand Opening was in Spring 2011.

Snyder & Associates, Inc. was the lead planning and engineering design firm on this project. Beyond the efforts to design the trail, one of our largest roles was to develop a project implementation and construction plan. We knew that with an effective plan, we could successfully build all 25 miles of trail and create the focal point of the project, which is the 2530- foot long and up to 130-foot tall bridge, with the limited funding available. Federally appropriated funds helped to set the project in motion and our plan helped to secure additional funding.  For more information, please contact Mindy Moore at 515-964-2020.

Best Practice

City of Sioux City / Kendig Keast Collaborative

The City of Sioux City’s Zoning and Sign Ordinance

The Zoning and Sign Code (ZSC) is one-of-a-kind as it was written for the expressed purposes of implementing the City’s plans, integrating the design guidelines in the form of deliberate standards, infusing sustainable development practices, better accommodating infill and redevelopment projects, protecting the values and integrity of existing neighborhoods, and organizing it in a manner that is easier to understand and use. Each of these stated objectives were accomplished. After an intensive 18-month process involving more than 65 meetings, the ZSC was unanimously adopted by the City Council in March of this year. While the true impacts of a code take a while to unfold, we have already seen firsthand the fruits of our labors.  For more information, please contact Chris Madsen at 712-279-6341.

Transportation Planning

Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization

Prior to 2013, the Cedar Rapids metro area had little in the way of bicycle infrastructure and received very little funding for transit. Federal fiscal year (FY) 2015 saw the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMPO) allocate funding based on transportation mode. 80 percent was allocated to trails, bicycle, and pedestrian shared use facilities, with the remaining 20 percent going to non-trail projects. Starting in FY2021, the CMPO will allocate 50 percent of funding to roads with the remaining 50 percent split between trails (30 percent) and, for the first time, transit (20 percent). The CMPO initiated the process of creating a multi-modal transportation system in 2013. The new funding allocation identified in Chapter 10 of the 2015 update of Connections 2040, the region’s long-range transportation plan (LRTP), continues to build upon that goal, while creating an official framework for future allocations.  For more information, please contact Hilary Hershner at 319-286-5161.

Planning Advocate

Jacque and Dennis Holloway

Ten years ago Jacque and Dennis Holloway teamed with Trees Forever to develop a multifaceted program – Our Woodland Legacy (OWL) – to highlight the many benefits of trees and natural areas. As part of this program, the first OWL Symposium was held in 2006 with the specific purpose of underscoring the environmental and economic value of trees. In the ensuing years under the Holloways’ leadership, the OWL Symposium has transformed into a forum on the benefits of smart planning, stormwater management best practices, complete streets, native landscaping, planning and public health, biophilic design… in other words, a forum for the discussion and advocacy of issues facing planners in today’s complex planning world.

The OWL Symposium has grown from approximately 80 participants in 2006 to nearly 150 participants in recent years. Although the audience is local, its reach is national, as evidenced by the impressive list of keynote speakers it has attracted. As an educational forum, the OWL Symposium is nothing short of a remarkable confluence of nationally renowned thinkers and local environmentalists, planners, developers, public health professionals, and public officials – a testament to the passion and commitment of Jacque and Denny Holloway in promoting the cause of planning in the public arena.  For more information, please contact Les Beck at 319-892-5151.

Distinguished Leadership Award for a Professional Planner

John Peterson, PE, AICP

John has worked for the City of Ankeny for the last 37 years.  Throughout those years he was also active in the APA Iowa Chapter, serving in the role of President for a number of years.  The following is narrative provided by one of his nominators: John’s longstanding dedication and commitment to the highest levels of the planning profession have distinguished him from his peers and earning him the opportunity to be considered for the Distinguished Leadership Award.  John is truly one of the rate planners whose dedication and support of the planning profession continues to leave a lasting impact on the multitude of planners he has mentored and communities he has worked in. For more information, please contact Dylan Mullenix at 515-334-0075.