Each year, GPA rewards local communities and regional commissions for their work to make Georgia a better place to live. At the GPA Fall Conference held in Augusta, GA, in September, the 2016 Chapter Awards were given to plans and projects that showed innovation, transferability, quality, effectiveness of implementation, comprehensiveness, public participation, technology, equity, sustainability and collaboration. Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners!
Award Category: Outstanding Planning Process
Project Name: New Voices: Millennial Advisory Panel
Award Winners: Atlanta Regional Commission
Summary of the Entry: As a part of their five-year update to the long range plan for the region, the Atlanta Regional Commission set out to engage Millennials with the goal of bringing them to the table and understanding their vision for the Atlanta region. ARC, with the assistance of consultant Aha! Strategy, recruited 135 members to a Millennial Advisory Panel and developed an innovative approach to engaging the group. Elements of the process included small group discussions, large meet-up groups, Civic Dinner parties with facilitated conversations, and a robust social media plan. The process created a win-win situation by giving the participants the unique opportunity to gain visibility, leadership experience, and access to regional leaders while ARC gained fresh perspectives for tackling regional issues and formed meaningful connections with rising leaders in the Atlanta area.
Award Category: Outstanding Initiative
Project Name: Athens Transit Feasibility Study
Award Winners: Athens Transit, RS&H
Summary of the Entry: The Athens Transit System (ATS) serves the general population of Athens-Clarke County, and coordinates with the University of Georgia transit system to meet the needs of the approximately 35,000 students, faculty, and staff. In 2015, ATS undertook the initiative to identify inefficiencies or duplications of service across all transportation modes and providers, develop comprehensive service options by gaining insights to the changing transit rider’s travel behaviors and preferences, and define technological advancements to ensure the system’s ability to maintain its leadership role in the wake of the transitioning public transportation paradigm. A diverse and robust Stakeholder Advisory Committee was established along with an intensive public outreach effort including a public survey, a boarding and alighting survey, and an origin-destination survey along with a public meeting at a local voting precinct during elections.
Award Category: Outstanding Planning Document
Project Name: Walk. Bike. Thrive!
Award Winners: Atlanta Regional Commission, Alta Planning + Design
Summary of the Entry: The Atlanta Regional Commission completed a regional walking and bicycling plan — titled “Walk. Bike. Thrive!” — that crafts a vision for a more walkable, bikeable, and livable metropolitan Atlanta. ARC’s plan focuses on supporting active communities, complete streets, vibrant places, and regional trails to improve the mobility, safety, equity, health, and economy for everyone in the region. The plan reviews the state of bicycling and walking transportation in the region and how we are using relentless incrementalism and pivoting growth to make metro Atlanta one of the most connected and safest regions in the United States for walking and bicycling. The document contains graphics that clearly illustrate the process and decision-making framework and is divided between recommendations for the region and municipalities to create a toolbox of ideas for both community and regional leaders to implement solutions.
Award Category: Outstanding Planning Document – Agency Produced
Project Name: 2016 – 2036 Plan for … A Thriving Middle Georgia
Award Winners: Middle Georgia Regional Commission
Summary of the Entry: The Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC), the planning and development agency for the 11 counties and 20 cities of Middle Georgia, completed updates to its Regional Plan in May 2016. The MGRC plan included thorough community outreach elements that allowed them to gather meaningful input from across the community and develop a plan that addressed a wide array of shared challenges. The Regional Commission put forth some of the most demanding standards for local government performance which are meant to serve as a covenant between them and their member local governments. The document, which has a uniquely accessible and practical defining narrative, makes excellent strides in providing regional direction for years to come.
Award Category: Outstanding Planning Document – Honorable Mention
Project Name: Peachtree Corners Town Center LCI
Award Winners: City of Peachtree Corners, Lord Aeck Sargent
Summary of the Entry: What was once an innovative idea in the 1960s – creating a new planned community in suburban Atlanta centered on an innovative Technology Park – became a reality when the City of Peachtree Corners incorporated in 2012. The 2014 Comprehensive Plan identified a fundamental deficiency: while the original genesis of Peachtree Corners was innovative in its day, the development strategy of enclaved research parks and high end executive homes eventually resulted in a city without a true “downtown” or civic heart. This Plan was designed to remedy this deficiency by outlining five interrelated guiding strategies designed to transform a suburban, office and retail-dominated landscape into a more cohesive, mixed-use, diverse “place” with a civic heart: address traffic issues, facilitate housing choices, refresh and redevelop, amenitize and connect, and create remarkable spaces.
Award Category: Outstanding Planning Document – Honorable Mention
Project Name: Oakland City Fort Mac Livable Centers Initiative Plan
Award Winners: McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA), Sizemore Group, The Collaborative Firm, Kimley Horn & Associates, Noell Consulting, Mack Cain Design, and Russell New Urban Development
Summary of the Entry: The Oakland City / Fort Mac LCI Study built upon previous plans for Oakland City – an underserved Atlanta neighborhood, Fort McPherson – a former military base, the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail, and the new Tyler Perry Studios. The study aims to develop plans and policies for transformative redevelopment that serves the multi-generational community with a mix of uses and community amenities, and encourages economic development and job growth while preserving place for existing & new residents. A collaborative community outreach process engaged a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a realistic and exciting vision for revitalization of this community.
Award Category: Outstanding Student Project
Project Name: I-85 Mission Zero Corridor – The Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway
Award Winners: College of Design, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Conservancy
Summary of the Entry: The Mission Zero Corridor project was a collaborative urban design studio in the College of Design at Georgia Tech in the fall of 2014. The focus of the studio was on the recently designated Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway and answering the following question: How can 16 miles of concrete infrastructure, which is inherently unsustainable and a catalyst for environmental pollution and ecological degradation, truly commemorate Ray Anderson’s legacy and his pursuit of sustainability?
The aim of the studio was to guide his Foundation toward implementation of the 16 mile I-85 corridor as a sustainable highway and thereby demonstrate to the world what is possible by weaving a highway into its economic, ecological, and community context. The I-85 Mission Zero Corridor project has already begun implementation through local government design studios, the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and the creation of a program for installing bio-swales in the highway right-of-way.