Jim Pashek and Denny Puko (from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development) presented a new model for planning communities across the country. Their approach, the “Implementable Comprehensive Plan” focuses on outcomes, not the process alone and relies heavily on public involvement and matching planning recommendations to the capacity of the community. According to Puko, “history shows that plans with hundreds of recommendations simply don’t lead to positive change in our municipalities.”
Their new planning process includes five keys for an implementable plan:
- Focus the plan on relevant, real community issues
- Organize the plan the way local officials and citizens think
- Devise practical and workable recommendations
- Recruit partners and create capacity to implement the plan
- Get local ownership of the plan – commitment to implement it
The presentation was very well received with over 100 people attending the session at 7:30am on the last day of the conference. Thanks go to Bruce Betty, John Trant, and Allen Cohen for providing a western PA cheering section at the session in Chicago.
How does a community proactively plan for the impacts of the oil and gas industry? This is one of the most important issues we are exploring with Crawford County while developing their Comprehensive Plan. Jim Pashek presented some interesting information to the Crawford County Oil and Gas Task Force on Friday, February 22nd. Here are a few fun facts that we discovered while conducting our research for the County’s plan:
- The truck traffic generated by a single drilling site is the weight equivalent of 14,400,000 standard cars using the roadway. Imagine the impact of 14 million cars on the small locally-maintained roads!
- Workers, typically young males that have been transplanted from Oklahoma or Texas, want to live within 13 miles of their worksite. Is there available housing/lodging in your community for these workers? If these workers displace existing residents, are there other housing options available to these residents?
- This is a 24-hour industry and 12-hour shifts are common. How might local businesses change their hours of operation or products to capitalize on the economic opportunities presented by the industry?
The impacts spread wider than these of course. There are environmental challenges and requests for information and permits at county and local government offices will undoubtedly increase. Pashek Associates and the County are both learning how the impacts of this industry can spread into many different facets of life in the County.
Jim Pashek , Paul Gilbert, and other members at Pashek Associates have been developing, with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), a new model for community comprehensive planning.
The goal is to truly focus on the key issues of a community or region and to craft a clear, step by step response to those needs. An important component of this model is identifying the community’s capacity to implement the strategies. Gone are the spreadsheets with hundreds of recommendations, replaced with realistic strategies that can be done in response to issues the community really cares about.
To spread the word about this new model for planning the Western Section of American Planning Association of Pennsylvania sponsored two workshops, one in Latrobe and the other in Carnegie, PA. The sessions, led by Denny Puko (DCED) and Jim Pashek were very well received. DCED then sponsored similar workshops near Philadelphia, Scranton, State College, and Meadville.
Slippery Rock University graduate students conducted a highly successful public meeting on campus trails October 16 with the help of Jim Pashek, President of Pashek Associates. Over 80 people attended the workshop that included presentations of existing conditions, facilitation of small group discussions at 16 tables and, after everyone had an opportunity to express their top issues, voting was conducted to prioritize those issues.
Jim coached the Sustainable Landscapes class on ways of making public meetings more engaging and emphasized strategies that encourage the building of trust between meeting facilitators and attendees. After the meeting, the class acknowledged their enthusiasm about their roles in the public meeting and were amazed at how participants became excited to share their concerns and expectations.
The public meeting was part of a larger trail planning process that John Buerkle, principal at Pashek Associates, was assisting the graduate students with. He has worked with the students on how soils, topography, and vegetation impact both the design and ability to maintain trails. They also looked at logical connections through the campus.
The public meeting was held in the new Robert M. Smith Student Center, a beautiful space for the meeting. Kudos to our friends at DRS for their work on that building.
This week David Brooks, of the Austin Dam Memorial Association and Executive Director of the Potter County Visitors Association and John Buerkle, Vice President of Pashek Associates, attended the American Planning Association Pennsylvania Chapter’s annual meeting to receive the 2012 Planning Excellence – Best Practice Award for a recently completed master plan and economic development strategies for the Dam Park in Austin, Pennsylvania.
Pashek Associates led a planning team that included Albertin Vernon Architecture, who provided interpretive planning and master planning support. The team encouraged the community to reflect on their history and environment in a way that made them realize the significance of what they have; how they can capitalize on it by marketing themselves; and how to promote and interpret their unique history, environment, and culture of days past and present.
This project serves as a case study on how to understand and convey a ‘sense of place’ and to gain the buy-in of local residents and business owners to think regionally – recognizing local economic development can be enhanced by marketing the Dam Park and Austin Borough as part of the regional PA Wilds, Lumber Heritage, and PA Route 6 initiatives.
The plan has also earned two regional awards for excellence. David Brooks, the driving force behind developing the plan, was named the Pennsylvania Wilds Outstanding Leader for his role in the planning effort. Further, Austin Borough was named a Pennsylvania Route 6 Heritage Community of the Year based on the master plan and their centennial observance of the flood of 1911 that resulted from the failure of the dam.
As Landscape Architects, Community Planners, and Parks and Recreation Practitioners, we have long been in the business of working with natural processes, improving efficiencies, and developing innovative ideas for the good of the community. We have continually searched for the most sustainable solutions in design and planning. We believe it is the right thing to do.
As a firm, we strive to become sustainable through the following actions:
- Promote sustainability through design and planning
– Spec sustainable products that are durable, reusable, recyclable, made with recycled content, use less packaging, and/or made from renewable resources.
– Use stormwater Best Management Practices.
– Use smart growth, transit oriented development, and other sustainable strategies in community planning and urban design.
– Protect and/or restore the environment by designing with ecological and natural processes in mind
– Use other sustainable sites principles found in LEED and the Sustainable Sites Initiative
- Use a democratic design and planning process to support the needs of whole communities
– Ensure that all meeting participants are equally heard regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or age
- Educate our clients and friends about the importance of sustainability
– Promote sustainable design solutions to clients by educating about their benefits
- Implement sustainable actions in the workplace and at home in our communities
– Follow the Pashek Associates’ sustainable office policies in order to reduce energy, water, air pollution, and waste.
– Set an example in our individual neighborhoods / communities by following the same policies at home.
Pashek Asscoiates is building a culture of responsibility that encourages every employee to ask the questions that lead to more sustainable processes and practices, and help our firm support a sustainable future.
Last night John Buerkle and Mike Kotyk presented a draft Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan to local residents, cyclists, and city officials of Jamestown, NY. A standing room only crowd packed the Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center to review, discuss, and provide feedback on a draft of the City of Jamestown Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan.
John and Mike were extremely pleased with the turn out for this meeting. 30 to 40 members of the Hollyloft Cycling Team showed their support by taking time to stop by during their weekly Tuesday night ride. A quick head count indicated that an additional 70 plus persons attended the meeting. The high attendance really shows how Jamestown residents are interested in making walking and bicycling safer and more comfortable within the City.
The Chautauqua County Health Network’s Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play is coordinating the plan to promote active transportation as a key component of healthy lifestyles. CHP is funded through the New York State Department of Health.
“We know that if the city is more walkable and bikeable, that will encourage the community to go out and be more active and we are focused on the public health aspect of chronic disease prevention,” said Janet Forbes, CHP project coordinator. “Having this plan in place is going to be helpful for substantiating the need for funding and what the next steps are.”
Jim Pashek, president of Pashek Associates was the first of three lecturers from the firm invited to speak at Slippery Rock University on park planning. The lecture Jim presented focused on the five steps typically found in master planning for parks, (1) Community background data collection, (2)Public Participation, (3) Site Analysis, (4) Programming the Activities in the park, (5) Developing the concepts, final master plan drawings and cost estimates. After an introductory lecture to orient students to public processes, they participated in a mock town meeting, generating park ideas and prioritizing those needs. Professor Christine Glenn commented on Pashek’s mock meeting, “I was struck by how effectively you guided the public meeting. I’ve seen those types of meetings get quickly unfocused. Yesterday, you effectively modeled key techniques which help to maintain control of the discussion and direction of the meeting. I was very impressed with this, and learned a great deal, which I hope to utilize in the future.”
After learning about criteria often used to layout parks, the students were broken up into teams of 4-5 each and given a park site analysis and program to fit to the site. They were cautioned to respect environmental constraints, the proper solar orientation of facilities, and important activity adjacencies.
Each team then reported why they selected the park plan they developed and how they were able to apply some of the design principles taught in the class.
John Buerkle will be lecturing on the design of Athletic Fields and Mike Kotyk will be providing information on how to plan greenway corrdiors during the next two lectures.