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.