This year, the 2015 NARC Award Winners received their awards at a Gala Dinner during the 49th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Raleigh, North Carolina. A copy of the program can be found HERE. Shortly after the conference, one of NARC’s summer interns wrote a blog post about some of the winners.
2015 NARC Awards
By NARC Intern: Nico Stauffer-Mason
Medium Metro Award
The 2015 NARC Medium Metro Award went to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), a Massachusetts regional council that serves a population of 625,000 residents. The Commission worked with governmental and non-governmental organizations to create Our Next Future: An Action Plan for Building a Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Pioneer Valley. The plan identifies strategies to enhance and support the region’s vibrant sense of place and to address a broad range of issues, resulting in a regional compact which enables entities across the region to collaborate on its implementation.
Our Next Future includes a sweeping Climate Action and Clean Energy Plan, which outlines how the Pioneer Valley can respond to and mitigate the effects of climate change. Citing economic and health benefits, PVPC’s plan calls for more trees in communities in the region, greater use of fuel efficient vehicles by municipalities, and increased production of clean energy. Our Next Future also contains a thorough examination of the problems facing the region’s affordable housing programs, and also outlines a strategy to reduce hunger.
PVPC’s work is also notable for its broad perspective—the plan addresses not just local, but regional, national, and international issues. Our Next Future underscores the important role that the Pioneer Valley can play in helping Massachusetts meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets. The plan also examines the negative ramifications of climate change worldwide, and explains that all communities must “think globally and act locally” to effectively combat these problems.
Congratulations to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission on Our Next Future! For more information about PVPC and its plan for Pioneer Valley, please visit its website.
Major Metro Award—Recipient No. 1
The first winner of the 2015 NARC Major Metro Award is the Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG). Responding to a set of extraordinary circumstances—two crippling droughts within a decade combined with an expected population increase of more than 1.8 million people—13 local governments came together with TJCOG to form the Jordan Lake Partnership, a regional partnership tasked with ensuring that the Triangle region’s water supply would last to meet today’s demand and tomorrow’s need.
After conducting a thorough technical study of the region’s water use patterns, TJCOG and the Jordan Lake Partnership developed the Triangle Region Water Supply Plan, which allocates shares of Jordan Lake reservoir’s water to each of the Partnership’s 13 member communities. The plan also provides for water sharing agreements within the Partnership so that the towns will still have access to water in the event of a drought or other water emergency.
However, the Triangle Region Water Supply Plan is not static. Understanding that the Triangle region’s population will rise significantly in the foreseeable future, TJCOG and the Partnership allocated water to the different communities in varying ten year increments. The plan reflects the demographic changes projected for the next fifty years, and thus truly does work to secure and stabilize the region’s water supply not just for the present day, but also for the future.
Congratulations to the Triangle J Council of Governments on the Triangle Region Water Supply Plan! For more information about TJCOG and the Triangle Region Water Supply Plan, please visit TJCOG’s website or that of the Jordan Lake Partnership.
Major Metro Award—Recipient No. 2
The second 2015 NARC Major Metro Award went to three regional councils—the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, and Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council (TBRPC, CFRPC, and SWFRPC, respectively). These three regional councils joined together to create the Florida Local/Regional Broadband Planning Project, a collaborative initiative with the goal of expanding access to broadband internet technology within the three regions.
The Local/Regional Broadband Planning Project focused on creating a “toolbox” to allow local governments, companies, or non-profit organizations in the three regions to come up with a broadband plan specifically tailored to the community in question. By publishing planning guides, technical manuals, and community outreach techniques, these three regional councils successfully created a template for broadband planners across the region. Furthermore, by including geographic information systems (GIS) in their toolbox, the Broadband Planning Project enabled others to easily replicate its efforts in other areas of the country.
The project is also notable for the extent to which the broadband planning involves and revolves around the community. From forming an advisory committee to hosting public workshops to incorporating feedback into the plan, every step of the Broadband Planning Project’s process aims to accommodate the needs of the general public.
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay, Central Florida, and Southwest Florida Regional Planning Councils on the Florida Local/Regional Broadband Planning Project! For more information about these three regional councils or their broadband planning success, please visit the websites of the Tampa Bay, Central Florida, or Southwest Florida Regional Planning Councils, or that of the Florida Local/Regional Broadband Planning Project.
NARC President’s Award
The 2015 NARC President’s Award winner is the Metropolitan Planning Agency of Omaha and Council Bluffs (MAPA). MAPA created Heartland 2050, an unprecedented effort to develop a vision for the long-term future of the region. The project was designed to improve the quality of life for the region’s residents over the next three and a half decades, while retaining the core values of the communities that make up the region.
The resulting vision for the future drew the interest of PolicyLink. PolicyLink conducted a regional equitable growth profile that documented the need for the region to grow without disparities in education and financial stability based on race and ethnicity. With that information, MAPA decided to also focus on equity as an important aspect of the economic future of the region. The Heartland Vision thus also emphasizes the need for economic equality in the region, and underscores what can be done to make that goal a reality.
The Heartland 2050 vision is motivated in large part by anticipated demographic changes in the region. In the next three decades, the eight-county region under MAPA is projected to add another 400,000 residents, population growth that will put pressure on the region’s government to close an anticipated funding gap. To solve these problems and grow the region sustainably, MAPA’s plan emphasizes the need for equity, so that all citizens—including historically underserved minority communities—benefit. To further develop its plan, MAPA’s Heartland project will be touring the region and soliciting feedback from community members on their vision for the future.