2015 Annual Award Winners

The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA Chapter of APA) held its Annual Awards Luncheon in Pittsburgh, PA where 420 attendees celebrated the esteemed award winners of this year’s highly competitive program. The following individuals and organizations were honored for their excellent contributions to planning in Pennsylvania.  Congratulations!

The following awards were given:

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan – Montco 2040: A Shared Vision

Montgomery County Planning Commission
The Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan was adopted in January 2015 after a dynamic two-year community visioning process.  All research, outreach, marketing, and plan preparation work was done by the county planning staff.  The plan documents are creatively designed and easy to read.  An attractive executive summary and marketing literature introduce the plan to broader audience.  The plan has three key themes – Connected Communities, Sustainable Places & Vibrant Economy – that provide clear goals and guidance for future growth and development in the county and its 62 municipalities. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Plan Other Than a Comprehensive Plan
Upper Lawrenceville Community Visioning and Targeted Development Strategy Study

evolveEA, Fourth Economy Consulting, The Design Center of Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville Corporation, Lawrenceville United
The upper part (10th Ward) of Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood is starting to get the development energy that transformed the central and lower parts now known for youthful culture within historic urban fabric.  Through a series of community charrettes, participants created a neighborhood identity and series of development and livability principles.  The neighborhood has been implementing the vision.  Food-based projects and businesses have started, prompting a campaign called 10th Ward Fresh.  One of the largest vacant properties is being redeveloped as mixed-income housing.  Other activities include a green infrastructure demo project, a new park, an organic orchard, and an increase in renovation activity throughout the neighborhood.(More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Plan Other Than a Comprehensive Plan
Building on Strength: Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Lancaster

Lancaster City Alliance, City of Lancaster, Lancaster County Planning Commission, Mahan Rykiel Associates, Arnett Muldrow & Associates, RGS Associates
The Lancaster economic development plan does as the name suggests.  It builds on the success of the city’s 1998 plan and sets new goals and builds new relationships to continue to attract economic development to a world class, mid-size city.  The plan was primarily private-sector driven, supported by public sector and community involvement, and linked with traditional public planning issues.  The plan addresses traditional economic development, and promotes entrepreneurialism, leveraging the city’s brand as a great place to live, work, and do business, and improving quality of life as an economic development attractor. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Public Outreach
Paoli Road Improvement Feasibility Study & Public Participation Project

McMahon Associates, Town Planning Partnership, Glackin Thomas Panzak, Meliora Design, Stell Environmental Enterprises, Greater Valley Forge TMA, Tredyffrin Township
The study of transportation solutions for Paoli Road in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, involved a remarkable level of public involvement: a project website; five neighborhood meetings; five business stakeholder meetings; three open houses with total attendance of 724; survey with 244 responders; visual preference surveys from 520 participants; and seven property owner meetings.  The public outreach program identified community vision and objectives early in the program identified community vision and objectives early in the process, then drove the transportation solutions and related land use policy changes, including priorities for walkability and place-making. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Aware – Best Practice
PA Turnpike Corridor Reinvestment Project

Montgomery County Planning Commission
The Turnpike corridor project holistically combined transportation design with economic development and land use planning to promote revitalization of 7 older suburban business parks located along the PA Turnpike but lacking good access.  The project created a new land use vision for each park, reflecting emerging business opportunities and needs, and a design for new Turnpike interchange ramps at all 7 parks. The project made a persuasive business case, including cost and revenue projections, for the Turnpike to invest in the new access areas.  The plan document provides clear and compelling maps, design concepts, and talking points supporting the proposals. (More information in resource library)

Planning Achievement Award – Advancing Diversity and Social Change
John C. Anderson Apartments

Wallace, Roberts & Todd, Pennrose Development, Dr. Magnus Hershfeld Fund
The John C. Anderson Apartments is the first senior citizen housing project build by and for the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) community in Pennsylvania and only the third in the nation.  It serves a documented need for affordable housing for LGBT seniors who suffer discrimination and lack extended family and children that heterosexual aging adults have to support them.  The building design also serves as useful model for how to build urban-friendly, senior housing in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.  The project minimizes generational segregation often associated with senior housing, feels welcoming to passers-by, and is fully engaged with and supported by the broader surrounding neighborhood. (More information in resource library (More information in resource library)

Planning Leadership Award – Professional Planner
James W. Pashek, Pashek Associates

Jim Pashek is the chief officer of Pashek Associates, a planning and design firm in Pittsburgh.  Over a 40-year career, he acquired a lot of letters after his name — MBA, RLA, CEO, LEED GA, BSLA, NCI – but his favorite designation is “planner.”  Jim excels at getting multiple municipalities to work together in comprehensive plans and at involving the public in planning.  He is one of Pennsylvania’s foremost practitioners and proponents of the “implementable comprehensive plan.”  He has provided training on that and other planning and public conference and, via Heinz Endowments sponsorship, across the ocean in the Czech Republic..

Planning Leadership Award – Elected Official
Elizabeth Rogan, Lower Merion Township

Elizabeth Rogan, AICP, has been an elected commissioner in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, since 2004.  Prior to that she was a planner for the township.  As an elected official, she has applied planning principles to the diverse challenges of a first-generation suburb, promoting infill and redevelopment, revitalization of older commercial centers, preservation of historic structures and natural areas, and community engagement for many projects.  Her leadership and advocacy have led to accomplishments for the township, large and small, including innovative zoning revisions, an official map ordinance for public spaces and pedestrian paths, adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and redevelopment of key properties.

Planning Leadership Award – Citizen Planner
Roy E. Brant, PhD

Roy Brant began as a citizen planning in 1978 with the Crawford County Planning Commission.  In 37 years he actively promoted planning in his home county and statewide.  At Crawford County, Roy used this skills as a political scientist (he taught political science at Edinboro University) to set up the committee structure that endures to this day and is the principal interface of the planning commission with the community.  Roy tirelessly promoted planning at municipal meetings, and promoted county interests at PennDOT regional meetings, DEP hearings, and the like.  He was instrumental in creating a county airport authority to take over the struggling Meadville airport.  Statewide, Roy sat on the APA-PA Board of Directors 1980-2014 and on the State Transportation Advisory Committee 2004-2015.

Planning Leadership Award – Distinguished Service
Richard Bickel, FAICP

In over 40 years as a professional planner, Rich Bickel made significant contributions on the regional, state, and national planning stage.  He has been described as thoughtful, innovative, and practical, with an understanding of political dynamics and stakeholder interests needed to advance major initiatives.  His diverse career included being Chief of Community Planning at Montgomery County Planning Commission, Director of Long Range Planning at SEPTA, and two terms at Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, retiring in 2014 as Director of the Planning Division.  Work included innovative zoning regulations, comprehensive plans, long-range regional plans, and technical studies on issues including environmental justice, transit-oriented development, and community revitalization.  Statewide, he has been an active committee member and leader for APA-PA and predecessor organizations.  He served on the state task force that led to comprehensive amendments to the Municipalities  Planning Code in 1988.  He drafted the initial language for and promoted enactment of the TRID Act in 2004.  Service at the national level includes the Site Visitor Planning Accreditation Board, APA legislative and policy committees, and the Transportation Research Board.  Throughout, Rich performed at the highest level as a planner, and provided innovation, leadership, and mentoring.