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APA PA Chapter News: April

The Latest News from PA Chapter of APA…

Professional planners are, without a doubt, critical for effective planning, but it is the community volunteers who often make the difference between a plan sitting on a shelf and the plan getting implemented. These volunteers wear many hats, from planning commission membership to specific advocacy groups. This month, we highlight two successful efforts that depended on volunteers for much of their success – the Susquehanna Riverwalk in Lycoming County and the West Ward Neighborhood Plan, a great example of a strategic planning effort for a local neighborhood. Enjoy!


The next Webinar Wednesday, Beat the Heat Hunting: A Community Heat Relief Planis scheduled for May 5, 2021 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. In Philadelphia, some neighborhoods can be 22 degrees F hotter than others and low-income residents and residents of color are more likely to live in these hotter neighborhoods. This pattern of unequal exposure to risk tells us that climate change is not only a public health issue but also an issue of racial equity. As climate projections show hotter days to come, it is important to support residents as they work to make their communities more sustainable. For this reason, the City launched Beat the Heat Hunting Park: A Community Heat Relief  Plan, which was created to identify cooling solutions through a collaboration between residents, community organizations, and the City, and is now being implemented. Read more here. Deadline to register is Tuesday, May 4.

If you are interested in sponsoring a Webinar Wednesday session or have a session for Webinar Wednesday, please contact us. Send your request to info@planningpa.org


Support the Conference!
The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2021 Conference will be held on October 17-19 at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square, Pittsburgh. We invite you support the conference by sponsoring, exhibiting or advertising. The conference provides a unique and effective opportunity to showcase your work and capabilities to planning professionals and policy makers from across the Commonwealth. It’s also one of the ways to support planning in Pennsylvania by providing valuable networking, education, and development for planners. 


2021 Great Places

The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association is looking for Great Places in three categories: Great Public Spaces, Great Greenways/Trails and Great Streets. Great Places are unique, memorable places that display community planning best practices, have an exemplary character, and a sustainable vision for tomorrow.

We want to hear your suggestions for a Great Public Space, Great Greenway/Trail, or Great Street designation. Submissions are due by Friday, May 7, 2021. Nominations will be considered by the Great Places in Pennsylvania Judges Committee with notification to applicants in the summer. Go online view the guidelines and submit an online application.


2021 Planning Awards: Call for Nominations
The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association is pleased to invite nominations for the Annual Awards, which will be presented at the Annual Conference. Nominations are encouraged for plans, projects, practices, and leaders. Showcase the best and brightest of Pennsylvania planning!


Penn State Extension
Penn State Extension offers webinars. Check out the latest webinar, Community Needs: Assessments That Planners Should Know About…May 19, 2021. For more information visit Penn State Extension‘s website or contact Peter Wulfhorst.


Opportunities for Giving
Each year the Chapter offers a scholarship to support individuals seeking funds for academic degree programs, internships, and professional development activities.  If anyone would like to contribute to the Chapter’s Scholarship fund, donations can be made here. We accept all major credit cards, or you can send a check. Please make your check payable to “PA Chapter of APA Scholarship Fund” and mail it to P.O. Box 4680, Harrisburg PA 17111.


Great Places in Pennsylvania Spotlight

The Great Places in Pennsylvania program began in 2014. This program highlights places in the Commonwealth that are prime examples of good planning and are centerpieces of their communities highlighting connectivity, community engagement, and economic opportunity. Each month, we will highlight a recent Great Places award winner.

In 2018, the Susquehanna Riverwalk was designated as a Great Place in the Great Greenways and Trails category. The Susquehanna Riverwalk is located in Lycoming County and was first envisioned in 2000. The Susquehanna Riverwalk is a four-mile paved walkway/bikeway loop along the Susquehanna River levee in Williamsport, South Williamsport Borough and Loyalsock Township with two river crossings. The Riverwalk was constructed in 2008 through a partnership of the Lycoming County Commissioners, the City of Williamsport and the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority.

The Riverwalk offers panoramic views of the Susquehanna River, Bald Eagle Mountain, the city central business district, and various residential neighborhoods. The Riverwalk provides walking and non-motorized recreation and excellent opportunities to view migrating bird species. The Riverwalk is also home to public art displays including sculpture and signs explaining the heritage of Williamsport as the Lumber Capital of the World from 1839-1889.

To learn more here.


West Ward Neighborhood Plan

The West Ward Neighborhood Plan for Easton, PA is an excellent example of a foundational plan for a wide range of planning initiatives. This plan focuses on a diverse and dynamic neighborhood directly west of Easton’s downtown area. With this plan, the community banded together to create a plan that was inclusive and comprehensive, with layers of analysis that looked at both broad issues and specific locations.

After identifying overall guiding principles, such as equal opportunity and economic prosperity, the West Ward Neighborhood Plan zeroes in on specific locations, like the Cottingham Stadium focus area and the regional gateway area, and makes specific recommendations for these places with illustrations of potential development scenarios. The recommendations are clear-cut and include both quick and easy actions and longer term, more challenging ones. One interesting element of the plan is a notation on the complexity of different recommendations, which is a helpful way of quickly understanding how difficult the recommendation might be to implement. View the plan here.

While the plan was being developed, the community began to implement some of the recommendations, and this plan has not been sitting on a shelf since then. The West Ward Community Initiative is continuing wholeheartedly, and you can read more about their efforts here.