APA WA Launches Great Places Pilot Program

By Hiller West, APA Co-Chair and Lloyd Skinner, PAW Co-Chair

In early 2016, Chapter President Paula Reeves initiated a phone call with the National APA office of the Great Places program and a dozen Planners around Washington State to discuss a State Chapter sponsored program that would be similar to other programs around the country.  Shortly after, the Washington Chapter of APA and the Planning Association of Washington (PAW) formed a Task Force to research similar programs around the country and put together a proposal that would be presented to both organizations for approval. 

In 2016, APA National honored 15 Great Places in America in three categories: Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods and Great Public Places.  The National program recognizes neighborhoods, street and public spaces that exemplify planning excellence.  There are at least twenty states around the country that have a statewide Great Places program. 

At their respective Board meetings in the fall, both boards approved the outlines of the proposal for a first year pilot program and requested the Task Force bring back additional information, in particular regarding budgetary needs.  The Task Force, which includes co-chairs Lloyd Skinner of PAW and Hiller West of APA, fleshed out the proposal during the winter months and has presented a budget request to each board of $500 for the first year of the program. 

In late March, the Task Force met to begin work on getting the Pilot Program underway.  The committee has reviewed the overall timeline, which includes issuance of a call for nominations around early May with a 45 or 60 day response deadline, followed by review of submittals in August and program awards in September at the APA and PAW chapter conferences. 

The committee reviewed the selection criteria in use by the National Great Places Program, and made a few modifications to simplify the criteria for this first year.  It was determined that the Program would benefit from some publicity prior to the issuance of a call for nominations, and a flyer is being prepared for posting online and distribution to a variety of organizations. 

The call for nominations will also be widely distributed, to include many potentially interested parties or groups (i.e. Chambers of Commerce).  It will include the list of criteria that will be used by the task force (acting as the jury for this first year) to select the two winning submittals. The Task Force will meet again during the second week of April, and a formal request for budget approval in the amount of $500 will be made to the APA-WA Board at its April 14th meeting. 

Questions about the Great Places pilot program can be directed to Hiller West, APA Co-Chair at [email protected] , or Lloyd Skinner, PAW Co-Chair at [email protected].

Download the information flyer.     

Return to the March/April issue of The Washington Planner