The City of Columbus – Bartholomew County Planning Department has been recognized by the Indiana Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) for its work in planning Columbus’ future bicycle and pedestrian network and promoting the development of “infill” sites, underutilized properties within the city. The awards, Outstanding Transportation Planning for the Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan and Outstanding Implementation for the Infill Site Profiles, were presented at the APA – Indiana Chapter’s Spring Professional Development Conference held on May 12, 2023. Planning Director Jeff Bergman and other members of the staff accepted the awards on behalf of the Planning Department.
The American Planning Association, with a motto of Creating Great Communities for All, is a professional organization supporting the education, work, and professional development of those employed in community planning, housing development and policy, transportation planning, and related topics. Its members are involved with all levels of government, as well as non-profit organizations, and consulting firms throughout the United States. The Indiana Chapter (APA-IN) serves those professionals working in the State of Indiana. For more information about APA visit https://www.planning.org/. Each year, the Indiana Chapter recognizes the work of its members and their communities to solve local problems, advance local quality of life, and otherwise address both current and future community needs. The awards honor work that represents the forefront of the profession and embody high levels of creativity and imagination. Recognitions are awarded in several categories in addition to Transportation Planning and Implementation, including Best Professional Practice, Economic Development, Environmental Planning, Urban Design, and Outreach & Communication. For additional information about the APA-IN awards visit https://indiana.planning.org/awards/.
The Outstanding Transportation Planning award honors efforts to increase transportation choices for everyone, reducing dependence on private automobiles and helping to ease congestion and reducing climate change impacts. Award recipients demonstrate innovation, compatibility of transportation with the environment and the economy, public participation and engagement, and effectiveness in making a difference in people’s lives and benefiting the overall community. The City of Columbus Bicycle and City of Columbus – Bartholomew County Pedestrian Plan was adopted by the Columbus City Council in 2022 as an update to the original 2010 version. Its recommendations for future bicycle facilities and targeted improvements to sidewalks establish a long-term vision for improved transportation options throughout Columbus. Relying on a data-driven approach to understanding existing conditions as well as extensive public input, the Plan provides a roadmap for establishing a connected network of low-stress bicycle facilities that will allow families and other riders of varying experience to comfortably reach their destinations. The Plan has a strong focus on closing critical gaps within the existing network and creating safe transitions at intersections. Its inclusion of strategies for wayfinding along the bicycle network throughout the city, with an emphasis on the People Trail system, is intended to create a more intuitive and comfortable place to walk and bike. To review the Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan visit https://www.columbus.in.gov/bikewalk/maps-and-plans/.
The Outstanding Implementation award recognizes a significant achievement by a community in accomplishing positive change. This award emphasizes long-term, measurable results. Award recipients demonstrate originality and innovation, effectiveness in making a difference in people’s lives, an ability to overcome challenges, community engagement and involvement, and high-level, broad achievement. In 2012, the Planning Department began a program that highlights infill development opportunities within the city. Infill sites are properties that are undeveloped, vacant, or clearly underused and either within the Columbus city limits or otherwise encompassed by the City. The program, known as the Infill Site Profiles, provides brief but thorough planning, zoning, and basic real estate information for these properties. The initial creation of the Infill Site Profiles was recognized as an APA-IN Outstanding Best Practice in 2013. Since the program’s launch, 15 of the original 34 sites have been fully or partially developed. Development of these infill sites has resulted in 671 apartments and senior living units, 112 new single-family home lots, over 62,000 square feet of new commercial space, and an over $52 million increase in assessed property value at those locations. The Profiles, as well as a 2022 summary of their development, are available at: https://www.columbus.in.gov/planning/infillandgrowth/.
The City of Columbus – Bartholomew County Planning Department is a joint department of the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County that oversees long-range community planning, transportation planning, floodplain management, and the review of developments against the applicable zoning regulations. Including these two recent awards, the Planning Department has been recognized seven times by the American Planning Association – Indiana Chapter since 2011. The Department was also a recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Floodplain Management Award from the Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management.
Questions regarding these recognitions may be directed to Planning Director Jeff Bergman at 812.376.2550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.