City’s riverfront plan wins 2018 Iowa Planning Award

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
The illustrated concept of the Spencer Riverfront Plan created by RDG Planning & Design. The plan is the recipient of a 2018 Iowa Planning Award. It was originally unveiled in 2017.
File photo

The city of Spencer’s planning document — the “Spencer Riverfront Plan” — is the recipient of a 2018 Iowa Planning Award. Entries were nominated by Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association members and divided into 11 categories before winners were judged and selected by an out-of-state third-party. The Spencer Riverfront Plan won the “Economic Development Planning” category.

“This year, I believe we had 22 submissions across 11 categories,” Charlie Cowell, APA Iowa Awards co-chair, said. “... The jury felt strongly that this was ... innovative and unique as far as an economic development strategy. Obviously it’s a riverfront plan, so it’s not looking at creating huge commercial development necessarily, but seeing the environment and natural resources as an economic development tool.”

Cowell said Spencer’s category win was one of a number of smaller sized communities who took home an award, a change from previous years dominated by some of Iowa’s largest communities.

“It’s a testament to all the work that went into creating that concept for the riverfront development, but helps solidify the notion that our river is a highly underutilized asset in our community,” Spencer City Manager Amanda Mack said.

Both Mack and Cowell, an RDG employee who participated in the plan’s creation, hoped the award would foster awareness in the future as the city advocates continue efforts and discussions to bring the plan to fruition.

“Part of that work that we’re doing with David Toyer (of Toyer Strategic Consulting) is really digging into the riverfront,” Mack said. “What pieces of that can we take and add to action oriented items? What parts can we seek partnerships to make happen? It’s more than a plan that’s sitting on the shelf.”

“Maybe not everything in the plan happens, but maybe it stimulates ideas, development interest, or community interest in putting investments toward certain things,” Cowell said. “... It gets the ball rolling.”

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