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Planning Department Wins Innovation Award

NEWTON, NC (Oct. 13, 2017)—The City of Newton Planning Department was recently honored with an innovation award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Newton award 2
The Planning Department is the recipient of the 2017 North Carolina Marvin Collins Planning Award in the Special Theme/Innovations category. The award recognizes an outstanding innovation in technology, techniques, or processes implemented. Newton received the award for the installation of a streetscape demonstration in October 2016.

The streetscape demonstration was conducted on College Avenue between 1st Street and A Street. Installation was made possible through the help and creativity of Discovery High School students. The demonstration included a temporary widening of sidewalks, modified parking and traffic flow, and landscaping. Visitors had the chance to walk through the demonstration and experience how enhanced sidewalks and other amenities of the Newton Streetscape Project will make Downtown Newton more enjoyable for residents, visitors, and businesses.

The awards committee noted that the streetscape demonstration illustrated “tactical urbanism” at its best. Tactical urbanism is the use of inexpensive and often temporary means to advance long-term goals related to street safety and public spaces.

“Committee members were very impressed with the level of detail in project implementation, including the time frames for installing the project,” according to Scott Shuford, awards committee chair. “Cooperation between the city of Newton and NCDOT was evident. The significant public attendance and participation spoke to the extensive event organization that its planners undertook. Student involvement and physical involvement of the participants were especially noteworthy with this interesting project.”

“This type of project gives citizens a tangible way to engage with the recommendations of the Newton Streetscape Master Plan,” Newton Planning Director Randy Williams said. “It offered our citizens a way to make comments about the future streetscape improvements while actually walking through and interacting with them. It was also engaging for the Discovery High School Students who were able to take ownership in the project and see firsthand how local governments make plans become reality.”

“This is just one of example of the innovative ideas that the Randy Williams and the Newton Planning Department bring to the city,” Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman said. “We appreciate all that they do.”

The award was presented to the Planning Department at the North Carolina Annual Planning Conference Awards Luncheon in Greenville on Sept. 28. Stedman recognized Williams and Discovery High School student Jaylen Johnson, who participated in the installation, for winning the award at the Oct. 3 Newton City Council meeting.

The Newton Streetscape Project is currently in the engineering phase. Construction will be completed throughout the downtown area in several phases and is expected to begin in 2018.

For more information about the Newton Streetscape Project, including a set of interactive renderings that show in virtual reality what Downtown Newton will look like after the project is completed, click here.
Newton award 1Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman (above right) recently recognized Newton Planning Director Randy Williams (above center) and Discovery High School student Jaylen Johnson (above left) for receiving the North Carolina Marvin Collins Planning Award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association. The Planning Department was honored with the award for an innovative streetscape demonstration, which was installed with help from Discovery High School students.