A group of urban planners earning continuing education credits will soon be studying Pottstown’s riverfront and coming up with concepts for the Borough to consider – all free of charge. Last night Borough Council voted 7-0 to endorse the Borough’s participation in the online class.
Rutgers University’s Professional Development Institute (PDI) offers a range of courses to urban planners and other land use professionals from all over the United States and the world. They recently put out a call for communities who had land use and design challenges that could be the focus of one of their 5.5 week urban design studios.
As The Mercury reports today in “Urban planners ‘assigned’ to Pottstown riverfront as case study,” there has been much talk in the past year about the Urban Land Institute’s 2009 report that urged the Borough to create “a place of magic” on Pottstown’s riverfront. The PDI class will look at the numerous physical constraints and possibilities along the river, while learning urban design concepts from instructor Matt Wanamaker, a principal of the Philadelphia urban design and place-making firm Brown & Keener.
Brown & Keener’s home page states its mission simply:
Raise civic expectations.
Create agendas for change.
Make great places.”
As “the client” the Borough should end up with multiple concepts along with rough sketches from the class. Local officials, such as Chris Huff from the Planning Commission and Councilor Joe Kirkland, will be able to participate in the online discussions and respond to questions as they arise. The goal for the Borough is to get some realistic and fresh ideas that will spur community discussion about its vision for the riverfront. The class was announced on the PDI blog last week and had 7 people signed up within a couple days, according to Leo Vazquez, Director of PDI at Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. If all goes well, there could be other opportunities to collaborate with PDI in the future – a win-win for the professionals taking PDI courses and for Pottstown.