Central Florida RPC Revisits Heartland 2060:
Building a Resilient Region
Over the last two years the Central Florida RPC convened hundreds of citizens, stakeholders, influencers, committed volunteers, and elected officials, to revisit Heartland 2060: Building a Resilient Region. Heartland 2060 is a grassroots regional visioning effort led by the Central Florida RPC for more than a dozen years. The Heartland region is balancing rapid growth areas and infrastructure demands with stewardship of natural resources, while also dealing with economically distressed rural areas needing growth in jobs and wages. New population and economic forecasts were developed to enhance economic competitiveness, provide more efficient transportation choices, protect natural areas and wildlife, and enable the sustainability of the Heartland communities.

The Central Florida RPC began “Revisiting” Heartland 2060 by updating the population and economic forecasts, including updated GIS for a generalized Future Land Use Map consistent with the adopted local Comprehensive Plans for all 35 local governments in the Heartland region. The Council initiated public engagement by hosting two in-person summits bringing together a diverse group of volunteers from business, education, agriculture, government, environmentalists, non-profits, and civic organizations. Representing and engaging 28 cities and unincorporated communities in DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, and Polk counties, attendees participated in conversations on future trends, environment, transportation, freight, education and talent pipeline, and agriculture. The engagement continued with virtual webinars, online surveys, Facebook engagements, and meetings and presentations.

By convening stakeholders and the public in a collaborative environment, the Core Values were reaffirmed to guide the region in visioning, planning, and problem-solving to build community and regional resiliency. Heartland 2060: Building a Resilient Region—Revisited serves as a basis for thoughtful engagement with the conclusion that collaboration must continue to find opportunities and solve mutual concerns to become a more resilient region.
East Central Florida RPC Partners with
City of Winter Springs Parks
The East Central Florida RPC partnered with the City of Winter Springs to develop a Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The project, funded by the Department of Economic Opportunity, is comprised of four elements: The Existing Conditions Analysis, The Economic Analysis, The Public Engagement Report, and The Recommendations.
 
The project began with an inventory of park and recreation related assets which included total miles of sidewalks and bicycle trails, identifying areas for new development and mapping all Cross Seminole Trail access points and surrounding businesses. Infrastructure profiles for each park were developed as well as a street lighting analysis to identify gap areas.
 
The Economic Analysis considered two funding mechanisms that could be used to implement projects from the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. As previous engagement with the community highlighted the overall sentiment of keeping taxes low while improving components of the park system, it was important to the project team that the analysis yield information the City could use to determine potential return on investment for these funding mechanisms.
 
To engage the community and collect resident input, the project team used an online survey platform, MetroQuest, and hosted an open house in the spring of 2021. The survey provided opportunities for residents to identify how they currently use the city parks system, programs and events they are interested in, areas for increased bike and pedestrian connectivity and opportunities for new park facilities. The survey was open for approximately one month and received hundreds of comments from nearly 500 participants.
 
The final Master Plan includes a “Parks and Recreation Projects and Programs” section that incorporates information received during the engagement process and existing conditions analysis.  The plan also features a “Bicycle and Pedestrian Opportunities” section that provides an update to the existing bicycle/pedestrian map and addresses five priority focus areas with recommendations. The Parks and Recreation Master Plan is an excellent tool for local officials and planners to enhance the health and culture of the City of Winter Springs as funding opportunities become available.
Tampa Bay RPC Completes Conceptual Master Plan
The Tampa Bay RPC recently provided technical assistance to the City of New Port Richey for a conceptual redesign of the Downtown Rivergate-Palm District. Senior Planner Sarah Vitale took the lead in researching resilient design solutions to issues such as streetscape design, parking, green infrastructure, building resiliency to coastal hazards and stormwater management.
 
Some of the Council’s recommendations support the installation of a distinctive gateway entry feature to Main Street from U.S. 19, incorporating mixed use developments throughout the district, adding multi-modal transportation amenities and increasing the public's access to the river. The solutions focused on easing flooding and resiliency risks while providing new economic development opportunities.
 
The result: a conceptual master plan, 3D model and 3D flyover animation that features the unique value of the Cotee River, is welcoming to residents and visitors and enhances the city’s resiliency. The visualizations and conceptual master plan for the district are advisory resources that will be considered as the City of New Port Richey continues through its master planning process.
Treasure Coast LEPC Thomas Yatabe Award Winners
The State Emergency Response Commission established the Thomas Yatabe Award in 1989 to annually recognize outstanding contribution, accomplishment, and participation in hazardous materials planning and preparedness by a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Recipients from the Treasure Coast Region were recognized as award recipients at the May 21, 2021, Treasure Coast RPC meeting. This provided an excellent opportunity for the Council to learn more about the important work of the Treasure Coast LEPC.
 
The 2020 Thomas Yatabe Award was awarded to Helena Agri-Enterprises, Incorporated, of Fort Pierce and their employees, Mr. Gaynam Rackstraw and Ms. Jean Krum. They worked closely with first responders and the LEPC to improve and enhance evacuation and safety response plans in response to a hazardous materials incident. The facility, surrounding industry, and residential communities’ preparedness capabilities were increased significantly due to the dedication of the Helena team and their participation in incident and unified command, communications with on-scene responders, and internal examination of protocols that direct evacuation and safety for employees.
 
Certificates of Appreciation were also awarded to: Chief Daniel Mikels, St. Lucie County Fire District; Officer Frank Lasaga, Jupiter Island Police Department and LEPC Chair; and Mr. Carlos Valle, Palm Beach County citizen.
SAVE THE DATE - December 8 - 10, 2021