County To Pay Stuart Council To Learn Growthplanning Technique
By Jaime Levy
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In a cross-regional agreement approved Tuesday by county commissioners, Miami-Dade planners will learn to conduct charrettes from the Stuart-based Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.
Sponsored by the county’s planning department, the resolution gives the go-ahead for a $300,000 deal in which the Treasure Coast organization conducts four charrettes in Miami-Dade by fall. During the course of the community-based workshops, which are often used by local governments to plan growth, the Treasure Coast council would teach county staffers how to do it themselves.
"We don’t have a design studio in-house, so we have to go outside," said Lee Rawlinson, assistant planning director for Miami-Dade. "The group that’s got the most experience in the state is the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. By the end of this current fiscal year, we want to have the capability in-house to do our own charrettes. We need someone to assist and train our staff in that regard."
Although no dates have been selected for the four charrettes planned this year, Mr. Rawlinson said the county has picked three of its four areas, all of which are on the county’s south end: the area around the Cutler Ridge Mall; the Franjo area, between Old Cutler Road and 87th Avenue, and 184th Street and Franjo Road; and urban centers along the busway, either at US 1 and 240th Avenue or US 1 and 280th Avenue.
The fourth area, he said, would be somewhere within the boundaries of 37th Avenue, I-95, Northwest 135th Street and the Julia Tuttle Causeway on the south – roughly between Miami Shores and Hialeah.
Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council Executive Director Michael Busha said the Miami-Dade County project would be the first time his staff has trained another.
"We’ve had an exhaustive list of requests to provide charrette services. We can’t at this office by ourselves keep up with demand," said Mr. Busha, whose organization has orchestrated 66 charrettes around the state. "As more and more governments demand smart growth and as more and more citizens demand visuals to see how growth will affect their communities, we’re going to see more of this."
Miami-Dade County would be the first ones to step up, I think, to this level and actually be in the position to have the capacity locally to meet those requests from communities to do charrettes and design work," he added. "They’re big enough to do this. If we’re going to do a better job of managing growth, it demands that departments add this capacity and talent to their toolbox."
Mr. Rawlinson said that in addition to the training program, his division has budgeted for additional audio-visual components, computer design and graphics programs and equipment for creating Power Point presentations. He said he does not expect to hire new employees to run charrettes, but instead will use the department’s six community planners to conduct them.
In the end, he said, the county would save money by not needing to hire others to conduct workshops. For example, he said, the most recent county-Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council collaboration – a charrette on Naranja – cost about $75,000, which is the average price the county will pay the group for the four workshops this year.