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July 2020

APA Texas - Central Section Newsletter


Congratulations to the 2020 APA Central Texas Section Planning Award Winners and Student Scholarship Recipients!

The APA Central Texas Section Planning Awards Program recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding contributions to planning in central Texas. The Awards Committee evaluates nominees based on originality and innovation, engagement, implementation and effectiveness, quality, and promotion of planning.
In addition, the Section provides one-time scholarship aid to urban planning students enrolled full-time in a graduate or undergraduate planning-related program at Texas A&M University, The University of Texas, and/or Texas State University, all of which lie within the Section’s boundaries. Thanks to an anonymous donor, the Section was able to double the three student scholarship awards to $1,000 each this year.
Honorees were notified and are invited to attend the Central Section Award Banquet, which, as of now, is still planned to be held on:

Friday, Friday, September 18, 2020 from 11am to 1pm
Abel’s on the Lake
3825 Lake Austin Blvd. #3510
Austin, TX 78703.

Please watch for more information regarding the awards banquet date and location in future Section e-newsletters and on the Section’s Facebook page.

For questions about the Central Texas Section’s award and scholarship programs, please contact Section Director Martin Zimmermann at, or by phone at 979.209.5030.

2020 APA Central Texas Section
Student Scholarship Recipients

Carlo Chunga Pizarro
Mr. Pizarro is a first year Master of Urban Planning student at Texas A&M University and native of Peru. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University where he currently also works as a graduate research assistant. Mr. Pizarro is not only involved in APA’s Latinos in Planning Division where he currently serves as treasurer and the APA Representative for the Texas A&M Association of Student Planners organization, but also helps his parents, who do not speak English, run their restaurant business as they rely on him and his siblings to translate important documents.
His professor describes him as a compassionate natural leader and organizer who “does his work graciously and brings with him a wealth of new ideas that he is willing to work hard to make them happen”. Mr. Pizarro has been instrumental in achieving several accomplishments in favor of minority students at the university level, and has been able to directly present student’s concerns to the university’s president. His self-defined goals are to “empower and build better lives for people” through excelling in the planning field and becoming “an agent of change" for marginalized communities.
Chayanika Singh
Ms. Chayanika Singh is a 3rd-year PhD student in the Geographic Information Science program with the Department of Geography at Texas State University. Ms. Singh is trained as a planner, has working experience in both India and the U.S. as a planner, and is now pursuing her PhD degree on topics related to the interaction of urban build-up environment and people’s life quality.
Ms. Singh was born and grew up in India and successfully transitioned her career from being a middle-income professional working in a developing country, where a women has to balance and compromise on various personal as well as professional fronts, to an aspiring scholar working towards achieving higher education in a STEM field in a foreign country. Ms. Singh’s research focuses on impact of built environment on the health of the elderly in the United States. Her dissertation aims to explore how and to what extent housing conditions impact the functional independence of people in old age. She uses GIS to conduct research aiming at understanding built environment and its impact on people’s life.
Ms. Singh plans to defend her dissertation by the Spring of 2021 and continue to serve in research and academia afterwards.
Shunhua Bai
Mr. Bai is working on his doctorate degree and is doing very interesting research on micro-mobility issues in Austin with an emphasis on social justice and equity issues. He has a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota.  He writes, in his scholarship application, about a future when people will be able to meet their travel needs without owning a car.  Besides taking courses and completing his research, he has participated in a number of community activities such as GirlsDayUT working with young girls to encourage them to study science.  Mr. Bai told the Awards Committee in his application that he was submitting his request with maximum confidence.  That confidence paid off!

2020 APA Central Texas Section
Planning Award Winners

For a comprehensive plan that advances the science and art of planning.
City of Brenham/Kendig Keast Collaborative: Historic Past, Bold Future: Plan 2040
The City of Brenham has seen an increase in population as well as residential and commercial permits in recent years due to its strategic location between Houston and  Austin and its access to a major thoroughfare, US 290. As a response to this growth, the  citizens of Brenham needed a plan to project future growth while defining quality development and retaining their sense of “small town charm”.
In September 2019, Plan 2040 was adopted consisting of two components: Brenham Today and Historic Past, Bold Future. This plan uses the existing report as a foundation for determining the future direction, needs, priorities and action items for the City of Brenham. While the plan identifies five (5) topic areas, each of those topic areas contributes to a set of guiding principles and cumulates in an implementation section of over 100 action items with timelines for completion.
The City of Brenham’s Plan 2040 highlights the vision and collaborative efforts of staff and citizens to achieve common goals of preserving the city’s history, culture, and overall quality of life while also planning for projected growth and revitalization.
For a general plan that advances the science and art of planning.

City of Bastrop/ Bastrop Building Block (B3) Code
The Bastrop Building Block Code (B3), which was unanimously adopted in 2019, presents a version of the form-based code designed to improve the built environment of the city, while also striving to create an environmentally and fiscally sustainable city.  The B3, which was written during a development moratorium necessitated by recurring critical flooding issues, reflected the urgent needs for updated development standards in the city.  The accompanying technical manual and pattern book provide details that are often lacking in form-based codes, thus making the code’s intent much easier to interpret as new projects come to the city.  For the pattern book, great attention was made to ensure the design vocabulary was locally relevant.  Detailed building design, block types landscaping and other specifications provide strong guidance to ensure the B3’s vision is implemented in a manner that echoes local and regional design precedents. 

Unlike many other cities which have form-based elements in only their downtown cores or other limited nodes and neighborhoods, the B3 caries its vision to all areas of the city, thus ensuring that its vision impacts all of Bastrop.  Perhaps the most distinctive manner in which the plan’s citywide vision is enacted is development of a master street plan grid, which will ensure that the B3’s desired block character and development scale is carried throughout the city as it expands.

Because of its citywide vision, all-encompassing detail, and strong implementation tools, the Central Texas Section APA Awards Committee designated the Bastrop Building Block Code as its 2020 General Plan Award winner.
For a planning initiative or other planning effort undertaken by a community, neighborhood, citizens group, or jurisdiction in the face of difficult or trying circumstances. 

Llano Parks Project/Halff & Associates, Inc.: After the Flood - The Llano Parks Master Plan and Resilient Riverfront Parks System
On October 16, 2018, the City of Llano’s riverfront parks system was decimated by the same severe flooding in Central Texas that destroyed the Kingsland bridge. In just 24 hours, the Llano River rose by about 35 feet to near-record levels. For a group of citizens in Llano, a nonprofit known as the Llano Parks Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, this was particularly disheartening because they had worked tirelessly to raise money for a new splash pad that opened in the riverfront system just a few months earlier. By the time the flood receded, years of effort and over $300,000 in citizen donations were lost. Instead of giving up, the citizens who served on the Llano Parks Project doubled down and recommitted themselves to rebuilding the parks system in a resilient manner.
The Llano Parks Project’s vision is to create a parks and recreation system that “exceeded” traditional standards, one that served both local residents and day tripper tourists. They value building pride and increasing citizen interaction all to support a strong parks and recreation system that brings additional benefits to the Llano community—good health, tourism, reduced crime, and economic development. Overall, the non-profit has raised a total of $655,000 for park improvements since it was formed in 2013.
In 2019, the Llano Parks Project were able to hire Halff Associates, Inc., to develop a proactive citywide park master planning effort and conceptual re-design of the City’s three riverfront park properties—all decimated in the 2018 flood. The resulting planning process utilized a broadly representative citizen advisory committee to ensure the plan’s recommendations reflected vetted and acceptable community priorities for moving forward. It included a robust public engagement process, which included stakeholder meetings, design charrettes, community-wide opinion surveys, open houses, and other public meetings. It also included a true partnership and representation between the non-profit, the City, and the county. Consequently, participation rates were excellent and the resulting vision for the future was broadly accepted.
This award recognizes the positive effect of the commitment of a highly-dedicated group of volunteers, the Llano Parks Project, who, in true partnership with the local government, were able to develop a parks master plan with an organized and dedicated funding framework and source (outside of the competitive allocation of limited tax dollars) and community-led project champions for implementation. Their organizational framework and established best practices could serve as a model to interested citizens in any Texas community.
For an outstanding professional planner in the Central Texas section.

Katie Coyne, AICP Certified Ecologist - ESA, SITES AP
Katie leads the Urban Ecology Studio at Asakura Robinson where she drives the firm’s work to integrate more science into practice. As the leader of the Asakura Robinson Urban Ecology Studio, Katie works on and manages projects ranging in focus and scale from parks planning and design, ecological restoration, and green infrastructure to community planning, environmental justice, and other related urban ecological design and planning projects.
Katie has been a part of the leadership team on numerous innovative projects in the Austin area, including: The Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell Counties and the Austin FC Stadium Sustainable Design. As a volunteer, Katie serves on the City of Austin Environmental Commission, City of Austin Joint Sustainability Committee, The Austin Trail Foundation Ecological Restoration Committee, and is on the Board of Directors for Equality Texas. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer
This award recognizes Katie for her innovative work as an environmental planner as well as for her contributions as a local volunteer.

Next Board Meeting

The Central Texas Section Board meets via conference call every month. For more information, or to listen into these meetings, please email Allison Kay.

As a reminder, if you have any events, job announcements, or anything else you would like to promote, please email

About the Central Texas Section

The Central Section includes the following Texas counties:  Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Brazos, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Coryell, Dewitt, Fayette, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Hays, Jackson, Lampasas, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Llano, Madison, Mason, McCulloch, McLennan, Milam, Robertson, San Saba, Travis, Victoria, Washington, and Williamson.

Copyright © 2020 Central Texas APA, All rights reserved.

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