The planning studio at Asakura Robinson recently completed a pair of plans which represent new types of projects for the firm.
The Willow Waterhole Prairie Management Area Public Access Plan is one of the first completed projects in our new environmental planning concentration. Led by Eric Leshinsky and combining our concern with community engagement and natural systems, we started the project with the goal that the prairie should not only be well integrated with the adjacent basin park area, but also with the surrounding community. As such our work was as much about crafting a plan as building consensus and support for the prairie among a diverse group of community stakeholders. To do this, we organized a series of public meetings in collaboration with the Harris County Flood Control District that included on site nature walks, led discussions of the opportunities and challenges for the making the prairie more accessible, collected ideas and feedback from neighborhood advocates, environmental advocates and management agency representatives, and ultimately produced a final plan that represented both stakeholder wishes and professional best practices for creating an exemplary park within a sensitive habitat area. The final report is available here.
Our recent work in Independence Heights also represents a new type of project for us. Although we’ve been involved in both this type of community revitalization and working with this specific, historic African-American community for many years, this particular project was the result of our interest in helping an underserved community take a plan off the shelf and move toward implementation. Rather than wait around for implementation funding, we decided to assist the community by seeking out a non-profit partner (the Local Initiatives Support Corporation) to help fund technical assistance to create an implementation plan and build community capacity to move forward with recommendations from a previously completed plan. Building on the work, the community is now working to form a legal and economic entity to represent local stakeholders by early 2015 in order to achieve the community’s vision. The final report is available here.