Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice

By Carey, Deborah | Planning for Higher Education, January-March 2010 | Go to article overview

Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice


Carey, Deborah, Planning for Higher Education


Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice edited by Gary Hack, Eugénie L. Birch, Paul H. Sedway, and Mitchell J. Silver ICMA Press 2009 496 pages ISBN-13: 978-0873261487

Reviewed by Deborah Carey

Though I'm back to planning higher education facilities, in the previous eight years of my planning career I was a "skilled generalist" in the Office of Community and Economic Development in my town. There I grappled with speaking "the language of architects, bankers, engineers, public servants, politicians and citizens. ..in the change business" (pp. 34, 24). So, I relished tackling Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice published by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and edited by Gary Hack, Eugénie L. Birch, Paul H. Sedway, and Mitchell J. Silver. The work is a collection of chapters from almost 100 municipal, regional, and national practicing professionals compiled to inform the planning profession and ICMA membership.

While planning for higher education encompasses academic, fiscal, resource, facilities, and infrastructure planning, campus or master planning most often focuses on the campus and its immediate outside environs. In the United States, we have a long history of small liberal arts colleges and large land-grant universities located in rural settings. Today, however, 82 percent of our public and private higher education institutions are located in urban settings (Sungu-Eryilmaz 2009). As a result, the livelihood of these institutions is now intimately tied to the possibilities, problems, and opportunities of life outside the campus grounds. In Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice, I found the rest of the story; the warp and woof upon which we weave our higher education pattern. The volume contains a wealth of sound information, descriptions of cutting-edge trends, and an abundance of follow-up resources.

Public planning has many points of intersection with higher education master planning, especially in the area of "town-gown" relationships - those key elements that bind the higher education campus (gown) to its community (town). To be proactive in these relationships, higher education institutions are incorporating social and economic programs, managing spill-over effects, and formalizing stakeholder participation and leadership (Sungu-Eryilmaz 2009). Local Planning gives us successful and unsuccessful examples and provides a vast array of tools used to accomplish these aims. It also describes and examines the stakeholders in the process: the developers; bankers; bond holders; community groups; and federal, state, city, and town officiais, administrators, and regulators with whom higher education institutions work.

When colleges and universities acquire land and structures to support their mission or immediate growth demands, they often find themselves criticized for development policies deemed unresponsive to neighborhood concerns. A chapter titled "The University and the City" by Anthony Sorrentino specifically details the West Philadelphia initiatives of the University of Pennsylvania that were created to address surrounding community needs. In "Planning in the Twenty-First Century," Gary Hack adds that "anchor institutions such as universities... are often the largest private employers in communities. ..and are leveraging their demand for housing and services, directing their purchasing power into nearby areas, and expanding the net of their security forces to cover adjacent areas" (p. 107). In Local Planning, we also learn from the experience of other "anchor" institutions, such as the new Denver International Airport in Colorado. Out of the initial friction between the city, the Stapleton Redevelopment Foundation, and other stakeholders arose a partnership that created a vision and a development framework focused on open space. As Thomas A. Gougeon writes in "Stapleton's Public-Private Planning," this effort

went well beyond describing a physical framework for redevelopment. …

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