Grad students' Gonzales plan earns kudos from Texas APA

A comprehensive plan to guide municipal policymakers in Gonzales, Texas, prepared by graduate urban planning students at Texas A&M, was recognized with the Student Project Award by the Texas Chapter of the Texas American Planning Association at its October 2-5 conference in Galveston.

The plan proposed a future path for Gonzales in many areas, including housing, transportation, community facilities and parks, based on an analysis of current and projected conditions in Gonzales and case studies of similar communities.

Students presented the plan at a May 2, 2013 Gonzales City Council meeting. 

The students, led by Elise Bright, professor of urban planning, recommended the city rezone the downtown area to allow residential development in addition to its existing businesses, apply for funding to preserve its historic buildings and develop a historic identity through a website, highway billboards and promotional brochures. Residential housing built above retail space downtown would improve Gonzales’ core while helping to reduce sprawl, said the students in their plan.

To respond to an influx of oil industry-related traffic, students recommended the city encourage the Texas Department of Transportation to establish a south loop around the city for large and hazardous vehicles.

The yearlong applied planning studio, Bright said, gives second-year planning students a taste of the workplace through a “hands-on” experience. “It's great for the students and I think it helps the communities a lot too,” she said.

It’s the latest in a series of student plans recognized by the Texas APA, including a revitalization plan for downtown Sealy, Texas and a comprehensive plan for the city of Richwood, Texas.

The effort was part of the College of Architecture’s Texas Target Cities initiative, which assists Texas communities lacking resources and expertise to address issues critical to their future.

posted October 22, 2013