APA Summer Retreat 2017: Parks and Partnerships

APA's Board of Directors and the AICP Commission met for their annual Summer Retreat in Chicago, July 6–9, engaging in strategic discussions and meetings plus local partnership activities that included a tour of an elevated park and trail system and discussion about youth engagement.

The group took a mini-mobile workshop to The 606 Trail and surrounding Chicago neighborhoods Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park. Leading the tour was one of the early organizers of the project, Jamie Simone, AICP, bureau chief of program for project & safety outreach in the Office of Communications at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

APA Board, AICP Commission, and APA staff on The 606 trail in Chicago. Photo by Jamie Simone.

The group learned about the distant and more recent history of the site, as well as more current conversations about the impact of The 606. Those conversations center on the economic impact of this milestone rails-to-trails project as well as issues of gentrification around the multi-use recreational park. The trail connects underserved and affluent neighborhoods across several miles, and the impact of gentrification is a subject of some concern.

Recently, a group of alderman in Chicago proposed steep teardown fees to slow the effect of gentrification in the area of the trail.

Since its opening in 2015, the trail has offered the adjacent neighborhoods a great recreational amenity and opportunity for physical activity, and has become a focal point for community activities including the annual block party and community processions.

The trail was also recently featured in an APA podcast, and was awarded the 2016 National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design.

Gabe Lyon, Chicago Architecture Foundation vice president of education and experience, with APA leadership. Photo by Mike Welch.

Leaders also participated in a presentation and discussion at the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) about APA’s partnership with CAF on a new planning-themed graphic novel titled No Small Plans, which brings Daniel Burnham, Wacker’s Manual, and the art and science of urban planning to life for a new generation of young people.

No Small Plans was developed — with support from APA — for educational outreach and youth engagement. More information will be available for APA members later this year.

About the Author
Mike Welch is APA's director of leadership.

July 11, 2017

By Mike Welch