July 13, 2011

Volunteer Planning Team to Assist Matthews, North Carolina

CHICAGO — A five-member volunteer planning team is heading to Matthews, North Carolina, upon the city's request for assistance in planning for the Crestdale neighborhood's future. The team will work with city planners, local officials, and residents July 19–23.

The team is part of the American Planning Association's professional institute's community assistance program. Through the program, teams of professional planners are matched with communities requesting assistance on a variety of planning topics ranging from economic development to urban design.

The Matthews team will be focusing on building consensus in the Crestdale neighborhood for future economic development opportunities. Crestdale was once a settlement for freed slaves and their families. Today, Crestdale is struggling to find its collective voice. The community planning assistance team will work alongside city planners, leaders, officials, and residents to help achieve community-wide support for one of the many economic development opportunities available for the neighborhood.

"We are excited to welcome this team of distinguished professionals to our town," said Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett. "The Crestdale Community is a treasured neighborhood and we look forward to the visions and strategies the team will develop to aid us in helping the Crestdale neighborhood adapt during these changing times."

The Matthews community planning assistance team will be led by Jason Beske, AICP, a senior planner for the City of Overland Park, Kansas. Team members include:

  • Marijoan Bull, AICP, assistant professor of Regional Planning at Westfield State University in Massachusetts;
  • William M. Harris, FAICP, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Visiting Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Emil Malizia, AICP, professor and chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and
  • Guy Pearlman, a landscape architect and urban designer with Ecoscapes.

Read more about the individual team members.

Over the course of the week, the team will be touring the neighborhood and visiting with a variety of leaders and residents. The team's preliminary weeklong assessment will be presented on Saturday, July 23, at 11 a.m. at the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Crestdale. The final report of the team's assessment will be available later in September.

APA and the City of Matthews will share the expenses of the project. The Foundation of the Carolinas also provided financial support. All labor has been volunteered.

Get updates on the team's work while in Matthews.

The community planning assistance team initiative was established in 1995. Previous teams have worked in Buzzard Point, Washington, D.C.; Slidell, Louisiana; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Henderson Point, Mississippi, among other locations.


Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395; rrewers@planning.org