News Release: May 1, 2017

​Belize City Volunteer Planning Team Offers Final Recommendations

CHICAGO — A pro bono planning assistance team from the American Planning Association's Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) program worked with residents, business leaders, and government officials in the Yarborough neighborhood of Belize City, Belize, to offer recommendations to guide the city's future growth. The team's recommendations addressed ways to enhance the city's economy, improve waterfront sustainability, and strengthen its reputation as a tourist destination.

This is the first Community Planning Assistance Team to assist a community outside the U.S. This effort is possible thanks to the support of the Belize City Council (BCC) and the Inter-American Development Bank's Emerging and Sustainable Cities program (ESC).

The Belize City CPAT final report Yarborough Revitalization Initiative identifies four planning priorities that need to be addressed including: (1) linking assets and a reorientation of the community to the waterfront, (2) supporting community-led initiatives and activities, (3) implementing green infrastructure and resilience strategies, and (4) using metrics and "strategic doing" to measure community engagement.

Specific recommendations from the planning team include:

  • Improve waterfront and public spaces;
  • Beautify the neighborhood through community-led projects such as tree planting and public art;
  • Build capacity for ongoing revitalization and resilience;
  • Improve Yarborough's transportation network and reclaim underutilized space;
  • Connect the House of Culture to the urban fabric of Yarborough and waterfront park;
  • Reorient Yarborough Field to improve sightlines to the water and for safety;
  • Introduce initiatives and interventions that highlight points of interest, make better use of vacant lots and capitalize on existing programming.

Belize City applied for team assistance to explore options for improving the historic Yarborough neighborhood and waterfront area on the city's south side. While the north side of the city has received new investment over the years and generally offered better quality public assets and quality of life, the team believes the south side community will benefit from a new vision for the area and community-led initiatives to spur new investment into the area for the betterment of Yarbrough area residents and businesses.

The Belize City Community Planning Assistance Team was composed of planning experts with expertise in urban design, land use, economic development, transportation planning, landscape architecture, and community engagement. Team members were:

  • Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, team leader, an urban designer and the executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission;
  • Antoine Bryant, Assoc. AIA, principal of the Bryant Design Group, LLC, a commissioner on the City of Houston Planning Commission, and member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the American Institute of Architects;
  • Veronica Davis, PE, co-owner and principal planning manager at Nspiregreen LLC in Washington, D.C.;
  • Adam Perkins, AICP, the urban planning manager for the Downtown Denver Partnership focused on place-based economic development for the downtown business district;
  • Shannon Van Zandt, PhD, AICP, an associate professor of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning at Texas A&M University.

The team is part of the American Planning Association's professional institute's Community Planning Assistance Teams program. The program matches communities that have limited staff and resources with planning experts from around the country and abroad. Teams have previously assisted with neighborhood revitalization, economic development, transportation planning, and post-disaster recovery.

Communities seeking planning-related assistance can submit proposals to CPAT@planning.org. The Community Planning Assistance Team program was established in 1995 to help serve communities with limited planning resources. Previous teams have recently worked in Germantown, Philadelphia; South Baltimore, Maryland; La Feria, Texas; and West Melbourne, Florida; among other locations.

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The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 37,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries. For more information, visit www.planning.org.

Contact

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