Volunteer Planning Team Focuses on Integrating Hazard Mitigation Efforts in Wharton

Volunteer team seeks community input Saturday and Sunday, February 23–24.

CHICAGO (February 21, 2019) — An American Planning Association (APA) Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) is coming to the city of Wharton, Texas, to assist in integrating hazard mitigation efforts within existing community infrastructure, February 22–25.

The five-person volunteer planning team brings extensive transportation, infrastructure and economic development knowledge from around the U.S. The team will primarily focus on areas of the city most impacted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) funded levee/flood protection system.

Community input is an important part of the process:

  • Saturday, February 23 – Community groups can schedule time to meet with the team. Contact Laura Clemons, the local host contact, to make an appointment.
  • Sunday, February 24 – Residents, business owners, elected officials, city staff, and other interested parties are invited to participate in a city-wide forum, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Simply Divine Event Center (314 W. Milam St.).

During the visit to Wharton, the team will start to:

  • Create a plan to integrate public access and recreation space in the city within the levee/flood protection system;
  • Enhance the quality of experience for Wharton residents, businesses and visitors by leveraging existing and planned community assets, green infrastructure, and economic development opportunities;
  • Develop a multimodal connectivity plan to improve travel within the city; and
  • Ensure a planning process is inclusive and one that all Wharton residents have an opportunity to participate in and benefit from the community enhancements.

The city of Wharton is 60 miles southwest of Houston on the northern bank of the Lower Colorado River. Flooding from Hurricane Harvey heavily impacted Wharton, but flooding is a recurrent problem, especially in the city’s West End neighborhood. The team’s focus will concentrate on areas of the city most impacted by the USACE project, main arterial roads, existing greenways and community spaces such as recreation facilities and schools.

Funding for the volunteer planning team is provided from a competitive community grant from the American Planning Association Foundation. The Foundation awarded the Wharton Economic Development Corporation a Disaster Recovery Grant to assist communities hit hard by hurricanes and other natural disasters in 2017. Support for the APA Foundation Disaster Recovery Grant program was provided in part from the Pisces Foundation, which seeks ways to accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together.

APA’s Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) are composed of nationally recognized experts who volunteer their time to work with residents, government officials, and other key stakeholders to offer planning assistance to communities to develop plans and policies that support good planning. The CPAT program was established in 1995. Previous teams have recently worked in Pine Hills, Orlando, Florida; North Beach, Maryland; Hartsville, South Carolina; and Franklin, Tennessee; among other locations.  

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides vital leadership in creating great communities for all. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the profession of planning, offering better choices for where and how people work and live. The 42,000 APA members work in concert with community residents, civic leaders and business interests to create communities that enrich people's lives. Through its philanthropic work, APA’s Foundation helps to reduce economic and social barriers to good planning. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Learn more at www.planning.org.

# # #


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

February 21, 2019