The "Essence of Athens" Wins APA Economic Development Award

After already winning an Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture (OCASLA) Merit Award and the 2015 Vernon Deines Award for an Outstanding Small Town Special Project Plan by the American Planning Association (APA), City and Regional Planning Associate Professor of Practice Kyle Ezell’s project The Essence of Athens: A Strategic Design Plan for Economic Enhancement and Community Competitiveness has received the 2015 Donald E. Hunter Award for Excellence in Economic Development Planning from the Economic Development Division of the APA.

From the review committee:

“We were particularly impressed with the depth and breadth of public involvement for your plan, the recognition of the value of urban design for economic development, and the overall quality of the plan which, in turn, boosts community pride.”

From Paige Alost, Executive Director Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau:

“Tourism is a major economic driver in our region, generating almost $140 million in visitor spending annually in Athens County. Any community can create a plan. What makes The Essence of Athens plan so unique is that it sought to capitalize on the eclectic nature of our community. Rather than identifying one or two design themes and establishing rules for use, the plan reinforces Athens’ need to be different, providing us with a playbook rather than a rulebook. It encourages the outward manifestation of our community’s most creative ideas and efforts, making the unique identity of our community visible, engaging and obvious to residents and visitors alike.”

From Paul Logue, the Athens City Planner:

“This plan will help ensure that the distinct qualities, people, culture, environment, and businesses of Athens are respected, celebrated, and promoted in an organic and thoughtful manner. Its implementation will grow our vibrant tourism industry, promote our local businesses, and make our neighborhoods even more unique and wonderful.”

The Donald Hunter and Vernon Deines Awards will be presented to Ezell, Athens officials and consultants in Seattle during the national APA Conference on Monday evening, April 20.

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