Awards & Recognition - Recent Awards
The Vermont Planners Association is pleased to announce the VPA Award recipients for 2013.
Citizen Planner of the Year
Gary Gulka, of Cabot, Vermont, is recognized as the 2013 Citizen Planner of the Year, for his commitment to improving his community. Gulka is chair of the planning commission, and has been active on the commission for 19 years. As a member of the commission, and primarily as chair, he has upheld that good planning is vital for the well-being of the town, and is focused on maintaining an enhanced planning process that gets sophisticated results for a town Cabot’s size.
With the latest update of their town plan, Gulka has encouraged the planning commission and the selectboard to do an extremely thorough job, resulting in a plan that contains many smart growth principles, as well as detailed goals and strategies and a high level of analysis not normally found in small town plans. Gulka has also advocated for securing funding to conduct special studies, including a village study, and to update their zoning regulations, and was instrumental in organizing a community visit from the Council on Rural Development last year.
Tara Rogerson, Cabot Town Clerk sums Gary's work up well, simply stating, "His volunteer efforts in Cabot have made this community a better place."
Mark Blucher Professional Planner of the Year Award
Sandrine Thibault, Principal Planner with the City of Burlington, has received the 2013 Mark Blucher Professional Planner of the Year Award. For the last five years, Thibault’s overall responsibility has been city-wide long-range planning and principal staff to the Burlington Planning Commission, as well as an advisor to Burlington’s other planning-related boards. Most recently, she has been the principal planner in charge of planBTV, Burlington’s land use and development plan for its Downtown and Waterfront, which has been a major undertaking. Thibault is also active in the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association, serving as their Public Information Officer.
In all of her work, Thibault has always pushed for good planning, providing technical assistance and education to local planners, and has always actively included public involvement in her work. Her roles have been educational and advisory, as well as promoting good communication among various organizations. In both these capacities, she has promoted planning principles and processes to folks that would otherwise not be very effective in their roles. Thibault is respected for her great dedication and passion—as well as for her creative, out of the box thinking—by her colleagues and by the volunteers, developers and other professionals she works with.
Plan of the Year Award
City of Burlington
The City of Burlington is the recipient of VPA’s 2013 Plan of the Year Award for their planning process in the development of planBTV. The development of a land use and development plan for Burlington’s Downtown and Waterfront has been a long-standing action-item in the City Municipal Development Plan. While many other planning efforts involving the downtown or waterfront have taken place over the years, PlanBTV: Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan is the result of the most energetic, creative, and inclusive planning effort Burlington has ever seen.
The final product represents a community vision and consensus for the future of the City’s downtown and waterfront – a vision that respects Burlington’s past and builds upon its many assets for the benefit of future generations. This effort has engaged thousands of people through dozens of meetings and events, online and in-person, through the media and the visual arts. PlanBTV is very bold in its recommendations which have proven to be catalytic to new thinking about what’s possible. The plan and its process have spurred conversations about Burlington’s future that would otherwise have never taken place. It is all at once an education tool for best planning practices, a community vision for the future and a specific road map on how to make this vision a reality.
Project of the Year Award
River Valley Planning District and Mad River Valley Rural Resource Commission
The award for 2013 Project of the Year Award is given to the Mad River Valley Planning District and Mad River Valley Rural Resource Commission for their Hill Farm Research Project. The purpose of this project has been to start the process of looking back to the highlands and identifying successes and challenges that can inform our future. The earliest farmers throughout Vermont built their farms and communities on high ground. In the 19th century town centers and farms gradually migrated off Vermont hillsides and down into the floodplains to harness the river’s energy. Today, Vermont towns, including those in the Mad River Valley, are confronted by climate change and increasing flooding that devastates low-lying neighborhoods, businesses, and farms. In order to continue to contribute to Vermont’s agricultural economy and expand its local food system in this century, our towns and farms must look for alternative solutions.
Public information and education made up the core of the project. By broadening the flood resiliency conversation to include a variety of organizations and underrepresented individuals, this project has looked beyond just flood-proofing and worked to come up with longer-lasting solutions to understand the connectivity between agriculture, upland land use, economic development, and history, and their connection to stormwater management of the valley floor. This project demonstrates the beginning of a regional conversation about the transition of farmland and stormwater/agriculture practices that can and will be happening throughout the state.