ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (May 8, 2023) – The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s 29th annual Future of the Region Awards honored 13 organizations for notable achievements and contributions that have led to regional benefit. The Awards were presented during the 3rd Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Leadership Summit on Friday, May 5.
This year, Pinellas County Commissioner Chair Janet C. Long received the Herman W. Award for Regional Leadership, which is named for the founding father of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. The award honors a person that encourages future vision for their community and continues to implement action.
Long has dedicated her 42 years in public service to advancing Tampa Bay’s resiliency, sustainability and preservation for the current community and future generations. She’s also pushed the standard forward for public transportation and other regional opportunities for advancement. Previously, Long served as chair of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, in the Florida House of Representatives, Seminole City Council, and on a number of local boards.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pinellas County’s public transit provider, received the 2023 One Bay McIntosh Award for the SunRunner, a first-of-its kind bus rapid transit system that began service in October 2022. PSTA’s SunRunner system uses quiet, low-emission, hybrid electric vehicles to shuttle residents, workers and tourists around densely populated areas and mitigates traffic congestion.
The One Bay McIntosh Award is one of the Future of the Region Awards’ highest honors. The award is presented to an organization that embodies the principles of the One Bay Livable Communities Vision, which outlines priorities for responsible land use, mobility, economic, and environmental sustainability for population and employment growth.
In addition, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council presented Future of the Region Awards in five categories.
Built Environment demonstrates best industry practices in promoting compact development and redevelopment while preserving history, beautifying public spaces and contributing to a unique regional identity.
• The Town of Indian Shores created the Tocobaga Memorial art installation to beautify a public space while preserving and honoring the community’s earliest residents, the Tocobaga tribe. Experts from local universities, the Weedon Island Preserve, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the Bishop Museum worked with local officials to create a plaza that inspires visitors to reflect on the local culture and history.
• The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority’s Tampa International Airport completed several key components of its Master Plan II that support sustainability. The airport’s new Blue Express lanes double capacity and improve air quality, a new central utility plant increases energy efficiency, and its SkyCenter One commercial office achieved the Platinum level LEED certification.
Community Preparedness and Resiliency improves the region’s capacity to protect life and property from hurricanes, other coastal high hazards, rising sea levels and increases the public’s knowledge and access to information about natural and manmade disasters.
• Sweet Sparkman Architecture and Interiors worked with Eckerd College on a Resilience Framework Plan to adapt to the stressors of sea level rise and increasing rainfall for the waterfront campus. The flexible framework guides short- and long-term planning process to identify potential adaptation projects and establish guidelines for priorities.
• Madrid CPWG worked with the City of St. Pete Beach to develop a planning tool for flood mitigation. The tool aids in analyzing policy options based on the extent of flooding, depth and duration of flooding, and a planning level capital budget for pumping flood waters.
Community Service enriches the lives of Tampa Bay residents.
• Plan Hillsborough-Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association’s FLiP summer leadership development program creates awareness of urban planning and inspires future planners and community advocates. Through the program, high school students gain experience land use principles, transportation strategies, economic development, civic engagement, sustainability and equity through hands-on activities.
• The City of Holmes Beach launched a campaign called Islanders 4 Clean Water to raise awareness of issues that impact water quality. Its 10 water-smart actions encouraged residents to consider the ways that they could positively impact the area’s water in their daily decisions.
Economy & Energy diversifies the regional economy, attracts quality businesses and job creation, supports small-and medium-sized local businesses and entrepreneurs as a source of innovation, while investing in energy conservation technologies or alternative energy sources.
• Pasco County Government, Pasco Economic Development Council, Welbilt, Inc., and University of Florida Extension Service partnered to meet a community need for commercial kitchen space and entrepreneurial training. The Pasco County Commercial Incubator Kitchen now supports 30 new businesses in the food industry, and most of those businesses are minority and/or veteran owned.
• Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and Pinellas County Economic Development’s Employee Sites Program provides funding to overcome market and site development constraints that have historically stalled industrial and office development. The program leverages private- and public-sector investments to facilitate new infrastructure and build the next generation of modern properties.
Natural Resources and the Environment improves community connectivity to the environment.
• The Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Little Manatee River Wild Scenic Designation and Conceptual Restoration Plan created partnerships and layers of protection to approach conservation and water quality improvement for our region.
• The Ecosphere Restoration Institute and City of Tampa’s Ignacio Haya Living Shoreline and Wetland Restoration Project implemented a living shoreline to address erosion from boat wakes. While primary objective was stabilizing the riverbank, the use of a living shoreline is more resilient, reduces sediment, and improves water quality.
• The City of Dunedin’s Gladys E. Douglas Preserve is the largest remaining undeveloped land in Pinellas County. The City of Dunedin and Pinellas County moved quickly to allocate $5.5 million in land preservation funds to preserve for future generations to enjoy.
About the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council brings together governments to coordinate planning for the community’s future and provide an opportunity for sharing solutions among the local government jurisdictions in the Tampa Bay region. The TBRPC works with six counties and 21 municipalities as they make long-range plans related to the future of the Tampa Bay region. The Council’s work focuses on resiliency, planning for climate change and sea level rise, environmental management, water quality, emergency preparedness planning, protection and restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary, economic analysis, coastal zone management, housing and infrastructure analysis, local government comprehensive plan reviews, cross acceptance, dispute resolution and reviews of transportation plans. Learn more at tbrpc.org.