UCF Project May Become Part of Casselberry’s City Health Plan

 In Public Administration

By Drexler B. James

Residents of Casselberry may see improvements in the years to come, thanks to eight UCF students.

Students in Associate Professor Christopher Hawkins’ planning studio course in the master’s in urban and regional planning program developed a healthy community element for the city of Casselberry’s comprehensive community plan during the 2016-17 fall and spring semesters.

The healthy community element focuses on implementing and promoting both community and individual health in many developmental areas of the city, including transportation, land use, recreation and community amenities.

The element is currently under review by the state of Florida to be included in the comprehensive community plan. If adopted, this plan will be a groundbreaking accomplishment in Florida.

“As far as we know, it’s the first city to implement a healthy community element on the municipal level in the state of Florida,” Hawkins said.

“Hopefully, by tracking data over time as they implement some of the recommendations,” Hawkins said, “they can demonstrate the city is a healthier community.”

Kelly Carson, an urban designer in the planning and zoning division for the city of Winter Garden, was one of the students who took part in the project. Having worked for another city in Central Florida, she was interested to see how other cities approached their planning projects.

Carson focused on developing and honing in on the healthy community indicators, a selection of data that can be tracked over time to indicate the relative health of Casselberry, both on the individual level and the city’s overall health.

“It was challenging to work on a project with such a potentially wide scope,” Carson said. “The hardest part was figuring out the scope of the project and developing an action plan that was feasible in the amount of time available.”

Students worked closely with officials in the city of Casselberry as well, forming a strong partnership during the year. One of the relationships built was with chief planner for the city of Casselberry, Emily Hanna.

“We’ve enjoyed working with UCF and we want to continue to continue this partnership,” said Hanna, a 2015 graduate of the university’s urban and regional planning program.

Hanna, among other staff within the Community Development Department, acted as a liaison between UCF and Casselberry. She watched the plan take shape throughout the year, developing many goals, digging into research and drawing conclusions.

“It’s kind of a new thing to combine health and city development,” Hanna said. “It’s a new trend, and its building momentum, and Casselberry will be one of the few in the state to have such an element.”

The comprehensive plan should be adopted by the end of the year, Hanna said, with the plan being held by the state for 10 years to measure growth and impact.

“The city commissioners and the residents are excited to implement this to make Casselberry a healthy place to live, work and play.”

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