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Auburn Villager: City, university join forces to implement Master Plan
Author: Auburn Villager
Posted: June 26, 2014

Read the original story from the Auburn Villager here.

The city of Auburn and Auburn University have joined forces with the Urban Sustainability Accelerator program at Portland State University to implement the city’s Downtown Master Plan.

The program is a grant-funded initiative providing personalized consulting services to help cities implement sustainability projects. Program funding includes support from the Summit Foundation and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State. 

“We are excited to be partners with a city and university team that have a good working relationship and a shared vision for a more economically and environmentally vibrant downtown,” said Robert Liberty, director of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator program.

During the one-year program, city and university officials will coordinate with expert consultants  from the program to implement the city’s Downtown Master Plan and several downtown projects, including both the university’s work on Samford Park and the city’s redevelopment of Toomer’s Corner; downtown alleyway improvements; parking improvements; pedestrian safety enhancements along South College Street near downtown; redoing the intersection of Samford Avenue and College Street; and a feasibility study of daylighting of local streams.

“The partnership between Auburn University and the city of Auburn has always been strong, and I’m excited for this chance for us to work together to improve downtown Auburn as the gateway to both downtown Auburn and the Auburn University campus,” said Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr. 

In recent years, the city and university have collaborated on the series of mid-block crossings on Magnolia Avenue, the Auburn University Research Park, and the Yarbrough Tennis Center, as well as annual downtown events.

In addition to collaborating with program consultants, a team of city and university employees will collaborate with other cities with similar projects and environments so that each of the cohort cities can learn from one another’s experience.

“Catalysts and network weavers can really make a difference when it comes to acting on and implementing exciting plans,” said Mike Kensler, director of the Office of Sustainability at Auburn University. “The Urban Sustainability Accelerator program is serving that role for the city of Auburn/Auburn University partnership — providing expertise and innovative ideas, and nurturing the cross-sector partnership between the city, the university, the business community and citizens. We very much appreciate being selected to participate in this program, and over the next few years the people of Auburn will see results in delightful improvements to downtown.”