A member of the Thomasville Planning & Zoning Commission has been named recipient of the 2017 Richard McLaughlin Scholarship to attend the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Conference. Rev. Jeremy Rich, Commission member since 2016, will attend this premier conference, regarded as one of the preeminent planning, urban design and economic development conferences in the country in Seattle, Washington, May 3-6, 2017.
“I’m delighted to be selected as a McLaughlin Scholarship recipient and to attend the CNU conference on behalf of my community,” said Rich. “We are embarking on a new season in Thomasville, one of great transformation. I am excited to be of service to my community in this capacity.”
The Richard McLaughlin Scholarship was created by Lucy Thompson, Principal City Planner for the Saint Paul, MN Department of Planning and Economic Development. “By educating appointed and elected officials on the benefits of new urbanism, they will have the tools they need to be leaders in the revitalization of their communities,” said Thompson.
City Planner Brian Herrmann says that attending this conference will allow the attendees from Thomasville to become more knowledgeable of best practices that will be vital as the community comes together to form the new comprehensive plan. “We’ve contracted with Dover-Kohl to assist us with developing the comprehensive plan. The firm is very involved in this year’s CNU conference, so the participation of members of our Planning Department will be especially beneficial to us as we begin this process.”
Rich agrees, adding, “I’m very much looking forward to what new information I can learn that will be useful to our community as we embark upon creating the comprehensive plan, which is essentially a grand vision for Thomasville.”
As the comprehensive planning process begins to take shape, public input will be vital, a premise that is important to the Thomasville City Council. Public workshops will be held throughout the community May 9-12th as a part of the planning process. Rich hopes the workshops are well attended and plans to use his role as both a pastor and educator to glean ideas from members of the community to be included in the comprehensive plan.
“Working on the comprehensive plan is a wonderful opportunity to hear from our young people, who are the future of our community,” said Rich. “I’m very much looking forward to hearing their thoughts and opinions as we move through the comprehensive planning process. Our children are our greatest resource and their potential is unlimited, as is their creativity. Children have the ability to speak their dreams and our role is to listen and try to bring them to reality.”
Rich said that the untainted and imaginative view of our youth is an important voice that needs to be heard as we begin planning for our community’s future. Herrmann agrees and said, “A comprehensive plan is very much a plan of how you’d like to shape the future of your community, not necessarily a look at where we are presently. For this reason, we need the voice of all generations involved, and I’m hopeful that we will have an engaged planning process where everyone feels they have a voice.”
The comprehensive planning process is in its beginning stages, with process planning at the forefront. “We anticipate many public input sessions throughout the process, with the first beginning next week,” said Herrmann. “The complete schedule for the workshops is available on Thomasville.org.”
For Rich, he says that while the work is only just beginning, he is excited about the possibilities ahead. “It will be very fulfilling to work through a process that will create a vision for Thomasville and to then see that vision become reality.”