Hurricane-battered towns get planning help from grad students

Two small Texas towns recovering from Hurricane Harvey are getting help from Texas A&M [urban planning] ( graduate students.

Both towns, [Rockport] (,+TX+78382/@28.0270256,-97.116019,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x8669b360f7711387:0x6cea20360a83961c!8m2!3d28.0205733!4d-97.0544341) and [Hitchcock] (,+TX/@29.2616752,-95.1658285,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x863f80e45011d09f:0x7204f501f8c3bf0!8m2!3d29.3482905!4d-95.0160368) , have teamed with students and faculty affiliated with [Texas Target Communities] ( , an outreach arm of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, in a planning initiative to develop recommendations for a new comprehensive plan for each community.

Comprehensive plans are documents that detail a community’s vision for its future and a guide to achieving that vision.

On August 25, 2017, Harvey, a category 4 storm, slammed directly into Rockport, devastating the coastal town approximately 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, with some of the storm’s worst wind damage and storm surge.

Harvey then barrelled along the Texas coast, dumping record-setting amounts of rain along the way. The storm inundated hundreds of properties in Hitchcock, which is located just across West Bay from Galveston.

During the summer and fall of 2018, TTC Master of Urban Planning students traveled to both communities to create comprehensive inventories of current conditions and conduct well-attended community meetings to gather ideas from the town’s citizens regarding all aspects of their respective towns’ future —growth, transportation, housing, parks, and many more.

Students will create concrete proposals for the communities’ comprehensive plans following public meetings where community members voice their concepts and ideas about their towns’ futures.

The planning processes in Rockport and Hitchcock will continue during the spring 2019 semester, when students from planning classes will make additional trips to the two communities to gather additional data and more ideas during community meetings.

At the end of the process, the two towns will have strategic plans that include direction for the future and better preparations to withstand the next big weather event.

Founded in 1980, Texas Target Communities, led by director John Cooper and associate director Jaimie Masterson, is a service learning program and university-wide community engagement initiative of the College of Architecture and the Texas A&M Provost’s [Public Partnership & Outreach Office] ( .

The program provides opportunities for faculty and students to work alongside local governments and community stakeholders to assist small, underserved communities in creating sustainable futures throughout Texas.

TTC’s work would not be possible without the Texas A&M [Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning] ( and the [Institute for Sustainable Communities] ( .

Other collaborating programs and agencies include the [Texas Sea Grant Community Resilience Collaborative] ( , the [Texas Rural Leadership Program] ( , the [Texas A&M Center for Heritage Conservation] ( , [Texas A&M University at Galveston] ( , [Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi] ( , the [Texas chapter of the American Planning Association] ( and the [American Planning Association] ( , the [Texas A&M University School of Law] ( , and Texas Tech University [urban and community design] ( students.

Richard Nira

posted November 20, 2018