To assist our member governments in being proactive in the development of their communities, CARPDC provides planning services that enhance the quality of life for the people living in our region. These services include, but are not limited to, economic development assistance, long range planning, downtown revitalization, district plans (i.e. residential, commercial, industrial, transportation corridors, etc.), transportation planning, urban design solutions, etc. To support these plans our planning staff will work with our member governments to develop and/or update their comprehensive plan, strategic plan, zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations, and other regulatory codes and ordinances as needed. These documents are vital to managing the future growth and development of our region.
Continuing education for local officials is also a priority for CARPDC’s planning staff. To that end they will provide training to planning commission, board of adjustment, city council and county commission member as well as affiliated staff. Topics are continually under consideration and development, and include comprehensive planning, zoning, subdivision, meeting management, signage, evaluating plans and plats, powers & duties of commissions and boards, etc. Suggestions for training topics are always welcome and encouraged.
Our planning staff will also provide professional planning services to those municipalities who do not have staff planners, and assist those who do with additional manpower when needed. These professional planning services include such things as evaluating site plans, subdivision plats and permits per current zoning codes and subdivision regulations and assisting with the interpretation of these documents. In addition, our staff will provide staff memos explaining their findings and if desired appear before commissions and boards to review these findings with them. To build upon these development services CARPDC can provide code enforcement and inspection services for our member governments who do not have trained staff for these purposes.
Economic Development District and Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
In 2015, through the hard work of the Executive Director and our staff, the Central Alabama Region was designated an Economic Development District (EDD) by the Economic Development Administration. EDDs are “multi-jurisdictional entities, commonly composed of multiple counties that help lead the locally-based, regionally driven, economic development planning process that leverages the involvement of the public, private and non-profit sectors to establish a strategic blueprint (i.e., an economic development roadmap) for regional collaboration.”
As a designated EDD it is CARPDC’s responsibility to maintain the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and to coordinate the CEDS Strategy Committee meetings. The CEDS is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development. A CEDS is the result of a “regionally-owned” planning process designed to guide the economic prosperity and resiliency of an area or region. It provides a coordinating mechanism for individuals, organizations, local governments, and private industry, aka the CEDS Strategy Committee, to engage in a meaningful conversation and debate about the economic direction of their region.” (U.S. Economic Development Administration)
CARPDC provides various transportation planning services throughout the tri-county region. These services including administration of the Central Alabama Rural Transportation Planning Organization (RPO), participation in the Montgomery Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MPO), recreation and trails programs, multi-modal transportation programs, and other transportation related activities.
The RPO is a cooperative process between the Alabama Department of Transportation and rural communities throughout Alabama. The Rural Planning Organization enhances the movement of people, goods and services by providing a cooperative planning forum for community leaders and transportation providers to have an open dialogue with Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) officials on the status of projects and transportation related issues in our region.
In addition to the RPO, CARPDC staff actively participates in the Montgomery Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MPO) process, managed by the City of Montgomery, by attending MPO meetings and acting as representatives for, and reporting back to, various communities in our region.
CARPDC also administers the Human Services Coordinated Transportation Planning (HSCTP) document, which is updated every four years. The HSCTP assesses the transportation needs and impediments of the region and seeks solutions to those problems. Those communities and organizations seeking grant funding as part of the HSCTP process grant, Section 5310 – Enhance Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities, must be described in the most recent HSCTP. When transportation services are unavailable, insufficient, or inappropriate this program (49 U.S.C. 5310) provides formula funding to states for the purpose of assisting private nonprofit groups in meeting the transportation needs of older adults and people with disabilities.
Additionally, CARPDC can provide services to our communities in response to their specific transportation needs. These services include such activities as research, grant writing and administration for recreation and trails programs, public transportation research, transportation needs assessments and feasibility studies, and many other possible options to improve the quality of transportation, and access to services, in our region.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
CARPDC’s GIS staff provides an array of data management and mapping services to its member governments. This division of the planning department collects and maintains regional geospatial data and distributes this data, upon request, in the form of municipal base maps, zoning and land use maps, and utility maps. Additionally, GIS software is used as an analytical mechanism to graphically depict the socioeconomic conditions of the Central Alabama Region. The maps produced through this lens reinforce support of local and regional community and economic development initiatives predominately through substantiating local needs described in grant applications.
GIS has also played a pivotal role in substantially increasing the Region’s participation in key activities surrounding the upcoming 2020 Census. In 2017, the entire Region had 100% participation in the Census Bureau’s LUCA (Local Update of Census Addresses Operation) initiative, the first step in ensuring better accuracy of local population counts. This effort was largely possible through the staff’s knowledge of multiple response outlets, QGIS software being the most utilized response method. CARPDC will continue to support the Region through the upcoming phases leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020.
What is Safe Routes to School?
Safe Routes to School is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The program has been designed to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools. Safe Routes to School can also play a critical role in reversing the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity.
There are important reasons to consider participation in a Safe Routes to School program at your school:
• Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. 1
• Overweight or obese children are 70% more likely to develop diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis, all of which directly impact length and quality of life. 2
• In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school, and 87% of the children living within one mile of school walked or bicycled. 3
• Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. 4
• As much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1 to 17. 5
• Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. 6
How Safe Routes to School Can Work for You
Safe Routes to School can provide another opportunity for children and their parents to exercise by walking or biking. Even if students don’t live within walking distance, parents and schools can utilize resources like alternate drop-off sites and a “walking school bus” to create the opportunity. Schools or parents can contact us and we will help you set it up!
Imagine skipping the long carpool line in the morning and going straight to the opposite end of campus or a nearby church parking lot to park and walk your child to school. Spend those last few minutes together walking, talking and taking action to improve your health.
Instead of providing the example that it’s ok to sit, wait, and move as little as possible in afternoon carpool, show your children and other parents another way. Set the example. Parents can park a few blocks away, or at the designated alternate drop-off site, walk to school and wait for their student. Everyone will be better off for it.
Do you live within a mile or two of school, but are afraid to let your children walk or bike? Let us help you set up a walking school bus today. If we don’t teach our children that physical activity is essential to a healthy life, obesity rates will continue to rise, social and emotional wellbeing will continue to fall, and all while there was something we could do about it.
If you already let your student walk or bike to school, thank you! You have made a great decision that will positively influence their habits and health for the rest of their life, and they will be more mature and independent because you trust them to walk or bike. If you want help gaining access to resources to help you make this healthy lifestyle change, contact us today!
International Walk to School Day
International Walk to School Day is held annually around the world on the first Wednesday in October. (It’s observed on the second Wednesday when the first is on the first day of the month.) CARPDC and River Region Health Czar Michael Briddell encourage schools in our area to plan International Walk to School Day events. Please contact us for technical assistance in planning your event, and to find out more about who’s walking, as well as view other guides and resources, visit http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/
Your walk to school day event may be done in any of the following formats:
General Walk to School- Encourage students that live within a reasonable distance to walk or bike to school.
Alternate Drop-Off Sites- In situations where a majority of students are bused or driven because they live far away, finding an alternative drop-off location is a great idea. Private vehicles can stop a few blocks away from the school in a parking lot that has safe sidewalks connecting to the school. Parents can escort their students to school to assure that they arrive safely. Examples of alternative drop-off locations are: shopping centers, community centers, parks, and places of worship.
Walking School Bus- A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. If that sounds simple, it is, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school, to as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.
Parents often cite safety issues as one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk to school. Providing adult supervision may help reduce those worries for families who live within walking or bicycling distance to school.