Serving DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and Polk Counties

Newsletter 2014 Fall

40th Anniversary

Pat Steed, Executive Director and Pat Huff, Council Chairman cut the 40th Anniversary Cake

Pat Steed, Executive Director and Pat Huff, Council Chairman cut the 40th Anniversary Cake

Having been created in July of 1974, the Central Florida Regional Planning Council recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.  With appreciation for the wide variety of planning, economic development, emergency preparedness, intergovernmental activities, community visioning, and other planning advisory services provided to all five counties and 25 cities within the region, the Board of County Commissioners for each county read proclamations establishing 2014 as the 40th Anniversary of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council.  Additionally, a reception was held at the Central Florida Regional Planning Council office in Bartow.  On September 10th, 2014, current and past Council members, City and County staff and officials, CFRPC staff, and friends gathered to celebrate our 40th Anniversary.  Many memories were shared and the four decades of service to the region was celebrated.

CFRPC 40th Anniversary Council Meeting

CFRPC 40th Anniversary Council Meeting

Award Winning Projects

NADO 2014 People’s Choice Photo Award

The National Association of Development Organizations awarded the 2014 People’s Choice Photo Award to a photo taken by staff of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council.

2014 NADO Photo Contest - People's Choice Winner - Auburndale

2014 NADO Photo Contest – People’s Choice Winner – Auburndale

The photo captures Downtown Auburndale as it is once again bustling and filled with the sounds of children’s laughter and busy cash registers  while families are seen strolling in downtown before dining in local restaurants at night and on weekends. The City with funding through the Community Redevelopment Agency took underutilized public lands and right of way next to an active heavy freight rail line and transformed it into a park that is a magnet for children and adults alike. The Central Florida Regional Planning Council works with the City  in planning for its future that also includes the opening of Florida Polytechnic, the new state university dedicated to STEM education, bringing more young adults and professionals seeking activities and services into Auburndale.

American Planning Association – Florida Chapter  – Award of Merit  in the Best Practices Category

The CFRPC and the Shimberg Center for Housing at the University of Florida received the Award of Merit in the Best Practices Category for 2014 from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association. The CFRPC has received Awards of Merit from APA Florida for two consecutive years.   This is the second major statewide award the Affordable Housing Toolkit received in 2014. This toolkit was developed for use in rural and urban counties through a consortium of the CFRPC, UF, and local governments and included coordination with the Heartland 2060 Affordable Housing Working Group. The Affordable Housing Toolkit maybe viewed at

NADO 2014 Innovation Award – Florida Local/Regional Broadband Planning Project

The Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council received the NADO 2014 Innovation Award for the Florida Local/Regional Broadband Planning Project which is the successful completion of two regional comprehensive broadband plans, a Broadband Planning Toolbox, and a Broadband Planning Training Manual.  The broadband plans utilize “one-of-a-kind” GIS models to identify the current needs and future broadband demand for Polk County in central Florida, and the Charlotte/Collier/Lee County region in southwest Florida.  The toolbox and training manual provide all the tools and instruction necessary for a municipality, county, or region to engage in the broadband planning process.  Both Broadband Polk and Broadband Charlotte/Collier/Lee utilized extensive public outreach efforts and actively sought out expertise from a wide variety of key regional representatives to collect data, promote the planning project, form a vision, develop goals and strategies, and identify specific action items to address broadband needs and meet future demand.

The complete broadband plans, PSA’s, and general project overviews can be viewed here and here

NADO 2014 Innovation Award – Heartland 2060

The CFRPC received the NADO 2014 Innovation Award for its work on the Heartland 2060 regional vision.  Over a period of five years, a grass roots effort guided creation of a regional 50-year visioning plan and 5-Year Strategic Action Plan that is data-driven and empowers local leaders to work together to make educated decisions regarding their own future.  Hundreds of engaged stakeholders, subject area experts, local and regional leaders worked with a Leadership Team led by the Central Florida Regional Planning Council.  Partners of the Heartland 2060 Consortium have committed to complete a regional vision for the Heartland communities of interior Florida which will support the Strategic Regional Policy Plan and public and private investment decisions.  The Heartland 2060 Building a Resilient Region guides local decision makers in coordinating regionally in areas such as housing, economic development, environmental protection, access to education and employment, and quality of life issues in all communities of the region.

This multi-year initiative included six major work activities:

  1. Development of a the Heartland 2060:  Building a Resilient Region plan, based on outcomes generated during alternative future scenario modeling, supporting the Heartland 2060 Vision.
  2. Development of a “Housing Toolkit”, including an Affordable Parcel Inventory, Housing Suitability Model, and GIS Inventory.
  3. Completion of a regional Energy Baseline and Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
  4. Development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the region.
  5. Development and utilization of an Environmental and Natural Resources Database (GIS) for incorporation into the alternative future scenario modeling.
  6. Development of a web-based Five-Year Strategic Action Plan.

This work effort may be viewed at

American Planning Association – Florida Conference

Staff from the CFRPC served as panelists at the 2014 American Planning Association Florida Conference held in Jacksonville.  The conference began on Wednesday, September 3 and concluded on Saturday, September 6.  The CFRPC participated in the following sessions.

Affordable Housing Toolkit:

This conference session provided an overview of three innovative tools developed to address affordable housing including the Housing Suitability Model, the Affordable Parcel Inventory, and the Fair Housing Equity Assessment.  Panelists included:  Bill O’Dell, Director of the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida; Becky-Sue Mercer, Executive Director of the Arcadia Housing Authority; Kevin Denny, Director of Planning and Development for Hardee County; and Jennifer Codo-Salisbury, Planning Director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council.

Florida’s Future Corridors:  Linking Land Use, the Environment, and Transportation on a Large Scale:

This conference session provided the status of the East Central Florida Corridor Task Force and other  future Florida transportation corridors.  Panelists included:  Patricia M. Steed, Executive Director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, moderator; Jim Wood, Director of the Office of Policy Planning for the Florida Department of Transportation; Ana Richmond, Chief of the Bureau of Community Planning of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; and John Kaliski, Project Manager and Principal of Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

Broadband Planning – Tools and Training:

This conference session explored the importance and components of comprehensive broadband planning including two broadband planning case studies, a Broadband Planning Toolbox and Training Manual, and a demand model developed by the Central Florida, Southwest Florida and Tampa Bay Regional Planning Councils.  Panelists included:   Brady Smith, Principal Planner of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council; Jennifer Pellechio, Deputy Director/Grants Manager of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council; and Eric Labbe, Program Manager of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council.

Florida Trend Features Avon Park Air Force Range

Florida Trend’s September 2014 cover story featured the Avon Park Air Force Range.  Covering the history of the range from its creation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, through the development of its specialty, close air support training during the Vietnam War, to the present, the article describes the role the Range plays in maintaining combat-ready military and well prepared civilian security forces. The Range’s remote location, combined with realistic targets for air to ground bombing practice and mock villages for ground force combat training provide authentic practice environments for units leaving for active duty.

The role of the Air Force in protecting the ridge, scrub, flatlands and prairie habitats, and the threatened and endangered species that need this habitat for their survival is also explored; as is the cultural resources program to protect the sites where early humans lived on Range lands. One site shows signs of 7,000 years of human habitation, reports the range’s archeologist, Kathy Couturier.

The article focused on the importance of the Range as a “national asset” and the need to protect this unique training environment from nearby incompatible uses that might limit its training activities or even its future existence.

According to Florida Trend, “Avon Park’s uniqueness may be its best hope for continuing.  ‘There’s no room in the United States to create another installation like this…’ [Range Director of Operations Charles] MacLaughlin says. ‘… If this range goes away, it doesn’t get built somewhere else.’”

CFRPC continues to work in collaboration with the Department of Defense, the Air Force, state governments and local governments to protect the mission of the Avon Park Air Force Range.

2014-2015 DEO Community Planning Technical Assistance Grants

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has awarded Community Planning Technical Assistance Grants to the following jurisdictions in the region.  Grants were awarded for projects within rural communities, projects promoting economic development and projects that provide innovative planning that may be replicated by others.

  • Bartow
  • Bowling Green
  • Haines City
  • Highlands County
  • Lake Placid
  • Mulberry
  • Polk County
  • Winter Haven