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MURP Students Offer Real Solutions to Real Challenges

Laura Howell accepts congratulations from Meghan Gough, Ph.D., chair of the Urban and Regional Studies/Planning program, in front of her project poster.
Laura Howell accepts congratulations from Meghan Gough, Ph.D., chair of the Urban and Regional Studies/Planning program, in front of her project poster.

By Pamela Stallsmith

Michelle Portier's graphical explanation of her project won the poster competition.

Laura Howell, a student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, won this year’s Plan-Off! competition for her proposal about promoting heritage tourism in Henrico County.

Howell was among 13 MURP students who participated in the fifth annual Plan-Off! contest, held on April 29 in the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s Virginia Housing Center.

Michelle Portier won the poster competition for her project, “TOD Neighborhood Plan and Retrofit of Willow Lawn Shopping Center.”

During the event, students pitched their solution to a real-world planning, public policy or management problem before a panel of expert judges. Each student had three minutes to present his or her proposal, which went through a series of rounds before Howell was declared the winner.

“The Plan-Off is important because it demonstrates the great work that the planning students do in terms of service to the community,” said J. Michael Hawkins, Ph.D., managing director of community outreach at VHDA, which cosponsored the event. “We consider the Wilder School to be a critical community partner in helping to advance our affordable housing mission.”

In addition to Howell and Portier, this year’s contenders and their projects were:

  • Colin Burch, Mid-Range Service Extension Plan: Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) Transit System
  • Myles Busching, A Transect-Based, Incremental Approach to the Charles City County Courthouse Villiage
  • Emily DelRoss, Bus Stop Evaluation Process: A Systematic Analysis of the ADA Compliance and Overall Quality of the Bus Stops in GRTC Transit System’s Service Area
  • Wendy Fewster, Power Down Downtown
  • Jon Howard, Measuring the Virginia Capital Trail: A Guide for VDOT’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Counting Program
  • Alex Kuttesch, EnergizeRVA, A Plan for Implementation
  • Louis Pancotti, Southern Gateway Redevelopment Phase 1, Stafford, VA
  • Jamie Pham, RVA Neighborhood Byway Plan
  • Will Sanford, Urban Alleys as Green Infrastructure
  • Bret Schardein, Residential Development Study and Model Subdivision Ordinance, King William County, VA
  • Allison Wishon, Reedy Creek Greenway Plan

Faculty, students and guests view the posters in between rounds.