Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Urban and Regional Planning master’s degree student, Ahnna Nanoski, recently traveled to the State Capitol in Des Moines for Hawkeye Caucus Day. The day is set aside annually for the University of Iowa to show legislators projects students are working on which benefit communities in the state. She attended with Nick Benson and Travis Kraus, alums and Program Director and Assistant Director, respectively, for the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC) at UI. Two law students involved in another aspect of one of the IISC projects, looking at decreasing blighted properties and increase affordable housing in Eastern Iowa, also attended.

All Urban and Regional Planning students at the University of Iowa complete a capstone project that assists a community or area facing a planning problem. This year several projects are assisting East Central Intergovernmental Association in addressing Eastern Iowa’s shortage of affordable housing, redeveloping abandoned and blighted properties, including brownfields, and ensuring that community planning and development are driven by the vision of local stakeholders and not external developers. Nanoski is working on a team with fellow student Karl Mueller to assist Cedar County in applying for an Iowa Great Places designation. Projects in the vision plan could be related to the following categories mentioned in the Iowa Great Places program guidelines: Arts and Culture; Historic Fabric; Architecture; Natural Environment; Housing Options; Amenities: Entrepreneurial Incentives for Business Development; and Diversity. 

While at Hawkeye Caucus Day the group was able to share information about their project, along with other departments working with IISC and the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement. They additionally had an opportunity to speak directly with the community development manager for the Iowa Arts Council within the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Their conversation included information about what a typical Iowa Great Places plan contains, the process for grant funding and the approval process, all of which reaffirmed the graduate students final report will greatly benefit Cedar County.

Pictured left to right: Ahnna Nanoski (URP), Brandon Pezley (Law) and Evan McCarthy (Law)