Palm Beach Post: 7 Southeast Florida counties plan for stronger future

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By Dennis Glade
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

DELRAY BEACH — 50 years might seem like a long time to most people, but not to Victor Dover. Dover, a principal at the Coral Gables urban design firm Dover, Kohl & Partners, is a part of the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership, a collaboration of more than 200 public, private and civic stakeholders in seven Southeast Florida counties that have committed to the Seven50 plan.

The plan is a series of public summits, the first of which took place Wednesday at the Cultural Arts Center in Delray Beach, that will be held to develop a 50-year blueprint for better communities with a cleaner environment and a stronger economy in the seven counties — Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Indian River.

Dover understands that planning for what the region should be 50 years from now seems like a lifetime, but he thinks the time frame is exactly what is needed. Dover said the fact that he was conceived 50 years ago and is still evolving gives him confidence that this is the right timeline.

“Rome was not built in a day,” Dover said. “Fifty years, that’s the blink of an eye in architectural time.”

Marcela Camblor-Cutsaimanis, SFRP project director, sees the Seven50 plan as different from other community revitilization plans because each community will be able to say what it wants from the plan.

“Seven50 is a vision, but it’s also an investment plan for growing a more prosperous and desirable Southeast Florida,” Camblor-Cutsaimanis said. “We want to make sure Seven50 incorporates everything that is relevant to the region.”

With four summits planned over the next 20 months in order to finalize the key seven princples of the plan, James Murley, executive director of the South Florida Regional Planning Council, said new technology will be key in hearing from Southeast Florida residents in the time between the summits about their concerns and opinions.

“Ten years ago we would not have been able to focus on feedback,” Murley said. “We have communication techniques today that when I first started in this business we would have been just writing on our yellow writing pads. The new technology is important, because we are bringing people together and this way we’ll be able to maintain it.”

Among the companies that will be a part of the plan in Southeast Florida are Dover, Kohl & Partners, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company and Emerge Consulting.

As Seven50 moves past 2012 and looks towards 2062, Dover thinks the surface hasn’t even been scratched of what his group can accomplish.

“A plan is a tool for establishing confidence and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Dover said. “If we have a plan that says this is what we’re trying to do then everybody that invests knows that their little action fits into the bigger picture that we’re trying to build.”

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