College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs’ project studio class won the 2017 Texas American Planning Association Midwest Section Student Award for their Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan for the city of Kennedale.
The master plan’s purpose is to assess the state of Kennedale’s parks, recreation and open space system, according to the project’s nomination submission. It also determines needs and deficiencies and provides goals and priorities for improving the system to achieve the city’s motto, “You’re here, your home.”
Located just southwest of Arlington, Kennedale’s growing population and economy also meant meeting the needs of new residents and businesses.
Jim Parajon , planning and landscape adjunct professor, said he was approached by Kennedale’s city manager Bob Hart with needed updates to the city’s park master plan.
Parajon said he’s incredibly proud of his students’ hard work.
“It’s an affirmation that students at UTA are top quality,” said Parajon, Arlington deputy city manager for economic development and capital investment.
The class submitted their master plan to the Texas chapter of American Planning Association, a nonprofit public interest and research organization representing practicing planners, officials and citizens involved with urban and rural planning issues.
The Kennedale Parks and Recreation board approved the proposed plan April 6 and Kennedale City Council adopted the master plan June 27.
Athena Seaton, city and regional planning graduate student, led the class. She was able to assign classmates different tasks based on their specialties, because she’s had classes with them before, she said.
The class had three projects in total, she said. The Kennedale project involved the whole class, compared to the other two, where they were divided into smaller groups, she said.
“Not only do we have 12 people in our class, so now [I] was managing 12 people, but also you only have time frame of five weeks,” Seaton said.
Seaton said she worked with a good team and is pleased with their work.
The project also included the in-class discussions with the park's board members, the mayor, the city manager and the planner about Kennedale’s needs, she said.
Seaton said Parajon guided the class by providing support, answering questions the class had, and sharing additional ideas.
Considering the class only had five weeks to work on the master plan, Somayeh Moazzeni, urban planning and public policy doctoral student, said Seaton’s past experience in planning was helpful and a good guidance for the whole class.
Moazzeni said she was only aware of her part and hasn’t seen what the rest of the class had done. It was exciting to see the finished project, Moazzeni said.
“I didn’t really, myself, expect that much of good quality out of the five weeks,” she said.
After her experience, Moazzeni said she would like the university to offer similar classes that pursue community-based projects for students to get involved.
Moazzeni said working on such projects is beneficial for both students and the community. Students are able to experience their future professions and networking opportunities and to potentially land jobs in the future, she said.
The project was free of charge, which helped Kennedale financially, she said.