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Enhancing the Resilience of the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station Area in Dallas, Texas

I led an Urban Land Institute (ULI) virtual Advisory Services Panel on enhancing the resilience and revitalization of the area around the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station in Dallas, Texas from August 10-12, 2020. The area was heavily impacted by the EF3 tornado that touched down in October of 2019, which is being compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the community and economy. The City of Dallas, the panel sponsor in partnership with the JP Morgan Chase & Co. Resilient Land Use Cohort (RLUC), asked us to make recommendations related to:

  • The policy and regulatory adjustments that should be considered to impact localized investments and broaden the types of small and minority-and-women owned business enterprises in the study area;
  • Policy, planning and design opportunities to reduce resident vulnerability to extreme heat and other extreme weather;
  • The types of infrastructure investments that would make multi-modal transport easier and more frequented by the area’s residents and workers;
  • Design types and infrastructure needed to attract and sustain a growing population of mixed-income residents while ensuring climate resilience and environmental justice; and
  • Which stakeholders and organizations need to be brought together to impact the physical environment, economic growth and quality of life for residents and workers.
Our ULI virtual Advisory Services Panel and staff.

After reviewing the briefing materials, doing research on the site and its challenges and opportunities, remotely touring the site via a drone, and speaking with a variety of community members, businesses, and decision-makers, the panel deliberated potential paths forward for the area. A central approach we discussed was to ensure that our recommendations not only reduce vulnerability, but also strengthen the area’s environmental performance, economic opportunities, and social equity. Based on our discussions, several key themes emerged including the importance of keeping an authentic sense of place, addressing safety issues and perceptions, strengthening a sense of community, enhancing connectivity, becoming more green and resilient, providing living and transportation options, and taking advantage of current opportunities now.

Our panel’s recommended next steps were to:

  • Coordinate and support the existing group of champions,
  • Engage social services and providers to help the most at-risk individuals,
  • Activate the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station parking lot,
  • Install bilingual wayfinding,
  • Identify and publicize a safe an accessible resilience hub, and
  • Explore development financing tools to leverage current opportunities.

The slides and full video presentation of our panel’s recommendations are available on the ULI website.

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Vitalyst Spark Podcast on Heat, Health, and COVID-19

I enjoyed being part of an interesting conversation on extreme heat, health, and COVID-19 with my colleagues Dave Hondula, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, and Vjollca Berisha, Senior Epidemiologist at Maricopa County Department of Public Health, for the Vitalyst Health Foundation’s Spark podcast. We discussed the causes of extreme heat, how it impacts vulnerable populations, and what research and practice tells us about the current challenges and opportunities in increasing our communities’ resilience to it.

The full episode is available to listen to now.

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Masterclass: Innovations in heat planning research and practice

As part of the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN)‘s virtual forum this summer, I organized a masterclass on urban planning and governance for heat-health for June 16, 2020. With Roop Singh moderating, myself, Sara Meerow, Dave Hondula, and Ryan Winkle presented on the current state and innovations in urban planning, design and governance for extreme heat with examples from our research and community projects.

The first two lectures by myself and Sara Meerow, PhD, include:

Innovations in Heat Planning Research and Planning – Part A, presented by Ladd Keith, PhD
Innovations in Heat Planning Research and Planning – Part B, presented by Sara Meerow, PhD

The full masterclass recordings, resources mentioned during the presentations, and Q&A on the GHHIN website.