City + Citizen News

City Council approves contract to develop neighborhood transformation plan for Highland

Tuesday, March 26

Year-long neighborhood master plan process will create holistic blueprint for community's future


It's the culmination of a process that brought together neighborhood leaders, City officials, and community stakeholders of all sizes, and after City Council's 6-0 vote on Monday (Council member Jamie Fulmer was absent from the meeting), one of Spartanburg's most challenging areas of concentrated poverty can begin to plan for its renewal. APD Urban Planning and Management out of Atlanta was awarded a $186,006 contract to create the Highland Master Plan, which is expected to take around 12 months to complete. City funding for the plan comes to $76,006, with $26,006 of that coming fom Federal Community Block Development Grant funding.


Heavy on community involvement and engagement, the process will take a look at Highland as a whole, both its assets and its challenges, ultimately creating a blueprint for everything from housing, public spaces, and transportation, to education at all levels and job training programs. For more on the Highland master planning process, listen to our podcast with City Neighborhood Services Director Martin Livingston and City Planner Natalia Rosario, and to learn more about Highland and its residents'  perspectives on the master planning process, listen to our two-part conversation with community leaders and stakeholders. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.


Also at Monday night's meeting, City Council heard an overview of a proposed continuum of supports for City families designed to significantly improve child wellbeing, boost future prosperity, and provide quantifiable financial benefits to the community well in excess of its cost. The concept, called Hello Family, would bring a number of existing services in the City under one umbrella in order to and link their efforts and produce verifiable results by focusing on early intervention strategies. Based on the work of James J. Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who found that investing in programs targeted at the earliest years of life yield the most lasting and cost-effective results, Hello Family seeks to improve birth outcomes, reduce child abuse and neglect, and improve kindergarten readiness throughout the City of Spartanburg.


In all, Hello Family is expected to cost around $8 million over 10 years, much of which would need to come through a private fundraising campaign, and federal funding that could support the program must be sought by May 22. No action on Hello Family was requested at Monday's meeting.


For more from the City Council meeting, see our full video and roundup of live tweets below.