Given that the Lehigh Valley is home to many higher-education institutions, it’s important to consider the role that these schools have in the broad effort to promote better development practices in this region. This connection is one that has been considered in other regions and states, including Maryland, where public universities have to update their master plan every six years – and it is one that Richard Layman, an urban design consultant based out of Washington, D.C, is examining in-depth. While his latest blog post focuses on public universities, it made me wonder how private institutions can fit into local land design and planning practices.
Here in the Valley, most of the private, four-year universities and colleges are located within the cities, providing the urban revitalization component of sustainable development. Moreover, the city locations allow for a close proximity to local businesses, adding to economic growth within the region (particularly, in the areas that need it the most). And, of course, there is the aspect of greater mobility; because the schools are located in busy corridors, pedestrian access and public transportation are readily available.
The question that remains, then, is: How can the local private universities and colleges have a stronger (and more direct) role in shaping growth patterns in the Lehigh Valley? Should they be required to draft master plans, like some public universities? How else could the local schools contribute to the smart growth movement here in the Lehigh Valley? Post your comments, questions, and thoughts below or shoot us an e-mail.