TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s 27th annual Future of the Region Awards honored 20 public and private sector winners for their notable achievements in resource planning and management in Tampa Bay on April 26.

The Herman W. Goldner Award for Regional Leadership, named for the founding father of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, was presented to longtime elected official Victor Crist of Tampa, for the spirit of regional cooperation he has shown in his work for decades.

The Future of the Region Awards’ other top honor, the prestigious One Bay McIntosh Award, was given to Tom and Mary James, Harvard Jolly Architecture, Yann Weymouth and Wannemacher Jensen Architects for the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, 150 Central Ave, St. Petersburg.

The James’ created the museum so they could share their extensive collection of western and wildlife art with the community and all who visit.

As the project’s architects, Harvard Jolly led by design director Weymouth, transformed a vacant office building into a 81,000-square-foot museum. Weymouth previously designed the Dali Museum and the Hazel Hough Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts.

As an example of the innovative design thinking involved in the James Museum, the lobby was designed to resemble a canyon, complete with 120-foot-tall sandstone and a waterfall. Since its opening last year, the James Museum has significantly added to the reputation of the city of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area as a world-class destination for the arts.

The following are other award winners in the different categories from Pinellas:

Built environment

• Capitol Theatre: The city of Clearwater, which owns the theater, and Ruth Eckerd Hall each financed half of the historic downtown landmark’s $10 million renovation in 2013. Since then, the 737-seat gem has bolstered tourism and economic development and was ranked the world’s 15th best venue with 800 or fewer seats by Pollstar magazine in 2018.

• The Seminole City Center, developed by NADG/Primerica Group One, opened in 2017, transformed a once-struggling shopping center into a thriving hub of commerce and community gatherings. Along with stores and restaurants, the 424,000-square-foot mixed use center includes play areas, green space and trellised walkways.

Community preparedness and resiliency

• USF-Dunedin Community partnership: Dunedin’s Community Sustainability Partnership with the University of South Florida utilized the university’s students, faculty and research capabilities to address important planning issues within the city. The students provided data-driven recommendations at a fraction of the cost of a private consultant.

• Pinellas County Sea Level Rise Planning Tool: The planning tool is a step-by-step approach for considering sea level rise and storm surge-related vulnerability and risk for capital plans and projects. A GIS viewer was constructed for consultants and local jurisdictions to use so they can visualize at-risk infrastructure as they make decisions.

Community service

• LiveWell Dunedin, an initiative promoting better health created by Dunedin’s Parks & Recreation department last year, has been well received by many of the town’s 35,000 residents. LiveWell Dunedin focuses on more than weight loss. It encourages people to get moving, find emotional peace, connect socially and eat better. The city promoted snack guides, exercise classes, camps and clubs through many avenues including its Facebook page, which has 21,000 followers.

• Largo’s Library in Your Neighborhood Bookmobile issued 158 library cards, welcomed 509 visitors and checked out 953 items in the first few weeks after it opened last year. The Greater Largo Library Foundation raised $675,000 for the vehicle, materials and five years of operating costs. It regularly visits recreation centers, community centers and assisted living facilities.

• Move Safe Pinellas is a social media campaign created by Pinellas Public Works aimed at keeping bicyclists and pedestrians safer. Along with disseminating videos about safety, the program distributes bike helmets and makes sure they fit right, gives out bike lights and spreads the word through Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and the Great American Teach-in.

Natural environment

• Safety Harbor Waterfront Park: The City of Safety Harbor’s 13-acre Waterfront Park has been revived with the creation of a preservation area, restored critical habitats and protection of ecologically sensitive areas throughout the wetland portion. The park was previously deteriorating with the accumulation of debris and overgrowth.

• Old Tampa Bay Water Quality Improvement Project: The Florida Department of Transportation embarked on a series of projects to test improving water quality in Old Tampa Bay. A portion of the Courtney Campbell Causeway is being replaced to benefit sea grass resources and restore tidal circulation.

Transportation and mobility

• St. Petersburg’s Cross Bay Ferry has been extremely successful, carrying close to 23,000 passengers on a direct route between St. Petersburg and Tampa in the December 2018-January 2019 timeframe alone. This new option for regional transportation has surpassed expectations and is often booked days in advance on the weekends.

About the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council

Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council works with 27 west-central Florida municipalities to assist the municipalities as they make long-range plans related to the future of the Tampa Bay region.