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Posted on October 4, 2017 at 4:30 PM by Michael Stokes
The Montgomery County Planning Commission has been showcasing great design in the county through an annual awards program for the past 50 years. Since 1967, we have bestowed nearly 200 awards for notable development projects. The winning projects contain: single family detached housing, apartments, condominiums, townhouses, hospitals, retail shopping centers, manufactured housing developments, road improvements, an innovative sewage treatment plant, conservation subdivisions, main street revitalization, a community garden, office buildings, corporate research campuses, schools, parks, plazas, flood control structures, college campuses, naturalized spaces, trails, municipal buildings, playgrounds, historic site restoration, golf courses, a church, mixed use developments, industrial sites, and much more. Over the past three weekends I have pedaled some serious miles on my bike visiting each of the past award winners to experience them and to see how they have held up over time. The good news is that nearly all appeared to be in great shape, with several getting even better due to the maturing of their landscaping and other improvements made to them. But the years had not been kind to a small number of them. Some of the previous award winners have been replaced with newer facilities. Here are some of my impressions of a few of the former award winners:
Ursinus College did a fantastic job redeveloping several beautiful houses on Main Street in Collegeville into dorms. Parking, trails and cool spaces with art work connect the houses through the back yards. Well deserving of the award they received in 1986.
Willowmere is a very popular place to live in Lower Gwynedd Township. Art Loeben, former Montgomery County Planning Commission Director, lived here for many years and loved all aspects of it. The colonial style architecture and natural setting make it a very quiet and scenic neighborhood. Well worthy of its award in 1982.
Children and their parents are attracted to the Pottstown Town Center Plaza an award winner in 2004. Public spaces that promote happiness and social interaction succeed.
Lower Merion Township always does things in a big way. Their successful approach to the development of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail was nothing short of that. Great trail, or rather for much of it's length- trails. For obvious reasons it was an award winner in 2012.
Einstein Hospital in East Norriton Township provides a well designed naturalized setting for a major medical institution. It complements the adjoining Norristown Farm Park and provides a tranquil setting for patients and visitors. It was given an award for its campus in 2016.
East Greenville in the far northwestern corner of the county supports an attractively revitalized Main Street business area anchored by the historic Grand Theater. The borough received an award in 2011 for the Main Street streetscape enhancement and Grand Theater restoration.
Lower Salford Township, which began their trail system nearly 40 years ago, successfully demonstrated to the rest of the county how to make their residents happy. Now all our municipalities are trying to catch up. For their leadership and excellence in the design of their trail network, Lower Salford Township received an award in 1990.
It is not easy taking an old industrial building and turning it into a successful development. When it is done well, it is a great asset to the local community as demonstrated by the Boiler House in Ambler Borough. This successful redevelopment project was given an award in 2013
The Jenkintown Town Plaza may not be a large public park, but it sure can be a dynamic and lively space during the very popular Jenkintown Arts Festival and other events. The Jenkintown Square received an award from the Montgomery County Planning Commission in 2003.
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