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Umatilla downtown plan captures national award

Umatilla Together has won the 2018 American Institute of Certified Planners Student Project Award.
Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on March 6, 2018 6:11PM

Clockwise from top left: Nate Miller, Laura Voss, Amber Ayers, Sam Roberts, Belen Herrera, and Carlos Callava were members of the student team from Portland State University who won a2018 American Institute of Certified Planners Student Project Award for their work in Umatilla.

Clockwise from top left: Nate Miller, Laura Voss, Amber Ayers, Sam Roberts, Belen Herrera, and Carlos Callava were members of the student team from Portland State University who won a2018 American Institute of Certified Planners Student Project Award for their work in Umatilla.


Umatilla’s downtown framework plan is now a national award-winner.

The plan, titled Umatilla Together and available on the city’s website in both English and Spanish, was put together by Portland State University students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. It won the 2018 American Institute of Certified Planners Student Project Award.

“It’s just really exciting to have that group recognized,” said Tamra Mabbott, community development director for Umatilla.

She said the other award-winners for the year were from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She plans to go down to the National Planning Conference in New Orleans on April 24 when the students officially receive their award.

The Umatilla Together framework was put together in 2017 by students Amber Ayers, Laura Voss, Nate Miller, Samuel Roberts, Carlose Callava and Belen Herrera. They made multiple trips from Portland to Umatilla to engage with citizens, business leaders, city staff and elected officials during meetings, focus groups, mixers and a community open house.

The resulting document outlined suggestions for the revitalizing Umatilla’s downtown core and increasing the community’s livability. Since being hired in the city’s brand-new community development director position, Mabbott said much of her work has revolved around working to implement those suggestions, such as identifying gaps in the community’s network of trails and searching for funding to connect those trails. Councilors and other city staff are also using the plan as a framework.

“The credit goes to the students, who engaged people over and over again,” she said.

When Sen. Bill Hansell of Athena visited Umatilla on Feb. 1 to meet with city councilors and tour city projects, Mabbott said the Umatilla Together plan was shared with him too, and he told them he was impressed with where the city was headed.

In a news release from PSU, planning student Amber Ayers said it feels “impossible to capture the depth of our appreciation” for the city of Umatilla and others who made the project and the resulting award possible.

“This is not an award just for us, but for the entire city of Umatilla,” Ayers said. “The community members of Umatilla provided guidance, enthusiasm and devotion. We sincerely feel we lucked out having the opportunity of work with a city and a community as rich as Umatilla.”

The students also won a statewide award for the project in the fall from the Oregon chapter of the American Planning Association.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.



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