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Mobile Peninsula Master Plan

Mobile Pennisula Master Plan Studio

Students in the Community Planning and Landscape Architecture programs, working under the direction of Professors Charlene LeBleu and Rebecca Retzlaff, participated in several projects to help prepare a master plan for the Peninsula of Mobile.

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Prof. Retzlaff’s Environmental Policy course students wrote research papers on topics related to the Peninsula, including stormwater management, littering, ecotourism, urban forestry, and urban growth. The class included students from Environmental Design, Forestry, Architecture, and Engineering.

Students from the Community Planning and Environmental Design programs wrote research papers on topics related to land use in the area in Prof. Retzlaff’s Land Use Planning class. Those topics included dredging in the Mobile Bay, historical land use patterns, stormwater management, urban design, and sustainability. Several students also wrote land use plans for the area.

Prof. Retzlaff’s Historic Preservation Planning class wrote historic preservation plans for the Peninsula. Those plans included an overall survey, community character analysis, design guidelines, policy recommendations, and other tools for implementation. Most of the students focused on preserving the overall coastal and marine character of the area, while a few students focused on specific historic places, such as cemeteries or marinas. Josh Cameron, a Community Planning student, wrote a plan to preserve historic shipwrecks in the Mobile Bay and thought that the experience was valuable. “Exploring the preservation of shipwrecks in Alabama was a unique and challenging experience and a relatively new and unexplored frontier for historic preservation. Few states have taken on the challenge of protecting their maritime heritage, but states like Michigan and Florida are exploring unique and creative solutions to protect their maritime heritage. It was a terrific learning experience to explore the history of Alabama's coastlines and discover innovative ways to protect these shipwrecks as resources for archaeological and historical research as well as tourism opportunities for the state,” said Cameron.

Low impact development (LID) design was the focus of Prof. Charlene LeBleu’s landscape architecture LAND 7900 Special Topics class. Students assessed the Dauphin Island Parkway and chose a section for low impact development retrofits that they named “The Miracle Mile.” The students redesigned the intersection of Gulfdale Drive and the Parkway as a village center that would provide much needed neighborhood services as well as mitigate stormwater. Other areas redesigned within the mile included Gilliard Elementary School, and B.C. Rain High School. LID retrofits included permeable paving, bioretention and rain gardens.

All of the classes participated in several field trips to the area. At the beginning of the semester, they toured the area and met with many community members to learn about the issues facing the community. While touring the area, they were caught in a large storm, and were able to witness some of the stormwater management problems firsthand—one of the major problems the community is facing they soon discovered. The community stakeholders arranged an evening banquet so the students could talk with more community members and stakeholders about what they learned on the tour that day.

Later in the semester, community members from the Peninsula of Mobile community group arranged a public meeting at a local high school so that the students could present drafts of their work to local residents and get feedback before finalizing their projects. The Mayor of Mobile, Sandy Stimpson, was in attendance at the meeting to welcome the group and give a speech on the status of the community. Mayor Stimpson also reviewed the student work.

Profs. LeBleu and  Retzlaff are working on synthesizing all of the student work into a publication for the community group in the Peninsula of Mobile to help them work toward a master plan for the community.