Peoria kicks off spring semester at City Hall

On February 5th, 2020 ASU students, faculty, and city staff met at Peoria City Hall for the spring 2020 kickoff event with Project Cities. In the Council Chambers, Erick Strunk, Deputy City Manager, opened the occasion with a warm welcome and stressed the great value the students’ work promises to bring the city. Jay Davies, Chief of Staff at the City Manager’s office, took over from there, with his memorable Peoria Trivia game, full of unique and unexpected factoids about the area, and questions to test the students on their knowledge of the city’s population, demographics, urban development plans and more. Right as the students were getting ready for group photos, City Manager, Jeff Tyne made a surprise appearance to introduce himself briefly, and thank the students personally for their hard work.

After the opening session, each project group split into breakouts to meet with stakeholders, to field initial questions to staff, and discuss how their endeavors could benefit the City.

Sustainability Plan Review

The SOS 321: Policy and Governance for Sustainable Systems team, taught by Candice Carr Kelman conducted an initial Q&A with Daniel Kiel, Sustainability Manager and. They conferred about Peoria’s Sustainability Plan, how it has evolved since its beginning and propose ideas for what aspects need to be revised and improved.

Water Conservation and Drought Contingency Planning

This project includes two classes, each addressing a different angle of the challenge of water conservation. Students in ERM 598: Water Resource Management with Larry Olson will develop technical guidance around trigger points and a capstone student with STC 593: Applied Project, advised by Majia Nadesan will develop messaging strategies for communicating conservation to the public. The groups met with Cape Powers, Director of Water Services and Jen Stein, Director of Communication, respectively.

Transit Circulator Best Practices

PUP 598: Transportation and Land Use Planning, taught by David King, is preparing to assess Peoria’s POGO circulator program to identify opportunities to improve. The students met with Cathy Colbath, Transit Manager and Kevin Burke, Public Works Director for Peoria, to take an exclusive sneak peek at the city’s new autonomous shuttle, and discuss the POGO program’s needs.

Skunk Creek Recreation Corridor

Students in FSE 104/404: EPICS Gold met with their Project Lead, Scott Whyte, the Real Estate Development Officer for Peoria. Along with their instructor Joshua Loughman the students are conducting a feasibility assessment for potential recreation and walkability developments alon Skunk Creek, a floodplain and wash that connects major housing and entertainment centers in Peoria.

Students embark on applied learning experience with Peoria

Students on Peoria project

During a closing session over pizza and salad, students participated in a large group debrief, discussing memorable moments from the day and key takeaways. Multiple students were stunned at the complications with real-world application of the theories they discussed in class. One noted that the day gave them a much better understanding of the challenge they would address in the coming semester. With the sun setting, our kickoff drawing to a close, and the students sliding into a post-pizza food coma, students reflected on the experience of the day as they boarded the bus back to campus.