January 26, 2023 | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The East Central Florida Diamond Awards sees an inaugural class of six noteworthy projects that highlight the best regional planning efforts from across the region
LAKE MARY, FL — After a more than two-decade hiatus, the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) revived the tradition of recognizing exemplary planning efforts across the region with the debut of the East Central Florida Diamond Awards. Taking place on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, at the Lake Mary Events Center, the inaugural East Central Florida Diamond Awards celebrated the ECFRPC’s sixtieth anniversary by highlighting some exceptional projects realized in recent years.
“As the ECFRPC wraps up our 60th year, we could not imagine a better way to celebrate our anniversary than by honoring the projects, plans, and people who make this region a great place to call home now and for future generations. Back in 2007, we started the journey to create a vision for east central Florida that takes the pressure off our countryside and conservation areas and facilitates land uses and multimodal options to promote resilient and sustainable development in a responsible manner, and provides for economic generators within the region. The resulting 2050 Regional Vision revolves around the 4 C concept: focus development in City and Urban Centers and Connected Corridors and protect the region’s countryside and conservation areas. The categories for the East Central Florida Diamond Awards were designed around the principles of this regional vision and the regional resilience collaborative,” notes ECFRPC Executive Director Tara McCue. “The Diamond Awards are an excellent way to celebrate those who exemplify the core principles or 4 Cs of the regional vision, showcase the power of collective partnerships, and create community-centered planning and programs while reviving one of our most treasured events.”
This year’s awards saw winners across six categories that align with the goals of the ECFRPC’s 2060 Plan.
Congratulations to the City of Cape Canaveral for winning the Health & Equity Diamond Award for their awesome City of Cape Canaveral Community Center (C5). This project exemplifies efforts around equity, demographics, health, and cross-generational lifestyle improvements! The C5 is a multi-generational, multifunctional facility with a solar array for electricity during outages, as it serves as a resilience hub.
Downtown Orlando's Infinite Zion Farms won the Conservation & Countryside Diamond Award for work the farm has done in preserving open space in one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the nation. The farm is helping provide families in the community access to organic food and helping them grow local. We're excited to bring more attention to this gem just blocks from our downtown office!
The City of Wildwood recently completed its Downtown Wildwood Master Plan. The project, which involved buy-in from residents and state agencies, will help reinvigorate one of Sumter County's largest downtowns. Due to their community-driven restorative planning efforts, the City of Wildwood was recognized with the Innovative Places Diamond Award.
For more than half a century, the community of Marion Oaks has struggled with transit access and development, but the Florida Crossroads Commerce Park will bring hundreds of new jobs and new investments into the community. Marion County's great work garnered a Regional Prosperity Diamond Award.
One project submitted was unique in that it exemplifies true regional effort, and the ECFRPC wanted to make sure their efforts were highlighted. HDR received a Regional Impact Award for their excellent work on Metroplan Orlando’s Health Strategic Plan that ties health and transit together in novel new ways.
The highest honor at the East Central Florida Diamond Awards, the Brilliance Award of Regional Innovation, went to Osceola County for their work with D.R. Horton on developing a water mitigation bank as part of the Twin Oaks Conservation Area. This project helped preserve and restore natural wetlands areas, some of which hadn't seen proper drainage and hydrology in over 125 years!
The ECFRPC and its staff are grateful for the abundance of excellent projects found across our region and look forward to celebrating even more projects at next year’s event.
For more information on the East Central Florida Diamond Awards and the inaugural class of award winners, visit ECFRPC.org/Awards.
About the East Central Florida Diamond Awards
The categories for the inaugural East Central Florida Diamond Awards were;
· Innovative Places focused on Built environment, Placemaking, and Community Planning;
· Health and Equity celebrated efforts around Equity, Demographics, Health, Cross-generational lifestyle improvements;
· Regional Prosperity looked at noteworthy Economic Development, Cross-generational wealth building, and community reinvigoration efforts;
· Conservation and Countryside highlighted Environmental preservation, Rural project, agriculture, and food systems projects;