Des Moines Real Estate Developer Rick Tollakson Receives Prestigious National Planning Award
Tollakson honored for advancing the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan
CHICAGO –Real estate developer Rick Tollakson will receive the American Planning Association’s (APA) 2018 National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate for his advocacy efforts to improve the Greater Des Moines region’s waterways. Tollakson saw opportunity to create a 150-mile network of rivers and creeks as a nature haven and recreational corridors to help spur economic development.
The National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate honors an individual, appointed or elected official who has advanced or promoted the cause of planning in the public arena. Award recipients have demonstrated through their work a clear understanding of the planning process to create communities of lasting value.
“One of the smartest moves we ever made was asking Rick to chair the Water Trails Steering Committee,” said Todd Ashby, executive director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which developed the plan with Rick’s guidance. “Because of his leadership, we are years ahead of where we otherwise would have been.”
To bolster support for the Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan, Tollakson become champion for the waterways. He used his real estate and economic development experience to -educate local businesses and government officials on how the waterways could be instrumental to the economic growth of the region and state.
He engaged city officials, residents and community leaders in supporting the plan. He shared his commitment to developing the waterways through guest editorials, took elected officials on paddling trips to see the potential of the region’s waterways first-han,d and led tours to several Iowa communities – as well as daytrips to Boise, Idaho, and Columbus, Georgia – that had converted low-head dams into whitewater tourist destinations.
With Tollakson’s leadership, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization raised $500,000 through a public-private partnership to pay for the Water Trails Engineering Study, with contributions from several civic groups and foundations. With his enthusiastic support and business connections, the steering committee was able to advance the master plan and begin turning Tollakson’s vision into reality. Using his voice and a paddle, Tollakson showed that he was a passionate champion for the environment and a strong advocate for good planning.
Tollakson is the President and CEO of Hubbell Realty Company, a real estate development company in Des Moines. He will receive his National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate at APA’s National Planning Conference during a special awards luncheon on Monday, April 23, 2018 in New Orleans.
“Rick is a true advocate, working tirelessly for the betterment of his community, today and for future generations,” said W. Shedrick Coleman, AIA, chair of the 2018 Awards Jury.
APA’s national awards program – the program’s highest honor – is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.
This year’s five excellence and 20 achievement recipients will be recognized at a special luncheon during APA’s National Planning Conference in New Orleans on Monday, April 23, 2018. Award recipients also will be featured in the April issue of Planning magazine.
For a complete list of the APA’s 2018 National Planning and Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards/.
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The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides vital leadership in creating communities of lasting value. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the professional of planning, offering better choices for where and how people work and live. The 38,000 APA members work in concert with community residents, civic leaders and business interests to create communities that enrich people’s lives. Through its philanthropic work, APA’s Foundation helps to reduce economic and social barriers to good planning. APA has offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Learn more at www.planning.org.
The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) acts as a regional forum to ensure coordination between the public and local, state, and federal agencies in regard to planning issues and to prepare transportation plans and programs. The MPO develops both long- and short-range multimodal transportation plans, selects and approves projects for federal funding based upon regional priorities, and develops methods to reduce traffic congestion.