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Five Questions For Nick Weander

11 Dec

We wanted to get to know a bit more about what is happening in Sarpy County, so we invited Nick Weander from Olsson Associates to be the guest speaker for our December Coffee Chat, Friday, December 15, 2017 at 8 a.m. at Spielbound, 3229 Harney Street.

Nick is a certified professional transportation planner with experience in local, regional and statewide transportation programs. Mr. Weander has shown to be a problem solver with experience in developing and managing complex, multi-jurisdictional projects and programs. Nick’s proven experience in building relationships and fostering trust between local, state, and federal agencies and the public at large. Nick is a 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and completed his Master of Public Administration at UNO in 2011. Since leaving UNO, Nick has worked for the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and now works as a Senior Planner at Olsson Associates. Current projects of note include the 30th Street Road Diet in Omaha, the Lincoln Transportation Implementation Strategy, and the 180th/192nd Street Grade and Alignment Study in Sarpy County.

We asked him five questions . . .

What is your preferred mode of transportation?

On the days that I am able, I prefer to walk to work. I can generally make that happen about 3 days a week. Project meetings, client visits, out of town work and other responsibilities often require me to have a car at my disposal.

What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?

Land use patterns and residential decision-making. Transportation (especially trip distance) should be a part of your consideration about where you live and work. I’m fortunate enough to live and work in a mixed use development here. We really need to do a better job of explaining/educating these trade-offs as a part of how people decide where to live and work. Continue reading

Better Block Ottumwa

4 Dec

This is from our friend, Nick Klimek, AICP

In October of 2017, I had the opportunity to help the community of Ottumwa, Iowa build a better block in its downtown. More specifically, an official “Better Block” – the national movement that seeks to redesign the public environment through temporary interventions. The interventions may only last a few days, but with the hope that they serve to empower and inspire participants, community leaders, and property owners to immediate and sustained action.

My professional career began in Ottumwa, Iowa – first as city planner, then planning director – and allowed me the opportunity to aide a dedicated group of downtown advocates on the pathway to revitalize downtown Ottumwa; at the time, a task considered unattainable. Much progress has been completed since then (a new business incubator/downtown market, rehabilitated storefronts, and dozens of new apartments above the storefronts) but one question remained: how much more could be done without the millions of dollars needed to improve the street?

Main Street Ottumwa offered a solution – to use temporary interventions to transform the former highway corridor into the environment that its stakeholders want and need. Through a partnership with Main Street Iowa, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the community hired Better Block to lead the community in its transformation. Upon hearing of this project, I knew I had to be part of it.

I arrived back in Ottumwa on a Thursday morning to a sea of volunteers eager to help. We learned of the plan: to install protected bike lanes; install landscaped bump-outs and pedestrian crossings; arrange trees and flowers; install chairs, benches, and bike racks; design and set up three temporary businesses in vacant buildings; create public art installations; and to create a community event space. Quite ambitious for a days’ work. Continue reading

Local Coffee Chat Brings State Representation

21 Nov

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This month’s Coffee Chat welcomed representatives for Nebraska State Senators Kari Ridder (Sasse) and Dusty Vaughn (Fischer). Attendees participated in a lively discussion about our city and state transportation issues. Both Ridder and Vaughn agreed that infrastructure is a priority for Nebraska, and noted the effects of transportation on our economy and quality of life. While a great deal of funding may come at the federal level, both guests noted the importance of solving issues at the local level and commented on the importance of collaboration between existing systems.

Ridder and Vaughn encourage citizens to provide input to their government representatives – our civic leaders need the public’s input, so please keep bringing issues to their attention! Contact Ben Sasse & Deb Fischer with your transportation input.

Join us for our December Coffee Chat with Nick Weander from Olsson Associates.