The Spring 2023 CPLN7610: Synthesis Studio, taught by Dr. Jay Mittal, worked with the Alabama communities of Dadeville, New Site, and the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park in the Lake Martin region. Lake Martin was built on the Tallapoosa River in 1926 by Alabama Power, and at one time it was the largest man-made lake in the world, covering 40,000 acres and 700 miles of shoreline. It is an important economic resource, providing hydroelectric power throughout the state and serving as a major tourist destination. The partner communities include the towns of Dadeville and New Site, the National Park Services, the Tallapoosa County Tourism Department, and the Lake Martin Economic Development Alliance (LMAEDA). Other stakeholders include private sector agencies such as Alabama Power and Russell Group (Medical, Land, and Clothing), who are major employers in the region and own large land holdings and waterfront areas of the Tallapoosa River. This studio was partly supported by an extramural grant received from LMAEDA.
Three student teams worked on two planning scales - they prepared a local area plan for their assigned community and a regional plan for Tallapoosa and Coosa counties. They gathered information on physical and social characteristics, land use patterns and infrastructure, hazards and risks; and determined community needs, priorities, and their vision for future development. Students surveyed residents and visitors to obtain their feedback, scoured online comments for the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park to obtain visitors’ feedback, and conducted land suitability analysis to identify potential development areas. They adopted followed the GOST (Goals, Opportunities, Strategies, and Tactics) framework to identify strategies for economic development, retaining local workforce, improving tourism infrastructure and promoting ecotourism, increasing regional connectivity, and planning for the aging population, environmental protection, and historic preservation. At the end of the semester, students presented their projects to the project partners and stakeholders who greatly appreciated their analysis and ideas.