This report summarizes the findings of a Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) requested by the Municipality of Ponce in January 2020. A CPAT is a volunteer planning team, organized by the American Planning Association (APA) through its pro- fessional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). The Municipality asked the CPAT to suggest strategic planning visions for La Playa de Ponce that could help guide recovery investments so as to maximize long-lasting benefits.
La Playa is Ponce’s historic port, and because it is located three miles from the city center, it has a sense of identity as a unique and separate place, with its own cultural traditions and history. La Playa faces longstanding economic and environ- mental problems. As the island economy has declined over the past 15 years, so has port activity. La Playa, in a low-lying coastal location, also is subject to both coastal storms and flooding from much of the city’s urban stormwater runoff. La Playa was affected by the wind, rain, and infrastructure disrup- tions from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, and the M 6.4 earthquake on January 7, 2020 damaged highways, historic buildings, and the La Guancha boardwalk. Hope for La Playa’s future lies in the large amount of disaster recovery money that is yet unspent.
We recommend using recovery funding as an opportunity for sustainable investment and growth of the local economy, relying on four general planning principles: Dignity, Place- making, Economic Revitalization, and Sustainability. Recovery investments should:
● Reflect local needs as identified by local residents.
● Build on existing cultural and human assets.
● Jointly target human capital and infrastructure needs.
● Be economically and culturally sustainable, based on human and social capital.
● Be environmentally sustainable, emphasizing green infrastructure, natural systems, and resilience. ● Fund future operations and maintenance.
Our proposals cover two major categories:
● Empowering the Community. This includes engaging community organizations and building capacity within the City government.
● Investing in Place. This includes developing green spaces, enhancing transportation infrastructure, repair- ing stormwater infrastructure, and rebuilding storm- and earthquake-damaged facilities in La Guancha and La Playa’s historic center.