Live in a great place? Now you can vote for it

Downtown Concord. Photo: Nancy Pierce

Are you new to North Carolina and looking to discover one of the state’s great main streets? Or are you a life-long resident searching for a new place to explore? Or do you want other North Carolinians to know about the great places in your town?

Welcome to the fifth annual Great Places in NC Awards.  The state’s professional planners want to hear from you about what places around the state you love.

As in previous years, the N.C. chapter of the American Planning Association will honor some of the state’s special places—and some of them will be chosen not by planners but by the public. Nominations are being accepted from the public for two categories until April 22. After finalists are chosen the public can vote May 2-13.

Two other Great Places categories will be nominated by professional planners, with winners selected from a statewide panel of planning experts. (Disclosure: manager Mary Newsom will serve on that panel.)

The Great Places in NC program “provides opportunities for professional planners to give back to their communities, educate the public on the importance of planning and involve citizens in the conversation about the future of their community,” says the APA-NC website. To do this, the planners group spotlights great examples of local planning that many North Carolinians may be unfamiliar with.

The two people’s choice categories for 2016 are “Great Historic Rehabilitation” and “Great Places for Healthy Living.”

Historic rehabilitation projects “provide opportunities for economic development and community building, while respecting traditional building practices and town planning,” says the contest website. People are encouraged to consider publicly funded projects or those listed on the National Register of Historic Places and those with community support. Click here to submit an entry for Historic Rehabilitation.

The “Great Place for Healthy Living” category aims to feature communities that value healthy living. “Whether it’s an active bicycle or greenway network, concerted efforts for social interaction and/or aging in place, access to locally sourced foods, a commitment to sustainable ecosystems and the environment, or the active involvement of children in the community,” the contest sponsors want to hear about it. Click here to submit an entry for a Healthy Living place.

The other two categories this year, to be nominated by APA-NC members and chosen by planning experts, are “Great Main Streets” and “Great Main Streets In-The-Making.” If you’re not a member of APA-NC contact your local town or city planner about submitting a nomination.

In the Main Streets category, one each will be selected from the coastal area and the mountains. For the more populous Piedmont region, one large and one small community will be selected. Click here for the Main Streets nomination form.

Additionally, one “Great Main Street In-The-Making” aims to highlight a main street still being planned or not yet fulfilling its potential but on the way to greatness. Click here for the Main Street in the Making form.

Since its launch in 2012, the Great Places in North Carolina awards have recognized 26 communities across North Carolina. Some of the previous years’ winners:

  • Main Street, Belmont, 2015
  • The Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail (2015), a 7.2-mile trail following an original towpath.
  • Fourth Street, Winston-Salem (2014)
  • Main Street, Morganton (2014)
  • Downtown Concord (2013)
  • Main Street, Davidson (2013)
  • Hay Street, Fayetteville (2013)
  • Fayetteville Street, Raleigh (2013)
  • Tryon Street, Charlotte (2012)
  • Downtown Gastonia (2012)