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Highland Planning's Innovative Waterfront Park Design Embraces Nature on WKTV News in Utica, NY

February 8, 2024

Big news! Our Director of Planning + Design, Elizabeth Podowski King, PLA, AICP was on WKTV NewsChannel 2 featuring her work on the new Village Of Dolgeville, NY Waterfront Park design. The park embraces the river rather than fights it with permeable, flexible barriers.

Resident Ward Halverson was blown away, saying:

“What blows my mind is that with this approach, rather than fighting the river, it’s really about backing down and letting the river do what it does. The idea of a permeable transitional barrier that is flexible by design is something that he has never seen.”

Kudos, Liz and team! We are excited to see our innovative and eco-conscious designs making a local difference.

April 1977: A view of part of Bull's Head, looking east from the roof of St. Mary's Hospital. Streets are West Main (running diagonally), Brown (at top), and Genesee (at right). Photo Courtesy of Democrat and Chronicle.
April 1977: A view of part of Bull's Head, looking east from the roof of St. Mary's Hospital. Streets are West Main (running diagonally), Brown (at top), and Genesee (at right). Photo Courtesy of Democrat and Chronicle.

Major Revitalization Project Unveiled for Rochester's Bull's Head Neighborhood - Learn More About the Walkable Street Design

February 6, 2024

The Bull’s Head neighborhood in southwest Rochester is undergoing a major revitalization effort. The $350 million project proposes 780-800 new mixed-income housing units, 34,000 square feet of retail and office space, a grocery store, and improved walkability. The goal is to spur sustainable economic growth in an area that has faced decades of disinvestment.

The full plan, including the street design, will be unveiled at a public meeting on Tuesday, February 27 at the Salvation Army on 100 West Ave at 6 PM. Highland Planning encourages residents to view the original Rochester Beacon article to learn more details about the scope of the project and its history, and consider attending the upcoming meeting to have your voice heard on this important neighborhood development effort.

Rochester updates its "Urban Forest Master Plan" 

December 21, 2023

The City of Rochester has initiated the fourth update to its Urban Forest Master Plan, which was originally initiated in 1993 following the 1991 ice storm. The planning process aims to educate residents about the importance of the urban forest, as well as identify the types of trees and locations that are appropriate and could benefit from added canopy. Highland Planning is proud to be leading the engagement and outreach portion of this effort. More information can be found in the news here, and the third public meeting (held on December 20, 2023) can be accessed here.

Hochul Announces $5 Million Grant Program for Niagara Falls Businesses

November 17, 2023

A total of $5 million in grants will be awarded to businesses along Pine Avenue, Main Street and Portage Road through the Niagara Falls Small Business Property Improvement Program. The program is part of a $40 million revitalization effort for Niagara Falls and a $300 million revitalization initiative that also includes Buffalo and Rochester. Highland Planning is leading the consultant team for the Small Business Property Improvement Program. More information regarding the project can be found in the news here, or through the governor’s office press release.

Olean Comprehensive Plan Committee Named, Meeting set for November 1, 2023

October 10, 2023

The city’s first overhaul of its comprehensive plan is set to kick off next month. Mayor Bill Aiello announced the members of the 22-person panel to steer the planning document’s creation, as well as the date of the first meeting and a web-based survey to help guide the process. Highland Planning is excited to be part of this initiative. More information regarding the project kickoff can be found here.

Governor Hochul Kicks off Public Engagement Efforts for the New York State Transportation Master plan 2050

September 11, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of public engagement efforts for the development of the New York State Transportation Master Plan 2050, which Highland Planning is proud to be facilitating. In partnership with transportation agencies across the state, the New York State Department of Transportation is seeking input from the public about how well the transportation system is working today, as well as priorities for the future. A new project website has been launched to help the public to learn more about New York State’s Transportation Master Plan. We also invite you to take the survey to let us know how the transportation system is working for you. Read more about the initiative here.

What is the Plan for the Ontario Beach Park Concession Stand?

July 20, 2023

Monroe County is planning to invest in the concession stand located at Ontario Beach Park, which has been vacant since the pandemic hit. The County has been seeking input from the public to determine desirable uses for the vacant building. On behalf of the County, Highland Planning issued a community-wide survey, which will be open until the first week of August. To date, there have been over 3,400 responses to the survey, linked here. Read more about the effort in the news!

City of Buffalo Smart Streets Design Plan

June 20, 2023

Highland Planning is part of a consultant team working with the City of Buffalo on a Smart Streets Design Plan, which will include a curb management plan and preliminary design for a flexible smart street. The plan will examine ways to technologically enhance the roadways in Downtown Buffalo to better accommodate a wide range of modes of transportation. A series of public events were recently held to inform the public about the project and to gather feedback. See an overview of the project in the news here.

A Contested BID

April 3, 2023

Proponents of a downtown business improvement district say that planning for Rochester’s future needs to be focused on community needs. BID opponents share that view – but that is where the agreement seems to end. Highland Planning is supporting the community engagement portion of the initiative, which includes survey administration and targeted outreach. Read more about the on-going discussion here.

Plans Revealed for Scajaquada Corridor

January 29, 2023

On January 17, 2023, after decades of debate surrounding the Scajaquada Expressway, GBNRTC presented the public with its preferred redevelopment scenario. In particular, GBNRTC and its consultants were recognized for the balance between their technical work and consideration of public input and feedback. Highland Planning is proud to have led the community outreach and engagement portion of this transformative project. 



Kudos to Nancy Raca who led the team’s public engagement efforts. Read more about the project and watch the public presentation here.

$10M Announced for Rochester's Downtown

December 7, 2022

We have shared our excitement in the past about our involvement with the Round 5 DRI projects, particularly Rochester’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. On Monday, Governor Hochul graced Rochester to announce five new transformational projects based on recommendations stemming from the DRI initiative. The proposed projects are intended to connect to ongoing revitalization efforts, including Roc the Riverway, High Falls State Park, and the Inner Loop Initiatives. Read more about the announcement here.


We are waiting on pins and needles to hear which communities are selected to participate in the sixth round!

Buffalo's Main Street Transformation

August 9, 2022

Highland Planning is proud to have managed grant writing for the transformation of middle Main Street in Buffalo, NY. Congressman Brian Higgins recently announced the award of the $25 million grant to transform middle Main Street in a way that supports vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and bolsters private sector economic investment.  Funding for the initiative was obtained through the RAISE program. Read more about this transformational project and grant here!

Region Central Public Meeting

May 9, 2022

Highland Planning is part of a team of consultants that presented a series of four options for the Scajaquada Expressway (Route 198) in Buffalo, New York. At a public meeting held on May 4, approximately 200 participants joined the project team at the SUNY Buffalo State campus to provide feedback and receive information on the proposed scenarios. 


“This can affect the region for generations, as past decisions have,” said Hal Morse, project manager for the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council. A decision about what to do with the long debated 3.6 mile corridor could be made as early as this summer. Read more about the project here, and access the public presentation, led by Highland Planning’s Nancy Raca.

The Public Engagement Test is ready!

November 17, 2021

Test your public engagement knowledge quickly and efficiently with these ten key questions. After you complete the test, be sure to download the answer guide. Just enter your info in the box below and get started immediately. Enjoy! 

Rochester Rental Vacancy Study Released

October 24, 2021 

Highland Planning was part of a team lead by Mullin and Lonergan Associates, with Fourth Economy, that prepared a rental vacancy study for the City of Rochester. The study concluded that the city of Rochester does not meet the state threshold for rent stabilization protections.

According to City Councilman Malik Evans, “This is may be not what some people wanted to hear, but it’s pretty consistent” with market data over the past decade, “this doesn’t say that housing instability isn’t a problem in our community. It is.”  

Read more here. To download the study, click here.

Watertown unveils plans for Black River Trail extension

September 21, 2021 

We’re thrilled to be involved in the public outreach and involvement for the planned extension of the Black River Trail.

“It’s been a long-term priority to connect the Black River Trail to Fort Drum,” Watertown city planner Geoffrey Urda said. “It’s our biggest recreational asset to the area.” Read more about the project here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

September 9, 2021 

In this edition of our quarterly newsletter, we recap the second quarter of 2021 at Highland Planning. Check out the full edition here

Rochester Entrepreneur Launches Public Participation App

August 31, 2021 

Rochester, NY – Tanya Mooza Zwahlen, CEO of public engagement consulting practice Highland Planning, today announced the launch of Instant Input, a free smartphone app designed to connect local governments and developers with community members. Instant Input uses a map feature to help citizens stay informed on public and private sector projects in their community, view photos and background information on projects they care about, and offer feedback through surveys and direct messaging.  

Read the rest here: Instant Input Press Release 

The East Side Commercial Districts Program provides funding for building renovations in four investment areas—Jefferson Avenue Commercial District, MLK Park Business District, Broadway Fillmore, and Kensington Bailey.

The New Localism blog features UBRI/Buffalo Billion Projects in Buffalo

August 23, 2021 

We’re excited to see one of our long-standing public engagement projects featured in Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak’s blog, “The New Localism” (also the title of their recent book). Katz and Nowak developed a case study about the Buffalo East Side Avenues Initiative (lead by UB Regional Institute) called “An Investment Playbook Grows in Buffalo.”  

According to Katz and Nowak: “Many cities focus on just one of the strategies Buffalo is deploying on the east side. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just revitalizing a historic building, just supporting black and brown entrepreneurs, or just doing streetscape and walkability improvements. But East Side Avenues shows other cities it’s possible to dream bigger and do all these and more simultaneously. Not only is it possible, it’s also necessary if cities want to achieve the sort of results they aspire towards in their comprehensive plans.”

Sheepie Niagara shows us how to download Instant Input using QR codes on sidewalk stickers

You Won't Baaaaaa-lieve Where Instant Input Turned Up!

August 5, 2021 

How You Can Have a Say in the Future of Niagara Falls” according to Sheepie Niagara, a local blogger who kindly demonstrates what to do with the sidewalk stickers placed throughout Niagara Falls. 

According to Sheepie:

The fine folks at Highland Planning (who are part of the team working with USA Niagara on these plans) reached out to me about the QR codes throughout downtown, and if I could highlight them. Scanning the QR code (or the ones located at other development sites downtown) directs you to download the Instant Input app. From there, you can view all of the downtown concepts and renderings. There are even surveys for some of the locations so you can provide suggestions.” 

You can follow Sheepie here. 

Black River Trail Expansion in Watertown

May 18, 2021 

Highland Planning is leading public engagement efforts on behalf of the the Watertown-Jefferson County Transportation Council (WJCTC) and Barton & Loguidice. WJCTC is conducting an area-wide study of bicycle and pedestrian connections in the region, with a focus on the Black River Trail. More info here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

April 19, 2021 

In this edition of our quarterly newsletter, we recap the first quarter of 2021 Highland Planning. Check out the full edition here.

Central Terminal featured in Buffalo News

April 8, 2021

Restoration of Buffalo’s Central Terminal was featured in the Buffalo News this week.

“The restoration of the Central Terminal is a mega-project waiting to happen. Until then, the Central Terminal Restoration Corp., the not-for-profit owner, is looking to make the grounds more accessible to Broadway-Fillmore residents and turn it into an events destination. Activating the grounds is something residents have pushed for, with the idea that it could also make the site more appealing to developers.”

Read more here.

We are hiring transit ambassadors!

February 10, 2021

We are hiring up to 40 motivated, personable, and reliable individuals aged 18 or older to provide support and information to public transit customers in Monroe County, NY during the week of May 17 through May 23, 2021. Candidates who can commit to 36 hours will receive $20/hour.  More details are found here or by emailing Jen Topa at Spread the word!

The Quarterly Newsletter

December 18, 2020 by Tanya Zwahlen

In this edition of our quarterly newsletter, we recap the year at Highland Planning and share the team’s accomplishments, values, and even some baby news.

Check out the full edition here.

Sewall's Island Project Approved in City of Watertown

November 17, 2020

The City of Watertown, New York approved a plan that would redevelop Sewall’s Island and Factory Square. As part of this plan, our team conducted housing and market analysis and provided recommendations on funding and project phasing.

News coverage of this work can be found here.

New Fiberglass Cubes Installed at Bus Stops for RTS Riders

October 16, 2020

In partnership with Reconnect Rochester, Jen Topa from our team worked hard as part of the City of Rochester Northwest Street Liaison program to help bring five fiberglass cube seats to bus stops on Lyell Ave. 

Here is coverage of this important work!

Developers Hear from Community on Future of the Broadway Market

September 30, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Development leaders are gauging input from the community on how best to redevelop the Broadway Market.

“People in this community really care about the market and want to see it succeed,” said Christopher Dunne of Highland Planning.

Developers are hearing from the community about the future revitalization of the Broadway Market. On Wednesday, CJS Architects, Highland Planning, Public Market Development, and Developments by JEM held a virtual public meeting to discuss input from Western New Yorkers on the redevelopment of the Buffalo landmark.

Read more here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

August 21, 2020 by Tanya Zwahlen

Check out our latest newsletter to see what’s happening at Highland Planning. You can read the newsletter here.

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Our team is Growing!

June 26, 2020

We are excited to announce two new team members!

Nancy Raca is our Director of Engagement. Her educational background is international politics and public communications. She brings decades of consulting experience in marketing communication and strengthens our team with her knowledge of branding, message development, media relations and project management. Nancy also is a certified professional coach and a trained facilitator.

Melissa Chanthalangsy is our Director of Sales and Marketing. Melissa just completed her MBA at the University of Rochester. Before joining our team, she was a Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy and a Project Manager in the City of Rochester’s Office of Energy and Sustainability. Melissa will be seeking new opportunities, developing proposals, and managing our social media accounts. Melissa is fluent in Spanish, French and Laotian, and she is an avid traveler. 

Welcome Nancy and Melissa!

Highland Planning's Statement On Black Lives Matter


June 12, 2020

Highland Planning stands with the Black community and the protesters working to dismantle racial injustice. 

Our motto is “Better dialogue. Better decisions.” We seek out and listen to the voices of those who have been systematically excluded from the conversation. Highland Planning intentionally provides opportunities for those who have not had a seat at the table to impact decisions that affect their communities. We know decisions are better when more diverse voices are heard, beyond those which have been historically favored. 

Our diversity strengthens us as a company, and we believe that speaking up is only the first step. We are discussing concrete actions we will take as a team, and we plan to share those with you in the coming weeks. 

The Quarterly Newsletter

May 12, 2020 by Tanya Zwahlen

Check out our latest newsletter to see what’s happening at Highland Planning. You can read the newsletter here.

Tompkins County planners collect Rt. 13 comments

February 7, 2019

DRYDEN — Route 13 and Johnson and Yellow Barn roads: If a consensus emerged Thursday morning, it was that this intersection presents a safety problem.

Three consecutive people brought up the intersection during a drop-in session Thursday at Brewer’s Cafe and Tap Room at 1384 Dryden Road.

The session, hosted by representatives of Rochester-based Highland Planning, was intended to collect opinions about needed changes for Route 13 as the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability and the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council begin a study of a nine-mile stretch of the state highway extending from Lansing to the village of Dryden.

More here.

City of Buffalo Hosts workshop to discuss “Middle Main”

November 7, 2019

Highland Planning helped the City of Buffalo organize and facilitate a walking tour and community meeting to discuss the rehabilitation of “Middle Main” Street in Buffalo, a segment from Goodell Street to Ferry Street.

More here.

Highland Planning leads Three sessions at the New York Upstate American Planning Association Conference

October 4, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

Highland Planning played an active role in this week’s New York Upstate American Planning Association (APA) conference in Rochester. Jen raised $16,000 in sponsorships and staffed the registration table. André shared his knowledge and enthusiasm at his session: “The Role of Design Charrettes and Community Engagement.” Susan and André had people moving and engaging at “This Meeting Could Have Been an Email: Practical Tips to Make Your Meetings More Effective and Energizing.” And Tanya generated lots of good ideas for the City of Rochester Inner Loop North Charrette during her three and a half hour design workshop.

Welcome Charvi

September 15, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

Our sixth desk at 820 South Clinton is occupied! We are delighted to welcome Charvi Gupta to Highland Planning. In her first week, she was making maps, planning three public meetings, creating a survey in Spanish, and staffing a pop-up in Ithaca, New York. She immediately feels like a part of our team. We are excited about the new skills, new ideas and new perspective she brings, and we’re looking forward to introducing Charvi to our clients and partners in the coming weeks and months.

Lake Ontario Resiliency Planning

July 16, 2019 by Jen Topa

​Our team is working on the Lake Ontario Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative (REDI) for Monroe and Niagara Counties. The purpose of the project is to develop a near-term understanding of shoreline needs in response to the extended pattern of flooding along Lake Ontario. We had our first series of workshops last week and were impressed with the potential projects developed for consideration by stakeholders. Several news outlets were in attendance. Check us out here.

What’s your Message?

July 3, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

Last week, we had a lunch and learn with our friend Bill Schwappacher. Bill gave us a refresher on messaging. We had a lively debate about whether or not we could both deliver a message while also soliciting feedback from stakeholders. The short answer is yes. We took away some great ideas and we’re ready to incorporate them into our practice. #lifelonglearning #bestteamever

What should come to the North Aud block?

June 19, 2019 by Nadia Patterson, Spectrum Local News

Development of Canalside’s North Aud Block is now in the planning and design stage. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation said what eventually is built there will be up the public. Read more here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

May 28, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

​​Check out our latest newsletter to learn what’s happening at Highland Planning. You can read the newsletter here.

Whitetown Hopes to replace trees lost to Flooding project

April 19, 2019 by Edward Harris, Utica Observer Dispatch

Construction of flood benches along Sauquoit Creek has required the removal of numerous trees. But the town of Whitestown hopes to replace some of what’s been lost. On Thursday, residents participated in an on-site walkthrough to discuss landscaping and replanting options for the area around Dunham Manor Park, located near Hollywood Drive and Clinton Street. “In a project of this magnitude there’s going to be short-term consequences for long-term gain,” Whitestown Town Supervisor Shaun Kaleta said, referring to the current state of the park and its effect on the surrounding neighborhood. Read more here.

New plans at Canalside Buffalo moving forward

March 12, 2019 by Jeff Preval, WGRZ 

There’s a lot of construction work going on at Canalside, and now the folks in charge there are moving forward with another project. It would bring more shopping, more restaurants and, yes, more parking.
A decade ago, the Aud was demolished.
Today the Explore and More Children’s Museum is almost finished on the South Aud Block, while the North Aud Block is a giant hole.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is in charge of growing the waterfront, and it has hired TY Lin International, a Buffalo architecture and engineering firm, to design plans to fill this hole. Read more here.

East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund Announced

March 12, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the $50 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, an initiative to spark revitalization of Buffalo’s East Side through investments in the four main commercial corridors: Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey avenues. Funding will help to revive traditional main streets and commercial corridors through the preservation of historic buildings, funding of capital improvements in neighborhood assets, expansion of commercial opportunities, improvements to infrastructure, as well as the promotion of mixed-use private investment in these neighborhoods. Read more here.

Join us at a public meeting for the Mount Hope Avenue Improvement project

March 4, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

Phase Two of the Mt. Hope Avenue Improvements project will come to a close with a meeting on Monday, March 18th at which final designs developed for the corridor will be on display.  Phase Two of the project addresses the portion of Mt. Hope south of Rossiter Road and north of where the Avenue passes over the Erie Canal and Interstate 390 at the City’s southern boundary. Issues to be addressed in this phase included road reconstruction, traffic signal, signage and drainage system replacement, as well as improvements to sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping along the corridor. This phase of the project included focus groups, door-to-door engagement of residents and businesses as well as a community workshop.

RTS Holding Suburban ‘Mobility Zone’ Sessions

February 1, 2019 by Jeremy Moule, Rochester City Newspaper

Representatives from RTS and its consulting firm will hold a series of information sessions over the next two weeks on the transit agency’s proposed Community Mobility Zones.  The proposed zones, which are part of the agency’s Reimagine RTS initiative, are suburban areas currently served by large buses on fixed routes. The agency and its consultants believe those areas could be better and more efficiently served through combinations of other options, such as smaller buses or vans that operate based on need. Read more here.

Hopkins Named Chief Operating Officer

January 1, 2019 by Tanya Zwahlen

Today, Susan Hopkins stepped into the position of Chief Operating Officer. She will oversee the organization’s ongoing operations and procedures, and establish policies that promote company culture and vision. Sue is an experienced leader, a talented facilitator, and a fantastic planner. We are enthusiastic about her ability to help secure the functionality of our business and drive extensive, sustainable growth.

Tactical Urbanism Training

December 4, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Today we ordered Flavors of Asia and held a lunch and learn about tactical urbanism. We reflected on our experiences with Playful Sidewalks (City of Rochester, NY) and Parker Boulevard (Town of Tonawanda, NY), and discussed other opportunities to include short-term, low-cost interventions to test ideas and affect change in the communities where we work.

Metro Rail Expansion Kick-Off

November 27, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Thursday, December 6th is the first public meeting for the NFTA Metro Rail Expansion project. The meeting will take place from 5-7PM at the Sweet Home Middle School in Amherst. The open house marks the beginning of the Environmental Impact Statement process. During this phase, we will assess visual effects, noise, financial and economic impacts, as well as other factors that go into the development, construction and operation of a light rail line. Project renderings will be on display, with design and routing ideas. Even better – this is your chance to talk with the project team and other members of the community about the Rail Expansion. We hope you will join us!

NFTA proposes new, cheaper route for Metro Rail extension to Amherst

November 20, 2018 by Robert J. McCarthy, The Buffalo News

Transit planners have made major changes to the route of Metro Rail’s proposed extension to Amherst, hoping to significantly reduce the length of its underground section, expand economic development opportunities and save $200 million.

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority plans now call for northbound trains to exit University Station directly to Niagara Falls Boulevard rather than running beneath Bailey Avenue as part of the approximately 7-mile extension planned to the University at Buffalo’s North Campus and beyond. And instead of coming above ground through a portal near Northtowns Plaza, new plans call for trains to travel under Kenmore Avenue to surface on Niagara Falls Boulevard just north of Kenilworth Avenue.

Read more here. Check out the project website here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

November 5, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

​Check out our latest newsletter to learn what’s happening at Highland Planning. View the newsletter here.

Highland Planning Receives WBE Status in Massachusetts

November 1, 2018 by Christopher Dunne

While the Red Sox are decking out the duckboats to celebrate their World Series title, we’ve got something New England-related to celebrate ourselves… This fall Highland Planning was certified as a Women Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) in the great state of Massachusetts! We are excited to bring our capabilities in public engagement and socio-economic and market analysis to transit, commercial district, green space and utility projects across the Commonwealth.

Options presented for Brownville Bridge Replacement

November 1, 2018

The Highland team was in Brownville, New York last night, hosting a final open house to share refined options for a new bridge crossing over the Black River. ​We started this project in January 2018 going door-to-door to meet community members and tell them about the project. Since then, we’ve held two workshops, two open houses, and hosted a booth at General Brown Weekend.

Sauquoit Creek Channel & Floodplain Restoration Project

October 18, 2018 by

Last week, Sue made the evening news in Whitestown, New York. Here she is facilitating the second public information session for the Sauquoit Creek Channel & Floodplain Restoration Project. The Restoration Project was initiated in 2016 to investigate and implement solutions to alleviate flooding in the area. A large aspect of the project includes the construction of 12 floodplain benches along a 1 mile-plus corridor of lower Sauquoit Creek on Commercial Drive. Read more here.

Reimagine RTS public outreach wins award!

October 5, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Last week, at the New York Upstate American Planning Association (APA) conference in Ithaca, NY, we accepted an award related to public outreach for Reimagine RTS. The Reimagine RTS process included innovative and non-traditional tools and 150+ events, focus groups, and meetings that engaged people with an original trade-off educational board game, budgeting and mapping exercises, live audience polling, and surveys to capture input. Over 13,000 people provided input into the recommendations the redesigned system that will result in a faster, more reliable, and more convenient system. This was one of our largest projects to date and we are proud of this award!

HP Team will live stream from the 2018 NY Upstate APA Conference

September 27, 2018 by Susan Hopkins 

We’ll be live streaming to Facebook from our session next week at the 2018 NY Upstate APA Conference in Ithaca, New York. The session, titled “Essential Techniques for Public Participation,” will take place on Thursday, October 4th from 11:15am-12:15pm.

The session will cover:

  • Effective and inclusive public participation strategies.
  • How to identify and respond to issues, manage outrage, and use innovative techniques.
  • A demonstration of engagement techniques.

Interested? More information is posted here.

Community Workshop & fair

September 5, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

This week we are all preparing for two meetings related to the City of Rochester Bull’s Head Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) project.  On Thursday 9/6, we’ll be at a public meeting at Saint Mary’s campus and on Saturday 9/8, we’ll be staffing a community fair at Salvation Army on West Avenue.

Thursday’s meeting will be similar to the PAC meeting (see previous entry below) but on a larger scale. André and Sue will be facilitating discussions about key values and strategic redevelopment sites.

On Saturday, we plan to facilitate two activities. The first will be a drawing exercise for children and families. We will be asking participants to draw their favorite part of the Bull’s Head neighborhood. We also will be recording videos of residents sharing stories and memories about the Bull’s Head neighborhood. We are excited to be incorporating different engagement techniques into our practice and look forward to sharing some of the videos next week.

Bulls Head Values & Vision

August 23, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Here is André reviewing common themes of previous public engagement for the City of Rochester Bulls Head Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA). Last night, with André’s help, the Bulls Head BOA Project Advisory Committee develop a list of key values. This list of values will be used to develop a vision statement and identify strategies to redevelop brownfield properties. This exercise will be repeated at the next public meeting on Thursday, September 6th at Saint Mary’s Campus (89 Genesee Street, East Conference Room). We’ll also be talking to Bulls Heads residents at a Community Fair on Saturday, September 8th from 12-4PM at the Salvation Army (100 West Avenue). See you there?

Progress on Genesee Gateway

August 2, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Highland Planning was honored to host the first meeting of the Genesee Gateway Advisory meeting on Wednesday, August 1st.

Led by Chris Widmaier, the Genesee Gateway will be a community center for creativity, urban ecology and solutions. Tanya is serving on the committee and will share information as the project moves forward. Stay tuned…

Research meetings in Cape Cod

July 9, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

This week, Tanya is at the J. Erik Jonsson Center Of The National Academy Of Sciences in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. On behalf of the Transportation Research Board, she is working with three oversight panels and consultants to review first draft synthesis reports for National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Topics include “Practices for Acquiring Proprietary Data for Transportation Applications” and “Prioritization of Freight Investment Projects.”

Welcome Sophie Primus!

June 28, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

This week we are celebrating the birth of André’s second daughter, Philosophie Evangeline Primus, who arrived on Tuesday, June 26th. Everyone is healthy and happy. Here’s a photo of her with big sister, Norah.

City Begins Work on Transportation and Mobility Plan

June 13, 2018 by Jeremy Moule, City Newspaper

Rochester officials are in the early stages of a plan that will shape how people get around the city — and possibly how they choose to do that — for years to come.

The city is starting to put together a Comprehensive Access and Mobility Plan, which will tie into the city’s broader Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan. CAMP, as it’s being called, is all about transportation, and some parts of it will be extremely important to people who live and work in the city.
​Read more here

Brownville Bridge Planning Summary

June 2, 2017 by Susan Hopkins​

On behalf of the Watertown Jefferson County Area Transportation Council, we hosted a “pop-up” informational booth at General Brown Weekend in Brownville, NY. The purpose was to share information about the potential new bridge locations and gather feedback from the community.The pop-up came after a five-month engagement process, which began in January when Christopher and Jen went door-to-door in the snowy, freezing cold.

​You can read more about the project here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

May 23, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Check out our latest newsletter to learn what’s happening at Highland Planning. View the newsletter here.

Genesee Gateway Park Concepts

April 25, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Check out the video that André made a video about proposed concepts for Genesee Gateway Park in the City of Rochester.

New Orleans Bound for APA National

April 10, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

Today we ran through a draft presentation for Sue and Tanya’s upcoming session at the 2018 American Planning Association national conference in New Orleans. “Essential Techniques for Successful Public Engagement” is scheduled for Sunday, April 22nd from 2:45-4:00PM. See you there? If not, we’ll be live broadcasting the session here. #NPC18

Assessing Rochester's Vulnerability to the Impacts of Climate Change

April 3, 2018 by Susan Hopkins

Highland Planning is working with Rochester’s Office of Energy and Sustainability on a community-wide Vulnerability Assessment. Read more here.

All-Hazards Transportation Recovery Training in the Gulf states

March 1, 2018 by Tanya Zwahlen

This week, Tanya is teaching an All-Hazards Transportation Recovery Plan course in sunny Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale. Sue picks up the course in Savannah and Lake Charles next.

Considering an Electric Vehicle?

​February 27, 2018 by Susan Hopkins 

Sue joined Carolyn Levine (Rochester EV Accelerator) Shannon Ealy (Greater Rochester Chamber), and Ben Prochazka (Electrification Coalition) on Connections with Evan Dawson on Wednesday to discuss their experiences driving electric cars and share information about a new program aimed at increasing the number of employer-sponsored charging stations in Rochester.

Listen Here

Reimagine RTS Moves Into Next Phase

February 9, 2018 by Jeremy Mouse, City Newspaper 

The first phase of Reimagine RTS, an effort to plan for the future of the region’s bus system, is complete. And RTS officials expect to release a draft plan in May that’ll lay out potential route designs and make recommendations about things such as bus frequency.During the first phase, RTS and its consultants gathered input from the public and surveyed existing and potential riders about how they use or would like to use the bus. RTS also gave its consultant current operational and ridership data to analyze. Read more here.

Residents weigh in on planned Brownville bridge project

February 1, 2018 by Gordon Block, Watertown Daily News

As planners look to replace the village’s aging bridge, they took resident input on how they think the project should proceed. “We wanted to bring you in early to maximize your impact and hear everything you’re concerned about before a decision is made,” said Susan Hopkins, a community engagement specialist that facilitated conversation at the meeting Wednesday night. Read more here.

The Quarterly Newsletter

January 23, 2018 by M. André Primus

Check out our newsletter for the latest on Highland Planning.
Read our newsletter here!

Brownville Bridge Outreach

January 19, 2018 by WWNYTV Fox

Brownville’s mayor was going door-to-door Thursday, but it wasn’t to garner votes. Mayor Pat Connor hit the streets with two employees from Highland Planning to discuss new locations for the Brownville bridge. The visibly rusting bridge was built over the Black River and it’s directly next to Neenah Northeast, a paper mill company.

“The issues for the bridge are the location and that it hasn’t been repaired in many, many years,” said Connor. Read more here.

The Rochester 10

December 27, 2017 by Jeremy Moule, City Newspaper

For community planning to really work, it needs to emphasize the “community” part as much as it does “planning.” That’s as true for a neighborhood street redesign as it is a big housing project or a city master plan.As Tanya Mooza Zwahlen pursued her graduate degree in community planning from Cornell University, her instructors drilled that approach into her and the other students. And she carried that mindset into her post-degree job with one of the region’s big architecture, engineering, and consulting firms.​The more projects she worked on, the more she realized she had something important and unique to offer her team members. Often, the engineers she worked with weren’t terribly comfortable speaking to rooms full of people, but she was. In fact, she delighted in it.  Read more here.

Developing all hazards transportation recovery plans

December 6, 2017 by Tanya Zwahlen

Sue and I are in Portland this week to teach a two-day training course on the development of All Hazards Transportation Recovery Plans. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funded a research grant to develop a recovery plan for the City of Portland that includes transit and travel demand management (TDM) strategies, Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies, and use of social media as an integral part of a recovery plan. The project includes the development of a two-day training program to be pilot tested in Portland and offered to six other metropolitan regions nationwide. Highland Planning was involved in the training development; we’ll share more on this as we progress with the other six trainings in 2018. You can read more here.

Reimagine RTS calls on public for help in redesigning campaign

October 25, 2017 by 13 WHAM

RTS is asking its riders for help redesigning it!

Wednesday night, the bus system held a meeting, asking people to tell them the changes they would like to see. “Reimagine RTS” is a project aimed at making the bus system easier to use throughout the community.

​RTS says input from passengers at meetings like the one held Wednesday will help it set goals to come up with proposed changes in a year. Read more here.

Highland Launches MetroQuest

October 20, 2017 by Susan Hopkins 

MetroQuest is a cutting-edge engagement tool that takes surveys to the next level. We’re excited to bring this opportunity to our clients and the communities we serve.

North union street wins “Great Places in Upstate ny” award

October 16, 2017 by Susan Hopkins 

At the chapter’s Fall Conference on October 13, NYS Upstate APA recognized the City of Olean for its North Union Street project. Team members from Highland Planning, and Mott MacDonald were on hand to accept the award. Congrats!

More information will be posted here soon.

From left to right: Jeff Lebsack (Mott Macdonald), Tanya Zwahlen (Highland Planning), Katie Evans (NYS Upstate APA)  

Eco District launch on 10/7

October 2, 2017 by Tanya Zwahlen

On October 7th from 12PM-5PM, Greentopia will be participating in the City of Rochester’s River Romance event with the launch of Rochester’s new EcoDistrict! The EcoDistrict provides a framework for the High Falls Neighborhood to move towards ambitious environmental and social justice goals. M. André Primus has been working on the public engagement component of this planning process for more than a year, and we are so excited for this launch. Read more here. And please join us!

North Union to Receive Livable Communities Award

September 26, 2017 by Bob Clark, Olean Times Herald

Add another accolade to North Union Street’s trophy case. The Partners for a Livable Western New York will fete the city’s $8.85 million reconstruction project on Thursday at the Livable Community Awards ceremony in Buffalo. George Grasser, president of the Partners for a Livable Western New York (PLWNY), praised the city of Olean’s efforts to create “Walkable Olean.”Read more here. Read more about the Partners for a Livable Western New York here.

RTS looks at Monroe County transit system

September 23, 2017 by Brian Sharp, Democrat and Chronicle

A multi-phase study to redesign public transit in Monroe County will begin next month, officials announced Friday — signaling the potential overhaul of a system that has stood largely unchanged for more than 40 years.

Regional Transit Service officials expect the “Reimagine RTS” study to be completed by the end of 2018. Implementation could take longer.

Read more here.

Tactical Urbanism in Tonawanda Deemed a "Success"

August 24, 2017 by Susan Hopkins

The Town of Tonawanda orchestrated a successful Complete Streets tactical urbanism demonstration on August 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Residents, visitors, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians all had the opportunity to experience bike lanes, pedestrian bump outs and a mini roundabout.  Read more here. 

Tactical Urbanism in Tonawanda Deemed a "Success"

July 20, 2017 by M. André Primus

​So much has been happening, it’s hard to keep up! Check out our newsletter for the latest on Highland Planning.

Read our newsletter here!

Workshop to plan Transit-Oriented Development

June 27, 2107 by Buffalo Rising

Another round of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) workshops is heading our way. This time, the workshops are being held at Hayes Hall, Room 403, at UB South Campus on Wednesday, June 28, from 6 to 8 pm. The focus is on the future of Buffalo’s Transit-Oriented Development. It’s an opportunity to get your voice heard, by contributing your thoughts and ideas about TOD. Read more here.

​As our EcoDistrict moves forward, can it draw in prized land near High Falls?

June 15, 2017 by Steve Orr, Democrat and Chronicle

One of Rochester’s most unusual, desirable pieces of land — at the bottom of the Genesee River gorge near High Falls — is largely empty and begging for re-use. The fate of the land, the site of RG&E’s recently demolished Beebee Station power plant, has always been unclear.

But the parcel is smack in the middle of Rochester’s innovative new eco-district in-the-making, and there’s hope that could spur change. “Beebee’s down now. It’s an intriguing possibility,” said Michael Philipson, co-founder of Greentopia, the nonprofit that is organizing the EcoDistrict at High Falls. ​

Read more here.

HOLISTIC Vision for High Falls

June 13, 2017 by WROC-TV

​A public meeting about the High Falls EcoDistrict will be held this Thursday, June 15 at MADE ON STATE in Rochester from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Rachel Walsh from Greentopia and Andre Primus from Highland Planning discussed the idea of the EcoDistrict and what people can expect at the meeting Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“The EcoDistrict makes an attempt to do sustainable development at a neighborhood scale,” explained Walsh. ​Read more here.

Metro rail planning focused on transit-oriented development

March 30, 2017 by Mike Desmond, WBFO

As Metro Rail trains rumbled underneath the meeting area, transportation planners and members of the public talked about extending the rail line south into Buffalo’s Cobblestone District and north to the University at Buffalo’s North Campus and beyond. Read more here.

Transit-oriented development in buffalo

March 22, 2017 by Tanya Zwahlen

The Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) is exploring ways to encourage Transit-Oriented Development along the existing Metro Rail line in the City of Buffalo as well as proposed Metro Rail extension to the Northtowns. Come share ideas and insights. Help shape the community’s approach to Transit-Oriented Development!​

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Seneca One Tower Lobby
Buffalo, NY 14203

Essential Tools for Successful Public Engagement

February 14, 2017 by Tanya Zwahlen

On Friday, March 10, 2017, Tanya will be conducting a one-hour training workshop on effective public participation strategies for members of the Urban Land Institute in Western New York at the Filling Station in Buffalo, NY.

The workshop is designed for real estate developers, planners, neighborhood leaders, and municipal staff who interact with the public during site plan and SEQRA reviews, planning processes, neighborhood meetings, and project approvals.

Citywide public meetings for the rochester comprehensive master plan update

November 2, 2017 by Tanya Zwahlen

Come see us at one of the five upcoming public meetings for the City of Rochester Comprehensive Master Plan Update.Highland Planning will be staffing the Northwest meeting on November 15th at the Maplewood Library and the Southweast meeting at the Ryan Center on November 17th.Read more about the planning process and the upcoming meetings here.

Community weighs in on potential Allegheny River development

Oct 13, 2016 By Tom Dinki, Olean Times Herald 

Residents who attended Wednesday night’s meeting on a new effort to leverage the Allegheny River didn’t sit still in chairs staring at a projection screen and listening to community officials talk. Instead, residents were the ones doing the talking. The Project Advisory Committee of the Allegheny River Public Access & Recreation Plan held an open house-style meeting in Jamestown Community College’s Manufacturing Technology Institute, which allowed residents to walk around the room to different stations, filling out surveys and speaking one-on-one with project leaders. Read more here

Highland Planning wins Best Practice Award

October 3, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

Last week, at the NY Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association conference in Buffalo, the Genesee Transportation Council Regional Walkability Improvement Program won an award for best practice. We are delighted to share this award with a stellar team from GTC, Wendel Companies, Alta Planning + Design, Make Communities, and Mark Fenton.

In 2014 and 2015, we helped to organize audits in the following Genesee/Finger Lakes communities: Albion, Avon, Batavia, Canandaigua, Geneseo, Geneva, Medina, Penfield, and Rochester.

Our half-day agenda for each of walkability audits includes:

  • A one hour presentation describing the tools available to create more walkable, bicycle-friendly settings.
  • A one hour walking audit. Ideally entire group walks an area of concern, or an area considered for potential improvement.
  • Small group discussion about potential improvements to the focus area.
  • Presentations from small groups, discussion, next steps, and wrap-up.

Highland planning named as partner on parcel 5 proposal

September 21st, 2016 by M. André Primus

In response to the City of Rochester’s RFP for the downtown lot known as Parcel 5,  Glenn Kellogg, president of Hart’s Local Grocers, submitted a proposal through Rochester Local Capital, in partnership with Highland Planning. The proposal breaks up the lot into smaller developable parcels that would be within reach of smaller developers.

For more information, see the D&C article.

Our Work in Salamanca Makes the Buffalo News

August 18, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

Our partnership with the University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI) and the City of Salamanca made the news yesterday. We provided technical support to Salamanca so they could participate effectively in the state’s highly competitive Consolidated Funding Application process. I fell in loooove with the City of Salamanca through this project. I think about their downtown all the time. Read more here.

Do College Majors Matter?

August 18, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

Suzanne Lucas, a writer for, recently asked me how my college majors, English and art history, influenced me as I started a business. I came to city planning from a study of art history and English. Interpreting art helped me notice the world. Planning helped me understand how to make it better. But the truth is that neither helped me start a business. The decision to create Highland Planning was influenced by (a) my desire for flexibility to raise my children and (b) my interest in focusing on public engagement and commercial district revitalization. It was fun to reflect on it all.  Here’s the article.

Orchard-Whitney Site is Live!

July 29, 2016 by M. André Primus

The City of Rochester has been awarded brownfield area-wide planning grant funding from the EPA to develop a revitalization plan and implementation program focused on brownfield sites in the JOSANA Neighborhood, and we have been investigating possibilities for a brownfield called the Orchard-Whitney Site. To learn more visit the website!

Andre in the news

May 11, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

On May 10, 2016, our very own Andre Primus was part of a panel organized by Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC) that discussed the ways that Rochester businesses can attract and keep millennials.Andre shared with the audience that he moved back to Rochester and is planning to stay because “it’s the right size place to get things done.” We’re so glad he made that choice and that today he is part of our team.To read more about the event, read this article and this article.

Rochester kicks off Comprehensive Plan update

April 27, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

This year, the City of Rochester is updating its Comprehensive Plan. The plan will be called “Rochester 4.0 – Our Neighborhoods, Our Future.” Along with our consultant partners at Bergmann Associates, Highland Planning will be leading public engagement efforts for the process.

Tonight was the formal kickoff of the project, with Mayor Lovely Warren presiding over a 35-member Mayor’s Advisory Committee (MAC). We reviewed the public engagement plan and initial demographic data, and conducted some live polling to learn about the priorities of the MAC members.

The comprehensive plan update project will be a community-wide effort that engages residents, business leaders, educational institutions and other important community partners to help establish a common vision, develop priorities and identify action steps that will help ensure that the City reaches its full potential in the years to come.

Stay tuned for more information. And in the meantime, read more about the planning process here.

Spring time on Dewey

April 8, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

Announcing our first event for Dewey Avenue.

“Springtime on Dewey” is taking place on April 23rd from 12-3PM at the Aquinas Institute. The event was organized by the Dewey Avenue Merchants Association. There will be activities for kids, a steel drum band, free food, the fire safety trailer, face painting, and Rec on the Move.

Please join us!

Introducing Norah Primus

March 14, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

Norah Constance Primus joined the world yesterday. She is Andre’s first child. Isn’t she sweet, adorable and perfect??

Have you tried Textizen yet?

March 11, 2016 by Tanya Zwahlen

Do you live or work in the City of Rochester? Visit downtown often? If so, please take our survey for the Charles Carroll Plaza and Genesee Crossroads Parking Garage Roof Slab Reconstruction Project. You can take the survey by texting the letter of your response to the question to the right to 585-454-8793. Textizen will send follow up questions once receiving your first response. It’s quick and easy. Find out more about this project by visiting

Buffalo Wins $18 Million Grant

October 27, 2015 by Tanya Zwahlen

Yeah Buffalo!!!! I am astounded to report that a grant application that Highland Planning helped to write was funded yesterday. This is our second successful TIGER grant for the City of Buffalo, and this time the award was $18 million. It will be used to return cars to lower Main Street. Once again, we worked with a talented team from DiDonato Associates, Buffalo Place, Bergmann Associates, Urban Advisors, and, of course, the City of Buffalo. Read more about the award and the project here.

Mayor Warren Urges people to Shop the Roc

October 24, 2015 by Randy Gorbman

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is announcing an effort to get people to buy local. It’s called #ShopTheROC, and it urges residents and visitors to patronize stores, restaurants and service providers in Rochester neighborhoods.
Warren says by doing that, people are not only supporting Rochester’s entrepreneurs, they are supporting the entire community by helping foster job creation. ​Read more of this story here. Read more about Shop the Roc here.

See more news on our blog.

Highland Planning's Statement On Black Lives Matter


June 12, 2020

Highland Planning stands with the Black community and the protesters working to dismantle racial injustice. 

Our motto is “Better dialogue. Better decisions.” We seek out and listen to the voices of those who have been systematically excluded from the conversation. Highland Planning intentionally provides opportunities for those who have not had a seat at the table to impact decisions that affect their communities. We know decisions are better when more diverse voices are heard, beyond those which have been historically favored. 

Our diversity strengthens us as a company, and we believe that speaking up is only the first step. We are discussing concrete actions we will take as a team, and we plan to share those with you in the coming weeks. 

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