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Palmetto officials seal partnership with USF

Students from the USF Tampa campus will converge on the city of Palmetto this summer to help the city strategize moving forward with its downtown goals. File photo
Students from the USF Tampa campus will converge on the city of Palmetto this summer to help the city strategize moving forward with its downtown goals. File photo ttompkins@bradenton.com

The final details are still being worked out, but the agreement between the University of South Florida and the city of Palmetto was finalized Monday night.

The USF Community Sustainability Partnership Program asks a community what are its important projects and what can USF offer to help the community achieve its sustainable goals. It is USF’s inaugural launch of the program that will see an influx of students and faculty converge on the city this summer to begin aiding in several aspects of the city’s needs.

According to Community Redevelopment Agency Director Jeff Burton, some of the work the students will be doing is to take an architectural overview of the city’s downtown core, review and help design the city’s 2021 multi-modal project, take a close look at how the city can improve its overall transportation system from vehicles, to bicycles to pedestrians and much more.

“There are still some points to be worked out with the classes and there might be some classes added,” said Burton.

The city voted to spend up to $41,000 over the next two years with the CRA expending up to $119,000 over the same time period.

Kristine Williams, CSPP program manager for USF, previously said the program takes what the Tampa-based university already does with community engagement, but elevates it to the next level, “by formalizing the partnership between the university and a single community.”

USF chose Palmetto to be its inaugural program partner and Williams and Burton called it a win-win situation.

Burton said the cost is minimal for the expertise the students and faculty will bring to the city’s ongoing projects while also bringing in fresh, creative ideas. Williams said it’s an opportunity for the students to not only give back to their communities but to get real world work experience while completing course studies.

The work to establish exactly which classes, from engineering to architecture and others, is extremely important.

“That information is key to matching faculty and students to help accomplish those goals,” said Williams.

City attorney Mark Barnebey said the agreement solidifies the agreement with USF, “But by next month you will start to see a more detailed breakdown of the program.”

USF and the city will hold a ceremony some time in August to kick off the program before getting to work.

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