This page contains a few links to some of the papers and reports Don has written relating to planning, GIS, and/or the relationship between the two fields.

University at Albany papers:

These papers were written for various courses taken for the University at Albany, department of Planning and Geography, Master of Regional Planning program.

Watershed Planning and GIS:
The influence of geographic information systems on the watershed planning process


Water resource planners have changed their focus over the years from concentrating primarily on economic development goals, to thoughts of sustainable water quality. Their understanding of the relationship between discrete water bodies and the lands surrounding them has evolved and grown.

The height of the environmental movement in the 1970’s appears to be the turning point, a watershed moment of sorts, when water resource planners, government agencies, and the general public realized that water is not an inexhaustible natural resource. It became apparent that water needs to be planned for and preserved for future generations. At the same time, significant advances were being made in computer technology, specifically the ability to use computers to generate maps and analyze spatial data. This geographic information system (GIS) technology has allowed planners, and particularly water resource planners, to work much more efficiently and effectively.

The amount of literature dedicated to explaining the importance and process of planning for water resources is large. Where water resource or watershed planning is discussed, GIS is usually mentioned as a useful tool. However, the discussion about how to use GIS to its fullest potential, and how GIS technology has affected watershed planning is limited. This paper examines recent changes in water resource planning and GIS technology, and describes how they can best be used together for developing a watershed plan.

Note: This was Don’s final research paper; a requirement for obtaining his masters degree from the University at Albany.

The Problems and Potential of Vacant Buildings:
A Survey of Vacant Structures in Albany, New York

Executive Summary:

Many older, industrial cities across the nation continue to struggle with the problems of abandoned and vacant properties resulting from population loss and economic adversity and leading to overall neighborhood decline. Representing a mix of potential uses, vacant buildings are often located in the oldest and densest neighborhoods and are the first sign of a community in decline. Cities across the country are working to predict, prevent, and resolve abandonment through policy review, data collection, and analysis. The 2002 U-Albany Planning Studio, comprised of graduate students in the University at Albany’s Urban and Regional Planning Program, contracted with the Historic Albany Foundation to undertake a complete survey of vacant and abandoned buildings within a targeted area of Albany.

This Studio work revealed a number of pertinent findings that impact Albany’s unique vacant building dilemma. These include:

  • 787 buildings are vacant according to our field survey.
          • These vacancies are compiled in a comprehensive database, linked to a GIS, and contain data for each of the 68 different assessment criteria.
  • 309, or 7.5% of the 4,184 listed local historic buildings are vacant.
  • 36% of the vacant buildings in the survey area are considered historic.
  • Albany County, not the City, is responsible for the enforcement of tax liens and eventual foreclosure in the City of Albany.
  • The County cannot foreclose on properties until the third year of delinquency, as stipulated in the NYS Real Property Tax Law.

Once a model 19th century industrial city, Albany now faces the challenges of restoration, preservation, and reinvention. As Albany rises to meet these challenges, the city’s rich 300-year history and impressive number of historic districts can be assets which can encourage diversity, promote economic growth, and enhance the quality of life for residents.

Note: This document was produced by the 17 students enrolled in the 2002 UAlbany Planning Studio. Don was the head of the GIS group. An excerpt from the full document explains how GIS was used throughout the project:

Stockport, NY: Small town on the Hudson

A paper written for an early planning class at U Albany.

Statts House: A donated conservation easement

This paper outlines the process one family followed to establish a conservation easement on a historical property in the town of Stockport, NY.