by Susan Smith
The Fort Carson Army Base in Colorado Springs is experiencing a population boom. In an effort to plan its land use in a more sustainable and sensitive way, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is using its geographic information system, enhanced by CommunityViz software, to produce data-based visualizations to help local participants envision the spatial, economic, and visual effects of planning choices.
Fort Carson covers 130,000 acres (53,000 hectares) from the southern end of Colorado Springs almost to the town of Pueblo. Most of the facilities and infrastructure are concentrated toward the north and consist of operational and maintenance facilities for soldiers and a vehicle repository.
But the base is expecting an influx of about 5,000 new soldiers — plus families — in the next year or so, and more in the future. Over the next few years, Fort Carson could double in population. There is plenty of land to accommodate new growth, but planners are thinking beyond military utility to consider building a community, with housing, daycare, schools, shopping, and recreation.
Several villages are envisioned, each having its own personality. These "towns" would be linked by roads and trails to bring people closer together. One planning goal is to site the towns to minimize travel time and expense.
According to Hal Alguire at the installation's environmental office, Fort Carson planners have been interested in sustainability for several years. He says: "One of the goals focuses on master planning community development. We recently developed ten planning principles fashioned around smart-growth development." For each principle, they established criteria by which to measure success and turned to geographic information systems (GIS) to assess how each siting scheme would satisfy the various criteria. >>>
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Overview of Fort Carson Headquarters and Simulation Center as displayed by the CommunityViz GIS software.
Image: ForeSee Consulting (4C)
Proposed changes for the military base. Green backgrounds indicate areas where significant changes are proposed.
Image: ForeSee Consulting
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