Saturday, March 08, 2014

Dan Cary, eloquent advocate for New Urbanism, dies at 64 … by gimleteye

I moved to Miami in 1992 on the weekend of Hurricane Andrew from the Florida Keys. South Florida was in chaos from the storm. My work as an activist started in the Keys, trying to protect the fragile backcountry wilderness. Following the thread of algae blooms and pollution quickly lead upstream, to water management and land use planning practices in Miami-Dade and to the counties that similarly edge the Everglades.

One of the first issues to attract my attention as an environmentalist, advocating for sensible growth of the urban fringe, was the plan by Blockbuster and Wayne Huizinga to build a sprawling theme park in far western Broward.

Out of civic objections to Blockbuster (I hope I have my chronology right), a group of planning professionals already engaged in trying to mitigate the rapid sprawl of Broward and the South Florida Water Management District convened a charrette on what was obliquely referred to as the C-9 Basin, incorporating the drainage areas between Lake Okeechobee, across Palm Beach and Martin Counties, down to Broward.

Dan Cary made so much sense on the community planning front, I could not believe he actually lived in a state constitutionally hostile to even one measure of smart growth so long as it was not accompanied by ten measures of suburban sprawl. (Dan was a member of the Seaside Institute )

The following, from the Palm Beach Post, does faint justice to his important work and career:
Dan Cary, 64, made his mark in Palm Beach County as town planner
By Jorge Milian
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Dan Cary, one of the early proponents of New Urbanism and traditional town planning who served as West Palm Beach’s planning director from 1999 to 2003, died Thursday night after a long illness. He was 64. Before going to work for the city, Cary was executive director of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council from 1985 to 1994 and planning director for the South Florida Water Management District.
Dan was in the midst of a group of smart, talented professional land use planners who persist, endure and fight for communities to the human scale.

I didn't stay in touch with Dan, who mostly held to the north of Miami-Dade and Broward where there was still lots of open space, from a land use planning perspective. His loss diminishes all of us.


Anonymous said...

Knew Dan well while working in Palm Beach County, good man and promoted good sound planning and new urbanism in a more realistic fashion that the supposed top new town planners of today.

Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Planners hate what has happened in Miami. Miami 21 and the City of Miami let developers pay bribes, called Public Benefits, and get whatever height and density they want. Checkbook Planning.

Fred Truby said...

From Fred Truby:
Dan came into our lives when I was in 3rd Grade. He was a student at UM studying ornithology,. The family legind is that Dan sat in on one of my dad's lectures (lingusitics) and the two were close friends from that day on. It's easy to believe, because just like my Dad, Dan possesed that rare mix of a high intellect, a fierce passion for noble causes, athletecism, toughness, charisma, and a wicked sense of humor. To my five brothers and sisters and me, Dan became an uncle in every sense of the word except biological. To say he babysat any of us doesn't do him justice: With Dan, it seemed anytime you were with him, it was an adventure. Whether it was hanging out in the Everglades wilderness for hours and hours observing the endangered Kite, or shooting his 357 Magnum into our swimming pool, or witnessing him deck one of my sister's boyfriends, or simply cooking so much molasses popcorn that we needed 2 kitchen sinks to hold it all, Dan was 10 feet tall in our eyes. I can honestly say that a huge part of the person I am is from Dan's influence. We have lost a family member, and the planet has lost one of its protectors.

Gimleteye said...

Thank you for the note …

Anonymous said...

It is hard to be a humanist and live in South Florida. This is a place where you make money so you can travel to other places to experience landscapes built by humanists. Dan Cary was a humanist and he lived in South Florida. For that simple fact his life should be celebrated.

Susie Truby said...

Dan was an incredible, amazing and hell of a funny man! And he did have a wicked sense of humor as my brother Fred said in his comment! I was lucky enough to have Dan in my life from my childhood years until becoming an adult. He would tell us these stories and you never knew if you could believe them or not! Until after a few years we figured out that if Dan said "honest" then you knew the story was true! And what outrageous stories they were! And I can still here him clomping through the house (and if you knew Dan and what a large guy with the broadest shoulders and huge presence he had, clomping is a perfect word to describe the way he'd walk through the house!) and I mean it in a loving way! But I can still hear him loudly singing "Oh Susie Q!" almost everytime he would see me! My life was enriched and SO MUCH more fun having been lucky enough to have 'uncle Dan' in it! and I know my family feels the same way! You will be missed Dan! Say hi to daddy when you see him!

Gimleteye said...

Thanks for the comment and I hope other friends of Dan who read this blog will add theirs.