Second of two parts (See Part 1: The La Plata tornado — Testament to planning)
From a planning perspective, the small bronze plaque on the front of the new town hall in La Plata says it well: “This building is dedicated to all of the people of La Plata who have always been able to turn adversity into opportunity.” Town leaders were determined to not just replace the central business district in the wake of destruction from a tornado 10 years ago, but to improve it.
“It was a tragedy but it was also seen as an opportunity from the very beginning. Even though people were in shock, that’s the way (town leaders) saw it and that was just extraordinary,” said Susan Van Buren, a former planner at the Maryland Department of Planning who worked on the La Plata design guidelines and now runs an energy consulting firm, TerraLogos, in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill. “There was occasional push back, but most everyone was seeing it for the greater good.” More