Ronald Littlefield, FAICP
3420 Glendon Dr
Over four decades, Ron Littlefield focused on urban change, environmental improvement, and revitalization. At the beginning of his planning career, the Chattanooga was declared to be “the dirtiest city in America.” Throughout a career encompassing a variety of issues and places, putting Chattanooga on the short list of progressive communities was a recurring theme. As it became “the most transformed city in America,” Littlefield was called to tell the story in other struggling cities all over the world. Concluding his two terms as mayor, Littlefield succeeded in placing a new green economic heart in his industrial city. Inducted in 2016.
This brief narrative highlights the most significant milestones in a career spanning more than four decades. It is supported in greater detail by the more complete resume included with this nomination package seeking induction into the College of Fellows, American Institute of Certified Planners. • Littlefield considers the part that he played in transforming Chattanooga from "the dirtiest city in America" in 1969 to a "clean and green" community equipped for the modern age as his most significant achievement. He succeeded in pushing for the drafting and adoption of standards, plans and policies promising a better future based on environmental sustainability and quality of life. The Chattanooga Climate Action Plan is a product of this effort and provides a pattern and legacy guide for the city's future. • His work and leadership in the field of planning continues with his current position as Senior Fellow of Governing Institute and Lead Analyst for the Living Cities / City Accelerator project. • As a two-term Mayor of Chattanooga (2005-13), he led successful city efforts to recruit new jobs and "install a new, green economic heart in a tired old industrial city". Volkswagen's billion-dollar investment in their new Platinum LEED Certified manufacturing facility was a key achievement. Additional suppliers to Volkswagen, an Amazon fulfillment center and other businesses spawned during this period pushed the projected total of new jobs to 15,000 according to analysts with the University of Tennessee. • Also as Mayor, he moved the city into a new digital dimension with the nation's largest (covering 600 square miles) and most robust fiber optic system providing gigabit internet speeds and offering an almost unlimited future as tech entrepreneurs are drawn to Chattanooga finding innovative ways to employ this exciting, environmentally clean and unique new infrastructure. • As Chairman of the Chattanooga City Council (on two separate occasions), he led the rewriting and re-adoption of the city charter - replacing a 78 year old commission form of government with a more representative and responsive mayor / council system designed to better serve a modern, diverse community. Also, he guided council actions necessary to support and implement Chattanooga's 21st Century Waterfront Plan - a $100 million project requiring significant tax and bond adjustments that implemented some of the city's earlier plans for revitalization and greening of downtown. • As Chattanooga's last elected Commissioner of Public Works 1987-1990, he initiated plans for solid waste and storm water management - setting new, ambitious environmental standards for the city. The downtown electric shuttle / parking system and the iconic Walnut Street pedestrian bridge were major projects. • In the mid 1980's, he headed Chattanooga Venture, a nonprofit planning organization. In that position, he managed a major public visioning program knows as Vision 2000. This was one of the first such large scale open planning efforts employing a greater degree of civic engagement and often is still cited nationally as a landmark achievement in changing the mood and direction of an entire community. The Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga's Riverwalk and Greenway System, renovation of the downtown Tivoli Theater, expansions of major parks and civic facilities and other such significant investments in a different kind of "clean" economy were principal outgrowths of this planning initiative. • In the early 1970's, he headed a field office for Research Triangle Institute studying the health effects of the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant for the US Environmental Protection Agency. Ironically, this large industrial facility - a major source of air pollution - occupied a 5000 acre site that later would become Enterprise South - the city's environmentally themed business park. Also while working for RTI, he was part of a study of HUD's "New Towns" - an early effort to improve quality of America's urban living environment. • Beginning his career with Tennessee State Planning Commission 1969-71, he wrote and secured legislative adoption of the Tennessee Scenic Routes System Act. The act was supported by a plan for repurposing of a bypassed portion of US 41 west of Chattanooga along the Tennessee River as one of the initial Scenic Routes in Tennessee. This was the first substantial effort to control signs and billboards and to establish scenic standards for Tennessee highways.
Over four decades, Ron Littlefield AICP focused on urban change, environmental improvement and revitalization. At the beginning of his planning career, the City of Chattanooga, was declared to be "the dirtiest city in America". Throughout a career encompassing a variety of issues and places, putting Chattanooga on the short list of progressive communities was a recurring theme. As it became "The most transformed city in America" Littlefield was called to tell the story in other struggling cities all over the world. Concluding his two terms as mayor, Littlefield succeeded in placing a new green economic heart in his industrial city.
Graduation Date: August, 1968
Degree Level: Undergraduate
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