Autobiography of Dom

Dominic Nozzi was born on Monday morning, 12:01 am on February 15th, 1960 – one minute after Valentine’s Day — at General Hospital in New Britain CT – the home of Stanley Tools, where my father was employed. Dom started walking at the age of 6 months.

The Nozzi family soon moved to Rochester NY. We first lived in a rental house at 35 Sander Street in downtown Rochester, where I attended kindergarten at Nathaniel Hawthorne School 25 on North Goodman Street. The family then moved to 36 Horizon Drive in Penfield (a sprawling, car dependent suburb of Rochester), because my mother disliked all the crime she heard about in Rochester, and my father had learned that the Penfield School District (a suburb of Rochester) was highly rated for academics. My father retired after working for 25 years at Xerox in nearby Webster NY.

Dom played Pop Warner football for the Penfield Lions. While a student at Scribner Road Elementary School, he set a school record (that may still stand today) in the triple jump – leaping more than 30 feet. He also set the Scribner Road School annual record for the most trips to Mr. Morton’s Principal’s Office. He was sent to the Principal’s Office 13 times in 6th grade for misconduct, at the age of 12. His 13th trip was on the last day of school that year, allowing him to surpass the 12 times his best friend – Rob – had been sent that year. His offense? Throwing a large hollow plastic checker from a checkerboard game in a classroom.

One day in 6th Grade, Dom was matched to run the 100-yard dash against a schoolmate named Rhonda (who Dom had his first crush on in 4th Grade). Rhonda was a neighbor friend who lived on Woody Lane next to the Nozzi house. The matching was due to Dom and Rhonda being known as the best, fastest athletes at the elementary school. Rhonda easily outran Dom on that day in Scribner Road’s version of the Battle of the Sexes.

Dom played for Sunrise in the Penfield Little League. As a second baseman, Dom was the lead-off hitter, batting .306 for the year and being named the most improved player on the team. He was selected as an alternate for the Little League All-Star Game.

In the 1960s, the Rochester area was hit with several gigantic blizzards. Dom and his neighborhood friends engaged in many days of shoveling snow and playing street hockey.

While at Bay Trail Middle School, as part of his Catholic Church confirmation ceremony, Dom selected “Jesse” as his middle name.

He attended high school at Penfield Senior High School. There he made all-county as a flanker for the varsity football team. He was also selected the outstanding offensive back for the team in 1977. He also made the all-county track & field team in the long- and triple-jump (he briefly held the school record in the triple jump), and made it to the New York State High School track and field championships in the triple jump in the spring of 1978.

Dom attended college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff from 1978 through 1981. As a Freshman, he made the dean’s list due to his high grade point average (3.89). He transferred to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where he obtained a bachelor of arts degree in Environmental Science in 1983. At the age of 21, after having read The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine and What On Earth is an Atheist? By Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Dom came to a philosophical position that he was most proud of throughout his life – he concluded that he was an atheist, a view he held throughout his life since then.

Dom then obtained a Master of Science degree in urban and regional planning from Florida State University in Tallahassee in 1985. In his second year of that two-year degree program, Dom achieved a 4.0 grade point average and was placed on the FSU Dean’s List. He has always felt that his decision to obtain a Master’s Degree was the most important, beneficial decision in his life, as it opened up to him a much more intellectual, rewarding life and professional career.

As an aside, it should be noted that one of Dom’s best-ever life decisions was to forgo college athletics (in football or track & field), despite his strong need for financial support to be able to afford college (an athletic scholarship could have assisted a great deal). And despite his being recognized as “all-county” in both football and track & field. Instead of college athletics, he opted to obtain a BA in the natural sciences. Perhaps an even more important life decision Dom made was to then go on to obtain a graduate degree in town planning. Both of these college degrees greatly expanded, refined and improved Dom’s mind through all that he learned and read, and instilled a lifelong desire to engage in an adult life rich in higher learning, teaching, writing and conversation. The degrees made it possible for him to pursue a professional career in the highly rewarding and exciting field of town and transportation planning, which Dom was to find are two of his leading lifelong passions — passions that he continues to pursue after retiring from his job as a town planner. Had Dom opted for college athletics instead, his intellectual, social and financial life would have been greatly diminished.

In 1986, Dom’s college degrees enabled him to be hired as an associate planner for Gainesville FL. In 1989, he was promoted to the senior planner position for Gainesville.

Also in 1989, Dom saw a videotape of a speech given by Andres Duany at the Boston School of Fine Arts, and was so intellectually energized by the speech (some would call it a moment of epiphany) that he remained a proudly passionate “new urbanist” and “walkability” advocate for the reminder of his life.

In the mid-90s, he served for 18 months as the growth rate control planner for Boulder CO.

In his 20 years as an environmental and urban design planner for Gainesville, Dom authored the City’s long-range Gainesville plans in recreation, solid waste and environmental conservation in the year 1990. He prepared Land Development Regulations for large-format retailers, electronic signs, density bonus points, rural residential zoning, form-based overlay codes, definition of terms, street connectivity, and an urban design toolbox. He incorporated a great deal of “Plain English” terms to replace jargon in city regulations and other documents. He authored a large number of staff recommendations and made public presentations to a large number of citizen groups, and appointed and elected officials.

Dom prepared a sustainability indicators report for Gainesville. The report touched on a broad number of quality of life issues such as air pollution, gasoline consumption, car ownership, community expenditures by category, traffic volumes, waste generation rates. He assembled existing data over the past few decades to show trends for both Gainesville and Alachua County.

In 1993, Dom was selected as Employee of the Year for the Gainesville Department of Community Development.

Dom authored the land use, urban design, and transportation plans for Gainesville’s long-range comprehensive plan in the year 2000.

Dom authored Gainesville’s creek setback land development regulations to protect creeks within the city. He prepared a “When Your Neighbor is a Creek” brochure for citizens living near a regulated creek.

Dom substantially revised and edited the City of Gainesville FL “Development Guide” (a guide for developers, citizens, officials & staff to more easily navigate the City regulations and development process).

Dom served as the lead planner for a Gainesville’s greenway bicycle and pedestrian creek-side and rail-trail recreational and commuter trail system. The process was highly contentious and emotionally-charged.

Dom prepared a matrix of permitted uses and dimensional requirements for a development within Gainesville, regulations for Gainesville describing the conversion of a conventional shopping center into a walkable town center, regulations for protecting significant ecological communities in Gainesville, a land use accessibility index for Gainesville, regulations for controlling building height using design criteria in Gainesville, a traditional neighborhood development ordinance for Gainesville, and authored the Gainesville noise control regulations.

Dom was the Duckpond Neighborhood Association president in Gainesville from 1999 to 2005.

After retiring from his position as senior planner for Gainesville in 2007, Dom maintained an independent consulting practice in which he wrote, edited, and gave speeches about street design, urban design, sustainability, smart growth, transportation choice, and quality of life.

Dom was a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism. He maintained a professional certification as an American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), was a member of the American Planning Association, and was a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP).

Dom was in the Who’s Who for the South & Southwest.

Dom authored a book entitled The Road to Ruin: An Introduction to Sprawl and How to Cure It, published in 2003 by Praeger Publishers. He also self-published in 2010 a second book entitled The Car is the Enemy of the City, about transportation planning, cities and quality of life. Dom was a contributing author to New Urbanism & Beyond, a book published by Rizzoli Publishers in 2008.

Dom served on the Board of Directors for Bike/Walk Virginia in 2007 and 2008.

Dom prepared a 30-page report evaluating the feasibility and appropriateness of a statewide advocacy organization advocating for bicyclists and pedestrians for Bike/Walk Virginia in 2010 and 2011.

Dom was a certified national Complete Streets instructor, and served as co-instructor for workshops from 2008 through 2011 in Dakota County MN, Duluth MN, Topeka KS, Moorhead MN, Dayton OH, Lawrence KS.

Dom edited the Richmond VA Downtown Master Plan, as prepared by Dover/Kohl urban design consulting firm, for readability, accuracy, terminology, in 2008.

Dom delivered approximately 60 public presentations in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, New York and Florida regarding suburban sprawl, traffic congestion, Complete Streets, quality urban design, Big-Box Retail.

Dom served as an adjunct professor in sustainability and town planning for the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Dom maintained a number of Internet websites: A walkable streets urban design principles site, a lifelong and chronological travelogue of his adventures (Dom’s Voyages and Adventures), a “Plan B” blog site about town planning, transportation and sustainability, and a “Best-Ever” blog site listing all-time favorites in several categories of interest.

Dom brewed his own beer, cider and wine from 2003 through 2009, made his own pasta, and was an accomplished cook.

In 2004, Dom ran the New York City Marathon. In 2011, Dom ran a time of 50 minutes and 23 seconds in the Bolder Boulder 10-kilometer road race, which made him one of only three percent of all of the 56,000 runners that day who ran a time under his age (which was 51 years old that day).

In December of 2010, Dom reached the milestone of having read 1,000 books in his life. Perhaps the most important of those books for Dom was Cultural Materialism by Marvin Harris, Cities and Automobile Dependence by Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy, and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.

Dom was an avid traveler and adventurer. His favorite sight-seeing trips were to Western Europe – particularly Copenhagen and Italy. He enjoyed scuba diving (logging 165 dives as of June 2008). His favorite dives were in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Bonaire, and Florida. He loved kayaking and in his 24 years in Florida, he probably kayaked every navigable water body in the state. His favorite outdoor adventure hikes were in Yosemite National Park, Glacier National Park, Alaska, the Colorado Rockies (particularly Rocky Mtn National Park and Indian Peaks) and Yellowstone National Park. His favorite sight-seeing visits in America were to San Francisco, Portland OR and ME, Savannah, Key West, Annapolis, New York City, Ashville NC, Nantucket, Marth’s Vineyard, Burlington VT and Charleston. His most cherished ski trips were to Innsbrook Austria, St Moritz Switzerland, Sun Peaks British Columbia, Aspen/Vail/Snowmass/Crested Butte/Eldora/Breckenridge in Colorado, and best of all, Bormio in the Italian Alps.

Over the years, Dom lived in Penfield NY, Flagstaff AZ, Plattsburgh NY, Tallahassee FL, Gainesville FL, Richmond VA, and Bloomington IN. He currently lives in Boulder CO.

This link is a YouTube slide show of Dom through the years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtzEKQo29UU

Updated December 2011

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