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San Antonio, TX

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of San Antonio's World Heritage Office made improvements to the World Heritage Trail, which connects five Spanish colonial missions. The trail is one of only 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S. To make the trail a more inviting place for people of all ages to walk, run and bike, the City added an interactive art installation beneath a highway overpass, which depicts each mission's location along the San Antonio River. They also installed limestone benches along the trail. Project organizers say the upgrades are meant to help visitors view a series of murals painted as part of a public art initiative.

Lynn, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: While downtown Lynn offers shopping and dining, the city offers few recreational opportunities for older adults. To address this, the City of Lynn has made improvements to the downtown district to make the space more appealing to older residents. First, project organizers created a parklet near Lynn Commons, turning an on-street parking space into a mini-park with benches and shade trees. They also made roadway improvements, including adding curb cuts to make sidewalks safer and more accessible. Finally, they worked with a partner organization to hang 80 large-scale murals. Since the improvements, the City launched a series of walking tours featuring the murals, which are installed throughout the community.

Milwaukee, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project contributed to efforts to revitalize a park, creating a safe, outdoor gathering for residents of Milwaukee's Historic King Drive neighborhood. Improvements included bollards with solar-powered lights, accessible picnic tables, trash receptacles and orange benches branded with the name of the neighborhood. Additionally, the BID convened an art task force and used tax increment financing to fund a new mural in the neighborhood. The success of the project also build momentum for branding efforts in nearby neighborhoods.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Gary, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Bikeability

Description: To address the first mile/last mile problem -- describing challenges riders face bridging the distance between transit stops and community amenities -- this project launched the Cycle219 Bikeshare Program. The Legacy Foundation purchased electric bikes, added bike racks and installed signage to help cyclists navigate. To make the program affordable, organizers provided annual passes to older adults and low-income residents. Additionally, project organizers used tactical urbanism to test ideas for improving crosswalk safety in Gary's Miller neighborhood. They used stencils to paint sharrows and an artistic crosswalk onto the pavement, hoping to make cyclists and pedestrians more visible to drivers. In the future, organizers plan to expand the bikeshare into more communities.

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To promote walkability, economic development and better quality of life for residents, the Chicago Department of Transportation created a replicable prototype for a People Spot. Consisting of a wooden platform, the People Spots transform on-street parking spaces into outdoor patios. To help neighborhood groups set up their own People Spots, the City published construction plans and an assembly manual for the parklets online. Part of the City's Livable Streets Program, organizers say the temporary infrastructure helps neighborhoods overcome economic hardship by encouraging residents to walk and frequent local businesses. The City installed its first People Spot in the South Side Chatham neighborhood in 2018. That iteration measured about six feet wide by 20 feet long, but the platforms can be as long as 80 feet.

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