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Helper City, UT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Helper City Library's Dark Sky Observer Club is a group of predominately older adults with a passion for dark skies and astronomy. To encourage new residents to share in their love of outer space -- and to get help residents stay active -- the City of Helper created a Solar System walk along the local riverwalk. The one-mile path features a signpost for each planet in the Solar System, installed at intervals proportional to each planet's distance from the sun. Additionally, the signs display a QR codes, which link to audio recordings with more information about each planet. Organizers have divided the path into several smaller walks, including Mission to Mars and a comet's journey. Helper is a certified dark skies community and organizers hope the project helps educate visitors about the importance of containing light pollution.

Allentown, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley installed new tables, benches and chairs, lighting and flower beds at the entrance to a local senior center. The enhancements helped create a safe, comfortable outdoor space for community members of all ages. Nearly 90 older adults use the Center on a daily basis and visitors now use the space to relax and converse. Project organizers report visitors and staff appreciate the beautiful space and say it has instilled a sense of pride in the community. Inspired by the success of this project, the United Way went on to plan a similar gathering space at another community center.

Afton, IA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of Afton built a portable parklet, which City staff can easily set up around town. The temporary patio takes up the space of three on-street parking spaces and accommodates tables and chairs for a dozen people. It also includes shade sails to keep visitors out of the sun. Volunteers -- including local high school students -- constructed the parklet out of recycled wooden pallets. Designed to be broken down and stored for winter, the parklet offers extra outdoor seating for local restaurants parklet features shade sails to block out the sun. In addition, the City deploys it on the town square for community events, such as parades and the Fourth of July.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

St. Paul, MN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: The city government in St. Paul hoped to enhance walkability through safety improvements at two unmarked pedestrian crossings along Marion Street. To accomplish that, the city created two long-term temporary crosswalks at Ravoux and Fuller Streets. The work included adding pedestrian crosswalk signs, painting high-visibility block-pattern crosswalk markings and installing pedestrian refuge islands and bump-outs. The city also restricted parking near the intersections and installed a temporary radar speed sign along the corridor. The project enabled local government agencies and civic organizations to gather data needed to support permanent crosswalks upgrades in the area. Using the results, the city began its re-envisioning Marion Street as a pedestrian-friendly, multi-modal corridor in 2021.

St. Paul, MN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Inclusive public space improvements

Description: St. Paul's North End, originally settled around 1850, once was a magnet for European immigrants who worked for the railroads. In the late 1900s the neighborhood became a haven for migrants from Laos, Somalia and Burma, making it one of the most diverse places in Minnesota. The District 6 Planning Council, a local community organization that later changed its name to the North End Neighborhood Association, wanted a way to convey multilingual community and events information to residents who don't use the internet. The organization purchased five message boards and install them at two community gardens, at an outdoor seating area by an ice cream shop and in other locations.

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