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Harrisburg, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Vacant lots in Harrisburg's Allison Hill neighborhood -- which make up about a third of the neighborhood's land area -- were overgrown with weeds and debris, attracted crime and often served as illegal dumping sites. To address this, the Tri County Community Organization set out to clean up eight lots. Volunteers cleared the sites of debris, installed fencing and planted low-maintenance grass that only grows to six inches in height. This project opens up the space so that there's no place to hide for crime, so this project really helps to bring beauty to the neighborhood, Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator Donnell Brown said. Now that the lots are cleaned up, project organizers hope the spaces will help raise property values, as well as provide residents with a gathering space.

Readfield, ME

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Readfield's Age-Friendly Committee set out to enhance the town's public spaces and draw the community together. They purchased outdoor furniture to activate two spaces -- one outside the local public library and the other at Readfield Beach on Maranacook Lake. The beach's moveable Adirondack chairs give visitors a change to interact with each other. Additionally, the tables and chairs at the library allow residents to access free Wi-Fi service, even when the library building is closed. Library visitors of all wages can also rest there after enjoying the nearby story walk.

Ellsworth, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Ellsworth's once-bustling East End corridor had declined over several decades, with a 60 percent vacancy rate along Broadway Street. The Local Chamber of Commerce hoped to see the neighborhood rise again as a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use area. To promote its vision, the Chamber commissioned six murals celebrating local agricultural history. They also put up light pole banners and window clings with branding for the neighborhood and added benches, bistro tables and hanging planter baskets along Broadway Street. The Chamber then staged a historical walking tour, which garnered local news coverage and spurred the County historical association to consider designating the East End as an official historic district. In conjunction with these placemaking efforts, the Chamber launched a pop-up program for small businesses opening in the East End. Following that initiative, two of the participating decided to operate permanently in the neighborhood.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Pinellas County, FL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Innovative home maintenance, repair and support services

Description: The Florida Dream Center helps older adults in Pinellas County age in place, relying on federal grants and other funding sources to assist with home repairs and modifications. However, this funding is typically limited, meaning the nonprofit can only improve homes belonging to residents over the age of 62. To serve a larger subset of older adults, the Florida Dream Center created a program for residents between the ages of 50 to 61. Modifications include installing grab bars and handrails, replacing flooring, fixing holes in exterior walls, painting, rewiring exterior lights and mitigating rodents and other pests. By tapping a wide volunteer network to help make repairs, the Center has since expanded the services it offers to older homeowners.

St. Petersburg, FL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: The Florida Consumer Action Network Foundation temporarily transformed a street into a route capable of safely accommodating pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles all at once. The network saw the pop-up project as a way to build support among residents and business owners for Complete Streets. On a Sunday in October, they closed Central Avenue to vehicle traffic and installed four parklets. The parklets featured outdoor bookshelves, planers and seating, as well as a space to play bocce ball. In addition, project organizers added curb extensions at an intersection to slow traffic and narrow the crossing distance for pedestrians. While no vehicles were allowed on the road during the demonstration, the reconfiguration demonstrated pedestrian safety, even with traffic reintroduced. In 2019, the city approved a plan to redesign streets over the next two decades to accommodate cars, pedestrians and cyclists.

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