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Willcox, AZ

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Despite years of neglect, the Heritage Courtyard represents a beloved and beautiful part of Willcox's downtown. To make the space more welcoming to residents of all ages, Willcox Theater and Arts -- whose building is adjacent to the courtyard -- installed benches, bulletin boards and planters. Additionally, a local craftsman constructed a new gateway for the space, which is coated in copper to pay homage to Arizona's mining history. The courtyard contributes to downtown walkability and is first project in the town's Downtown Revitalization Plan, paving the way for future community improvements. The City plans to use the park for special events, exhibits and storytelling activities.

Kuna, ID

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Kuna has a large parking lot in the center of its downtown that goes largely underused for most of the year. To spark the community's imagination, the City and Idaho Smart Growth hosted the Park for a Day event, which turned the lot into a pop-up plaza. The event featured live music, a food vendor and sketches illustrating ways the space could be permanently transformed. Attendees also contributed their own designs for the parking lot. Suggestions included using the space for a series of short-term, recurring events, such as an Oktoberfest, a Christmas village, a renaissance fair or themed dance nights. The City went on to explore several ideas from the pop-up event, including paving the parking lot with solar panels and installing green stormwater infrastructure to sustain landscaping at the site.

Montpelier, VT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To provide a place for cyclists and walkers to rest and socialize, this project developed a pocket park along an existing bike path. Guertin Pocket Park features a pergola -- a wooden structure with a roof -- to provide shelter from the sun or rain. Project organizers also incorporated seating and bike racks, as well as a rainwater collection system that feeds a small decorative garden. In 2021, the city decided to move the pocket park to a new location in the heart of downtown.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Dixon, NM

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To draw visitors to a park on the grounds of Dixon's local library, the Embudo Valley Library and Community Center installed picnic tables and benches at the site. In 2019, the library distributed a survey and hosted focus groups with residents to determine the community's needs, with seating emerging as a top priority. The community center commissioned local artists and craftspeople to create the tables and benches, which are ADA-compliant. One of the tables is located in the library's fruit orchard, near a traditional irrigation ditch known as an acequia. Project organizers say they chose the location to honor the community's cultural heritage. In the future, Center staff envision putting the benches and tables to use during local events, including the annual Fiesta de Santa Rosa.

Rio Arriba County, NM

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Accessibility of amenities

Description: Many residents in Vallecitos live without high-speed internet or even cellphone service. Because of these coverage gaps, the Vallecitos Library and Community Center is one of the only places people can get online to access community services and socialize with their neighbors. To make the facility more accessible for people of all ages, the library built a covered walkway and footbridge that connects from the parking lot into the building. This project installed metal panels and support posts, which allow the walkway to withstand high winds, provide shade from the sun and shield residents from rain.

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