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Manchester, NH

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Trails

Description: The local chapter of the Nature Conservancy hoped to make the Manchester Cedar Swamp -- a popular nature preserve within Manchester's city limits -- more accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities. To do this, the group built the 1.2-mile All Persons Trail, which they designed to be level and unsloping. The trail is wide enough to accommodate two wheelchairs or two people with guide dogs. To help people with low vision navigate, project organizers created an audio tour app in English and Spanish. The Conservancy also installed benches and interpretive signs along the path.

Bedford, VA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Trails

Description: The Town of Bedford installed benches, bike racks, signage and trash cans along walking and bike routes, including a path known locally as the Loop, as well as two newer paths. The Town created a map to display in kiosks, which show three different options for walking the paths. Public art was a focus of this project -- the benches and racks were designed by local artists and a local metal fabrication company built them. To include residents in the planning process, the Town held a Design the Sign workshop, where attendees suggested their ideas for sign graphics. An artist then incorporated those suggestions in the final design. Project organizers say improvements to the Loop have brought awareness for the Town's efforts to revitalize the Bridge Street area.

Grand Rapids, MI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Trails

Description: To encourage residents to walk and socialize, the North End Wellness Coalition installed seven benches along the North Quarter Pathways, an urban walking trail in Grand Rapids' Creston neighborhood. The ADA-compliant seating is designed to accommodate residents with limited mobility. To promote walking on the Pathways' five trail loops, the Coalition also founded an Active Living Team, which is working to plan community events and programming. Project organizers say working with City staff to install the benches laid the ground for other improvements throughout Grand Rapids, including upgrades to local parks and new scooter and bike racks.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Jackson, MS

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of Jackson set out to demonstrate the value of vibrant public spaces. This project was part of larger open streets efforts, which close streets to vehicle traffic residents to gather, walk and play there. First, the City created a parklet on Congress Street in St. Paul's downtown. The temporary mini-park fit in the footprint of an on-street parking space. The City outfitted the space with outdoor furniture, allowing residents to relax and socialize. Organizers say the parklet also drove business to local restaurants, providing outdoor dining space for customers. To gauge residents' reaction to the space, the City conducted a survey during the pop-up. The City has since worked to develop guidelines for parklet creation, allowing local businesses to set up their own outdoor spaces.

Jackson, MS

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: To recast public spaces for people rather than vehicle traffic, the City of Jackson launched an Open Streets initiative. First, the City installed a parklet -- a small park that fits in the footprint of a parking space. The parklet is just one component of us trying to make Congress Street more pedestrian-friendly. This street was a very automobile-oriented street. It was very traffic heavy. It was very busy, urban designer Travis Crabree said. The City painted a mural onsite. To demarcate the space, project organizers also painted vibrant blue dots along the street, demarking it as a place to gather. Additionally, the City purchased picnic tables and flexible furniture, which it set out in Smith Park. Local organizations -- such as the Parks and Recreation Department -- can now use the furniture for downtown events.

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