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Bath, ME

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Organizers with Age-Friendly Communities of Lower Kennebec and City of Bath hoped to create inclusive public spaces for residents of all ages to enjoy. They worked with students to install outdoor chess and checkers tables at a new downtown plaza and a near a local assisted living facility. The tables are ADA accessible include benches designed for people of all ages and abilities. A spectator bench allows onlookers to take a seat and watch the players. To ensure all community members can play, game sets are available for loan at the local library and nearby businesses.

Gastonia, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services beautified a public space near Gastonia's Schiele Museum and the town's library. To encourage residents to get out and walk, the Department added a sidewalk mural at the library, which depicts astronauts on a spacewalk. Museum staff installed an outdoor exhibit about the Solar System. In addition, project organizers commissioned a local metalworks shop to create benches with a celestial theme. Other placemaking enhancements included adding planters and new graphic designs to adorn the nearby transit shelter, as well an amenity map display to help visitors locate nearby trails and greenspace.

Kennett Square, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: With the goal of supporting small businesses downtown, this project created the first parklet in Kennett Square. Before installing the mini-park, only one side of the borough's main street featured wide sidewalks and could be closed to vehicles on the weekends. Project organizers hoped to expand the space available for outdoor dining and gathering. To do this, the Historic Kennett Square repurposed three on-street parking spaces, installing deck flooring, adding overhead string lights and setting out picnic tables and planters. Four restaurants -- two coffee shops and two restaurants -- used the space. Volunteers designed the parklet be torn down ahead of the winter months and set back up in the spring. Project organizers say the parklet helped demonstrate the value of placemaking projects.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Metuchen, NJ

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Businesses in Metuchen's downtown struggled during pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020. To help with their recovery and resilience, the Metuchen Downtown Alliance made investments in public outdoor spaces, turning a block of New Street into a pedestrian oriented New Streetery. After the Borough Council voted to ease zoning requirements, the Alliance converted street parking spaces into parklets. This created outdoor space for businesses -- including restaurants, shops and fitness studios -- to operate safely. To accommodate diners, the Downtown Alliance purchased over 100 tables with chairs, as well as infrared heaters and lighting. In the summer months, New Street closed to vehicle traffic on weekends, with partial street closures continuing into the winter. Project organizers say that although COVID-19 has since waned, walkability and outdoor dining remain part of Metuchen's downtown culture.

Perth Amboy, NJ

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Public art installations

Description: The City engaged a local artist to create a mural in for Perth Amboy Housing Authority's community room. The City surveyed residents, using their input to inform the artwork's subject matter.

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