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Monroe, GA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To give people an outdoor space to socialize in the heart of downtown, the City of Monroe transformed its visitor center's concrete patio into a new mini-park. The City brightened up the area by adding planters, seating, outdoor games and a mural painted by local youth. The City then unveiled the new space during the local fall festival. Additionally, project organizers made enhancements to the existing hammock park located next to the visitor's center. The site offers visitors a spot to relax in one of several hammocks. To accommodate more foot traffic, the City added bench swings and pergolas for shade. Inspired by the visitor center improvements, nearby businesses put out their own planters by their storefronts. Project organizers say the upgrades helped lift the spirits of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington, DC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project activated a space outside the Genesis apartment community. Volunteers painted murals and installed lighting, planters and seating. This enabled organizers to state a fall harvest festival for residents.

New Ulm, MN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Downtown Action Team partnered with Minnesota Main Street to encourage residents of all ages to come downtown, walk down main street and learn about local history. To encourage socializing, they rearranged underutilized benches downtown, grouping some with new outdoor tables to create places for residents to sit and linger. Organizers installed plaques featuring photos and a brief narrative on the benches. Additionally, they adorned tabled with imagery and text explaining New Ulm's history.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Swanton, VT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: As part of efforts to redevelop its downtown, the Village of Swanton has worked to makes streets more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. To build community support, the Village staged a one-day traffic calming demonstration. Using hay bales and planters, the community created a barrier to separate the village's parking area from travel lanes, which successfully slowed down vehicle traffic. They also created bump-outs to shorten the distance needed to cross the street and make pedestrians more visible to passing drivers. During the pop-up, residents had the opportunity to make suggestions for long-term streetscape improvements. Following the demonstration, the Village planted trees along busy streets as a traffic calming measure. The Village also established a task force to look at other opportunities for future demonstration projects to test street infrastructure improvements.

Newport, VT

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Trails

Description: Newport's downtown sits on the southern shore of Lake Memphremagog, which extends north to Canada. But because privately-owned businesses and homes cut off the Newport's downtown from the lake, public access to the water was limited. With its Look to the Lake initiative, the town hoped to reorient itself to take advantage of lake activities -- something town officials hoped would have economic development benefits. When a local business owner offered up his private land to create a pedestrian connector trail and boat docks, the City was able to develop the waterfront. Grant funding enabled construction of a much-needed bridge at the site. Since then, the City has acquired more waterfront land, allowing it to create new trails and connect existing ones. The City has also added a parklet at the Newport Waterfront Recreational Trail's trailhead. Today, Newport residents have access to a seven-mile lakefront corridor.

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