Northampton, MA – Local municipalities and organizations will get a boost through a partnership with Healthy Hampshire to promote infrastructure projects, policies and maps that promote walkability and healthy town center design. Healthy Hampshire will provide funding and staff assistance to support projects in twelve communities, including Amherst, Belchertown, Blandford, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Russell, Williamsburg and Worthington.
The funding commitment follows a strategic planning process in which Healthy Hampshire gathered information about policies and practices that support or inhibit access to healthy food and physical activity in the Hilltowns, and hosted a series of community forums to hear residents’ vision for healthy and vibrant communities. Results from the strategic planning process indicated strong support and opportunities for enhancing the walkability and connectivity of town centers, as well as the promotion of local recreation and economic assets to residents and visitors. To view the report compiled by the American Institute of Architects, go to: http://tinyurl.com/HealthyHilltownsReport.
As a result of the strategic planning process, Healthy Hampshire released a Request for Proposals in November 2016. A total of $35,706 in funding, in addition to staff time and technical assistance, were committed to support the following projects:
Riverwalk Development in Huntington: The Town of Huntington along with local architect Jeff Penn will develop access to the riverfront through the lot behind Town Hall by designing a riverwalk with fully accessible public paths for exercising, relaxing, picnicking or fishing. ($4,500)
“Huntington is grateful for this award as a catalyst for the long-range recreation improvements we envision. We are partnering with other communities and planning agencies to increase access and preservation of our remarkable forests, hills and history as we encourage complimentary recreational and economic development.”
Jeff Penn, local architect
Town Center Development in Goshen: The Hilltown Community Development Corporation will work with town stakeholders to develop a vision for Goshen town center with an emphasis on safe walking, signage, street scape design and walking trails that may connect the town center to the DAR State Park and other recreational areas. ($7,000)
“I am very excited to be working with the Health Hampshire staff on town center development in Goshen. It is clear that Healthy Hampshire has made a commitment to the Hilltowns. We look forward to the investment this project will bring to our rural community.”
Dave Christopolis, Executive Director of the Hilltown Community Development Corporation
Town Center Demonstration Day in Williamsburg: The Town of Wiliamsburg, in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, will organize Burgy Revelation Day, a one-day event that will demonstrate through temporary infrastructure improvements how Williamsburg Center can become a more walkable, vibrant place. The event will demonstrate potential greenspace improvements, complete streets improvements, and municipal facilities investments. ($8,000)
Hilltowns Destination Map: The Jacob’s Ladder Business Association (JLBA) will create a “Hilltown Destinations” map, which will include at least two dozen family friendly, well-marked, accessible trail heads in twelve Hilltown communities. To support hikers and tourists, the map will also include JLBA businesses and access points for food, water, gasoline, and bathrooms for public use. Healthy Hampshire funding will be used to promote maps in the following towns: Blandford, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Russell and Worthington. ($2,500)
Worthington Walking Trails Map: The Town of Worthington will create a detailed map of the walking trails in town, which will outline current and suggested walking tours of various lengths and levels of difficulty. ($3,706)
Complete Streets in Amherst: The Town of Amherst will develop a complete streets policy to guide infrastructure and road design that promotes pedestrian and bicycle safety. ($6,000)
Fully Accessible Trail in Belchertown: The Town of Belchertown will design a fully accessible trail system around Lake Wallace, integrated with the development of the former Belchertown State School property and linked to the town’s schools, conservation lands, and Jessica’s Boundless Playground. ($4,000)
“Belchertown residents have worked on the accessible nature trail for several years and are thrilled to receive funding from Healthy Hampshire to advance the next steps. As the redevelopment of the former state school is starting in earnest with assisted living, this trail will serve an immediate need for exercise opportunities and to connect to nearby amenities.”
Doug Albertson, Town Planner, Belchertown Planning Department
About Healthy Hampshire
Healthy Hampshire is focused on improving people’s health in Hampshire County and the Hilltowns by collaborating with municipal leaders, elected officials, public health departments, planners, businesses, community organizations, and residents. It is part of the Mass in Motion statewide initiative through the Department of Public Health. It is administered by the City of Northampton in partnership with the Collaborative for Educational Services. The mission of Healthy Hampshire is to reduce rates of chronic disease in its partner communities by effecting changes to policies and systems that encourage physical activity, healthy food access, improved patient care, and linkages between healthcare systems and community-level prevention activities.