Through our NeighborhoodsNOW program, Greater Kansas City LISC led residents and stakeholders of six urban neighborhoods through a quality of life planning process. (Ed. note: A full list of the neighborhoods can be found here.)
The result is a Quality of Life Plan, which identifies the critical issues that need to be addressed to help that neighborhood become a sustainable community – a clean and safe neighborhood where engaged citizens have an enhanced quality of life because of better access to jobs, child care, health care, education, green space, transportation, social services and affordable housing.
Accessibility was identified as an issue for the three Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) target neighborhoods. I’m pleased to report that, thanks to a grant from the Health Forward Foundation (Health Forward), we are making progress on the accessibility issue!
The Health Forward grant enabled Greater Kansas City LISC and our Kansas Policy Network to help ensure the passage of a Livable Streets resolution in Kansas.
But we’re not stopping there. The Health Forward grant also provided the resources to help LISC keep the momentum around the topic going by presenting advocacy training for the residents of our (KCK) target neighborhoods.
Livable Streets – sometimes referred to as Complete Streets – are roadways designed to allow for safe and convenient travel by all users, including motor vehicles, pedestrians (including those with disabilities), transit vehicles and bicyclists both along and across the corridor. By making roads more accessible for all modes of transportation, livable streets provide safe and convenient travel for persons of all ages and abilities, including children and the elderly.
The resident advocacy training was held in the newly reopened JFK Community Center and attended by roughly 25 neighborhood residents of varying ages and backgrounds.
Julie Seward, a LISC consultant, moderated the training, and BikeWalkKC presented a livable streets overview during the morning session.
In the afternoon, participants broke into small groups and conducted a “walkability audit” of the neighborhood. This was an opportunity for residents to get out in the neighborhood and to strategically look at the issues that curb (pun intended!) their ability to bike and walk from one area to another. Questions the audit asked included, “Was it easy to cross the street?” and “Did drivers behave well?”
As residents reconvened, the moderator asked on a scale of 1 being awful and 6 being excellent, how did the neighborhood stack up? None of the participants rated their walk above a 2. It was clear there is much work to be done!
Wyandotte County Commissioner Mark Holland, who chairs Healthy Communities Wyandotte’s “Environmental Infrastructure Taskforce,” discussed his work as a commissioner and his desire to advocate that the levees running through Wyandotte County be open to pedestrians/bicyclists.
Commissioner Holland stated the levees run for more than five miles, connecting neighborhoods and community assets. In numerous other cities levees are open to the public for biking, walking and jogging. The participants indicated a desire to assist him in advocating for the levees to be opened as they’d provide a strong community asset.
Our advocacy training produced good conversation and discussion, generated excitement toward advocacy opportunities and was an overall success! It was apparent that the participants, while at different levels and advocacy abilities, shared a commitment to their neighborhoods and a desire to improve the built environment.