In 2010, we were proud to host our first Urban Pathways Summit in New
Orleans. Funded by The Kresge Foundation, our Urban Pathways Initiative
UPI) aims to provide opportunities for healthier living in low-income
neighborhoods where the demand for improved health and community
empowerment is greatest. Putting together this initial conference allowed us to
convene a wide range of trail developers, city planners and other stakeholders
from around the country. It also allowed us to showcase the city’s Lafitte
Corridor, which we have been actively promoting with local partners and
helping to develop into a linear park and trail (funding is now in place, and
trail design should begin in 2012, with construction planned as early as 2013).
Since then, our national network of urban trails professionals and
advocates has continued to grow, and we were excited to gather these
community leaders once again at the second annual Urban Pathways Summit
in May 2011. This time, we met in Cleveland, Ohio, and were able to
spotlight a series of promising developments along the 2.1-mile Morgana
Run Trail, a core project of our Midwest Regional Office. From providing a
venue for local murals and artwork, to providing space to host community
events, the trail has helped rejuvenate the city’s Slavic Village neighborhood.
It’s a perfect model for the power of community engagement around urban
pathways, and how a simple strip of pavement can be the source of great local
pride and activity.
That same month, we further celebrated the community-building power
of rail-trails in Springfield, Mass. The city’s Connecticut River Walk and
Bikeway, a 3.7-mile corridor along the riverfront, has faced challenges of
access and public awareness. Because a large segment of the trail is elevated
and runs above street level, many neighbors aren’t aware of it; in other areas,
even those who know of the trail don’t have a nearby access point to get up
to the pathway. So as part of our UPI work in Springfield, RTC’s Northeast
Regional Office helped organized a community event to introduce more local
residents to a great resource in their own backyard.
The result was a huge success, as nearly 400 people attended “Fun on the
River Walk,” held along the trail in the Brightwood neighborhood on May
Promotional flyers for the event were distributed in English and
Spanish, and residents of all ages flocked to the River Walk to enjoy numerous
activities and food, all the while growing more familiar and comfortable with
the River Walk as a community asset.
Fun on the River Walk” was also a great opportunity to showcase the
extensive local support of the trail. Our partners in the event included the
Brightwood Community School Based Health Center, city of Springfield
Planning and Economic Development, North End Campus Coalition, North
End Citizen’s Council, Partners for a Healthier Community, Riverview Senior