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Small grant gives big start to Safe Routes

If the geography represented by the people in attendance at a recent workshop was any indication, there is widespread interest among municipal officials in Safe Routes to Parks.

Fox Cities Greenways presented the workshop at the Neenah headquarters of Miron Construction on Nov. 8, with the support of a $500 grant from the Environmental Stewardship Fund within the Community Foundation.

The afternoon informational session drew planners, engineers, parks officials and health department staff and community representatives from throughout the Fox Cities, Oshkosh, Calumet County and the Waupaca areas.

Participants marked up maps of various parts of the region, identifying parks, playgrounds, boat landings and other green spaces, and the barriers to getting there.

“Trails or other safe routes provide great recreational opportunities but they can also be important for transportation,” says Kim Biedermann, a Fox Cities Greenways volunteer and a planner with the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. She organized the workshop, along with fellow volunteer board members.

The range of locations and occupations of the attendees suggests the opportunity for a regional approach, Biedermann says. “It shows the importance of collaborating outside of our municipal boundaries.”

A Safe Routes plan shows Edison Elementary School’s nearby controlled intersections and safe crossing areas.

Safe Routes to Parks grew out of Safe Routes to Schools as a systematic way to review and correct barriers to walking or bicycling. Biedermann says parks could serve as safe drop-off points for children to meet up with classmates and walk part of the way to their schools.

One Appleton school, Edison Elementary near City Park, has already gone through the process of defining safe routes and marked them with a drawing of a lightbulb, the symbol for the Edison Chargers.

Greenways board members will analyze the results of the map exercise and hope to outline the first steps for safe routes.

Top photo credit:  Fox Cities Greenways

The Community Foundation had an incredible landmark year for giving. Check out more results from our annual Report to the Community 2018!

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