Once upon a time, North Kingstown . After weeks of meetings to gather information from locals, it’s time to begin designing a healthy North Kingstown.
Starting Friday, the people behind will begin to hold its community design events to get more feedback from the community to create a healthier and better North Kingstown. Since Sept. 21 when the project held its kick-off meeting, there have been several public forums, discussing topics ranging from walkability in town to local food and more.
Using the information compiled from these forums, he staff behind Healthy Places by Design now look to the community again to help design a better North Kingstown that best fits what residents want as part of a weeklong summit, starting Friday night at the Beechwood Center.
“We’re trying to engage youth, seniors and everyone in between and get a unified voice on what the town should be doing,” said North Kingstown Planning Director Jon Reiner.
So far, attendance at these meetings has ranged from seven attendees to 40. In an effort to gain more community feedback, project staff also sent out a survey to residents. As of last week, Healthy Places by Design YMCA Consultant Denise Kaplin believes that 150 surveys have been completed and returned.
According to information compile in the past six public forums, the guiding principles at the upcoming summit will be:
- North Kingstown should have access to healthy food that is locally grown, fresh, affordable, easily accessible and offers variety.
- Providing education about healthy foods will result in cultural changes to generate healthier minds, bodies and communities.
- North Kingstown should have walking/biking resources that create a safe, attractive, sustainable environment to support healthier modes of transportation and to enhance the quality of life for all residents.
- Utilizing walking/biking resources as a way to better connect neighborhoods to each other and other community assets (including opportunities to work, shop and play) are pivotal.
Public Spaces should provide the community with the following benefits:
- Supports healthy, active lifestyles,
- Accessible to all ages and abilities,
- Draws people together and increases social relationships,
- Connects to neighborhoods and other community assets,
- Increases safety for families and children, and
- Showcases the natural beauty of the town.
Neighborhoods should be a collection of unique community assets that exemplify the following qualities:
- Safe for all residents,
- Offers economic diversity and opportunity,
- Supports social interaction and civic involvement,
- Provides recreation and education opportunities,
- Accessible by a network of varied multi-modal transportation alternatives, and
- Families are strengthened and youth are supported.
Healthy Places by Design is a project under the Rhode Island Department of Health, funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants. North Kingstown was awarded $225,000 and partnered with the (which received $100,000 of the grant money) to help implement the project in town.
Information gathered in these meetings will be instrumental in crafting the town’s upcoming comprehensive plan, a document that has become a controversial topic in town meetings. Residents have pointed to issues such as wind turbines and a development at Rolling Greens golf course as inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive plan. According to Reiner and members of the planning department, feedback during Healthy Places by Design events could help avoid problems further down the road.
“We want to give people an outlet or a mechanism to communicate to the town so we can get it right and get the town’s voice in the comprehensive plan,” said Reiner.
Free child care is offered for the meetings at the West Bay YMCA with 24-hour notice.
The schedule for this weeklong:
- Opening Public Meeting Friday, Nov. 4 | 6:30 p.m. | Beechwood Senior Center
- Open House Event Tuesday, Nov. 8 | 6:30 p.m. | Beechwood Senior Center
- Closing Public Meeting Thursday, Nov. 10 | 6:30 p.m. | Beechwood Senior Center