March 10, 2020 – From a competitive pool of nationwide applicants, LSA is thrilled to be selected to join Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities, a technical assistance program focused on improving safe and equitable local park access. Tucson will be among eight diverse communities across the country to receive training and coaching from the Safe Routes Partnership to develop an action plan for improving walking and biking to local parks and green spaces.
Safe Routes to Parks comes at the perfect time to leverage Proposition 407 “Parks + Connections” Bond dedicated to improving Tucson’s parks and the walking and biking infrastructure connecting to them. LSA will be partnering with the City of Tucson to use this opportunity to implement best practices and develop a robust community engagement model that creatively engages residents about the design of future projects. During the ten-month program period, LSA will be focusing the work around the future 36th Street Pedestrian Safety and Walkability project, building on the success of LSA’s Safe Routes to School work in the Pueblo Gardens community and working with families, youth, and residents to pilot creative engagement strategies.
From LSA’s experience in working with Pueblo Gardens and in similar neighborhoods, it’s critical to create engagement opportunities that attract multi-generational households and elevate the voices of residents who live and use these streets every day so that projects actually meet the needs of the community members. According to Trust for Public Lands, 63% of Tucsonans live within a 10-minute walk to a park, but areas like Pueblo Gardens and surrounding neighborhoods have been designated as a “very high need” park area as they lack safe and continuous paths and sidewalks, shade trees, and safe crossings at busy streets that make it difficult to access park amenities on foot or bicycle.
As part of the program, each grantee community will receive training, individualized consultation and technical assistance, connection with peer communities to learn from one another, an in-person workshop in their community, as well as grants of $12,500 each to begin the implementation of the Safe Routes to Parks action plan. The initiative is funded by the JPB Foundation.