City gets green light for ‘healthy living’ grants

Sara Van Cleve
Posted

Arvada could receive up to $1 million to help promote recreation and healthy living opportunities through a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.

Arvada, Lamar and Westwoods, an urban neighborhood in southwest Denver, were chosen from 26 applications to receive grant money under the foundation’s $4.5 million Healthy Place: Designing an Active Colorado initiative.

“We’re excited to receive it,” said Jessica Prosser, city of Arvada sustainability coordinator. “It’s kind of a new area. It’s something we haven’t focused a lot on as a city — active living. It’s nice to be recognized. We hope to have projects that can be replicated in other communities and set an example for the region.”

Phase one of the initiative began in Arvada the week of March 18 when a panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute visited and reviewed Arvada and its active living opportunities.

The ULI panel gave the city recommendations for projects to improve the city’s recreational and healthy living opportunities.

“A lot of the recommendations were around bike and pedestrian facilities and programs to promote those,” Prosser said. “There were also recommendations for recreational opportunities for children and seniors as well as recommendations that we look at some of our policies in terms of incorporating healthy living into our comprehensive plan.”

While the recommendations were somewhat general, Prosser said the ULI panel did give examples of what the city could possibly do to meet their recommendations.

Possible projects could include improving bike and pedestrian connections to FasTrack stations, measuring the amount of people using the paths and creating events around such infrastructure changes — such as a fitness challenge and events with schools.

City staff is still studying the recommendations to figure out the best projects to pursue, Prosser said.

“The next step is that Arvada has a requirement to put in an application for the projects with the Colorado Health Foundation in June,” she said. “We’ll be selecting at least one infrastructure project and programming aspects around that as well. We’re looking at infrastructure, programming and maybe something more city-wide in terms of healthy living.”

The foundation is expected to have the projects approved by October. Arvada is eligible for up to $1 million in funding, which they will have two years to spend.

The city will be engaging with Arvada neighborhoods this summer to further develop ideas, Prosser said.