In 2013 the City of Hot Springs partnered with the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention (ArCOP) and Growing Healthy Communities to increase access to healthy nutrition and physical activity. Four committees were formed and began meeting in July 2013. One of those committees is Walkability and the members have been actively working to accomplish a Complete Streets, Low Impact Development plan for Hot Springs. Armed with funding from an ArCOP grant the Walkability Committee spent the first six months planning and presenting various workshops and seminars to inform and train the community on walkable concepts and methods. They also conducted a walking audit in selected areas of town that helped to identify improvements needed to increase safety and accessibility for walkers, cyclists, and wheelchair users.
The committee continues to work on suggestions to improve codes and ordinances in the city to increase access for all users and all modes of transportation. Designing safe, walkable communities that will provide health and economic development benefits is the goal of the Walkability committee and the Complete Streets Initiative.
As a result of these efforts, and other planning activities, Hot Springs was recently selected to receive smart growth technical assistance program funding. The program is made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's office of Sustainable Communities, which seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. City officials and residents will participate in a two-day training session with representatives from Smart Growth America on September 17 and 18, 2014. Smart Growth America is a national leader in the Complete Streets field and has accumulated extensive experience working with communities to help them use land strategically, maximize existing resources and make investments that catalyze private development. It is dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide. Hot Springs residents are invited to join the workshop's evening activities for an introductory presentation and interactive discussion about Complete Streets and their benefits on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5:30 PM at the Transportation Depot, 100 Broadway Terrace in Hot Springs.
On Tuesday, February 17, 2015 the Board of Directors approved a Complete Streets Policy for public streets, public lands, and public right-of-way within the city of Hot Springs. This comprehensive policy has flexibility and a dedicated funding source. 20% of the Street Department's paving budget is now dedicated to complete street elements and/or projects. This policy is the result of many individuals time, input, support and effort.
Links to the City of Hot Springs Complete Streets Policy, the Hot Springs Technical Report and Smart Growth America website, videos from the training sessions, and a photo gallery can be found below.