Hot Springs Complete Streets Initiative
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 selected and received a smart growth technical assistance program grant. 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.
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.