Plan4Health Nashua Updates - May 2016

What Happens When the Funding Ends?  In Nashua, the Work Continues!

The Plan4Health Nashua coalition was recently recognized for its Complete Streets work by Mayor Jim Donchess, among others, at the Greater Nashua Public Health Annual Meeting.  The meeting was held during National Public Health Week in April and attracted nearly 100 attendees representing health providers, municipal departments, nonprofit organizations, faith communities, state agencies and schools.  Plan4Health Nashua has also been chosen to receive a NADO 2016 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award.

In early 2015, a partnership formed in Nashua between public health and planning to advance street design that supports health by providing safer and easier ways to get around for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Plan4Health Nashua coalition was formed after receiving a $125,000 grant from the American Planning Association (APA) to help fund a 15-month program to support Complete Streets planning in Nashua. Founding partners included the Nashua Regional Planning Commission (NRPC), the City of Nashua, New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA), and Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL NH).  The project immediately gained support by the Greater Nashua Public Health Advisory Council and was selected as a priority project for implementation in Nashua's 2015 Community Health Improvement Plan.

During the 15-month grant period, the Plan4Health Nashua coalition conducted a street study to assess the bikability and walkability of Nashua streets, developed a Complete Streets guidebook and policy recommendations, and providing training to city staff, planners, elected officials and other community members.  The project has gained momentum and the coalition has grown to include community partners beyond public health and planning, including NeighborWorks of Southern New Hampshire, Great American Downtown, YMCA, Police Athletic League, and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua.  And while the APA funding period is about to end, the efforts to support a healthy, economically vibrant community in Nashua continue!

With one project, Plan4Health Nashua is working with city departments, local artists, and the Silver Knights baseball team to install a "creative crosswalk" at Holman Stadium in downtown Nashua. This installation puts a fun, new spin on standard crosswalk design, while maintaining crosswalk safety standards and supporting safe, active transportation activities such as walking to the ballgame.

Another project will be led by NRPC which recently received funding from the HNH Foundation for a "Planning for Parks and Playgrounds" project in Nashua and throughout the region.  The project works to improve walking and biking access to safe places to play through a combination of planning and education. In yet another project, a charrette is being planned in June to discuss opportunities for community revitalization - including walkability - in the Lock Street area in Nashua's French Hill neighborhood. And on the healthy eating front, Nashua was selected as a New Hampshire Farm to School Beacon Community.  One of only three communities included in this new program, Nashua will help pilot how to move innovative farm to school practices forward and serve as a model for other communities across the state. Healthy eating and active living work continues to expand in Nashua, bringing in more partners and more funding opportunities.

Plan4Health Nashua illustrates how community planning and public health have common ground when promoting policies that ensure safe and equitable access to physical activity and healthy eating.  The project has also demonstrated that community members from all sectors will come together - from elected officials to a baseball team - because they care about public health, economic growth, and livability.  Furthermore, in Nashua and in many other HEAL communities, the great work has continued well after the original funding period.

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