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River Roots Redevelopment: Public Space


“Public space helps determine the relationship between people and their surroundings. It has the potential to create a sense of belonging, cultural vibrancy and in turn to promote happiness and well-being.” - Laura Valdés, writer for Metropolis.org.

Following the public planning meeting for the proposed Fox-Hunt community park in Foxburg, I thought it might be fun to explore public space–what it is, and what it means for a community and its residents.

Public Space is any space that is open and accessible to the general public. These spaces are created and maintained for the benefit of the community. Streets and sidewalks, parks and green spaces, trails, and even libraries are all examples of public space. Access to public spaces has been shown to enhance health, quality of life, and social and economic outcomes.

From an economic standpoint, public spaces have many benefits. Access to public space is correlated to higher property values. These public spaces also help to shift public perception and help to highlight the social and recreational value of an area. As perception shifts, private business investment picks up, working with additional public sector investment to further improve the community’s sustainability. Extra foot traffic from both resident public space users and tourists benefits existing businesses. And, public spaces provide a stopping point for travelers with attractions that make visitors stay longer and want to return, bringing an economic boost from tourism.

Not only are public spaces beneficial economically, but they also provide many physical, mental, and social health benefits. Public spaces bring people together. They provide space for a family picnic. They are where the sense of community is nurtured as you chat with your neighbor at the Farmer’s Market. They offer an access point to nature–a connection between people and the natural world around us. Family, community pride, connection, and nature all influence well-being.

We are fortunate, here in the Oil Region, to have many public spaces already. We have libraries. We have parks and playgrounds. We have trails like the Allegheny River Trail and the North Country Trail. And we have public river access in many of our communities. Soon, with the proposed Fox-Hunt Community Park progressing through the planning stages, we will have another public space asset to our region. This new public space will complement our existing spaces and enhance Foxburg and the surrounding communities and the lives of their residents.

If you want to know more about the Fox-Hunt Community Park project, please visit the Allegheny River Trail in Clarion County (ARTinCC) website at artincc.org or on Facebook @Allegheny River Trail in Clarion County. And, as always, if public spaces or any other redevelopment topics interest you, I’d love to hear from you! Stop in to chat on Fridays in Foxburg from 1-3 p.m. at Divani.

 

Rachel Brosnahan is the Community Engagement Coordinator for River Roots Redevelopment. She can be reached by email at rachel@riverrootsredevelopment.org

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