FDRHPO: Four communities adopt “Complete Streets” policy

WATERTOWN, NY – Four additional communities recently adopted a policy intended to improve the health and wellness of their residents. Complete Streets policies ensure that streets and sidewalks are safe for users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists. Safety improvements are considered during the planning of construction projects. Not all Complete Streets communities look the same, but some common features include sidewalks, safe road crossings, roundabouts and bicycle lanes.

In a recent community health survey, roughly one-third of North Country residents say they ‘never’ walk around their neighborhoods – 31% in Jefferson County; 37% in Lewis County; and 32% in St. Lawrence County, explains Irene Parobii, Population Health Program Coordinator for Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO). “We need to ensure all of our municipalities offer hazard-free opportunities to be active, which also leads to better connections with their neighbors, further strengthening their community.”

During the month of October, the Village Boards of Deferiet, Carthage and Copenhagen voted to adopt a Complete Streets policy. Most recently, the Village of Lyons Falls’ Board adopted the policy at its November 25 meeting. “Adopting a Complete Streets policy guides our decision-making to ensure the Village of Deferiet is a very walkable community,” states Janet Zando, Village of Deferiet Mayor. “Some of our next steps include installing a few more benches in the village so that residents can use them on their daily walks to rest and take in views of the river.”

The Complete Streets efforts are part of a state-wide initiative funded by the NYS Department of Health’s “Linking Interventions for Total Population Health” (LIFT) grant. FDRHPO is one of six LIFT grant recipients throughout New York State, covering Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. FDRHPO partnered with the Tug Hill Commission and St. Lawrence Health Initiative to implement Complete Streets.

“The LIFT grant was used to promote physical activity, proper nutrition and environmental changes that encourage healthy lifestyles,” concludes Ms. Parobii. “With the help of our partners in this project, we have made great progress to date, but there is still a need and an opportunity to add more Complete Streets communities in the North Country.”

Two additional health and wellness projects were funded by the LIFT grant, including Chronic Disease Self-Management and School Wellness. For more information about Complete Streets or any of the LIFT initiatives, visit https://fdrhpo.org/2019/lift-north-country-health-and-wellness/, or email or call Ms. Parobii at iparobii@fdrhpo.org or 315-755-2020 ext. 36.