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Safe Routes to School Kicks Off April 2021

by Colleen Paveglio
Friday, March 26, 2021
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March 26, 2021 - 

Through careful planning with area partners and community members, the City of Traverse City is readying the launch of the Safe Routes to School project with an anticipated start date in April 2021.  In 2011, the City Commission adopted a Complete Streets Policy that enables safe and convenient access for all legal road users, including pedestrians. The City has worked toward implementing sidewalk goals set by the City Commission by executing two tracks: a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) infrastructure grant program and an equity-based sidewalk gap and infill project, primarily targeted at Traverse Heights neighborhood, which was identified as underserved with pedestrian connectivity. 

Today, only 13% of kids actively travel to school, compared to 48% in 1969. Among those living within a 1.4 mile of school, just 56% walk or bike. Safe Routes to School is a movement that aims to make it safer and easier for students to walk and bike to school. Beyond the many health benefits of walking, studies have shown that walking to school can improve academic performance and reduce anxiety. The most successful SRTS programs incorporate the Six E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and equity. Since 2005, Safe Routes to School Programs have benefited more than 14,000 schools in all 50 states.  

In 2018, the City was awarded with a more than $2 Million grant for the SRTS initiative. “Creating safe pedestrian connections for our youth and residents within the City can result in happier and healthier lifestyles. We are fortunate to have been awarded a significant grant toward the Safe Routes to School initiative to provide such amenities to our community and further our journey toward a more walkable community,” says City Planner Shawn Winter.  

Partners on the project include TART Trails, Norte, Northwestern Michigan College, Grand Traverse County, Garfield Township, Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Michigan Fitness Foundation, and Michigan Department of Transportation. The City worked with four school districts including Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, Traverse City Area Public Schools, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools, and Trinity Lutheran Schools to identify ten k-8 schools that would benefit from 3.5 miles of trail and sidewalk expansion. School partners include:

  • TBAISD New Campus School- 1100 Silver Drive
  • TBAISD Oak Park Campus-301 S. Garfield Ave
  • TCAPS Montessori School at Glenn Loomis- 1009 Oak Street
  • TCAPS Willow Hill Elementary-1250 Hill Street
  • TCAPS Central Grade School- 301 W. Seventh Street
  • TCAPS Eastern Elementary School- 1600 Eastern Avenue
  • TCAPS Traverse Heights Elementary- 933 Rose Street
  • TCAPS West Middle School- 3950 Silver Lake Road
  • GTACS Immaculate Conception Elementary Schools School- 218 Vine Street
  • Trinity Lutheran School- 1003 S. Maple Street

“City staff has worked with area partners, schools, and community members for a number of years to bring the Safe Routes to School initiative to fruition. Providing access for all ages and abilities through sidewalk and trail connectivity has been a focus of the City Commission and will bring numerous benefits to our residents,” says Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers.

The Safe Routes to School project will be a phased approach throughout spring and summer 2021. To learn more about Safe Routes to School and the City’s Sidewalk Gap and Infill project, including project updates, visit https://www.traversecitymi.gov/sidewalk.asp

Human Rights Commission Provides Supportive Funding

by Colleen Paveglio
Monday, March 8, 2021

March 8, 2021 - 

The City of Traverse City’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) recently offered supportive funding, up to $500, to area nonprofit organizations. Eight organizations applied for funding and the HRC chose five local projects whose purposes complement those of the Commission. An HRC commissioner was assigned as a liaison to work with each group.

Throughout its 26-year history, the HRC has sponsored public hearings, community conversations, educational forums, and celebrations of civil rights milestones such as Martin Luther King Day, and films like "RBG" and "Just Mercy." COVID-19 provided an opportunity for the HRC to pivot their approach to reaching their annual goals and offer funding to those with shared missions and values.

“While most yearly events have been rescheduled or postponed this year, the HRC has taken another avenue to continue its work. The need for human rights advocacy didn't stand still this year, it became even more urgent," says Susan Odgers, HRC Chairperson. "We have selected five community projects to collaborate with, using a portion of our 2020-21 budget to supplement their costs."

$500 Awarded: Before, During, and After Incarceration (BDAI)

Deacon Tom Bousamra will work with Commissioners Jerry Beasley and Jessica Forster in purchasing meals for its monthly support sessions. These support sessions are free and open to formerly incarcerated residents and their families. Families of currently incarcerated people are also welcome to attend.

$500 Awarded: Dennos Museum Center

A collaboration with the HRC and other community groups to host Resilience: African-American Artists as Agents of Change.  This exhibition and its related tours, discussions, and programs align with the Dennos’ strategic focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This will be the first exhibition to showcase the talent of African-American artists. As a sponsor/collaborator, HRC will assist with community outreach and engagement.  Commissioner Susan Odgers is the Commission liaison for this project.

$500 Awarded: The Traverse Area District Library

The Traverse Area District Library is purchasing “Book Club Kits’ as part of the library's annual provision of resources to encourage community book clubs.  The HRC’s purchase of books will relate to racial equity and social justice topics. As a sponsor/collaborator, HRC Commissioner Jennifer Loup will assist with outreach and community engagement and members will promote the kits with new and existing book clubs.

$485 Awarded: Traverse City Area Public Schools

Alison Sullivan, U.S. History teacher at East Middle School, is purchasing 34 copies of the book Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You, for use in 8th grade classes to facilitate anti-racism education.  Marilyn Jaquish, HRC Commission liaison, will participate in selected classroom activities.

$500 Awarded: United Way of Northwest Michigan

A 5-Day Equity Challenge, based on the statewide 21-Day Equity Challenge is being developed. This program was originally designed for companies to conduct with employees. However, based on participant feedback, the adult program will be customized to foster and guide conversations among families with school-age children, addressing issues of racial equity and systemic racism. It will be offered free to the public, in collaboration with the HRC and other organizations with similar racial equity goals. Commissioner Nicole Agruda, HRC Commission liaison, will collaborate with Seth Johnson, United Way of Northwest Michigan CEO, in community outreach and engagement, and HRC members will have the opportunity to participate in the 5-Day Equity Challenge.

For more information on the Human Rights Commission visit, https://www.traversecitymi.gov/humanrights.asp