Transportation was identified as a key theme in the Blueprint for Action for Bound Brook and South Bound Brook. As discussed in an earlier blog post, we worked with graduate students at Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy to do a comprehensive assessment of transportation infrastructure and walkability in the two towns.
One exciting strategy to improve walkability and sense of community is to develop murals and a parklet. This also gives us a chance to collaborate with the Bound Brook Student Ambassadors for Community Health, who are part of NJHI’s Next Generation Community Leaders initiative. That grant-funded project is being led by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County 4-H and Middle Earth, a member of our “Building Bridges to Health” grant leadership team.
The youth have met with local councilmembers, county planning staff, RideWise, and the Bloustein graduate students. Together, they developed their own project to improve walkability. As part of their project, the youth are coordinating mural painting at four sites in Bound Brook, including two schools, a park, and the train station plaza. They will invite the public to help paint the murals, turning the process into a community engagement opportunity.
The youth also built a parklet this summer. What’s a parklet? According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, parklets are “public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces…Designs may include seating, greenery, bicycle racks or other features, but should always strive to become a focal point for the community and a welcoming public gathering place.” The parklet, named Piña, was available every Wednesday night during town movie nights, as well as every Thursday afternoon for the farmer’s market. The parklet will be available during the Somerset County Fair August 8–10.
Our hope is to see more people take advantage of how walkable downtown Bound Brook is, with its new, colorful murals and inviting parklet. Better walkability and sense of community will help to make Bound Brook a stronger and healthier town.
Follow the Student Ambassadors for Community Health on Twitter to watch their progress. Track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.