Community Invited to Celebrate the Opening of Pilot Play Street

Published on May 25, 2022

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Car-free zone looks to build community in the neighborhood and give children a safer place to play

Residents are invited to attend a ribbon cutting event on Tuesday, May 31 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Jones Park (1601 Academy St) to celebrate the opening of a pilot play street on Peak Road and Circle Street in the West Main Hill neighborhood. The play street will serve as an extension of Jones Park and will be a car-free zone for children and adults to walk, play, and ride bikes, scooters, or skateboards.

During neighborhood planning, residents expressed concerns about frequent speeding, failure to stop at stop signs, and the limited amount of sidewalk around Jones Park. The goals of the play street are to create a new place for children and adults to safely play, increase safety from traffic for those playing in Jones Park, and create a joyful activity hub for neighborhood events this summer.

This will be the first play street to be piloted in Kalamazoo and it will serve as a case study to assess if the concept could be applied in other neighborhoods. Play streets can have several benefits including improving children’s health and wellbeing by giving them space and freedom to play and exercise, encouraging active citizenship by positively changing the way people interact, and building stronger community by helping children and adults to build connections with their neighbors.

Barricades and signage are scheduled to be installed on Thursday, May 26 to temporarily close the streets off to vehicle traffic. During the pilot project the Parks and Recreation Department will still have access to Jones Park for lawn care.

This pilot play street will be in place for four months with pre, mid, and post observations to evaluate the project including speed data, levels of activity at the play street, and a resident survey to gauge interest and sense of safety. If successful, the play street could be made permanent. If so, permanent signs and bollards would be installed, and the street would be de-certified and remain unplowed in the winter. Additional amenities like street art or benches could then be explored.

This project is part of neighborhood planning for the West Main Hill neighborhood. The project cost of $1,558 is funded by the Foundation for Excellence.

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