Oct. 22, 2021
Walker Park pedestrian safety enhanced by $21K in anti-obesity grant funding
By Caitlin Palenske
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Safety improvements installed at Blytheville park
- Improvements geared toward encouraging walkers
BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. — The Cooperative Extension Service recently partnered with volunteers from Nucor and Nucor-Yamato Steel and workers from Blytheville Parks and Recreation to make safety improvements and clean up Walker Park as part of a larger effort to encourage exercise and reduce obesity.
The group spent Oct. 8 adding traffic management features and navigation for both pedestrians and motor traffic. They also enhanced the park’s beauty by removing litter and debris.
Walker Park is a tree-lined park with pond, playground, pool and tennis courts that’s also home to the Mississippi County Fairgrounds. The park is ringed by a loop road that is just over a half-mile around.
The City of Blytheville worked with the Arkansas Delta Region Obesity Project, known as ArDROP, to assess Walker Park and identify areas that needed safety improvements. ArDROP is a local health program delivered by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ArDROP initiative has grown out of a cooperative agreement with the CDC to address obesity rates in Mississippi, St. Francis, Lee, Phillips, Crittenden and Chicot counties.
“We determined that the park would benefit from updated signage, a designated pedestrian walking path, pedestrian safety features such as crosswalks and flashing pedestrian crossing signage, and general cleanup and maintenance,” said Tyler Brown, ArDROP regional program associate for the extension service. ArDROP funded more than $21,000 in materials for the Walker Park project including crosswalk signage, park signage, paint, orange traffic bollards and other items.
The project saw the installation of four crosswalks on North Ruddle Road, with eight crosswalk signs warning vehicle traffic of pedestrians. Workers also installed a flashing pedestrian crosswalk sign that is visible to drivers northbound on North Ruddle Road.
Some 170 orange traffic bollards were installed around the Walker Park traffic loop. At each entrance to the walking loop, new trail signage shows the .58-mile distance of the loop. Footprint markings were painted around the walking loop to indicate traveling direction for pedestrians.
“Our hope is that more people take advantage of Walker Park now that it is safer for pedestrians,” said Pam Pruett, Mississippi County extension agent. “Now visitors can safely access the park without worrying about crossing the street and can use the designated walking trail.”
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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U of A System Division of Agriculture