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Gabby Yates ’19 researches walkability in Hamilton

By Upstate Institute on September 21, 2018

-Written by Gabby Yates, ‘19

Gabby will present her research poster at the Walk/Bike/Places 2018 conference in New Orleans, LA. This conference is organized by the Project for Public Spaces, and is the premier conference in North America for walking, bicycling and placemaking professionals from the public and private sectors.

Gabby will present her research poster at the Walk/Bike/Places 2018 conference this fall.

This summer I had the opportunity to work with the Hamilton Partnership for Community Development. The Partnership (PCD) has served the Hamilton area since 1998 as an economic development non-profit. It works to promote sustainable economic opportunities and a sense of community through fostering community-based projects. More specifically, they help existing business and farms thrive, attract new community-minded businesses to the area, develop the downtown area all while preserving the small town character and fostering civic involvement through research and administer grants to serve these purposes.

My project with the PCD compounded this mission, as I conducted research and a walkability audit in order to understand opportunities to improve walkability in Hamilton and surrounding areas. Given the goals of the Partnership for Community Development stated above, and the unique nature of Hamilton, the organization works with a diverse set of community actors in order to serve the community. Some of the achievements from the past year have been administering grants to homeowners for improving building exteriors, improving a section of the Chenango Canal Towpath Trail, creating a recreation website for recreation in Southern Madison County, conducting a study of the Hamilton Airpark and assisting local businesses such as Kreimhild Dairy Farm, HeartStone Bakery, Fojo Beans, Good Nature Brewery and more with grants for expansion.

Improving the walkability of a community encourages active transportation, which in turn means improvements to the economy, health, safety, environment and social aspects of the local area. More people walking means more people visiting local shops, getting their daily exercise, meeting their neighbors and it reduces reliance on cars. Being a small, rural town, Hamilton already has a vibrant downtown with many amenities within walking distance, however, it could benefit greatly from improvements to sidewalks, intersections, and other walking and cycling infrastructure.

My project was to conduct an extensive walking audit through the CDC Walk Audit and Microscale Audit of Pedestrian Streetscapes in order to identify and map problem areas, and then recommend improvements in Hamilton, Poolville and Hubbardsville. The outcome of the project will be for the PCD to use this data to apply for state and national grants for infrastructural improvements. Working with the PCD on this project has been a fantastic opportunity for me to improve my research and writing skills and better understand the world of planning.

As a geography major, I have always been interested in place based issues, and after spending a semester in Copenhagen studying European cities and interning at an urban design firm, I have become interested in urban planning. Being from the CNY area, I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to apply the theories of livability that I learned abroad back to my community. It has been thrilling to be part of a project that hopefully improve the quality of life for all those who spend time in Hamilton.

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