Park committee seeks feedback on Richland walkability

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldNovember 2, 2013 

Nancy Doran walks her Siberian huskies several miles each day.

It's an activity that adds to her physical health and also helps her build connections in the community. She has met new people and become reacquainted with old friends through her daily walks, she said.

And she hopes more Richland residents also will realize the benefits of walking.

"It's a good way of getting in shape or at least staying healthier," Doran said. "It's also healthier for cities because we're not driving as much. And you meet your neighbors."

Doran, part of the Richland Parks & Recreation Commission, heads a parks committee dedicated to the issue of walkability in Benton County's second largest city -- part of the Tri-City metro area, which showed up last year in a national assessment as one of the most obese in the country.

An open house is planned this week to gather community feedback on ways to make Richland better for walking.

The open house starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Richland Community Center at 500 Amon Park Drive.

Laurel Strand, Richland's parks and recreation manager, said officials from other city departments have been invited to the session, along with members of community groups and the general public.

The plan is to go through a series of questions designed to get a sense of walking habits and changes that could lead to an increase in the activity in Richland.

Suggestions could range from creation of new walking groups or programs to modifications in city infrastructure.

Doran and Strand said they aren't sure exactly what input to expect from the open house session, but the goal is to start a conversation.

"We want people to start talking. This is absolutely the ground floor to talk about Richland's walkability and what we can do to make Richland a walkable city," Strand said.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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