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Ch. 8: Healthy, Active Community

Salisbury will be an active community with places to recreate, to safely walk or bicycle, and have access to locally grown food. All of these elements will foster a sense of community and provide a chance for all to live healthier lives.

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Forward 2040 Chapter 8: Healthy, Active Community

Healthy Community can imply a multitude of meanings, from a clean environment, to access to healthy foods, to safe streets, to active and quality parks. Ultimately, a healthy community is one where people are able to thrive, physically and mentally. To that end, the purpose of this section of the Forward 2040 plan is to establish a framework of policies and action steps to encourage the development of a robust public parks, facilities and greenways system, to lay the groundwork for a multimodal transportation system that values active forms of mobility, and to support the availability of local, healthy foods.
“Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in the community, ensuring the health of families and youth, and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being of a community and region.”  National Park and Recreation Association.

Goal 8.1. Maintain high quality parks, open spaces, greenways, and community centers.

As of 2022, the City of Salisbury owns and maintains 29 park properties and parks, 5.2 miles of the Salisbury Greenway, and almost 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. Additionally, Salisbury Parks and Recreation department provides and maintains multiple amenities for residents including four recreation facilities, tennis and pickle-ball courts, and a swimming pool. As the City’s population grows, and the demand for parks and recreational opportunities increases, it will add pressure to an already strained system. Additional funding sources are needed to provide the means to maintain, upgrade, and eventually expand the system.

Policy 8.1.1.

Dedicate adequate and equitable attention and resources to meet the maintenance and programming demands of existing parks and facilities to be consistent with best management practices and community standards for high level services.

Policy 8.1.2.

Improve the design and programming of existing parks, open spaces, and community centers to serve a changing population.

Policy 8.1.3.

Ensure all parks are safe, secure, and accessible to all levels of ability.

Policy 8.1.4.

Enhance neighborhood engagement in the design, use, and maintenance of parks.

Goal 8.2. Assess needs for new public recreation facilities as development occurs

Policy 8.2.1.

Build new parks, greenways, or community centers in underserved areas to ensure that all residents live within a 10 minute walk of a public recreation facility.
Health Action 1:
Annually update the System Gap Analysis to identify gaps in parks and recreation service areas.

Policy 8.2.2.

Work with interdepartmental and external partners to align siting, land acquisition, programming, design and construction opportunities with growth projections and demographic information.

Goal 8.3. Encourage opportunities for privately maintained recreation that serves new development

As the city grows in population and geographically, new residential areas should have access to recreation and open space. The best designed neighborhoods have active open spaces that are the focal point of communities, as opposed to an after-thought. Following the national level of service standards, all residents should have access to recreational space within a 10 minute walk.

Policy 8.3.1.

Each neighborhood area should plan adequate privately maintained open space designed into the development from the start. If possible, this should include a central open space in the form of a public square or commons suitable for outdoor gatherings and quiet enjoyment.

Policy 8.3.2.

Multifamily developments such as apartment complexes and condominiums should have adequate and well-designed open spaces centrally located for the enjoyment of all residents.

Goal 8.4. Build places to encourage active transportation choices such as walking and biking

Healthy cities are those where active forms of transportation – walking or biking, for instance – become the natural choice. The built environment, which is the human-made surroundings and layout in which we live, including buildings parks, streets, bridges and neighborhoods, should be designed to foster healthy choices. Studies have found that residents of walkable neighborhoods are healthier than residents of sprawling auto-oriented neighborhoods.

Policy 8.4.1.

Build walkable neighborhoods that include a network of internally and externally connected streets. Avoid cul-de-sacs and dead-ends.

Policy 8.4.2. 

Through the Land Development Ordinance, continue to require the construction of sidewalks, street trees, and pedestrian scale lighting where appropriate in new development.

Policy 8.4.3.

Continue to expand and connect the greenway system throughout the city and county to provide connectivity between existing greenways, sidewalks, and bikeways, as well as neighborhoods, major destinations, and community facilities.

Policy 8.4.4.

Work in cooperation with neighborhood residents to support the provision of bikeways and walkways within existing neighborhoods.

Policy 8.4.5.

Where no sidewalks are present in existing developed areas, sidewalks gaps should be filled on a priority basis to connect residential areas to major pedestrian destinations.

Policy 8.4.6.

Examine all future road construction and improvements for bikeway feasibility and conformity with the citywide bikeway plan. As appropriate, bikeways will be included in new road construction or improvement plans.

Policy 8.4.7.

Examine subdivision plats and site plans for compatibility and conformity with an adopted bike or greenway plan. As appropriate, bikeway routes will be identified and planned for in the construction of such subdivisions or other development projects.

Policy 8.4.8.

Plan bikeways as a system-wide component of Salisbury’s transportation network.
Health Action 2:
Apply for funding to update the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, one option could be through the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

Policy 8.4.9.

Through the Land Development Ordinance, require the provision of secure bike parking at multifamily residential and non-residential centers.

Goal 8.5. Enhance the safety of the public realm

Across the United States, each year more than 40,000 people are killed in traffic accidents. Ensuring the safety of the public realm requires multi-faceted attention to the speeds at which vehicles move, the design and operation of streets, and the policies in place to enforce violations and public education. Further, the public realm should be designed to encourage greater public use, keeping more “eyes on the street”. Design elements such as adequate room for walking, public art, landscaping, and lighting all contribute to more attractive, desirable spaces.

Policy 8.5.1.

Increase enforcement, education, and awareness of regulations to enhance safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles.
Health Action 3:
Adopt a neighborhood street calming policy to enhance safety. Support policy with additional implementation budget.

Policy 8.5.2.

Construct pedestrian facilities that enhance pedestrian safety, such as crosswalks, pedestrian signals, refuge islands, for users of all abilities.

Policy 8.5.3.

Minimize curb cuts along public streets to reduce vehicular conflicts.

Policy 8.5.4.

Support and encourage local safe routes to school programs.

Policy 8.5.5.

Install pedestrian scale lighting in commercial areas with high pedestrian activity after dark.

Goal 8.6. Eliminate food deserts and improve access to healthy foods for all residents

Access to healthy foods continues to be an issue in Salisbury and Rowan County as a whole. Per the 2020 County Health Rankings, 11% of the population has limited access to healthy foods, that is, they have low-income and do not live close to a grocery store; this is higher than the state rate at 7%. Additionally, 14% of the population have food insecurity and lack adequate access to food. These policies are aimed at identifying and eliminating barriers posed by land use policies and zoning regulations.

Policy 8.6.1.

Identify and remove potential regulatory barriers to local food production and distribution, such as community gardens, urban agriculture, and farmers’ markets. Promote these types of uses where appropriate.

Health Action 4:

Review the zoning ordinance for opportunities to allow new methods of food cultivation and production, such as hydroponics.

Policy 8.6.2.

Promote the Salisbury Farmers’ Market as a central element of downtown revitalization.

Policy 8.6.3.

Support retail sales and local food economy by encouraging the use of locally based food. 

Policy 8.6.4. 

Connect the local farmers, colleges, and the business community to explore economic development opportunities related to agriculture and the culinary arts. 

Local Foods Local Places Action Plan

In 2020, the City received assistance from the EPA’s Local Foods Local Places program to develop an action plan that would bolster the connection between local farmers, the farmers market and the downtown economy. Designed as a virtual workshop, federal partners from the Environmental Protection Agency led local stakeholders including members from the Rowan Food and Farm Network, the Rowan County Agricultural Extension, Bread Riot, Catawba College, Happy Roots, Rowan County Public Health, Downtown Salisbury Inc., the Rowan County Tourism Authority, and the City of Salisbury in goal setting activities. Resulting from the two-day session was an action plan with goals that have been incorporated into this plan.

Goal 8.7. Promote opportunities for face-to-face social connectedness

Health consequences of living socially isolated can be dramatic causing stress, anxiety and depression. In 2000, a book by Robert Putnam called “Bowling Alone, the Collapse and Revival of American Community” revealed how Americans have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighborhoods. In the decades since, the rise of social media and now the COVID-19 pandemic have made connecting to a local community even more of a challenge. Connectedness, belonging and support are at the heart of a healthy community.

Policy 8.5.1

Support the creation or improvement of meeting places to encourage community interaction and cohesiveness, particularly for youth.

Policy 8.5.2

Increase cooperation between Rowan County, its municipalities, surrounding counties, and other agencies in providing parks, open space, and recreational facilities.

Policy 8.5.3

Increase collaboration with nonprofit, corporate, and private entities to provide or to allow access to parks, open space, and recreational facilities.
Healthy Rowan
Reimagined in 2014, Healthy Rowan is a coalition of representatives from healthcare, government, business and industry, human services, community services, medical services, educational institutions, the general population and the faith community whose mission is to find strength in education, collaboration and advocacy to improve health outcomes.

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