McDonald County Plans for Future Growth with Livable Streets
Pineville and Anderson are the two latest Missouri communities to adopt a Livable Streets ordinance and policy, respectively. Located in McDonald County, both towns are great examples of what can happen when the right partnerships are formed to pass Livable Streets initiatives. For two years, McDonald County Health Educator Brandy Smith, led the effort to rally support for Livable Streets policies among city leaders, community organizations and councilmen. “The people I’ve talked to do see the possibilities in the future and this policy may bring funding for sidewalks, trails and bike paths,” Smith said.
Thanks to efforts from forward-thinking leaders like Smith, Mayor Gregg Sweeten of Pineville and Ken Schutten with the Anderson Betterment Club, McDonald County was able to create a shared vision on what they want to look like years down the road.
“The city of Anderson and the city of Pineville want to connect communities with a trail,” said Smith. “So the funding would probably be to finish the walking trail that’s in Anderson around our ball parks and then eventually building nice trails that connects Anderson to Pineville.”
Eventually, leadership in McDonald County and Benton County, Ark. want to connect to their trail systems to the massive Razorback Greenway in northwest Arkansas.
Livable Streets policies can help get the ball rolling on community development projects, but one important consideration Smith points out is identifying partners to help you with the cause, “You have to make partners with people who are already in with the city. I want things to get done, but you have to work at the city’s pace, and that’s not always very fast.”
For now, the policy and ordinance are aimed at influencing new construction projects. “We don’t have a lot of sidewalks, we’re a very rural community, so it’s not trying to retrofit what’s here, it’s for new construction.” Smith said. “So people right now are really forward thinking about what’s going to happen to our community. How we are going to grow? Because we are increasing our population.”
Smith also recognizes the apprehension smaller communities have when deciding whether or not to adopt Livable Streets policies. For those communities she has some advice: “I would just say, where do you want to see your community in 20 years? Do you want it to be abandoned, or do you want to improve? That’s where Livable Streets comes in. You want to prepare for the future growth of your community,” Smith said, “And the thing is, it doesn’t cost anything to pass a livable streets policy, but it is good when you are looking for funding to improve your community. That was my selling point. People want to see that you are doing things like livable streets policy because it all starts with policy.”