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Plan to Beautify Downtown Albany Wins AARP WI Grant

School sign.Traffic sign road on blur road abstract background.
Tonktiti/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A proposal submitted by the Green County Development Corp. (GCDC) to beautify and create safer people-friendly spaces in downtown Albany has been selected to receive our “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant. We are awarding 1,000 grants each month this year to projects across the state that are designed to make communities better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age.

Olivia Otte, Executive Director of GCDC, said the goal of the project – called the “Advance Albany Initiative” – is to create a spark that allows us to build excitement and growth in the community. The grant will be used to buy reflective crosswalk signs, high-visibility crosswalk paint, and solar-powered LED cross walk lights. The funds will also enable the group to install new flowerpots with native plants in crosswalk islands and put small trees in sidewalk planters. Brochures and flyers about pedestrian safety will also be created and made available in the downtown library.

“By doing this, we will help to enhance the identity of the community and create a space that people want to go to,” Otte said. “This simple addition will serve as a catalyst for community engagement and social cohesion.”

The GCDC was created to serve small communities like Albany. This project, Otte explained, holds a distinctive character as it unfolds within a community characterized by its rural setting and aging population. The village, with a population of approximately 1,200 residents, exudes a sense of tight-knit community spirit.

One year ago, GCDC collaborated with community leaders to conduct first-impression tours of Albany. Key initiatives were identified, and a primary focus emerged: to enhance the downtown area by creating a more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing environment. Because of this community involvement, GCDC has collaborated with the Albany Chamber of Commerce to pursue grants and local donations to turn this vision into reality.

The group used the AARP Walk Audit Toolkit and the AARP Creating Community Gardens resource to help in their planning. “These invaluable tools played a crucial role in helping us refine our focus and identify the top priorities within our community improvement project. By leveraging these toolkits, we gained a clear understanding of the specific areas that required immediate attention and improvements,” Otte said.

Furthermore, she said, “both toolkits facilitated the development of a sustainability plan for our project. Collaborating with community groups and organizations not only diversified our resources but also fostered a sense of shared responsibility and collective ownership for the project’s ongoing success.”

Otte said the AARP grant money will help contribute to the creation of excitement and energy throughout the village. “We deeply appreciate the AARP grant that GCDC has received, which will contribute significantly to enhancing Albany's downtown area through beautification and safety initiatives,” she said. “This support not only aligns with Albany's goals but also generates positive momentum, benefiting both local residents and visitors alike.”

Darrin Wasniewski from our AARP WI office said, “We are pleased to see how Green County Development Corp. and the Village of Albany utilized AARP’s Walk Audit Toolkit and Creating Community Gardens in planning this pedestrian safety improvement.
Older adults are disproportionately affected in traffic crashes involving pedestrians leading to serious injuries or death. We applaud all those involved for focusing on the safety of people walking as they work to create a Livable Community for all ages and all abilities."

We launched our “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020 and is now in its fifth year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural and urban parts of the state. For more information, visit www.aarp.org/WIsdbi

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