How livable is the Barker neighborhood?
Today, residents will have a chance to find out.
Dan Burden, a nationally renowned expert on livable communities, will tour the neighborhood as part of a public event to determine how easy it is for people of all ages to bike, ride, walk or roll safely to nearby attractions. The meeting will take place at Babcock Place, 17th and New Hampshire streets, from 6 to 8 p.m. Residents are encouraged to come discuss ways to make the neighborhood a more inviting place to live.
“All research indicates that the majority of people want to stay in their homes as they age,” said Andrea Bozarth, community outreach director for AARP Kansas, which is sponsoring the event with the Barker Neighborhood Association and Kaw Valley OWL. “Making communities more livable gives people the opportunity to have what they need so they can stay in their homes, whether that means they can walk or have a place to socialize outdoors, bike paths, room for strollers and wheelchairs, transportation.” Staying socially and physically active keeps people healthy and, thus able live in their homes longer, she added.
Burden, executive director and co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, will tour the area with residents and city officials to recommend ways to make it more livable for people of all ages. He will then meet with local stakeholders at an invitation-only event Tuesday in Lawrence to come up with possible short- and long-term solutions.
AARP hosted a similar event in Wichita in 2011, which eventually led to the creation of the city’s Grandparents Park. The park is easily accessible from all parts of the neighborhood, no matter the means of transportation, and is meant to provide a way for grandparents and their grandchildren to enjoy physical activity together.
The Barker neighborhood, which has 700 households from 15th to 23rd streets and Massachusetts Street to the Burroughs Creek Trail, includes commercial, residential and manufacturing areas, as well as a diverse mix of age groups, from the kids who go to Cordley Elementary School to the seniors living at Babcock Place.
Lisa Harris, acting president of the Barker Neighborhood Association, said that while the streets around Dillons were improved with that store’s redevelopment, other parts of the neighborhood don’t even have sidewalks. She said the area is grateful to be the focus of the project.