Why they stand out
Change is afoot in the City of Sheboygan, shaping the way people get from place to place. Much of the energy comes from local neighborhood associations, in partnership with the city. The Mayor’s Neighborhood Leadership Cabinet provides a forum, as well as grant funding opportunities, to discuss and plan changes that create vibrant, active places. According to city planner Nancy Maring, “These associations flourish when there are projects that bring people together.” The groups have worked on many initiatives that spark outdoor activity, like park improvements, trail and adopt-a-park initiatives, and placemaking efforts. Adding to that momentum, local economic development stakeholders have advanced walkable downtown improvements, and partners involved in healthy aging issues are making improvements that earned an AARP Age Friendly Community Designation. Synergy among the initiatives has created an emerging new vitality in Sheboygan. For this reason Senior Activity Center Commission member Jeanne Bogardus notes, “I pat myself on the back for having the foresight to move here from the San Francisco Bay Area.”
Major county-level infrastructure investments also helped to set the stage for success. In 2005, Sheboygan County received a $25 Million federal grant from the Non-Motorized Pilot Program to develop a network of off-road paved paths that connect neighborhoods, retail centers, schools, recreation amenities, and employment centers. Thanks to the city’s collaboration on the pilot program, new trail systems traverse Sheboygan and connect many destinations with employment centers and cultural enrichment opportunities. It has also also sparked new trail network investments; for example, a North-South trail constructed through the federal investment is included in the city budget for expansion across the entire city. Now that residents have experienced its benefits, they embrace a robust trail system and eagerly wonder when the extension will be complete. Sheboygan provides a regional example of the power that large scale infrastructure investment can have on reshaping the physical and cultural landscape around walking and biking.
With more walkable places being created, Sheboygan neighbors feel more encouraged to walk and bike. The shift is visible. “I started walking to work 5 years ago and it was unusual back then,” said Nancy Maring, “but now you see it more and more.” Sheboygan continues its progress each day, and we’re excited to see what the next year brings!
Approach to Equity
Sheboygan just became an Age-Friendly Community, and has a commitment and multiple practices to address access to mobility and quality of life through a lense of older residents.
They are also excited to be part of the learning network with WI Active Together Communities who are all working to increase their capacity and expand partnerships to center equity and inclusion.