The following is by Kim Skornogoski, written for the United Way of Cascade County enewsletter:
If you’ve been downtown lately, you may have noticed something a little fishy.
Rainbow trout are swimming through the crosswalks at Davidson Plaza and people can recreate the piano scene from “Big” on Central Avenue and 5th Street or hopscotch across the intersection a block away.
The colorful and creative crosswalks are part of the Building Active Communities Initiative. Like the painted electrical boxes and the murals, the painted crosswalks help create a more dynamic and connected downtown, which benefits everyone.
Research in other communities that painted crosswalks found that the bright colors inspired traffic to slow down and people to walk more. Adding more steps to your daily routine improves individual’s health, which is why United Way and Get Fit Great Falls are part of the project.
But it’s also a boon for downtown businesses and a more vibrant downtown attracts more tourists and young professionals, which is why groups like the Chamber, the Downtown Association and Visit Great Falls are involved. The fish have been featured in photos promoting Great Falls.
NeighborWorks Great Falls provided funding for paintbrushes and other supplies because increasing walking traffic also decreases downtown crime.
The Building Active Communities Initiative is also working to better connect parks to their neighborhoods and make them accessible for everyone. Walkability studies of neighborhood parks are planned every other Saturday between June 29 and Oct. 19. Anyone interested in getting involved can click here to email the study coordinator.
In the weeks ahead, the team will be painting crosswalks at Central Avenue and 1st, 2nd and 4th streets. The work is done on Monday and Tuesday evenings to avoid traffic. If you would like to volunteer to help paint, no artistic skill is needed — just clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on. Contact Kim by clicking here or calling 727-3400.
Special thanks to Highway Specialties for donating paint, and NeighborWorks Great Falls for donating $1,000 to go towards supplies. We wouldn’t be able to make our downtown beautiful without you!