featured community spotlights
The Active Living Partnership of greater Stapleton (ALPS) is working to establish the greater Stapleton area as a model community and "learning laboratory" for healthy and active living. Stapleton, the location of a former international airport, is being built from the ground up with routine physical activity in mind. It will provide an exceptional physical environment for active living, and there is much to be done to encourage its residents to be physically active, to make the new facilities accessible to the surrounding neighborhoods, and to institutionalize active living throughout the area.
In order to accomplish these objectives, ALPS has established a broad partnership, including the Center for Human Nutrition and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, neighborhood associations, the Stapleton Foundation, the Stapleton Development Corporation, Forest City, the Stapleton Area Transportation Management Agency (TMA), the Livable Communities Support Center, transportation, health, and planning officials from Denver and the adjoining City of Aurora, and a variety of other community organizations.
Led by the Center for Human Nutrition and the Stapleton Foundation, the partnership has conducted intensive outreach to the surrounding neighborhoods; launched and expanded the Passport to Active Living, a series of physical activities designed to involve residents from all of the area neighborhoods; developed a variety of materials to encourage active transportation; promoted America On the Move, an initiative promoting increased physical activity and decreased intake to prevent weight gain; organized coalitions and advocated for key improvements to area roads and facilities to support walking, bicycling, and park use; and supported ped/bike planning to improve connections within and around Stapleton. finally, they are helping to nurture the planning and development of the Colorado University Centers for Healthy Living at Greater Stapleton, a multifaceted institution dedicated to sustaining the healthy living focus throughout the community, and studying its effects on behavior and health.
It is a sunny day in Denver, and many seniors are enjoying their daily walk at the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center. Lilly Fuller is among them. According to Lilly, "My daily walks keep me going. I really enjoy the company and getting my exercise. I feel better and move better when I get out." Each year an event sponsored by the Active Living Partnership of greater Stapleton is held at the recreation center to help seniors keep their momentum going. The Northeast Park Hill Neighborhood Association, in collaboration with the other neighborhood associations, has become more aware of active living and the community infrastructure as a means for remaining active. These organizations have become involved in talks to make changes to a major road that is not currently bicycle or pedestrian friendly.
The greater Stapleton area is undergoing rapid change. The 4,700-acre site of the former Stapleton airport is being transformed into a new urbanist community where 30,000 people will live and another 30,000 will work. While the demographic profiles of the lowerincome, communities of color surrounding the airport site have not significantly changed, they now have new shopping, employment, and other amenities nearby. Although the new Stapleton development includes a mix of housing types, new residents tend to be more affluent and less ethnically diverse than the surrounding population.
Stapleton has walkable and bikeable streets, the roads that surround and provide access to the site are the wide, high-speed, high-traffic roads that used to serve the airport, and the surrounding neighborhoods still generally lack safe, attractive facilities and other supports for physical activity. The Stapleton site also is bisected by I-70, making ped/bike connections to destinations in the northern portion of the community difficult. Despite coordination with the neighboring city of Aurora on the east end of Stapleton and a strong draft ped/bike plan that would link Stapleton and a variety of other nearby destinations, there remain many interdepartmental and leadership barriers within the government to finalizing and executing the plan.
Some major opportunities for the Active Living Project at Stapleton include the implementation of the Thriving Communities healthy eating and active living initiative in the Greater Park Hill neighborhood, the development of two large new urban projects nearby at the former fitzsimons and Lowry military facilities, the progress of the Colorado University Centers for Healthy Living, the upcoming development of a YMCA, and the availability of 60,000 square feet for a recreational facility at Stapleton.
In addition to these opportunities, ALPS is working to retain and renovate a bridge for potential ped/bike use across I-70 that would integrate the northern and southern parts of the community and to expand the Passport to Active Living program to include America On the Move to increase overall reach, connect with Latino families, and better target students.