The Neighborhood & Community Connections (N&CC) Program is an effort to identify, prioritize, and build new walkable connections to parks and greenways. The N&CC Program was designed to promote health equity throughout the City, using geo-spatial modeling and data analysis to guide investment in those communities which are most at-risk of negative health outcomes and most in need of improved access to outdoor recreation opportunities. In 2017, the Geographic Information System (GIS) model developed in support of the N&CC Program was awarded the G. Herbert Stout Award for Visionary Use of GIS by a Local Government in North Carolina.
Neighborhoods prioritized for investment through this program are identified using a Community Vulnerability Index, originally developed by the Wake County Department of Health & Human Services. This index is based on socioeconomic and demographic indicators which correlate with high vulnerability to negative mental and physical health outcomes, such as heart disease, obesity, chronic stress, and depression—health outcomes which can be mitigated with improved access to parks and recreation opportunities.
N&CC projects are funded through the 2014 Parks Bond Referendum and land acquisition funds, and included projects are primarily focused on improving access to both recreation facilities and greenway trails.
Equity and Park Access
The Community Vulnerability Index used in the N&CC Program can be applied in many different planning scenarios, to equitably prioritize funding across different geographic areas throughout the City of Raleigh. Prioritizing investments in these high-priority neighborhoods helps ensure that Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources sites, facilities, and programs are accessible to the people who will benefit most from these public resources.
Raleigh has partnered with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) on the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, an effort to develop measurable policies and strategies advancing the vision that every person, in every neighborhood, deserves to have safe, convenient access to a high-quality park or open space within a 10-minute walk of home by 2050.
As a grant-funded partner of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, the City of Raleigh has developed new methods of measuring park access across different areas of the city and prioritizing future projects to ensure the equitable distribution of resources. Two primary factors that can be considered when prioritizing new projects are equity and park access.
In addition to the equity and level of service criteria linked above, the following criteria are also used to determine N&CC project locations:
- Improvement of access in neighborhoods which are more than ½-mile from the nearest greenway access point;
- Proximity of access to transit (including proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Transit Overlay District (TOD) areas);
- Overall safety and proximity to existing pedestrian infrastructure;
- Overall feasibility based on existing property rights, construction cost, and permitting requirements.