National Night Out

This year marked the 29th year the National Association of Town Watch. The Maplewood Police Department invited the public to join them in observing National Night Out.

National Night Out took place on Tuesday, August 4th from 6PM till 9PM. The event was held at DeHart Park, 120 Burnett Avenue in Maplewood NJ.

The event promoted various crime prevention programs including: neighborhood watch groups, neighbor home security surveys, crime prevention tips and bike registration.

Since 1984, the National Bike Registry (NBR®) has been working with law enforcement to return stolen bikes to their rightful owners. A bike registered with NBR, the only true national database, can be identified by police and returned to its rightful owner instead of being sold at an auction.

By registering your bike in the National Bike Registry. You will receive a Certificate of Registration and a tamper-resistant NBR label to identify your bike. Then, if your bike is ever stolen and recovered, no matter where, it can be returned to you.

All members of the community participated in this year’s event. The event was free to participants and included food, drinks, music, video game truck, bounce house, dunk tank and other activities. A police car, fire truck, and an ambulance was on display. All participants were be able to their register bicycles.

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Interview

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Doris Fernandez, the recreation aide in the Maplewood Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs. Doris provides information regarding activities and registration procedures and is entrusted with organizing and promoting recreational activities within the township.

1) What were your expectations for Improving Bike Safety in Maplewood?

The expectations for the bike network plan to provide a safe and inviting bicycle infrastructure. We want to improve the quality of life for the residence of Maplewood, by improving providing safer streets to ride on. By improving the air quality, reducing congestion on our streets and keeping everyone cycling for fun, exercise and transportation.

2) What has surprised or delighted you during the project?

Maplewood’s Bicycle Safety Program began last fall under the auspices of Overlook Medical Center – Atlantic Health. The first part of the project was when our Police Department registered bikes and gave free helmets at the Wellness Fair in our main park.

We were truly delighted by the turn out! Half of the helmets we purchased with the grant funding were given to residents

3) What unanticipated obstacles or challenges have you experienced?

When the street markings for the additional bikeway blocks were put on the asphalt, an error was made. The vendor acknowledged the problem and installed an additional marking at no cost. A challenge with a great outcome!

4) Do you think that the bike infrastructure will bring a positive impact to our community?

The bike infrastructure will bring a positive impact to our community by providing connectivity to destinations such as workplaces, schools, parks and public transportation. We also anticipate that the improvements will attract new riders.

Summer Biking and Beyond

This summer we’ve been busy installing the rest of the bike racks.  In the last two months, ten bike racks have found a new home in Bloomfield.  A big shout out to the Bloomfield Recreation Department, the Department of Public Works, and the Bloomfield Board of Education who all coordinated to agree on sites and arrange for their installation. Now students and residents can get around town in a healthy and sustainable manner knowing there are places to keep their bikes secure.  Don’t forget your locks, though.

Taking the stairs campaign will be working with the Bloomfield Historical Society http://www.bloomfieldhistorical.org.  We are thinking of utilizing historical photos such as these to hang in the stairwell in an effort to draw town employees and residents to the stairs. Isn’t it fun to look at old photos of your community and spot the differences? Can you see modern Bloomfield in these photos?

greetingscard

The Bloomfield Centennial Monument to the Soldiers and Sailors of the Spanish American War, Civil War, War of 1812, and the American Revolution, was dedicated in June of 1912.

The Bloomfield Centennial Monument to the Soldiers and Sailors of the Spanish American War, Civil War, War of 1812, and the American Revolution, was dedicated in June of 1912.

Our team also followed up with the Friendly News and Food, one of our Health Corner Store participants.  We compiled and analyzed the questionnaire findings from the 51 fifth grade students from Fairview school who completed the survey, and shared the results with the store owner, Vijay.   We learned that 70% of fifth graders visit the store “sometimes,” and that the most likely reason they visit is to purchase a snack, 75%.  Also, their most desired food choice is fruit and their most preferred beverage is water. Now Vijay can be prepared in September when the children come bustling in the doorway on their way to school.

By the way, thanks to Janet Heroux, we learned that this process of questioning a group of potential consumers is also know as market research.  A process the Bloomfield Health Department is undergoing in an effort to complete the national standards as set forth by the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Creating Partnerships to Build Success

The power of partnership is proving to be a key factor in building success for Healthier Somerset’s ShapingNJ projects to combat obesity and associated diseases and promote healthier lifestyles.

We chose farmers’ markets in our three target communities of Bound Brook, Manville, and Somerville as vehicles to promote affordable, healthy choices for local produce.  We are coordinating with downtown management associations, vendors, and municipal departments that coordinate the markets to accept vouchers to purchase healthy items at the markets, and we are looking into avenues of distribution for the vouchers.

We’ve made great progress in scheduling our nutrition seminars.  In Bound Brook, we’re collaborating with the borough’s Recreation Department to host one seminar and a local school may host an additional workshop.  In Manville we’ll hold the seminar at the public library, and in Somerville at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

The seminars will demonstrate how easy and inexpensive it can be to make smoothies and salads.  Zufall Health Centers and EmPoWER identified a nutritionist from NJ SNAP who will present the seminars at no charge.

We’ve had opportunities to create new partnerships throughout this process.  The Somerset County Food Bank Network donated 150 thermal lunch bags that we will give to our seminar attendees.  The bags were donated to the Food Bank Network by Sanofi, the global pharmaceutical company that is headquartered in Somerset County.

The second part of our project focuses on adoption of the “Complete Streets” policy in the three towns to encourage safe and accessible accommodations for all users of existing and future pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities.  Creating sound public policy is never easy, and municipal departments and elected bodies don’t always make decisions with the speed or predictability that we would like to see.  Our previous policy outreach through Healthier Somerset and RideWiseTMA has established relationships with local governing officials and staff who have brought in additional municipal departments and entities involved in the decision to adopt a “Complete Streets” resolution.  We’re glad that we can be part of the education process on the benefits of “Complete Streets”, and we’re optimistic about moving the policy forward in our three towns.

The Road to Working With Facilitators and the Challenges

There are several factors which have helped “Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative” to successfully conduct the “Improving Bike Safety in Maplewood Project”.  Careful planning, attention to detail and effective communication to make a project succeed are factors which allow us to work in collaboration with local businesses, public libraries, South Mountain YMCA and Maplewood police Department, Green Team, Freewalkers to continue to move forward, meet deadlines and staying organized.

Currently the challenge we are focusing our energy on is keeping the project scope clear and taking a small step a fresh look at the overall project, reviewing how things have gone so far, and how we can improve future project goals based on what has already changed along the way.

Communicating openly and encouraging feedback at every step to create greater engagement among all of our participants has been extremely helpful through these challenges.