The Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) at the University of Central Arkansas is partnering with Crafton Tull to conduct walk audits in Beebe and De Queen, Arkansas. The walk audits will be held on March 29 in Beebe and April 1 in De Queen.

“Walk audits, or walkshops, are a great way to get community leaders out in the built environment to see issues and barriers they have in their towns. My experience as an urban planner as well as a parent of a wheelchair-bound child affords a unique insight into what barriers look like and how to correct them,” said Dave Roberts, director of planning at Crafton Tull. “Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can illuminate things you may not have noticed in a place you visit often.”

The purpose of the interactive walk audit with community leaders in Beebe and De Queen is to help develop placemaking concepts and solutions for circulation (vehicular, pedestrian and bike), parking, universal access, low-impact development concepts, wayfinding, beautification and community character improvement.

The walk audit will include one-on-one interaction and assessment of a three-by-three-block area of each community’s downtown or other selected area. Experts at Crafton Tull will also share a presentation focusing on accessibility in the built environment, including best practices for site-planning methods with respect to complete streets, accessible parking, crosswalks, sidewalks, trails and other circulation facilities. The session will include time for Q&A. Afterward, Crafton Tull will generate a brief summary and share it with community leaders.

“We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to work with UCA and Crafton Tull on this project,” said Mindi Rice, Beebe Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The chamber is always looking for new and innovative ways to work with the city of Beebe to create usable spaces that benefit our citizens. This project will provide us with new ideas and tools to incorporate into our land use plans and future projects.”

“We are excited to embark on this project with leadership from CCED and the Crafton Tull team. This opportunity comes at the perfect time for our community during the planning phase for the future of De Queen and Sevier County,” said Lisa Taylor, Sevier County Economic Development director at the University of Arkansas Cossatot.

De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown also shared his excitement to work with UCA and Crafton Tull. “As Mayor of De Queen, it is an honor to work with CCED and Crafton Tull to ensure a bright future for our community and generations to come.”

In August 2018, CCED staff offered several technical assistance services (walk audit, poverty simulation, nonprofit training and development, business outreach survey and more) for which Arkansas communities could apply. Communities that applied went through a competitive process to be selected to work with CCED and its partners. These technical assistance services are part of CCED’s effort to connect with communities across Arkansas to grow local economies and enhance quality of life and are provided to communities at no or low cost.

CCED’s Project Coordinator Moriah Bruner shared, “Our staff is excited to offer walk audits for the first time to our community partners. The physical and built environment greatly impacts the health of every community, both residents’ physical health and the strength of the local economy and workforce. Our hope is that the walk audits will offer these two communities insights in how to make cost-effective improvements to the built environment that will lay the groundwork for healthier, more sustainable communities.”

For more information, visit: uca.edu/cced or call Shelby Fiegel at (501) 450-5269.

About Crafton Tull
Crafton Tull is a civil engineering, surveying, architecture, landscape architecture, and planning firm with more than 200 employees working out of 10 offices across Arkansas and Oklahoma. For more than 55 years, Crafton Tull has sought to improve communities through design. That mission is carried out through the firm’s work still today across a wide variety of project types and services. Dave Roberts, ASLA, has led a talented planning team on community planning & urban design projects, corridor revitalizations, citywide comprehensive plans, bicycle & pedestrian master plans, parks & recreation system plans, as well as numerous inclusive playground designs over the past 11 years. Dave often presents sessions at conferences in the Mid-South region on planning healthy communities, urban design strategies and the benefits of placemaking.

About the Center for Community and Economic Development
The Center for Community and Economic Development’s mission is to have a positive impact on communities by equipping leaders with economic tools and resources, building consensus to achieve community goals and bringing UCA resources and communities together. CCED envisions communities across Arkansas and the country with robust economies, a flourishing quality of life and diverse and engaged citizen leaders. CCED provides customized training and technical assistance to communities and their leaders. Learn more at uca.edu/cced.