Together the St. Albans Town Selectboard and Planning Board have taken steps to insure the future walkability of the Town. After three years of working on the Planning By-Laws, the Selectboard finally approved them and included sidewalk mandates. These mandates require developers to build sidewalks in all growth areas of the Town. They also decided that efforts will be made to update the existing sidewalk plan so that future sidewalk development can be adequately planned for and perhaps expanded beyond the current designated growth areas.

The Town seized the opportunity to create infrastructure for our residents to make walking and biking more accessible and safe, thus creating healthier residents. This effort is largely due to the Town’s citizens. The Selectboard heard the many people who wrote letters, sent emails, called them at home and showed up at meetings. The people spoke and the Selectboard listened!

This is a huge step forward in the health of the town. The latest data shows that 32% of adults are obese and the number of overweight or obese American children nearly tripled between 1980 and 2004. Health experts agree that a big factor of obesity is inactivity.

More sidewalks will encourage our residents to be more active. It gives parents peace of mind when their children want to walk or bike. This enables people to think of walking as not only exercise, but as a mode of transportation to run errands or visit other destinations. Municipalities have been encouraged to focus on walking and biking infrastructure by both the CDC and the Surgeon General.

Hopefully, this initial momentum for a healthier town will continue to expand. By adapting to the needs of our current citizens, the Town will inevitably attract future growth and development, as adequate walking and biking infrastructure is also favored by new buyers. Let’s continue to build our community into a place where quality of life and health is highly valued.