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Fairmont Planning Commission Recommends Connectivity Plan to be Adapted into City's Comprehensive Plan

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An initiative to make the city of Fairmont more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly is moving forward.

Fairmont's planning commission has recommended that Main Street Fairmont's connectivity plan be adapted into the city's comprehensive plan.

Main Street Fairmont finished drafting the plan earlier this summer and presented it to council members, city officials, and members of the public, although for most, it was the first opportunity to see the plan, along with its counterpart, "Growing Healthy Communities."

"There is a piece of the connectivity plan that identifies specific changes that we can make in our downtown to implement this plan, so we've written a grant to the same program, the Growing Healthy Communities program that funded the connectivity plan, to see if we can get funding to put the plan in motion," said Kate Greene of Main Street Fairmont.

The planning commission plans to submit a formal request to city council this fall. Funding requests could begin by early next year.

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Fairmont's revitalization of its downtown is an ongoing effort, but a grant from the West Virginia Development Office and the Benedum Foundation could help to get things moving - literally. 

Main Street Fairmont has finished the city's connectivity plan, an initiative to make the city more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. Kate Greene is the director of Main Street Fairmont. She says the city is already designed to accommodate such foot and bike traffic.

"There's some infrastructure that indicates that once upon a time, we were a very walkable community, so we're trying to get back to that," said Greene.

She said it's a concept that affects all residents.

"It's a public health issue, it's a quality of life issue. The connectivity plan is looking at your community in looking at all of your assets, all of your anchors, things like your university, your public schools, your parks...identifying the connections," said Greene.

A crucial element of the plan is bringing in traffic for local businesses and the city's Farmer's Market. 

"We want our community to be healthy, and we want our people to have access to locally-grown healthy foods," said Melina Suity, a member of Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps.

On a larger scope, Main Street Fairmont would love to make its plan a county-wide, or even regional initiative, bringing local rail trails into the equation. But Greene said the plan ensures that even small communities can make a difference by letting their voices be heard.

"You don't have to wait for the city to come in and say, 'You need sidewalks.' We have the power. People in those neighborhoods have the power to stand up and say 'We want to see that.' 'Our city our future' is our mantra, and we have that power to make those changes."

Main Street Fairmont will present its connectivity plan to the planning commission in hopes that it will end up on the city's comprehensive plan.
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