Thirty-five Granby citizens, from children to seniors, walked from Oakridge Drive to Mapleview Farm on April 16 as part of a community walk organized by Meg Jabaily, a master’s degree candidate at Boston Architectural College’s Design for Human Health program. She has been interested in the design of Town Center since moving to Granby in 2021.
After participating in a February town meeting where selectmen accepted open comment about a survey, Jabaily started talking with other interested citizens about what could be done at a grass roots level while the town formalized its process. “After the meeting, former Selectman Glenn Ballard and a few others approached me wanting to talk more about how we can collaborate to make sure as many voices are heard in the town planning process as possible, and from there the idea of this community walk came up,” said Jabaily.
The community participants, which included Granby First Selectman Mark Fiorentino and Selectman Kelly Rome, were encouraged to walk from Oakridge Drive into different areas of Town Center, and then to make their way to Mapleview Farm. Participants were tasked with noticing what was working well and what ideas they might have for improvements.
Jabaily also encouraged participants to consider who might be left out of the walk due to limitations for safe walkability. Jabaily described her reasoning for the approach, “A participatory design process allows each individual to bring his or her lived experience to the table. If we create an inclusive process, the ultimate design will be inclusive and serve the end users, Granby citizens, in a way that promotes health, wellbeing, and a sense of belonging.”
While Jabaily is still compiling feedback in the form of quotes, drawings and photographs, she noted common themes including walkability, connecting businesses and bike trails with sidewalks, having more places for play and gathering, and finding ways to celebrate nature, with more gardens and the use of natural elements throughout the outdoor areas within and surrounding the center.
A primary sentiment was that Granby is a special place with many assets, and that it would be exciting to see the Town take the next step to create safe, universally accessible ways for citizens and visitors alike to take full advantage of what Granby Town Center has to offer.
Kim Becker noted, “It was terrific to see residents and families on this walk really looking at the center and thinking about how we can all better use it. There were so many good ideas and the enthusiasm and love for Granby just shone through.”