Written by: Jennifer Rich & Shannon Scott, Great Rivers Greenway
Everyday at Great Rivers Greenway, we strive to build a stronger St. Louis region and work to connect people to one another and to nature with our greenways, parks and trails. The value that these connections can add to everyday life is already apparent for those connected with the Crown Center for Senior Living community in University City, who live, dine, exercise, learn, and meet with friends along one of our newest trails.
According to Crown Center’s Planning Director, Megan Zimmerman, several of the Center’s residents are using the newest Centennial Greenway trail, from Shaw Park to Olive Boulevard, for daily trips to the nearby Schnuck’s grocery store.
“This grocery store is really a lifeline for our residents, and Centennial trail has allowed them to access that lifeline more easily than ever before,” said Zimmerman.
Before the trail was built, residents could get to Schnuck’s in one of two ways: through the Center’s organized weekly bus trips, or by utilizing the sidewalk outside the Center, which, according to Zimmerman, was rundown and unsafe.
“The trail is much more accessible now,” Zimmerman said. “It is much flatter, so it really helps those with a walker. Before, the sidewalk sometimes got slick and could buckle, and there was really no upkeep to it.”
“It really is the little things that make the biggest difference for our community,” she said. “The trail is wide enough for 2 or 3 friends to walk next to each other and talk, and it is also a little off the street, so it feels safer.”
Through safety and accessibility improvements, the trail provides residents with a greater sense of independence than ever before.
“They have such a strong desire to be a part of their community. The trail helps to support the dignity of our community members and allows them to feel connected,” said Zimmerman.
The Centennial trail
also allows residents to take advantage of new fitness opportunities, helping them live healthier, more active lifestyles.
While the area surrounding Crown Center was not considered a very walkable neighborhood, the trail helped to inspire several residents to form an organized walking group. The group started meeting weekly in the fall, following the kickoff of Crown Center’s partnership with OASIS, a national organization with its headquarters in St. Louis that serves adults over age 50.
In addition to the walking group, the community now has access to outdoor fitness equipment stationed off of Centennial Trail on Crown Center’s grounds. This equipment, recently granted to Crown Center by the JCA Charitable Foundation and Brown Shoe Charitable Trust, is open for public use and is adaptable for people of all abilities.
While portions of the 1.84-mile this Centennial Greenway trail are still under construction, Crown Center looks forward to the trails completion, estimated for April of this year.
The ribbon cutting, planned for April 26th, will give the Crown Center community and businesses along the greenway the opportunity to celebrate their new connection.
“Once it’s finished, our community will have the potential to go to new places along the trail, safely,” said Zimmerman. “Knowing that it will connect to Forest Park helps connect them to the larger community.”
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