Residents Provide Input Into Future Of Ripley

RIPLEY — More than 30 Ripley residents attended a Community Conversation on June 20 with the hope of having a voice in the future of the town.

The event, which was held at Meeder’s Restaurant, was hosted by the Chautauqua County Health Network, which is currently partnering with the town to implement the Complete Streets program in Ripley.

“The goal of this night is basically to get the voice of the Ripley community,” said Kate Ebersole, one of two interim directors for the CCHN. “We focus on finding what the people in the community really want. This is one of the methods we use to get the views of the residents.”

The Ripley Town Council recently voted to adopt the Complete Streets Program after Ebersole and her colleague Mikayla Certo presented the program at the May 9 board meeting.

At the event, participants broke into small groups and answered four questions. The questions were:

¯ What areas, neighborhoods, or streets would be best for implementing Complete Streets;

¯ What are the potential barriers to implementing Complete Streets in Ripley;

¯ What is already in place that could be used/enhanced to implement complete Streets;

¯ What do you see as possible next steps and who do you think should be responsible for these actions?

After this, each group created a flip chart to share their responses with the larger group. Each person then voted for the top three results.

“We were very pleased with the turn-out and we’re excited with the answers they are coming up with,” Ebersole said. “You don’t need to have 50-70 people to have a good conversation. You just need 15-20 people who care about their community and want to come and discuss how they can make their community a healthier place to live.”

This was not the first time the CCHN had engaged Ripley in this type of conversation, Ebersole said. Some three years ago, the network engaged the school in the same manner to determine how to best promote healthy living.

The network was able to help the school obtain grants for several small programs, Ebersole said. “We work with the county, the state and various boards and we can help to get mini grants,” she said.

Through the grants that the CCHN assisted Ripley Central School in obtaining, the school created a garden and promoted exercise, healthy eating, community relationships and healthy celebrations, Ebersole said.

After a lively discussion period, those present at the Community Conversation, selected several objectives as the ones they feel Ripley most needs to pursue in order to achieve Complete Streets.

The top five objectives which the group selected are: Make the school zone safer, replace and repair sidewalks, enforce the current laws, employ a zoning officer who enforces the laws, provide better lighting around the town, and seek grants for the town.

These goals will help in getting the Complete Streets policy in place in Ripley, Ebersole said. Complete Streets is designed to improve levels of physical activity, provide safety and accessibility of streets in the community, encourages residents to walk to destinations and to improve the overall livability of the community.