The UCHD-CHC program is the focal point of all the Union County Creating Healthy Communities activities. Historically, the Union County Health Department has pioneered projects that have addressed prevention programming and risk factor reduction for chronic diseases, and has been a leader in the community in working towards reducing and preventing the burden of disease for residents. Since receiving the Creating Healthy Communities grant in 2015, the Union County Health Department has been able to expand on its existing successes and further its efforts to improve the health of Union County residents. This success, however, would not be possible without existing coalitions and partnerships, as well as new partnerships that work alongside the UCHD-CHC program.
Since 2006, the Union County Health Department has worked with a multitude of local partners, to include businesses, schools, healthcare, and other agencies, under the Union County Wellness Consortium (UCWC). The UCWC was formed to bring agencies and organizations together to address health issues in the community, and has been an anchor for many projects and programs in Union County. Currently, the UCWC is the home base for reviewing projects, disseminating information on the progress of the projects, and identifying new focus areas as well as partners for projects and programs. The Union County Health Department also works with smaller coalitions and teams in priority communities. Some of these teams consist of committed residents, members of local councils, businesses, and community organizations, and are brought about to address one project focus area.
When planning for the development of the trail, the UCHD-CHC and its partners established objectives to reach the goal of building out the trail as part of the overall Creating Healthy Communities annual work plans for 2015-2018. The first objective was to establish a formal committee to assist in the development and implementation of the trail. This committee would be made up of what would later become the Richwood Trailblazers, along with the Village Council, National Park Service, and the UCHD-CHC program. More partners have come to the table since, but the core organizations remain as pillars for the project. Once the committee was established, it was tasked with following through on the following objectives and activities to complete the goal of developing the trail:
- Establish local partnerships and to review the need and efficacy of a trail at Richwood Lake Park.
- Create project proposal and receive local government endorsement
- Consult guidance documents and best practices to facilitate the project outline, objectives, and evaluation measures.
- Gather information from residents through surveys and public meetings to create a vision and design for the trail.
- Identify appropriate engineering firm to facilitate construction.
- Finalize trail design and overall project timeline.
- Procure funding through various sources to construct each phase of the trail.
- Procure land and easements near park for appropriate space needed for trail and park enhancements.
- Create communications and events to promote to the community to build awareness and interest.
- Complete all phases of the trail within construction timeline.
- Host a kickoff event and grand opening to celebrate with community.
- Complete/Finalize all evaluation measures to assess initial project success.
- Develop a sustainability, maintenance, and programming plan with trail committee and local partners.
- Provide continuous technical assistance to ensure trail success through use, sustainability, maintenance, and access.
Throughout the years, the UCHD-CHC program, Trailblazers, and other partners worked on each of the objectives, and successfully completed them by the summer of 2018. The committee used community feedback and reviewed the existing foot path to establish the ideal location for the trail, worked closely with the engineering firm to finalize the overall design and timeline, and secured enough funding through various grants, fundraisers, and in-kind donations to cover the entire cost of the trail, along with some additional park amenities, such as a new shelter house and restrooms. Throughout the process, the Trailblazers created their own social media page and regularly posted updates about the trail to build interest and offer the opportunity for residents to get involved in planning meetings, events, and park clean up activities. The UCHD-CHC program provided technical assistance and funding throughout the project to help pursue funding, initiate and maintain communications with the public, review and utilize best practices for project implementation, develop appropriate data collection tools and evaluation measures, and support overall project management.
As of the fall of 2018, the committee met to review the most recent data collected, and worked to finalize a sustainability plan. This plan includes the expansion of the park and trail, fund seeking for maintenance and improvements, continuous monitoring and evaluation of the park and trail for use, accessibility, and safety, event planning and programming, communication to the public, and sustainment of a dedicated volunteer group. The UCHD-CHC program, and other community partners have committed to provide support for the aforementioned efforts of the Trailblazers. Costs and overall funds associated with the development and implementation of the Richwood Lake Park Trail between the 2015 and 2018 are listed below.
2015-2018 Richwood Lake Park Trail Costs and overall funds:
In-Kind Volunteer hours: $11,535.00 (500 hours valued at $23.07 an hour over 3 years)
In-Kind Technical Assistance from National Park Service: $20,030.00
In-Kind Technical Assistance from UCHD-CHC program: $16,500.00
Local funds raised (to-date): $5,100.00
Local Grants: $35,000.00
State and Federal Grants: $2,030,470.00
Other Grants: $25,000.00
Total funds raised and in-kind contributions (2015-2018): $2,143,635.00
Erosion Control: $1,157,927.00
Engineering and Implementation Fees: $343,600.00
Land Acquisition: $179,000.00
Trail Construction (includes cutting, gravel, paving, seeding, etc.): $360,100.00
Total Project Costs (2015-2018): $2,040,627.00