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14 NH Towns, Cities Have Opportunities to Become More Livable

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Residents of 14 southern New Hampshire towns and cities can give input on making their communities more livable for people of all ages. (Mike Clifford)
Residents of 14 southern New Hampshire towns and cities can give input on making their communities more livable for people of all ages. (Mike Clifford)
 By Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH, Contact
October 31, 2016

MANCHESTER, Mass. – It can be as simple as adding benches to a local park or bike lanes to make cyclists safer - several hundred thousand residents of southern New Hampshire are planning ways to make their communities more livable for citizens of all ages.

Todd Fahey, state director at AARP New Hampshire, said 14 communities are embarking on the Age-Friendly Community process, and all of the roughly 300,000 residents have the opportunity to get involved.

"Towns and cities need to elect to do this; it's something that they choose to do and that they will work to do, to make themselves a great place to live for all ages,” Fahey said. "It's a really important thing for New Hampshire, because we're the second-oldest state in an aging nation."

Fahey said towns can choose which "domains” - or facets of livability - they want to focus on. They range from outdoor spaces and recreation to transportation, housing and community health services. There are eight domains in all, and communities can elect to work on as many as they like.

Anyone can take find out how well their town or city currently ranks in terms of livability by visiting the AARP website.

"And you can determine how livable your town is by having a look at the Livability Index,” Fahey said. "So, people can actually just type in the name of their town and see, on different measures, how livable it is compared to others that are measured by the same, objective standards."

The Tufts Health Plan Foundation provided $45,000 in funding for the Southern New Hampshire Planning Foundation to promote the Age-Friendly Community initiative, Fahey said. And even small changes can make a big difference.

"It might just be being creative and blocking off a street for a farmer's market; it could be as simple as adding a few park benches,” he said. "We have data that say that the best return for one's investment sometimes is a walking path in a park."

More information is online at aarp.org.

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