In spring 2013, the Colorado Health Foundation sponsored ULI Advisory Services panels in three Colorado communities: Lamar, a small town in eastern Colorado; Arvada, a rapidly growing Denver suburb; and Westwood, a dense neighborhood in southwestern Denver. Each community struggled with increasing rates of obesity and other chronic diseases.
In fall 2014, Ed McMahon, ULI senior resident fellow and chair of the three panels, returned to each community to observe changes based on panel recommendations. In each case, significant improvements to the built environment are occurring and enhancing the lives and health of residents. In a recent article in the Colorado Health Foundation’s Health Elevations Journal, McMahon details the problems and recommendations from each panel visit, as well as efforts underway to improve each community. For example, in Westwood “a large vacant lot [has] been turned into a first-class neighborhood park with everything from playground equipment to basketball courts to the neighborhood’s first outdoor splash pad.”