Designing Healthy Communities: Lawrence
Zoning & Public Health
Zoning Reform to Inspire Healthy Living
Heather McMann, Groundwork Lawrence
Groundwork Lawrence
• For people - creating opportunities for
people to learn new skills and take local
• For places - creating better, safer and
healthier neighborhoods
• For prosperity - helping business and
individuals fulfill their potential
Lawrence in 1850
Lawrence Now
One of the poorest & most heavily Latino cities in NE
Population 76,000 in 7 square miles
25%+ of families below poverty line
Low Homeownership & High Unemployment Rates
High rates of foreclosure
37% of residents hold HS degree
Young population (~30% under age 24)
Diet & lifestyle-related disease rates soaring
Highest rates of youth obesity in MA
Food Desert:
• 1 Grocery Store, 100+ Corner Stores
• Fast Food Restaurants
Healthy Food Access
Dr. Nina Scarito Park
• 1850s - Small mill built on the site,
including several raceways running
through the property
• 1940s: - Site redeveloped into a
commercial laundry
• Late 1980s - Laundry buildings
demolished, leaving the site vacant
• 2001 - Neighborhood Summit
identified site for a neighborhood park
• 2006 - Completed remediation &
construction, funding from EPA
Brownfields, MA EOEEA, City of
Lawrence & Bank of America
Dr. Nina Scarito Park
Manchester Street Park
• Former incinerator
• 1990s - Community succeeded in closing
the incinerator
• 2006 - Envisioned as a park
• 2009 – Ribbon-cutting ceremony
• 2010 & 2011 – 2 National Awards
Manchester Street Park
Spruce St. Vacant Lots
Spruce St. Community Garden
The Spicket River Greenway
Walkable Communities and Health
Walking is beneficial to people's health, to community
vitality, and for the environment.
 Improves community interaction as people are more
likely to talk with neighbors and shop in local stores
when they are walking through a community.
 Provides easy, inexpensive and low-impact exercise
that can improve the overall health of community
 Walking instead of driving protects environmental
quality. Reducing vehicular emissions benefits plants,
watersheds and the health of wildlife and people alike.
Walkable Communities and
Economic Benefits
Housing Values are Higher
Attract "New Economy" Workers
Are becoming a Business Relocation Alternative
Reduce Commuting Costs
Cost the Taxpayer Less
Attracts Tourists
Can Capture an Emerging "Lifestyle" Retail Market
Lesson learned: Challenges are Opportunities
No Master Plan
Brownfields/Vacant lots
Illegal dumping
Public Perception
Limited Access to Healthy Food
Limited Regional Cooperation
Open Space Plan
Dense, Walkable City
Mixed-Use Neighborhoods
Active Transportation
Open Spaces for Recreation & Exercise
Improved Environment (air, water, soil)
Connecting Public Health, Zoning
& Community Development
Heather McMann, Groundwork Lawrence
[email protected]
(978) 974-0770 x7009

Designing Healthy Communities: Lawrence Zoning and Public Health