The scenic city of Bonners Ferry, Idaho,is taking careful steps to avoid becoming a victim of its own success. To preserve the high quality of life that attracts many visitors and would-be residents, it has spent several years developing a Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan that will foster the compact growth of its community, while encouraging walking and biking in and around town. Coming to the table with Smart Growth Action Grants, together with considerable knowledge and understanding of its own, the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® has become an important partner in the creation of a robust pedestrian/bicycle mobility plan for the area.
The plan, explains Stephanie Rief, Association Executive of the 246-member association, is for a pedestrian/bicycle network providing safe and convenient routes that both meet current demand and encourage even more usage. Idaho Smart Growth was the organization commissioned to create the plan, which integrates walking and biking routes into the master plan for roadway transportation. “The walk/bike plan includes routes in all parts of town, connections and safe crossings and access to destinations, as well as clear network branding and directional signage,” says Rief. “This will improve access to active transportation options, and help stimulate economic development related to bike tourism,” she adds. “By increasing the walkability and bike-ability within Bonners Ferry, we are also creating opportunity and purpose for improved housing in the city.”
The Selkirk Association of REALTORS® has actually received three Smart Growth Action Grants for the complex project, one for each of the three preparatory phases of the plan. The first two grants supported initial planning, drafting, and a site visit. This most recent grant helped to fund Phase 3, which included branding, wrap-up, and a kick-off, seeing the plan through initial stages of implementation. Although Rief has completed many grant applications on behalf of her association, she reached out to the state association, Idaho REALTORS®, for guidance applying for the grant: “Because of its importance, and because it was the first large Smart Growth grant our association had applied for, I felt that it would be nice to have that added expertise of their staff grant writer,” she explains. “The application process was actually fairly simple,” she notes, adding that the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® encourages its fellow small associations to take advantage of the REALTOR® Party’s grant programs. “The support of the REALTOR® Party has helped us to build the relationships that build our community!”
REALTOR® members were actively involved at many levels of the plan’s development, from being interviewed about existing conditions, to attending public meetings, to serving on a pedestrian bicycle advisory group.
“Being a part of this project has helped the REALTOR® community establish itself as a trusted, knowledgeable, and caring partner,” says Rief. “It’s allowed us to work more closely with the Mayor of Bonners Ferry, the City Administrator, and the Boundary County Economic Developer. They are all grateful for the help of the National Association of REALTORS®, as well as the Selkirk Association of REALTORS®, towards this amazing accomplishment. REALTORS® are now often involved in city and county economic projects that they wouldn’t necessarily have been invited to engage in before. It has been a turning point for everyone involved and we look forward to future civic collaboration.”
To learn more about how the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® is making sure walking and biking is built into the fabric of the Bonners Ferry community, contact Association Executive Stephanie Rief at 208-265-2227.