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Mecklenburg County to expand 'Open Streets 704,' which will allow for more car-free events

Play Streets 704 introduces a smaller-scale version of Open Streets 704, making it easier for neighborhoods to close a block or two to cars.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County is expanding its Open Streets 704 programming by launching a new pilot program designed to bring more neighborhood-oriented car-free street events.

Due to its great success, there is a high demand for Open Streets 704 events. However, dangerous intersections, high car traffic, and NC state-owned streets limit the availability of long routes, the county said in a news release. 

Play Streets 704,” funded by Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH), introduces a smaller-scale version of Open Streets 704, making it easier for neighborhoods to close a block or two to cars and open them up to people for play and community-building.

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Play Streets 704 will build on our Open Streets 704 resources and expertise to create family-friendly, safe recreational spaces. The pilot program, which will be held in addition to regular Open Streets 704 events, will focus on neighborhoods that lack proximity to recreation spaces and connecting bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.  

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“Access to recreation and safe play opportunities is a known determinant of health, meaning it is an external factor that has a heavy influence on individual health,” Clint Grant, MCPH Active Living and Injury Prevention Program Supervisor, said. “Play Streets 704 aims to support neighborhoods by transforming streetscapes into pop-up parks filled with activities for people of all ages and abilities.” 

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The first Play Streets 704 event was held Saturday, May 21 in partnership with the Hidden Valley Community Association, Hidden Valley Elementary School, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Hidden Valley Optimist Club, Hidden Valley Community Development Corporation and Open Streets 704 partners. During the event three blocks of street in the Hidden Valley Neighborhood were transformed to a half-court basketball floor, tricycle racecourse, mini-soccer pitch, chalk art canvas, bingo hall, and neighborhood gathering spot.  

“Our first event highlighted the excitement that comes with being active in spaces normally reserved for cars,” Grant said, “and the energizing sound of car traffic being replaced by neighborhoods at play.”  

Another Play Streets 704 event is in the planning stages for later this summer.

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