Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Placemaking Project Brings the Fun to Viola, Idaho

The Latah County Board of REALTORS® worked with community partners to build the town’s first playground.

The Viola Community Center in Viola, Idaho, is a bright-red, barn-style building nestled in the picturesque Palouse Hills. Built in 2018, the purpose of the center was to breathe new life into the town by providing a facility for arts, education, recreation and celebration. The next step in the revitalization plan for the Viola Community Club—which runs the center—was to build a playground. The Viola Community Center reached out to prominent organizations like the Latah County Board of REALTORS® to join them as partners.

Bill Hall, 2022-2023 President of Latah County Board of REALTORS®, jumped at the chance to work with Teresa Heitmann, Board President of the Viola Community Center, on the project.

Hall and Heitmann both shared a vision of renewal through placemaking.

“We have recognized for years that a gathering place for all ages is needed for any community to stay connected,” Heitmann told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in July. “And it is especially challenging for a bedroom community whose once-active main street has become all private residences.”

The vacant southwest corner of the community center was the perfect spot for the playground, and playground equipment was purchased with a grant from the Idaho Community Foundation. But a significant amount of work needed to be done before the playground could be installed. The land is situated on a floodplain, and after an engineering analysis, steps needed to be taken to bring the site into compliance with state requirements. “We needed to excavate the site, establish borders, establish proper drainage and add synthetic wood chips to the state’s recommended depths for specific (playground) implements based on Theresa’s architectural design”, says Hall.

LCBOR applied for and received a $5,000 National Association of REALTORS® Placemaking Grant for the project. The NAR funds went toward landscape fabric and rubber playground mulch. LCBOR contributed an additional $5,000 in matching funds.

An unusually wet winter and spring, however, caused delays and increased costs on the project. But LCBOR, the Viola Community Center, and many REALTORS® and community volunteers rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to ensure that the playground was completed on time in the summer of 2022.

“Because of the size of this project, and the labor hours shared by both the community and REALTOR® members, the community was pleasantly surprised by how involved the REALTORS® were and how much they wanted to help,” says Hall.

The finished playground—the only one in town—boasts a swing set, a flying turtle, a tether ball, a tube, and a climbing dome to delight Viola’s younger citizens. And the young at heart have also been known to try out the amenities from time to time.

Hall is proud of the positive impact the playground has had on Viola and Latah County. In addition, though he has now worked on three placemaking projects, he feels a special connection to this one.

“I got to know many in the community much better than I had, and as this is my local (association), my family also participated,” said Hall. “I truly felt a part of my local community.”


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.