On almost every night of the summer one can see the residents of Blue Earth walking, biking or even running around town.
Even on the many evenings of hot, excessively humid evenings we have had this year, people are out and about. Of course many of them take advantage of the cooler mornings and are out then.
Every town has their share of walkers and bikers. But, Blue Earth certainly has a high percentage of active people.
If a group called the Blue Earth Active Living Coalition has its way, you will see even more people out walking and biking around town,
And, those active people will have safer venues to do this in.
As reported in the pages of the Faribault County Register in the past months, the Active Living Coalition has received two separate grants.
One is for $10,000 from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to help implement plans for more bike trails and walk paths.
The other is from Envision Minnesota. While that grant is not for actual money, it is for technical assistance.
This is a perfect match says Dar Holmseth of the Active Living Coalition. The group can use the technology assistance grant from Envision Minnesota to set things in motion, while saving the SHIP grant for actual improvements to the city.
The coalition wants to make bike paths on city streets, walking trails around the city (connecting into the existing city paths) and clearly marking all of these areas.
Right now the group is planning a workshop for all interested city leaders and citizens to plan out what is needed and how to successfully accomplish these goals.
Look for that workshop coming sometime in September.
So far, members of the group are excited about having various size designated walking and biking routes around the city, which would link up the fairgrounds to the schools and parks.
There are shorter routes from place to place, then also the Giant loop, which would circle the whole city, using the trail by the fairgrounds, Main Street, 14th Street and parts of Highway 169 and East Street.
The reconstruction project for Highway 169, set for next summer, includes a extending the walk path and having sidewalks on both sides of the highway.
That plan fits right into the plans of the Active Living Coalition.
Improving the walking and biking routes includes more than just creating the path itself.
Making the paths would probably involve signage and clearly marked routes.
I think we are going to need a lot of buckets of paint.
Painting the bike lanes on streets and the crosswalks for walking is going to become a priority.
In Blue Earth, that has not been a priority in the past.
In the last five years, painting curbs, parking lines and crosswalks has been nearly non-existant.
With a grant, crosswalks were painted near the elementary/middle school a year ago. And this summer some of the crosswalks in the downtown area were finally painted.
The City Council has not had street painting high on the list at budget time. There have been way too many other items needing attention during these times of state aid cuts.
Besides, they have said, the "good" kind of street striping paint is no longer available, and what is used these days doesn't hardly last through one single harsh Minnesota winter.
That might be true. But other cities are still able to paint their curbs and stripe their parking spots. Heck, even Walmart in Blue Earth did a nice job of painting their parking lot.
Not only does a fresh coat of paint make everything look much more attractive, there is a safety and public information concern here as well.
Painting lines on streets, and painting curbs yellow and blue can clearly define where and how drivers are to park their vehicles.
And, where pedestrians and bikers have the right of way.
Paint might become a necessary budget item if the Active Living Coalition gets its plans all solidified. Clearly marked pedestrian paths and bike lanes are very important with as many people out walking and biking as Blue Earth already has not to mention how many more may start once there are designated areas.
Stay tuned, there will be more information on this group coming out in the Register in the future, I am sure.