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A good next step for active living

By Staff | Apr 1, 2013

It was just one piece of good news after another on Monday night for the group that calls itself the Blue Earth Active Living Coalition.

First, the group heard a presentation from Rhonda Allis of Region Nine, offering to put together an entire study for active living in Blue Earth. It would include a community survey, proposals and background material.

She would do an indepth study of what is needed in Blue Earth as far as walking and biking and other outdoor activities. And how to go about achieving those goals.

She has done similar studies for other communities.

Since this is precisely what the group needs to develop, it was a no-brainer to proceed with it.

Then the coalition members received excellent news from Minnesota Department of Transportation engineer Rolin Sinn, who just happens to also be a Blue Earth resident.

Sinn’s report dealt with this summer’s Highway 169 reconstruction project from a walking and biking perspective and the information was just what the group wanted to hear.

There will be plenty of sidewalks installed, on both sides of the highway. They will connect with all the crossing streets and include sidewalks through all four sides of all three roundabouts.

At one time, a sidewalk was planned for just one side of the highway, and some of the crossing street sidewalks such as the one to McDonald’s and the high school were not included.

The coalition members were pleased that MnDOT had decided to include sidewalks for walking and biking on nearly all of the Highway 169 project.

There is even a bonus of a clearly marked pedestrian traffic light at Fifth Street.

Then the members at the meeting heard that the Statewide Health Improvement Program, (SHIP) which has funded the coalition with a grant for the past couple of years, will once again receive state funding at an increased level for the next two years.

The final good news at the meeting was the front page story in last week’s Faribault County Register that the Blue Earth City Council fully funded new playground equipment at two city parks. The coalition members expressed their thanks to the council, and applauded them. Literally.

Just what is this self-proclaimed Active Living Coalition you may be asking?

It is simply a group of local Blue Earth citizens interested in promoting a more active and healthy lifestyle for residents of this fair city.

That includes creating safe and clearly marked walking and biking routes around town. We want to connect places in the city to each other, such as the fairgrounds, the parks, the schools, downtown and Highway 169 with designated walking and biking routes, marked with paint on the streets.

You know, those walk/bike lanes you see in some other towns around the country.

The group is interested in developing a path and trail system, clearly mapped out, around and through the city.

Do you remember the little ad in the Register that said “no new trails?” I guarantee that ad was not sponsored by anyone on the Active Living Coalition.

We support sidewalks and clearly marked crosswalks. Also the safe routes to schools program. Parks and playgrounds. Maybe even canoeing the Blue Earth River. Healthy meals at schools. Anything that involves being active and living a healthy lifestyle.

Some of the group members are teachers, some are just citizens, a few are public officials. Many are parents who want to have their families be able to safely walk or bike around town.

The ALC is operated under and through the Community Ed office at the Blue Earth Area School District office. Dar Holmseth of Community Ed is the ‘leader’ of the coalition. (She doesn’t want to be called the chairperson.)

Interested in learning more? Or want to get involved?

Give Dar a call at the Community Ed office at (507) 526-3172. She can let you know how you can get involved.

I would add that you could walk or bike down to the BEA District office and just stop in at the Community Ed office. Currently it is located where the superintendent’s office was previously located.

Hopefully spring weather will be here soon so everyone who enjoys getting out walking and biking and enjoying the outdoors can do so.

And, will be able to do these activities safely.