Improved trails, signage will be integrated into city planning by John McLoone City of Hastings Park and Recreation Director Chris Jenkins described the Hastings People Moving Plan as, “How do …
Improved trails, signage will be integrated into city planning
by John McLoone
City of Hastings Park and Recreation Director Chris Jenkins described the Hastings People Moving Plan as, “How do people move around Hastings in a non-motorized fashion.”
The Hastings City Council on Monday night put its stamp of approval on the in-depth plan that was funded through Dakota County’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). That funding required the plan to “focus on SHIP priorities of physical activity and consumption of healthy foods, as well as priority populations (low income, senior minority).
“City staff, steering committee members and our hired consultant have been working to develop a People Movement Plan,” a memo from Jenkins to the City Council states. “This plan is similar to the more traditional Pedestrian & Bicycle Plans, however differs in that the focus is on all non-motorized movements of people within the City of Hastings.
See MOVING PLAN Page 11 Moving Plan
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Surveys were conducted and information was put together from SHIP priority populations tolerant more about how Hastings’ pedestrian facilities are used and what barriers and gaps they encountered,” the memo states. “This information was added to the list generate by staff and consultant to provide an accurate picture of Hastings’ current challenges.”: The results of the plan will be used in conjunction with Hastings Capital Improvement Plan, Pavement Management, Comprehensive Plans, Development Plans and Corridor Plans.
The city Parks & Recreation Commission reviewed the plan and forwarded its support to the City Council.
The plan was developed by city staff, with Jenkins and former Economic Development Coordinator Rusty Fifield spearheading the efforts, along with the parks commission and a string committee.
The more than 80-page plans intent “is to guide future improvements to the non-motorized movement system (sidewalks, bike routes, trails, road crossings, etc) in Hastings, with special focus on improvements that will have the greatest impact on SHIP priority populations,” the plan states. “The concept of ‘people movement’ reflects the broader implications for Hastings. The system of public infrastructure that makes possible and encourages non-motorized travel throughout Hastings affects the physical, social and economic environment of the community. This plan is focused on the approach and range of strategies necessary to create a complete people movement system in Hastings.”
The benefits of the People Movement Plan are to improve trails and help people get around the community.
“People move to get from home to school, from home to work, from home to a park, to exercise and get fresh air, to get from home to run errands-shopping, picking up kids, going to a sporting event and many more reasons,” the plan states. “The people movement plan must also look beyond the boundaries of the community. Hastings is the hub for a growing network of regional trails. A strong connection between local and regional systems is essential. Hastings residents have to ability to travel across a broad region. The regional trail system brings people to Hastings. The local system should encourage these visitors to explore Hastings. Bicycle tourism is an important economic development opportunity for Hastings.”
Fifield said that having the Confluence Project underway, with a hotel, will be a huge advantage for Hastings.
“You need to own this plan for it to be effective,” he told council members. “It needs to be relevant and part of your thinking at the City of Hastings.”
Right now, some trails in Hastings and some intersections aren’t good for all people moving about.
“Pedestrian movement over rough and uneven terrain or surfaces may be easy for some people and difficult for others if using a wheelchair or assisted device. The default for people movement in this plan is facilities that are accessible for all people, which includes smooth and even surfaces, safe road crossings and wide enough tails or sidewalks,” the plan states.
The plan highlights how important the People Movement System is in Hastings.
“In the future in Hastings, every person will be able to move safely through a network of connected bike and walking tails and sidewalks. The system will be accessible and easily navigable and will include primary routes to main destinations with secondary connectors that allow people to get from their residence to community destinations, including schools, employment locations, entertainment, parks and retail sites. The system will connect seamlessly to the regional trail network,” the plan states.
Signage is important, and the plan includes recommendations on “Wayfinding,” signage that will guide People Moving.
“Wayfinding can help users identify the connections that exist within the system with legible and visible signage and identity markings along routes,” the plan states. “For example, the Hastings 10-mile loop is a fully continuous trail corridor that circumnavigates he city, but many unmarked or unclearly marked road crossings make the route difficult to follow for first-time use.”
The current system of recreational trails is good, and there are sidewalks on most city streets “but significant gaps exist in some central neighborhoods,” according to the plan. “Several major vehicular corridors…lack consistency pedestrian and bicycle facilities, are unsafe for many non-motorized users and create barriers for populations who don’t have reliable access to a vehicle for daily travel needs.
The plan is designed around “Trail Hubs,” which are major community destinations where trails intersect, such has Hastings High and Middle School, Downtown Hastings, the Vermillion Falls Park and Dakota County’s future trailhead along the Vermillion River Greenway at General Sieben Drive and County Road 46.
Primary routes are the 10-mile scenic circuit around Hastings and regional trails. Secondary routes will link to the primary routes “like spokes on a bicycle wheel. They are identified as: 15th Street Bikeway Pine Street Connector Pleasant Drive Connector CR 42 Trail and CR 46/47 Trail Hwy. 316 Trail East Pass (Bailey Street/Railroad) Southeast Travers & Southern Connector (off-road trail along Riverwood Drive, 36th Street West, Spiral Boulevard and Glendale Road).
Why. 55 commercial connector with off-road trails on both sides of the road with safe-crossing at intersections.
The plan will require integration across city departments, such as where trails need to be included in street projects and for safe street crossings.
In city planning the question that will be asked with this plan included in the process is “Does this action enhance people movement?” New developments will be reviewed and “bike/ped” infrastructure will be included in new private development.
The plan can be instituted over time through the city Capital Improvements Plan.
“These projects should be completed as opportunities arise, such as when road reconstruction projects are happening,” the plan states. “Trail improvements, intersection improvements and sidewalk construction can be completed more efficiently and with less resources when paired with larger projects rather than completing small improvements individually.”
City Councilmember Tina Folch raised the concern about city staff working together, as departments haven’t always done so in the past.
“I’ve witnessed some disjointedness between the two departments,” she said of Parks and Recreation and Public Works, notably with emerald ash borer and trees along street construction routes.
“This is a Parks Department issue, but Public Works isn’t working with the Parks Department on this,” she said. “I’m apprehensive about how this gets implemented.”
Overall, the council is encouraged about the plan.
“I’m really excited,” said Lisa Leifeld.
The council vote in support of the plan was unanimous.
“It’s very exciting. I think we’re going to put a lot of thought into this and live up to the plan when we do it,” said Jen Fox.
“This looks like a great plan,” said Mayor Mary Fasbender.