Opportunity for an Active Living-type program presented to Edgerton council

At the February Edgerton City Council meeting Drew Hage of Southwest Regional Development Commission (SWRDC) shared an opportunity the city could take advantage of currently to implement an Active Living plan.

Hage works with the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), specifically in the Active Living portion of the program.

“There’s not one definition of what active living is, but it’s just trying to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine,” Hage explained.

The SHIP Active Living is similar to the Active Living program that was funded by Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Pipestone for five years. That program has been combined with Community Education and is now funded by the city of Pipestone and Pipestone Area Schools.

The SHIP program, under the Minnesota Department of Health, is smaller in scale compared to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Active Living program. It can provide funding for short-term smaller projects like benches, sidewalks and engineering studies, according to Hage.

Hage also helps to find funding sources through grants available through state agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program. The TAP, according to MnDOT, combines funding for transportation enhancements, safe routes to school infrastructure and scenic byways into a grant program.

Ideas Hage suggested for an Edgerton Active Living plan were centered on pedestrian planning, from Safe Route to School plans to creating a recreational trail. When planning, he explained that it is important to think about accessibility for everyone, from the elderly to someone who uses a wheelchair.

Fighting obesity is one goal for the implementation of an Active Living plan, according to Hage. The obesity average in Pipestone County is 29 percent, 4 percent higher than the state average.

Hage spoke in regard to childhood obesity as well, stating that a Safe Route to School can help children get a portion of their recommended 60 minutes of daily activity. Continuing with schools, Hage shared his experience working with other towns to reduce the number of bus stops. Reducing bus stops would not only save money but help reach that 60-minute allotment each day.

Hage stressed that some people don’t have access to a gym to workout and can only get their exercise through walking or biking. He recommended dropping kids off a few blocks from school, reducing the number of bus stops, creating active school days and longer recesses to increase physical activity in today’s youth.

Although he focused on increased physical activity, Hage stated that the walkability of a town increases housing values according to a study done by the National Relators Association. The increase in values can help attract new residents.

“This is a tool used to market yourself,” Hage said.

Mayor Jason Snyder expressed interest in developing an Active Living plan for the city, but the council did not officially mark its interest with a vote.

For those who wish to show their support for the program, contact Edgerton City Clerk Ross Brands.

In other business:

-The council agreed to develop a specific plan on paper to bring to Kathy Matson and Michael Hoover in regard to the storm water drainage near Mechanic Street. The progress has been stalled due to the frozen ground.

-The council unanimously passed the ATV and UTV Ordinance that has been in discussion for several months.

-Council member Dave Hulstein motioned to discontinue to offer health insurance as a benefit to city employees and offer an employee retention benefit of $1,200 per month, retroactive to Jan. 1. Motion passed unanimously.

-The council unanimously approved a $2,000 increase in library funding for a raise in employee salaries.

-The council unanimously approved a 3 percent rate increase for fire and ambulance service agreements.

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