Community Stories

Active Living in a Pandemic Year

Staying active this year was challenging to say the least, but active living projects in Washington County are leading the way to improved access to parks and trails year round. There has been renewed interest in parks, trails and outdoor activities due to COVID-19 restrictions and limited access to health clubs and fitness classes.

With support from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), Washington County Parks and Trails designed and implemented way-finding signage at three county parks: Point Douglas Trail near Hastings, Lake Elmo Park Reserve in Lake Elmo and Pine Point Park just north of Stillwater. Updated maps for trail head kiosks, new signage for multi-use trails and safety related changes to trail intersections were implemented. Look for new bike racks, bike maintenance stations and benches in key locations along the trails in several county parks. Benches are important for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the parks and trails.

We had a lot more recognition of the bench installation than normal. I think that is a result of the increased trail usage due to COVID/ staying at home. There is an exponentially higher use of our parks and trails during this time.

– City Planner

In addition, the countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is in its final approval stage after key stakeholder and community input on the draft plan in 2020. It is scheduled for final review and approval by the County Board in early 2021.

The City of Hugo received SHIP funds to complete a trail feasibility study and plan to identify options for a bike and pedestrian trail along Goodview Avenue. The proposed trail will promote physical activity for all ages in a much safer environment than is currently the case, where pedestrians have to utilize the same road as vehicular traffic. The future trail will connect multiple residential neighborhoods to the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail, Diamond Point Park, and Hanifl Fields Athletic Park. The plan was approved by the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission and Hugo City Council. This will allow the city to implement the trail through a capital improvement plan or in conjunction with planned road improvement projects.