LEBANON — City and state officials gathered Tuesday at Lebanon High School’s Herman B Wells community center to look into the city’s opportunities to be more welcoming to walkers, runners and bicyclists.
The Active Living Workshop, held by the Indiana State Department of Health and Health by Design, is aimed at educating and motivating city leaders to open the door to active transportation opportunities around the city. The city was able to hold the workshop after receiving a $6,500 grant from the ISDH.
The workshop began with three presenters by the state health department and Health by Design, a coalition that works to create environments that foster healthy living. Lebanon’s Planning Director Charlie Campbell brought the grant and workshop to the city, and he said Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 4, that the workshop was going well.
Presenters spoke on several topics like education, and what the city will need to learn before going further into the process of creating healthy living environments, Campbell said. They spoke on simple actions, like re-striping streets to add a bike lane, that can make a big difference.
About 25 people involved in the workshop then took a walking audit, walking city streets and sidewalks to get a feel for where Lebanon currently ranks. The group walked from the high school to Lebanon Memorial Park, walking around the park, and then returning via Meridian Street and Essex Drive. Campbell said the park was rated highly, but the group had to walk on city streets outside the park due to the snow.
In the last eight years, Campbell said every single plan study the city has had done included something about pedestrian activity and including a trail system.“We’ve tried over and over again to implement a sidewalk replacement program or something similar, and it’s been nearly impossible,” he said. “I hope eyes are now being opened to possibilities.”Kelly Cook of the Lebanon Department of Parks said she hopes to see a bike lane included on city streets in the future, going from Abner Longley Park to Lebanon Memorial Park. Especially with the new city pool, she said, that would be a great addition for older children.
Derek Warren, of the Planning and Zoning Department, said though many people view Prairie Creek in town as a negative, it would also be used to add ambiance along a trail system. The trail could go along the creek, and vacant lots along it could be turned into little pocket parks, he said.
Many more ideas and suggestions were brought up during the discussion, including the addition of new crosswalks in the city. During the walking audit, the group took note of the intersection of Meridian Street, Ulen Drive and Camp Street. Crosswalks were a topic of heavy discussion for this area.
The group also discussed the next steps to take in this process. A public meeting for additional input that was to be held following the workshop was canceled due to weather, and may be rescheduled at a later date.