It all started with a small group of interested community members, and grew into a huge community-wide effort to improve walking and biking for the residents of Madelia. The Madelia Active Living Coalition identified several issues related to safe walking and biking opportunities in the community. After working with Region 9 Development Commission to develop an Active Living Plan for the community, the group now has begun the process of implementing their plan.
One of their first priorities was to work with city and county officials to develop a plan for implementing a pedestrian lane on Drew Ave SE (County Road 58) which is a county state aid road that will connect pedestrians from Main Street to the hospital, high school, Tony Downs Foods, Luther Memorial Home and recreational areas such as the community park, pool and soccer fields. This plan includes designating one side for pedestrians and bikers. Roger Risser, Watonwan County Engineer and Julie Pace from the Madelia Active Living Coalition presented their plan to Madelia City Council who needed to approve as well as designate no parking along the side of the road with the pedestrian lane. After reviewing, the city council adopted the plan and passed resolutions for no parking along Drew Ave. The group also partnered with the light department who were able to install new, brighter lights along Drew Ave to increase safety and visibility at night!
The Madelia Active Living Coalition was also able to work with the city to develop a vacant lot into a cinder trail that would connect Drew Ave pedestrian lane to safely cross Benzel Ave to access the community park, pool and soccer fields. The city and county are planning to do curb cuts to ensure the crossing is safe for those on wheels or feet. This allows pedestrians to avoid a dangerous triangle intersection. In the future, the city plans to build a new fire station on the vacant land and plans to make the path permanent.
This past summer, during Madelia Park Days, the Active Living Coalition also held an Open Streets event encouraging people to walk and bike within the community. Children attending the event were greeted by area mascots: Mankato Moondog Muttnick, Victor Viking and Goldy Gopher. Around 100 community members attended the event.