Last month I wrote an article on “Transforming Tigard Heritage Trail to Destination Place.” To learn more about the trail concept plans… visit the City of Tigard web site. Link is posted under the image above. This month I’m sharing the evolution of abandoned rail lines like the partially developed Tigard Heritage Trail system running parallel to Tigard Street – and how this is not unique to the City of Tigard.
It has become a national trend where inactive rail right-of-ways, or “Rails-To-Trails” conversions are targeted by cities; then work in partnership with various agencies to create more walkable connections that may include a whole host of other trail amenities. “We’re creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people (Rails-To-Trails Conservatory 2017).”
Marching to the beat of a similar heathy place and people drum – the NRPA (National Recreation and Parks Association) offers best-in-class city recreation services, trends and revenues generation education, indoor/outdoor recreation facilities design, resource assistance, fitness and health trend data etc. The leadership and vision between these two large organizations have created a unique way to conceptualize city trail design and build-out for best-in-class recreation activities that also compliment walking exercise.
Tigard city planners had recently hosted public sessions and identified many trail amenities that could be co-joined along Tigard’s Heritage trail system. It just so happens the two most popular leisurely amenities per visionary trail-use design made the Heritage Trail planning concept wish list. They are “outdoor exercise gym-stations and biking facility obstacle course.” But this does not mean they’ll be developed alongside this trail system. There were many other popular trail amenity ideals that made the list.
The City of Tigard’s strategic vision, “Make Tigard the most walkable city in the Pacific NW where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives,” is a call to action to connect and develop more public use trails throughout city neighborhoods. The nationwide Rails-to-Trails and NRPA visionary efforts combined have captured the imagination of Tigard city officials, business leaders, recreational enthusiasts and residents throughout the public process.
A major driving force behind more pathways and rails-to-trails conversion and innovative outdoor exercise facilities evolved from national health and financial disparity data – showing a connection to America’s increasing obesity problem. “Americans are suffering from their poor diet and exercise choices. Heart disease claims some 600,000 people — one in every four deaths — in the United States every year. Obesity affects nearly 60 million adults, or about 30 percent of the adult population, and more than a third of all U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese. In addition, a wide range of other chronic diseases related to diet and exercise keep Americans in ill health.”
During the NPRA Conference in 2015, it was stated, “Everyone in America deserves a safe place to walk and wheelchair roll.” And “Parks and recreation are the centers of our communities,” Surgeon General Murthy also said. “Parks and recreation centers are also centers of health. They build a foundation for a healthier life.” Penalosa the key note speaker stated, “If you really care about poor people, we must improve the quality of leisure time available to all people.” To read the full article: http://www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2015/october/preparing-for-action/.
In essence the audience in conference understood the key note and special speaker messages – And from my perspective here’s the takeaway… “City Parks and Recreation saves lives through centers of health where recreational activities are accessible and affordable for everyone. In doing these things, the health disparity imbalance and obesity problems plaguing any place can be greatly reduced when all ‘enjoy healthy and interconnected lives’ [Woodard 2017].”
City Parks and Recreation leaders throughout the nation understand NRPA’s 2015 call to action. “It was about inspiration. It was about urgency.” It was also about parks and recreation doing its part in reducing childhood obesity while bringing community together. With these two organizations marching to a similar beat in building healthier places for people – opens unbelievable outdoor recreation and environmental opportunities and experiences to “improve the quality of leisure time available to all people.”
This national call to action in cities has already taken root. “Parks & Recreation Magazine followed up with three park departments across the country that have embraced this new wave of fitness trails and play zones innovations in order to keep residents healthy and moving… ‘Some projects are partially funded between $12-40k,’ “in part through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with the local health district to curb obesity and diabetes.” Read the full story at: http://www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2013/may/hit-the-outdoor-gym/
To stay informed on the Tigard Heritage trail history, development concepts and cool recreation activity trail amenities possibilities visit: http://www.tigard-or.gov/business/EcDev/HeritageTrail_ConceptDesign.pdf [Design 100% Complete, 23 July 2015].
And Latest 2017 Tigard Heritage Trail updates: http://www.tigard-or.gov/business/tigard_street_trail.php
Good health to you and your family.
Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a member of the Tigard City Council. He is a strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2017 Copy right. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.com