Eldon hopes to use a cycling and pedestrian network to improve community health, attract more young families to the area and become a tourism hub near the proposed Rock Island Trail.
In order to move toward this goal, community leaders gathered Tuesday at the Eldon Career Center to help develop the city's cycling and pedestrian plan.
The meeting was part of an agreement between Eldon, Capital Regional Medical Center and the Alta Planning + Design, Inc. to create a bicycle and pedestrian network plan in Eldon. The project is funded through a grant from Capital Regional Medical Center for as much as $21,192.23. Alta Planning + Design, Inc. has developed similar networks in Berkeley, California, and El Paso, Texas.
A public survey will be distributed online to obtain input from area residents next week.
The meeting was led by Alta Planning + Design, Inc. designer Aaron Defenbaugh, who said the meeting was very productive. He was pleased to see so many Eldon community members excited about participating in the project.
"They are trying to envision how their future could be," Defenbaugh said. "It is always appreciated to work with this community. They understand that there are challenges, but they're working towards trying to make things better."
Participants listed hopes for the project, such as promoting a healthier community, increasing safety, better connecting and integrating the community, improving traffic hot spots, attracting more young families and promoting students to ride their bikes to school. The community leaders expected the project to help Eldon become a hub of the proposed Rock Island Trail, increase local business opportunities, and create safe and accommodating infrastructure.
Using city maps, participants separated into two groups to identify beneficial infrastructural features and challenges, popular destinations and housing areas. Alta Planning + Design, Inc. will use these maps to help design the network.
Areas around facilities like McDonalds, Miller County Family Support, California Middle School and Walmart were listed as key connections where safety needs to be a focus. Another key point of discussion was how to best modify intersections over U.S. 54 with a focus on promoting pedestrian safety without increasing traffic demands that could potentially deter travelers from driving through Eldon.
Some of the other challenges listed at the meeting included obtaining funding, confronting Eldon's motor vehicle-oriented culture and fostering community support for the project.
Participants also pointed out the town's key cycling and pedestrian routes in an attempt to connect key routes with primary destinations and housing areas while ensuring residents from all sides of the city will have access to the network.
Defenbaugh said his team will review information gathered in the meeting and make recommendations based on the community's needs and the company's opinion at the next meeting in late June.