Humboldt: Shifting focus
Recreation given an expanding role
HUMBOLDT — Millennials are more interested in the recreation offered in the cities they live in than previous generations were, according to Travis Goedken, Humboldt city administrator.
“The millennial generation, which is now the largest generation in the workforce, picks where they want to live based on the quality of life and then they get a job there,” Goedken said. “It used to be you would try and get a job and move to that community. That’s no longer the case.”
To that end, the city of Humboldt has identified recreation as an area to address in the upcoming year and beyond.
“As far as cities go, all cities have to provide drinking water, sanitation, streets, law enforcement and fire protection,” Goedken said. “All cities have to do that. It’s what you can do beyond that, that’s going to set you apart from other communities. To make sure Humboldt is poised as a great, standout community to live in, we need to provide additional things beyond that.”
Expanding Humboldt’s trails is a starting point, according to Goedken, who is in his second year as city administrator.
The Humboldt City Council has prioritized expanding Cottonwood Trail to Eagle Ridge Drive and further west to Joe Sheldon County Park, Goedken said.
The Cottonwood Trail is a paved trail that runs along the Des Moines River from Joe Reasoner Dam to Beebe Park.
As part of the expansion of the Cottonwood Trail, city officials are hoping to add a bike and pedestrian bridge spanning the west fork of the Des Moines River from the trail to the Eagle Ridge development, Goedken said.
“Currently anybody that lives on Elmhurst or up in Eagle Ridge or anything west of 169, south of the river, they can’t walk to the rest of Humboldt without crossing 169,” Goedken said.
Having a bridge to connect the trail to Eagle Ridge would not only be a luxury, but would also improve safety in the community.
“If we were to get a bridge in there that would mean that any elementary kids that would be walking to school down to Taft would able to walk down that trail across the bridge and get on Cottonwood Trail, and would be able to go under 169 instead of having to cross it,” Goedken said.
Additional park equipment may also be added to Eagle Ridge, Goedken said.
The city of Humboldt, Humboldt County and Humboldt County Housing own about 40 acres of land that could also be part of the trail plan.
“Continuing westward along the river bank to Sheldon Park is also a long term goal,” Goedken said.
Chris Shaner, recreation director, said trails are an important aspect to a community.
“Anything we could do to improve the trails would be great for the community,” he said.
Shaner used to run the trails himself as a cross country runner at Humboldt High School. He graduated in 2012.
“To be able to expand the trails would be great,” Shaner said. “I think trails are really an important part of town.”
Improved lighting and additional vegetation are other additions that are likely to made throughout Humboldt.
Other goals for 2017 include street improvements.
“We will be taking a calculated approach to street repairs,” Goedken said.
Goedken said Humboldt is also preparing for any potential growth that might take place in the next few years in connection to the new Prestage pork processing plant.
The plant will be located in Wright County and is expected to bring more than 900 jobs to the region.
“We just want to make sure Humboldt is in the best position for when they go online,” Goedken said.
He added that his transition to Humboldt in 2016 was made easy by the community.
“There was a little bit of getting the lay of the land,” he said. “But the residents, staff, and everybody I work with have been great in welcoming me to the community. It was minimal getting used to the position and more pick up and go.”
Quality of life in the Humboldt community will continue to be a top priority.
“We want to continue to provide a high quality of life and we will invest heavily in existing infrastructure,” Goedken said.