Archived Story

Editorial: Thumbs

Published 9:00am Sunday, February 9, 2014


thumbupTo Freeborn County and the Union Pacific Railroad.

The fact that the 12-mile stretch of tracks known as the Hartland spur will become Freeborn County property that will be turned into a multi-use trail is good news. It is good news for hearts, legs, knees, ankles, feet, hips, arms, shoulders, backs, minds, muscles and arteries and veins. By “multi-use” the county means walkers, joggers, runners, bicyclists and even moms and dads pushing baby strollers. Research shows infrastructure influences lifestyles, and having a trail nearby will allow many people to get exercise in a snap. Because the trail runs through many Albert Lea neighborhoods, it will mean some people won’t have to drive to a trailhead of the Blazing Star Trail, particularly in winter, just to get their exercise in. Trails help property values, too. Moreover, because the Hartland spur connects to the Hayward-bound Blazing Star Trail via the bike lanes of Front Street, it means someday Albert Lea bike riders will have to answer this wonderful-sounding question: Shall we ride to Hartland or Hayward?


thumbdownTo smoking at City Arena.

There is no smoking at Target Field. Smokers not only have to be outside the stadium, they have to be off the property. That is the way it is at many professional and college venues across North America. And that’s when people go to watch adults play sports.

At the City Arena, people go to watch children play sports. It only makes logical sense that the city disallow smoking on the City Arena campus. They already cannot smoke on the Albert Lea High School campus, where many other sports contests are held. Smoking is a bad example for the children who play at the City Arena.

Also, why should the citizens of Albert Lea pay tax dollars to have city workers pick up all the cigarette butts that smokers inevitably toss on the ground, despite efforts to set out receptacles? Here is a solution: How about the city councilors who favor smoking at the City Arena volunteer to pick up the butts weekly?


thumbupTo pickleball courts.

Tennis was huge in the 1970s, so every small town in the country seemed to build a tennis court and medium-sized cities like Albert Lea expanded the number of them. However, while tennis remains popular in many countries, it has declined significantly in the United States. Many of those places now have dilapidated, unused courts. We love tennis, to be sure, and we are glad the city and school district share a fine tennis facility near Albert Lea High School but it makes sense to convert one little-used court near the city pool to use for pickleball, a sport on the rise. It is another example of Albert Lea taking steps to keep people active. Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. The net is lower and the court is small. It is a bit easier to play than tennis, particularly for older folks, yet still provides a good workout. For younger players, it might be a development first step in a racket sport before they take up tennis. There is room for both sports in this and any community.