Walkway around lake gets official name

Published 7:44 am Sunday, December 25, 2011

It’s official. Albert Lea’s five-mile walking, jogging and biking route around Fountain Lake now has the name Blue Zones Walkway.

The Albert Lea City Council on Thursday authorized a licensing agreement with the Minneapolis-based Blue Zones organization and approved a resolution that establishes the Blue Zones Walkway.

“The community is already utilizing the walkway around the lake, and we continue to promote healthy living,” said City Manager Chad Adams.

Email newsletter signup

The city worked on giving the route a name for much of the autumn. The route is made up of sidewalks and trails that loop around Fountain Lake, going through neighborhoods, parks, the downtown and past the local hospital. People commonly run, walk or bike around the lake year-round and enjoy the views. In April, there is a run called the Fountain Lake 5 that uses the route.

The resolution states: “Albert Lea was designated as America’s First Blue Zones Certified City for successfully creating a lasting environment that promotes longevity.” And it states: “A walkway around Fountain Lake known as the Blue Zones Walkway will be a benefit to the social, health and well-being of the community.”

In other action, the City Council:

• Approved a labor agreement with the Minnesota Public Employees Association, which represents police officers in the city. The city and the union agreed to a one-year contract with little change to the existing contract. The agreement reflects a 1 percent cost-of-living wage increase. Employees contribute the same amount for health benefits, and the city covers the increase. Deductibles, however, increase. The union ratified the contract Dec. 12.

• Approved a labor agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1018, representing the city’s public works employees. The city and the union agreed to a one-year contract with little change to the existing contract. The agreement reflects a 1 percent cost-of-living wage increase, and the similar health benefit changes as the contract with police officers. The union ratified the contract Dec. 8.

• Approved an increase of 1 percent to city employees who are not members of a union.

• Approved an amendment to the snow removal policy to include work done by the Parks Department. The policy had mainly addressed Street Department work, such as which streets get cleared first.

The amendment says the Parks Department night crew will give priority to clearing primary downtown sidewalks and sidewalks that lead to schools before clearing ice rinks. The day crew will clear downtown sidewalks, school routes and bike paths prior to parking lots, bridge deck sidewalks, other sidewalks and near city maintenance buildings. Use of sand, salt, personnel and equipment is subject to financial constraints.

The policy also adds that removal of snow from the Blue Zones Walkway is subject to city resources and availability. It notes that because the city might at times clear the walkway, it doesn’t relieve homeowners along the route of their responsibility to clear snow from sidewalks.

• Authorized an agreement with Randall Cirksena for a building he placed at 324 E. William St. Cirksena agreed to pay any city costs associated with removing concrete to install a curb, widen the street or work on utilities.

• Approved an agreement to perform building inspections for Clarks Grove.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

email author More by Tim