Huntington County’s administration has, for the past few years, been creating a plan that involves building multi-purpose trails around town to connect the community.
There has been an increasing number of families moving into Huntington County and starting a family, and the city has brought in new businesses, such as Turn the Page Books and Healthy Hut, that economically help the community.
The purpose of the trails is to create amenities between the economic part, where the businesses are being developed, and social parts of town, where families are settling.
Andrew Rensberger, community engagement volunteer coordinator for the City of Huntington, has been involved in the process of planning, building and promoting the trails around the city.
Now, having seven miles worth of trails through Huntington — with more to go — the city’s administration and mayor are working on getting all of them finished within their time frame.
Rensberger said a purpose behind the trail project is to help people appreciate and look forward to living a healthy lifestyle.
“We’re big advocates for getting the community active physically and neighborly as well,” he said. “Health and wellness is a big proponent of it.”
The idea was supported because of how the trails could bring more families to Huntington, as well as giving young adults things to do in the city, thus, creating a desire to move in.
“Some industries and employers that do move to Huntington, or are currently in Huntington, are looking for safe amenities to give [to] their employers as well.” Rensberger said. “We try to fit everyone in this model.”
Rensberger said college students are probably the biggest population who is benefited from the new trail system. Danielle Boxill, junior and athlete, agreed with this statement.
“It’s nice to ride around without getting lost and exercising at the same time,” Boxill said. “You get to see parts of Huntington that you wouldn’t be able to see.”
Rensberger said the trails get students to go downtown in an easier way, getting them more involved with the community. This benefits businesses, too.
Security-wise, Rensberger said that based on studies, trails typically don’t have security issues since there are enough people around during the day, and bikers or joggers are not usually present throughout the night.
“A lot of users are like self-police,” he said. “There are groups of people and volunteers that the Friesen Center sends our way. They will have a day of cleaning the trails [to] broom off the path and pick up trash.”
The trail planning doesn’t stop at connecting parts of Huntington together. The city’s administration has another five to ten-year plan to connect Huntington through trails to multiple cities and towns.
Rensberger said this would build a regional network that brings in tourism.
The Zagster bikes located outside the HUB are available for students to use on these trails, but they come at price.
For a monthly membership, the cost is $10. Renting for under an hour is free and $3 per hour over that. The “Pay-As-You-Go” option require $1 for every 30 minutes, allowing up to $16 per ride.
“Cost-wise, the bikes at the HUB are not that effective,” Boxill said. “It’s a good idea, but the prices are a little too high for college students.”
She said if Huntington University administration could create a way to rent bikes that use forester bucks, allowing students to swipe their cards, “it would be awesome.”