Give them a break. And some shade.
That's what the city of Rosemount wants to do for walkers and bikers along trails and sidewalks in a neighborhood project that will add places to sit and rest while outdoors.
With an aging population and to encourage people to get outside and be active, city officials say the small "cutouts" around the city will include benches or stones for seating and plants or trees for shade and aesthetics.
Some will include areas where people can sit and enjoy the view of the outdoors.
"In the last two or three years, on some of our heavily used trails, I've noticed some people sitting on a power box because we don't have any place for anyone to take a rest while they're walking," said Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste. "When you build trails, especially when you can go a couple miles, you should have places that a resident shouldn't have to climb up on an electrical power box and sit there for a break."
The city set a target budget of $50,000 for the project, which will include 10 cutout areas, each one different from the next. Many will be placed in gravel instead of a more expensive material.
"It's unlikely that any two of the sites would have exactly the same cost because they're all going to be slightly different, depending upon what that particular site needs," said Tom Schuster, Rosemount parks supervisor. But, he added, "We're not going to go overboard on any of them."
The Parks and Recreation Department is putting together conceptual designs for several areas, and in the next couple of weeks the city will ask for bids from contractors, he said.
The residential areas will feature benches and possibly shrubs and flowers. On sites that the city is trying to restore to native prairie, some type of seating — like a large stone — will be put in. "But we may not do a lot of additional planting because the prairie restoration is already taking place there," Schuster said.
Other seating will be located at the outskirts of parks and playgrounds and along sidewalks on busier collector streets. "We'll do whatever is most consistent with the rest of the landscaping that might be in that neighborhood," he said.
The city aims to get five or six sites done this year and the rest in 2014.
"We've got some great new neighborhoods," Droste said. "It's unfortunate that we didn't put a couple little tuck-outs in a sense for a bench or a very attractive little area for someone to take a small rest or just enjoy the view of a pond or wetland."
But promoting health is more important than the aesthetics the project will bring, he said.
"When you look at youth and people in aging demographics, you want them to be active," Droste said. "But if you don't build attractive trails and places that make it enjoyable to be outside, then you have all these health issues."
The city has already made the investment in trails, Droste said, so it makes sense to add something that will make it more convenient for people to use them.
"I like it when our trails are busy and heavily used," he said. "Any way we can enhance that, I think, is a positive."