Preston looks to log 1,000 miles on new walking path
If everyone in Patti Hoffman's town logs one mile on the community's new walking path before the end of the year — they will meet their goal.
The city councilwoman has invited her neighbors to join a 1,000 Mile Walking Challenge. Preston, where Hoffman lives, has a population of 1,012.
An overhead image of the Westside Walking Path in Preston, while it was under construction earlier this year.
"I wanted people to get in the habit of using the path," said Hoffman. As of Nov. 26, more than 50 walkers have signed up for the challenge and have collectively logged 117 miles on the Westside Walking Path, which opened just a week and a half earlier.
Hoffman said she didn't want Preston to wait until spring to put the walking path to use: "If you dress warm, you can walk for a few miles even if it is cold."
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So far, Hoffman, says she's heard great feedback about the new path and has seen a variety of people using the path, from mothers with strollers to people aged 70+.
"(The walkers) enjoy it more every time they walk on it," said Hoffman. "It's a great asset for Preston, not just for walking but also for socialization."
How the 1,000 Mile Walking Challenge works
The challenge is on the honor system: For every mile — three laps around the path — a community member walks, they self-report to Hoffman via call, text or Facebook.
Sign-up includes a T-shirt: A $25 sign-up fee includes a short or long-sleeved T-shirt. Or participants can pay $35 for a sweatshirt. (It is still free for non-participating community members to utilize the path.)
Anyone is welcome to join the challenge: Preston community members have been joined by walkers from neighboring communities Miles, Goose Lake and Maquoketa.
How Preston built their walking path
in 2014, the city of Preston participated in a community visioning process and Westside Park was identified as a target project. The city received a REAP grant from the DNR in September 2017 to begin the walking path project. They also received $150,000 in grants from Wellmark, Parks to People and other local organizations.
Hoffman also participated in the Iowa Walking College during the 2017-2018 term where she gained extra knowledge on walkability within communities and how to implement policy and infrastructure changes. Hoffman contributed the $2,500 she received from participating in the Iowa Walking College to the walking path project.
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Community members walk laps on Westside Walking Path during the Preston Turkey Walk on Thanksgiving Day. Walkers were encouraged to bring canned goods for the local food pantry.
The city also sold all 45 lights and 20 benches that line the path and set out change collection cans at area businesses to help raise money for the path. The project took 15 months to complete and had a total price tag of $225,000.
Her advice for other communities hoping to get a similar project completed?
"Don't reinvent the wheel," said Hoffman. Preston modeled their path after a walking path in Clarence, another eastern Iowa town that is of similar size. Hoffman said she's enjoyed meeting new people and sharing ideas with other communities through this process.
The Westside Walking Path also features a serenity area which will be fully landscaped in the spring.
Facts about Preston's Westside Walking Path:
- The path is lit from dusk until dawn.
- The path also features serenity area with landscaping.
- The path is handicap accessible.
- No wheels allowed, except for wheelchairs, walkers and strollers.
- Westside Park is also home to a softball field, play equipment and a basketball court.