Seguin, TX’s (population: 25,674) CIRD workshop took place at the Teatro de Artes on November 23 - 24, 2013, and was focused on design and public health benefits of a new waterfront trail for a low-income community suffering from high rates of obesity and limited options for walking, biking, or transit.
The City of Seguin partnered with the Texas Lutheran University, and The Institute for Public Health and Education Research, Inc to produce the event. Councilmen, the City's Mayor, Planning Director, and citizens from many sectors--from the Parks Advisory Board to the local theater--gathered to contribute to a vision for Walnut Springs Park, and for improving Seguin.
During the two day workshop, participants had the opportunity to listen to and work with a number of dynamic speakers.Holly Hayes, Director of Research Operations at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio spoke on the role of recreation in public health, and posed the question, "How can we make the park and trail more than just a place for social activity – and improve our health?" Marta de la Garza Newkirk, a Community Planner at the National Park Service, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance, presented on the potential in Seguin for trail amenities, and Mark Stine, Bicycle Advocate from Bike Texas, illustrated the benefits of connecting the Trail to a larger grid of bike routes in Seguin. Alex Rubio, an acclaimed visual artist, and Manager of Blue Star’s MOSAIC Art Studio, led discussions on public art and how it could enhance the waterfront trail. Scott Day, a Principal at Urban Development Services presented on public space and economic stimulus through small business development.
The community came up with many ways for how the Riverfront Trail can serve to “enhance the City of Seguin’s outdoor recreation area as well as create an environment to offer healthy options for its citizens,” as U.S. Rep. Hinojosa stated. The City Council plans to hold a public workshop where stakeholder attendees, as well as citizens from the neighborhood where the trail is being constructed, are invited to review ideas from the workshop, give their input, and establish priorities for the Walnut Springs Park Master Plan.