Baxter City Council: Parks and trails locator soon to be available
BAXTER--Trail enthusiasts in the city of Baxter will now have a new option to track their route, plan an outing or check for park amenities. Josh Doty, community development director and Todd DeBoer, information technology and GIS director, provi...
BAXTER-Trail enthusiasts in the city of Baxter will now have a new option to track their route, plan an outing or check for park amenities.
Josh Doty, community development director and Todd DeBoer, information technology and GIS director, provided a look at the Baxter parks locator for the city council Tuesday, July 3. The city has eight parks and a five-member parks and trails commission with council member Quinn Nystrom serving as liaison.
Doty said the fund for capital projects through the parks system has slowed in growth so it hasn't been able to take on a lot of projects of late. Last winter, the commission talked about a work plan for low-cost alternatives to complete during the remainder of 2018. Of the dozen or so low-cost project ideas, Doty said two rose to the surface. One was enhancing the community entrance at Highway 371 at the Mississippi River bridge, where the bicycle/pedestrian trail has chain-link fencing and no kiosk. Doty said they are interested in coming up with cost estimates to make that a more welcoming entrance to the city.
The other top project was creating an online park locator allowing residents and guests quick access to information about parks and trails around the clock.
DeBoer said it's a responsive website using cloud-based software instead of an app, although people can access it on their smartphones using a shortcut so it resembles an app. The information is available to anyone no matter what type of device or platform they use, iPhone or Android, laptop or desktop. DeBoer said it will not work on a flip phone, referencing Mayor Darrel Olson and getting laughs from the council.
"C'mon," Olson said jokingly.
In April, DeBoer received the blessing of the parks and trails commission and worked on the site during the following months. DeBoer said they were able to use software the city already had so the only additional cost came in staff time.
The park locator is described as a simple interface quick in response with a base map, four layers and search filter.
"It does what it's designed to do and that's it, it's simple and pretty quick to run," DeBoer said. With council consensus to approve the locator, DeBoer said the it could be launched in a short time.
The locator includes icons to let people know what amenities individual parks have-be that a kayak and canoe launch site or restroom facilities. Users can interact with the map or use a search tool to find trail links, determine distances and get park information. Dropping a pin on the map allows people to search for a park within a specified distance or they can filter parks to those with fishing piers. Another option allows people to see their current location and how to get to their desired destination. A measurement tool allows users to click on points to get an estimated distance.
"I think you did a great job on it," Nystrom said. "... It looks great."
It will be on the city website. DeBoer said they could develop a QR code to make it easy to access.
"I think it will be useful," DeBoer said, adding the next step will be getting the word out there.