On Monday night, during the City Council meeting, seven policies were adopted that are meant to help Spencer become the first Blue Zone community.
"The policies that were adopted are a way to make our community a healthier placer to live and thrive," said Community Program Manager Alison Simpson. "This is all about giving the healthy choice a chance, and even the playing field for all citizens to create well-being in their lives."
The strive to be a Blue Zone community started this summer when Spencer became one of four sites in Iowa that received a designation. The program is a way to change the environment in ways that will assist citizens into healthier behaviors. The goal is to help people live longer and happier lives.
According to Simpson, these policies are Spencer-specific.
The first policy is the City of Spencer Employee Breastfeeding Policy. This will provide city employees with space and time for breastfeeding. It will increase the overall support for mothers to continue breastfeeding practices, and be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
The second policy increases the access to fresh drinking water in the city by providing drinking fountains in public places. The hope is to raise water consumption in the place of sugar-filled drinks to help reduce weight gain.
An outdoor dining policy would allow restaurants along Grand to place tables outside. The tables have to leave a five-foot walk-way, and the area complies with Spencer's regulatory ordinances, according to Simpson.
There is also a policy that promotes farmers markets and community gardens in Spencer. The gardens will be located throughout the community, and plans for construction will move forward this spring.
"No matter where people live, they will have access to land where they can plant a garden," Simpson said. "The locations will be based on need and interest, based on the applications we get."
Simpson hopes the gardens will be ready for the planting season this year. There will be guidelines for what can be planted that will be available to interested applicants.
There is a policy that will design and maintain the streets for both vehicles and pedestrians. The Complete Streets policy includes a pedestrian and bicycle master plan to increase the infrastructure. It will provide a connected network for all users of the roadways, Simpson said. It will provide safer travel on the roads.
"The big thing we want to emphasize is that these changes aren't going to happen overnight," Simpson said. "Some roadways need replaced, or fixed. It's a long process, but it gives Spencer a plan to move forward for the future."
The last two policies are mixed-use policies, which say the City will develop mixed-use areas of residential, commercial and civic. One encourages the use of Spencer School District outdoor areas by the community when the areas aren't needed for school purposes.
"This gets us really close to meeting requirements for the community policy. We need 1,000 more people to register and take action, when pledge items have been completed," Simpson said.
There are 750 people that have registered so far, but in order to become the first Blue Zone community there needs to be a little over 1,000.
"We need everyone's help with this," said Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson. "Pledges need to be signed up again."
You can sign up and pledge at bluezonesproject.com.