The waterfront trail in Eureka is a welcome addition to our community. Now it is time to take this gem to the next level and use it as a source of economic development and revenue for our city.

The trail is already getting great traffic, as people participate in healthy outdoor activities such as walking, biking, bird watching and rollerblading, but so far it is mostly Eureka locals. Now is the time to partner with the businesses that can serve as jumping-off points for the trail.

Imagine if you could inexpensively rent a scooter or a bicycle after shopping at Target to hop on the trail and enjoy a ride to Old Town for lunch? This flow of commerce from our big box stores, like Target, Costco and the stores in the Bayshore Mall is a way to get foot traffic to Old Town. Many of Eureka’s visitors simply come to shop in our chain retailers, but never make it to the unique shops and restaurants of Old Town.

This idea would make coming to Eureka from Arcata, Willow Creek, or Fortuna more of a day-long excursion, rather than simply a trip to Target. Marketing this sort of fun available to our regional communities is low hanging fruit to help all Eureka’s businesses, and increase our much-needed sales tax revenue.

Many people go to the Bayshore Mall on Sundays to bank at Coast Central, or to visit Bounce-A-Palooza with the kids.  What if you parked in Old Town and took a 2.5 mile bike ride to the mall?  On a bike this would take about 15 minutes. After shopping at the mall, return to Old Town to visit the book shops, restaurants and perhaps have an ice cream at Living the Dream.  After all, you earned it!

The trail has some gorgeous views. What if there was a hot dog cart or a food truck parked at a scenic vista? This sort of activity will make the trail more than a trail; it will become a destination. Adding in easy parking at Target or the Bayshore Mall makes it even more appealing.

What other sorts of activities can the trail host? Think a kite-flying festival, a bayside field-to-fork dinner, or adding some disc golf baskets. How about after a great meal at Shamus T Bones, customers were encouraged to go for a stroll on the edge of the beautiful Elk River for sunset.

Creating wayfinding signs that guide trail users to the businesses that are close to the trail is essential. Conversely, getting our businesses close to the trail to alert their customers to the opportunity to use the trail needs to happen as well. These two channels of outreach will create more energy on the trail and build the user base, which will increase safety and security.

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