Boyne City Trail Tabled

County Commission
Commissioners Tripp, Christensen, and Evans discuss an issue at an August meeting of the Charlevoix County Commission (Photo: C. Faulknor/BC Gazette)
County commissioners tabled a contract wherein the county would fund phase one of the Boyne City to U.S. 31 non-motorized trail before receiving reimbursement payments for the nearly $1 million project

By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
bgohs@boynegazette.com
(231) 222-2119 

County commissioners tabled a contract wherein the county would fund phase one of the Boyne City to U.S. 31 non-motorized trail before receiving reimbursement payments for the nearly $1 million project.
Discussion on the matter arose during the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners’ regular Wednesday Oct. 24 meeting.


“Are we committing to pay the $954,000 up front or are we going to pay the $300,000 up front and be reimbursed at a later time for that?” asked Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen. “Did we allocate for that in the 2013 budget?”
Charlevoix County Fiscal Officer Cherie Browe said the funds necessary to cover the expected construction costs of portions of the 3.2-mile trail for next year have been allocated in the county’s budget.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Ron Reinhardt expressed concerns that, if the State of Michigan does not find the county in complete compliance with its stringent rules and regulations then the county could be on the proverbial hook for the cost of the trail, the first phase of which will be constructed between West Michigan Ave. in Boyne City to the Evangeline-Bay Township Line.
“Then I see other people’s pledges, if they don’t come through and we agree to this we have to come up with the money,” Reinhardt said.

Funds have been pledged by the following entities in the following amounts to help fund the non-motorized trail:

  • Evangeline Township – $33,216
  • Boyne City – $11,072
  • Charlevoix County Community Foundation – $26,000
  • North Country Bike Club/Top of Michigan Trails Council – $18,312

The $565,900 figure is a grant the county hopes to get from the MDOT enhancement act program—the funds have been applied for and conditionally approved.
The $300,000 figure is a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant that has also been applied for.
“The townships and the city have, by resolution already committed the funds,” Christensen said, adding that the rest of the entities involved have also promised to provide the funds specified.
Newly-elected (he runs unopposed in the general election) District 6 County Commissioner and retired Charlevoix County Planning Director Larry Sullivan said that, approximately a year ago, the Charlevoix County Parks and Recreation Department now handles the trail whereas the planning commission had previously dealt with it.
“The monies are committed by the various entities—that’s not an issue,” Sullivan said.
“The issue in terms of the entirety of the trail needing to be completed or the county would have to pay the funds back … I do not believe that to be the case under any circumstances.”
Sullivan said he believes the county will responsible for more than the initial outlay of $300,000.
“The funds would be reimbursed as we went along to minimize the amount of funds out-of-pocket that are hanging out there waiting to be reimbursed,” Sullivan said.
Browe said the agreement before the board during last week’s meeting granted the county 31 percent of the total costs, not to exceed $300,000, the rest of the monies are either applied for or provided by the previously aforementioned entities.
“Reimbursement will only be on department review,” she said. “Any cost overruns incurred to complete the project shall be the sole responsibility of the grantee—which is the County of Charlevoix.”
Browe added, “By signing this agreement it also states that we will immediately make available all funds needed to incur all necessary costs to complete the project and provide the $654,500 in local match, which is the remaining 69 percent.”
The general sentiment of the board was that their civil counsel review the contract before approving it.
“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund would not have made the commitment of the $300,000 unless they were a hundred percent certain that the transportation enhancement act funds were also going to be there,” Sullivan said. “It takes an act of the Michigan Legislature to allocate those funds, and they will not do that unless they know that a hundred percent of those funds from the other entities are there.
Charlevoix County Board Chairman Joel Evans said everyone wants the trail, but the county cannot afford to fund it without grant monies.
“For the county to put money into a bicycle trail but we can’t put money into a building on Beaver Island that we need doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
“We do need the trail for sure, and I promote it. We just need to be careful.”
County officials will revisit the matter once their civil counsel has reviewed the matter.
The deadline to sign and return the contract is Nov. 21.

 

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