By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
The Boyne City to U.S. 31 non-motorized trail will likely move forward but in smaller segments.
Instead of building 6.2 miles of trail from Waller Road to Camp Seagull, the county is looking at applying for $800,000 in grants and building three miles of trail from Waller Road to Quarterline Road.
“Recent progress is there has been discussions about strategy on the project with the transportation alternatives program and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund personnel,” said Lucas Porath of trail project engineering firm Northwest Design Group. “We know there has been changes in the levels of funding available so we went back to the drawing board on what we want to apply for this time for phase II.”
Charlevoix County Parks and Recreation Director Ross Maxwell told Charlevoix County Commissioners on Jan. 23 that the original grant application for the Boyne City to U.S. 31 non-motorized trail’s phase II would likely be denied due to changes in state funding.
The county had made application for grant monies last year for the second phase of the non-motorized trail, which would have stretched from Waller Road to Camp Seagull.
“Based on those conversations with the federal funds and the transportation alternatives program they’re recommending—there’s no limit and there’s not an official limit—but they’re recommending that we limit our request to a half-a-million dollars to remain competitive,” Porath said. “They said if we asked for much more than that, with the amount of funding they have available, it’s probably not going to be a successful application.”
Charlevoix County Board Chairman Joel Evans (R-District 4) asked if the amount was even less if the chances would be better.
“Yeah, I would say that it probably is. They look at each project, you know, it’s hard to tell for sure,” Porath said. “They just said if you ask for more than that it’s going to take so much of what they have available it’s likely not going to be successful.”
While the Michigan Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is recommending a grant request limit of $500,000, Porath said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant is capped at $300,000.
The TAP is administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation and annually doles $16.5 million for various projects including non-motorized trails, turnouts, overlooks and viewing areas across the state.
“We think we’re going to apply for that full $300,000, so that gives us about $800,000 that we think is going to be potentially available in grants,” Porath said. “So, with that in mind we identified some logical trail segments or ways to break this up so we’re actually getting somewhere with each segment.”
The segments identified include:
Waller Road to Quarterline Road
Quarterline Road to Camp Seagull
Camp Seagull to Pincherry Road
Pincherry Road to Springwater Beach
“All those segments are about three miles each and will fit well within what we think is going to be competitive with the grants,” Porath said.
The Charlevoix County Parks Committee agreed that the next phase of the trail should extend from Waller Road to Quarterline Road.
“The upcoming work that needs to be done is the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund application needs to be completed first, by April 1, and the transportation alternatives program application has no deadline and they review them quarterly,” Porath said.
Commissioners instructed Porath to go before the Charlevoix Personnel/Internal Government Committee for approval before applying for the permit.
A public hearing on the matter will occur at one of the Charlevoix County Board of Commission meetings later this March. It has not yet been scheduled.
Porath said an unspecified amount of local match monies will be required to apply for the two grants.
Phase one of the trail is 3.2 miles, from Boyne City to Park of the Pines, and must be completed by summer of 2014.
Funds have been pledged by the following entities in the following amounts to help fund the first phase of 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 and conditionally approved.
Boyne City has applied for an MDOT Transportation Enhancement Act Grant in the amount of $565,900.