A larger than usual group of Boyne City officials gathered Tuesday Nov. 19 for a joint boards work session to review proposals for a non-motorized trail plan and a property maintenance code.
Members of the Boyne City Commission, Boyne City Planning Commission, and Boyne City Parks & Recreation Commission listened to a presentation and public comment on the proposed in-town trail, the base plan of which could cost $1,116,600.
See next week’s Boyne City Gazette for the full story on the property maintenance issue.
“As many of you are aware and have worked on personally, Boyne City has really become a hub for trails and Trail Town activities over the last few years,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain. “We were actually designated a Trail Town—went through a process on that a few years ago—set up Old City Park kind of as our trailhead location. We’ve worked real closely with some of our neighboring townships and Charlevoix County to work moving forward.”
Cain also mentioned the trail between Boyne City and Boyne Valley Township, which is scheduled to open in June 2020.
“One of the things that’s been talked about significantly, since the first phase of the trail between Boyne City and Charlevoix took place, was how do we more safely get people from the end of the trail at West Michigan Avenue to the downtown,” Cain said.
In recent years, the city took a cursory look at potential solutions to this issue.
One of the early proposed routes was from where the trail ends on West Michigan Avenue to the trailhead at Old City Park, which is located down by the kayak launch.
Cain said many of the half-dozen proposed routes appeared similar and that many concerns were raised with regards to crossing points along and over West Michigan Avenue, and how to get people downtown and past places like the manufactured housing community and certain businesses.
One route—considered one of the safer—would bring people farther east down Park Street. But, it was determined that that would be the route people would least like to take.
“People like to have views of the lake,” Cain added.
The city looked at those potential solutions but decided not to make any decisions until it had time to further research the matter.
City officials then hired engineering firm C2AE to study the matter.
“Our scope of services is further definition of trail routing, development of conceptual plans and cost opinions to be used as a basis for trail funding applications,” said Larry Fox of C2AE, which has been Boyne City’s engineering firm for nearly 15 years and has extensive experience working on trail systems…. “We met with the city in the summer and the city staff had discussions about the various trail routings. We actually did a physical walkthrough of the trail routes and, basically, that was actually probably the most important aspect of this whole thing.”
He added, “Looking at it on paper is one thing but actually walking and physically seeing the challenges that you’re looking at was very important.”
Fox said the goal is to build a trail which people want to use and that is safe, accessible, and enjoyable.
The new initial plan is for a trail in segments, the pieces of which would include:
1. A separated trail along the roadway from Boyne City limits to Charlevoix Street
2. An adjacent trail along the roadway with retaining wall from Charlevoix Street to Lower Lake Street
3. Shared use roadway on Lower Lake Street
4. Separated trail along the roadway from Lower Lake Street to the boat launch
5. Independent trail through the Open Space
6. Boardwalk by Honeywell (Primary)
6A. Independent trail near Honeywell (Alternate A)
6B. Separated trail along the roadway and independent around Honeywell (Alternate B)
7. Independent trail from the park
8. Shared use roadway to River Street
Fox said he wasn’t sure how long the combined trail segments are. Boyne City Gazette calculated the overall trail to be approximately 1.3 miles in length. Updated: On Tuesday Nov. 26, Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said the proposed trail would be nearly 1.5 miles long.
See the accompanying graphic below for projected cost opinions for each trail segment.
Several attendees expressed safety concerns regarding trail segment two.
Fox said increased signage could be implemented to address any potential issues.
Attendees also asked about places for cyclists to stop if they had issues and whether snow would be removed from the trail.
Cain said there are plenty of locations for people to safely stop. He also said snow would probably not be removed.
Concerns over the best side of the road for various trail segments in order to promote safety was also discussed.
Officials stressed that the proposal is merely preliminary and more discussions regarding trail safety and other challenges will be had.
Some comments were also made regarding the aesthetics of certain aspects of the trail route.
“We haven’t gotten to those level of details yet,” said Cain. “We want to get some discussion about concepts that are out there, see if there’s buy-in to it or some tweaking that needs to be done. And then, once we get kind of around some more agreed upon concept, then we’ll get into details like that.”
He added, “Obviously, we want to make sure that it works for everybody.”
When asked about a timeline on this project, Cain said some discussions have been had that the city might begin applying for grants in April of 2020 but that it will all depend on how smoothly the process goes from here.
And, he stressed, the first job is coming to a community consensus on the matter.