Grant township supports an application for a Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to help pay to redevelop the Hart-Montague Bike Trail State Park.
Grant Township has joined local governments in expressing its support of a application for a $300,000 for a Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to help pay for redevelopment of the deteriorating 22-mile Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail State Park.
But, the township board is concerned about how much it may have to pay in matching funds for the project which is expected to have a $3.6 million price tag.
The Grant Township board, at its meeting last Tuesday, voted to submit a letter of support for an application which must be submitted by an April 1 deadline.
The application is being made by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) which owns the state park.
The Oceana County Board of Commissioners and the City of Hart have already approved letters of support.
Anne Hardy, executive director of the Oceana Economic Development Corporation, presented the project to the township board and requested the letter of support.
She said she is also asking for letters of support from the Village of Shelby, Shelby Township and the Village of New Era.
The $300,000 grant would be a part of a plan to redevelop the northern portion of the recreational trail from Polk Rd. in Hart to M-20 at New Era. Another $300,000 MNRTF grant would be sought to complete the project from M-20 to Stanton Blvd. in Montague.
Hardy said the plan calls for widening the paved portion from 8-foot to 10-foot and to have 2-foot shoulders to meet federal and state rules passed since 1989-1990 when the trail, which was the first paved state park bike trail in the state, was developed.
The new pavement would also be of “snowmobile grade” to reduce the damage to the surface by snowmobiles. New signage, and bridge and culvert restoration would also be completed on the trail.
The proposed funding plan for the project would include 72 percent of the project paid for through federal and state funds, 25 percent from private/corporate funds and three percent local match.
The DNR plans to submit a grant application by April 1 to the Michigan Department of Transportation for a $1.735 million grant. The plan also calls for the two $300,000 grants from the MNRTF, $880,700 in private/corporate funds and $110,000 in matching funds.
In response to a question by Grant Township Clerk Bill Wagner on how much the project would cost the township, Hardy said that hasn’t been determined yet. At this point, she said the township is committing funds, just showing support.
A final determination on the funding will occur by Dec. 31, 2013, she added.
Hardy said she believes the cost of the total project can be lowered from the estimation from engineering which has been completed by the DNR.
She also said the trail is in desperate need of improvements since it has had little maintenance work done by the DNR or local governments since it was built over 20 years ago.
Oceana County Commissioner Bob Walker who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he is in favor of grant application, but believes the DNR needs to “step up to the table” in the funding. “I don’t believe Oceana County should pay $75,000 for the project when the trail is owned by the DNR.”
Walker was involved in the funding process for the southern portion of the original trail development when he was the grant coordinator for the City of Montague.
Since the original trail was developed the City of Montague extended it to its it west city limits at Whitbeck Road (Medbery Trail) and a spur to the White River Fishing Bridge where the trail connects to the City of Whitehall’s White Lake Pathway and to the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail which continues along abandoned railroad right-of-way to McMillan Road in Dalton Township.
Plans are in the works by local governments to extend the trail to the shoreline trail in Muskegon, and a spur to Medbery Park at the White Lake Channel.