Group aims to network Lenawee County with looping trail system
The Raisin Township Board of Trustees met in a special session on Monday, May 20 at 10 a.m. to discuss possibilities to expand recreational opportunities in the township. The future of the township’s roads also entered into the discussion.
Adrian’s DDA Director and Economic Development Coordinator, Chris Miller, gave a presentation and invited the trustees to consider becoming members of the Complete Streets Coalition. Miller said Adrian and some other Lenawee County entities are already involved and suggested the passage of a resolution at a future meeting.
The Complete Streets Coalition has a tagline that says, “Building roadways that move people not just automobiles,” and promotes walker- and bicycle-friendly amenities in communities. Miller said adopting a resolution to be part of the coalition is necessary to receive certain funds through the Michigan Department of Transportation.
“One of our pie-in-the-sky ideas is ultimately to connect our county by running trails through all townships, villages and cities,” Miller said. “It would be a great way to loop and connect, and an interesting thing would happen. We have some beautiful country in this county, from lakes to agricultural land and we would become a significant destination for bicycle tourists and have some opportunities to drive things on the economic development side in a mutually beneficial way.”
One idea is to find a way to continue the Kiwanis Trail into Tecumseh, which currently stops at Ives Road. While private property ownership has prevented this from occurring in the most direct manner, Miller said some other ideas could be entertained, including picking up the trail along the railroad right of way or along Green Highway — if there were a Complete Streets plan.
Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh said he’s always been interested in seeing how communities develop and has observed this across the world.
“The communities that thrive seem to be those that offer access, whether people move by bike, their own feet, car or mass transit,” he said. He added that he considers the connection land between Adrian and Tecumseh by way of Raisin Township as “valuable real estate,” and believes the communities would all thrive if they were linked. “We’re at the threshold of looking at basically redoing roads in our township and I think this is an element we should look at,” he said in consideration of being part of the coalition.
The trustees also heard a presentation from Lenawee County Drain Commissioner Stephen May, who was representing the River Raisin Watershed as its Chair. May described how the group has been reorganized and hopes to involve Raisin Township as a supporter. Of the county’s 65 municipalities in the watershed, 43 have now come on board since the reorganization.
“We’ve been putting together some specific committees and our delegates are becoming very active in these,” May said. For one, he is on a Technical Committee that plans to look at various projects that might be tackled involving the River Raisin.
“We’re looking at a watershed management plan that would leverage funds for specific projects,” he said, adding that the county’s grant writer is also involved. Municipalities join the River Raisin Watershed on a per capita basis, and Raisin Township’s share would be $758.10. Discussion included recreational opportunities that could be developed, from removing logjams on the River Raisin to establishing small parks along the water trail, creating a recreational draw to the community. John (Chuck) Calhoun, treasurer for the watershed, pointed out how communities can benefit if they develop trails, such as the Clark Lake Spirit Trail, which now draws runners from several states for an annual event.
“People here benefit from motels to restaurants, and people are looking for a nice place to live, a safe place, relatively easy to access,” said Calhoun. “This is at the pinnacle of what Michigan is trying to do.” Trustees will likely vote on the request to become a member of the River Raisin Watershed at a future meeting.
The Raisin Township Board had also been approached by Adrian City Administrator Dane Nelson regarding the possibility of partnering for a Parks and Recreation Authority, which would involve a millage vote to operate.
“I don’t see where our township will benefit from it,” said Trustee Tom Hawkins.
Trustee Larry Crittenden said, “To be very honest, we’ve got problems right here at home we have to solve before we get into regional recreation things. At this point I don’t see any purpose in joining. If we’re going to have to raise millage, I think it has to be for what needs to be done right here.” Trustee Debra Brousseau agreed, adding that she didn’t think it would be a beneficial venture at this point in time.
The trustees held a special meeting a couple of weeks ago with OHM, a consultant firm, regarding steps that might be taken for a road bond authority as the township continues to explore how to address its deteriorating roads.
“We need to put together a plan for how to approach our road situation so we have something to share with our residents,” said Crittenden. Township officials expect to post a survey on the subject as soon as the new website is up, which is nearing completion.