By: Carmen Scruggs
The Clinton County Parks and Green Space Commission updated board members and citizens on a non-motorized trail system throughout the county on Friday.
The 2013-2014 Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee trailway, which will make up 42 miles of an overall non-motorized facilities plan, will provide the public with free access to on-road bike lanes, sidewalks and special purpose trails for biking, walking and running. These trails will connect neighborhoods, parks, schools and other communities within Clinton County.
Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Unit Supervisor and Parks and Green Space Commission board member, Tim Machowicz, said the plan was created after 1992 when the Central Michigan Railroad corridor abandoned their tracks. Machowicz said the community’s expressed interest in a rail-to-trail system helped with the construction of the plan.
“Several years ago, the county-wide plan was mentioned and two sets of surveys were sent out to the community and one of the top needs that the public has said for the county is to have trail systems – a place to walk, ride bicycles and get around within the county,” said Machowicz. “This whole idea of a non-motorized transportation plan is to put that together so we can connect communities.”
The construction of the trails is funded through several grants, a $1.125 million grant from the Meijer Foundation and non-motorized state funding, according to Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance.
Board members at the meeting addressed public concern over the amount of time it is taking to complete the rail-to-trail. Jerry Jaloszynski, Green Space Commission Coordinator, said although the community has had to wait over 10 years for the finalization of the trail way, the benefits from the rail-to-trail will satisfy county residents.
Chuck Nelson, the chairman for the Parks and Green Space Commission and Michigan State Natural Resource and Tourism associate professor, said some of those benefits include improved community health and economic growth.
“I think that we will see a measurable reduction in disease that relates to inactivity, so I think cardiovascular health will improve,” said Nelson. “I think people will visit Clinton County that don’t normally visit here and stay a while to do things.”