By Courtney Kendler
Holt Journal staff reporter
Runners, bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts are discovering new ways to embrace the community, with the many new trails sprouting up throughout Delhi Township.
Three such trails have been developed in Delhi Township over the last decade. The first was the mile-long Valhalla Trail, completed in 2006. This was followed by the 2.1 mile long Sycamore Trail in 2014.
All 3 trails have been funded, in part, by different grants allocated by the State of Michigan and the Delhi Township general fund. These grants cover 80 percent of construction costs, while the township is responsible for the remaining 20 percent, as well as all engineering and design costs, said Delhi Community Development Directory Tracy Miller.
According to the Delhi Trails website, the newest of the 3 trails, the Ram Trail, will stretch 1.5 miles along Holt Road, between Eifert Road and Holt High School. The trail will connect downtown Holt with the western section of Delhi Township, incorporating a number of schools, parks and neighborhoods.
The Ram Trail, named in honor of Holt High School’s sports teams, will serve as a safe route for many students to get to and from school. “Currently, there is no other safe and available way for walkers or bikers to get to or from our school complex,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mark Jenks.
Miller, who has worked with Delhi Township for over ten years, also has very real concerns about the condition of sidewalks and trails near the school district.
“That whole trail was really prioritized because the kids walk and ride their bikes down Holt Road to get out to the schools,” said Miller. “I drive that way to and from work and I can’t tell you the number of times I see some kid trying to get to football practice, walking down the side of the road.”
While the the Ram Trail is giving adults and children a safer way to reach the high school complex, the overall installment of the trails is attracting a massive amount of people to the area, said Delhi Township Supervisor C. J. Davis.
“I have never ever had a project where there wasn’t at least one person that was unhappy about something…until these trail projects,” said Miller. “People love them! You just don’t hear anything but positive stuff and it’s really, really rewarding to work on them.”
Jordan Green, a former resident of Holt, believes that the trails are bringing a lot of positive feedback to the community and enjoys their convenience.
“My parents live just in the neighborhood and I start running from home and take a loop straight back,” said Green. “I definitely think building more trails around here is a positive idea. It encourages people to be more active and I like how interconnected the trails are.”
An increase in activity on the trails has been overwhelmingly evident to walkers and joggers who frequent the area.
Justin Troisi, a Holt resident, walks on the Valhalla and Sycamore trails 2 to 3 times a week with his dog. “The trails are definitely more busy than they used to be, probably because they’ve connected the trails,” said Troisi. “I see a lot more people out biking and running, and if people don’t have to do it on the side of the road, I think they’ll get out a lot more.”
Michigan State University Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Igor Vojnovic is an expert in urban development. He believes that the development of parks, recreational areas and trails increases property values in the area and should be considered an economic amenity.
Supporters of the trails will soon have even more to be excited about.
According to Miller, Ingham County passed a trail millage last year that will seriously consider funding a project that will connect the Hayhoe Trail, in Mason, with the Sycamore Trail, in Holt.
“I think it will get funded, and it would be amazing to have a trail that will go all the way from Mason to Holt,” said Miller.
Construction of the Ram Trail is expected to be completed in mid-November 2015.