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March meeting to further discuss River to River Trail

Wayland City Council members Monday night heard a presentation on plans for a River to River Trail Plan by Suzannah Deneau of Wightman & Associates.

The plan, which absolutely no stranger to city residents and officials, is to connect Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids, 35 miles along the old interurban trail.

Deneau, who appeared last month to make a progress report to the Martin Township Board, said no decisions need to be made yet, but there will be meetings on the proposals Wednesday, March 14, on how to secure funding and how to get input on what people want or don’t want.

Four public sessions already have been held, in the City of Wayland, Byron Township, Cooper Township and the City of Plainwell, with a total of about 150 people attending.

She said three different routes have been examined, and it appears the interurban is the consensus choice for Wayland, which already has attempted, but failed,  to get state grants from the DNR for the project. The goal is to construct a recreation trail for walkers, bicyclers and horseback riders, which proponents insist could drum up local tourism business.

“The question now is how do we want to work together to build the trail?” Deneau said, and how to fund it.

She said one possibility is a county-wide recreation millage.

Deneau said the estinated cost for 1.4 miles through the City of Wayland is $305,000 per mile along what used to be the interurban, now owned by Consumers Energy.

City Engineer Mickey Bittner, also of Wightman & Associates, said the city’s costs might be a little higher than others because it has more crossings requiring curb and gutter, signage and traffic control.

“In a rural setting, you have more plug and chug,” he explained.

Deneau, however, promised, “I don’t think there’s any option that shouldn’t be explored.”

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, the City Council:

• Approved a budget amendment that sets aside $4,000 to help finance this year’s Wayland Sesquicentennial celebration July 20 and 21. The Village of Wayland was incorporated in 1868.

• Tabled action on a proposed parking agreement for the new Lumberyard events center at the old Smith Lumber & Coal location.

1 Comment

  • They should consider how many individuals have current leases of the interurban who pay consumers on a yearly basis to access their property that is spit by it who will most likely put up some resistance

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