The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park, the longest linear state park in Michigan, is often called "the spine" of West Michigan's trail system. About half of the trail is currently paved and the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition is working to complete paving on the entire trail. Executive Director John Morrison stopped by the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday to elicit community support through the commission. He told the Board that in 2007, the Department of Natural Resources wanted to finish the rest of the trail in crushed limestone.
“There was public push back on that so that project got halted. They've been working since to raise the funds to start on the paving project,” says Morrison. He notes that funds have already been raised to pave an 11 mile section between LeRoy and Reed City, but they want to do more. “At the same time, we'll be raising funds to do the 29 mile section between Big Rapids and Sand Lake.”
The MTGW is seeking a $500,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation for the project, but part of the requirements for the grant is community support. Commissioner Bill Routley noted that their experience with the DNR in 2007 was frustrating.
“We didn't like the way they approached it the first time they came through here and that little song and dance where it's either crushed asphalt or crushed limestone or nothing, and nobody could convince them that that was wrong."
Routley adds that crushed stone is uncomfortable for hiking and walking and causes serious wear and tear on bicycle tires.
Morrison is asking the Board for a resolution of support for the project the next 60 to 90 days.