Friends of the Blue Star Trail is an all volunteer organization located in Casco Township, Allegan County, Michigan. Its purpose is to assist area governmental units, the county parks department and the county road commission in the development and promotion of a proposed 20 mile recreation pathway. Read more...
Many articles and editorials have recently been written (some inaccurate) about the various plans we have presented to Saugatuck’s City Council for the section of the Blue Star Trail that goes through the outskirts of the City. We want to bring you up-to-date on where things stand and explain how you can help us garner support for this section of the Blue Star Trail.
Help! Our trailway project may be in jeopardy going forward. Here is the problem. The Friends’ are seeking a letter of support from the City of Saugatuck. We are asking council members to endorse a CONCEPTUAL and PRELIMINARY route plan through the City of Saugatuck to be included in the State and federal grant applications we are filing this month. The support of the City and other communities along the trail is critical at this juncture as it impacts our ability to earn federal and state grants. The City portion of the trail represents only 982 feet of the 20-mile trail. However, without this letter of support, funding for the entire trail is at risk because the government sources we depend upon stress the importance of regional and local connectivity in their application requirements.
Recall that FRIENDS are funding the trailway. This is a GIFT worth thousands of dollars! We pay the required community match money for the federal and state grants we receive. We also pay for the engineering fees and other incidentals. These grants for the trailway obviously make a significant economic impact upon a community so dependent upon tourists.
Over the last several months the Friends’ have been flexible and responsive to Council concerns. The most recent proposal, presented on the 13th of March, is one of 4 proposals y provided to Council. Each included conceptual drawings and addressed Council’s concerns such as Saugatuck’s iconic sign. The Council now wants us to provide them with a detailed engineered plan. The Friends’ group has agreed to the untimely payment of the $20,000 for the detailed plan but it needs to be done in the right sequence...after both sides agree to a conceptual plan...which we will use in our applications going forward. Construction is not imminent for this section of trail. It is a few years down the road in our long range planning.
So to recap… we are simply asking Council for an updated letter of support of the conceptual and preliminary plan for project. Assuming our grant applications are accepted for further study, the Friends’ group will work in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the City of Saugatuck to develop the details of the plan as those details must ultimately be approved by MDOT prior to actual funding.
Call to Action
So what can you do? Contact Saugatuck City Council (their email addresses are below). Let them know why you want the Blue Star Trail (i.e., safety, health, economic/environmental benefits, etc.) and urge them to support our most recent conceptual plan for the 982 feet of trailway along the west side of Blue Star Highway that falls within the City's jurisdiction.
While we all have a stake in Council's decision, it is particularly important for those of you who live in the City of Saugatuck to express your support. Though tri-community past studies have shown strong support from residents and property owners; more recently, a few local naysayers have received the most attention. Your active support is critical to the Trail. Please act now. Their website is www.saugatuckcity.com
Note: We have attached Jeffrey Bianchi's recent editorial that appeared in the Commercial Record a few days ago (to view click here). Thanks for all that you do to make the trail happen. We will keep you posted on the outcome.