Interview with the Board President - January 2017

Jeanne, what has happened since October?

Our 2016 donor campaign was a huge success. We added many new contributors and kept our thank-you staff busy sending personal notes to many new and old supporters this year. Picture of Jeanne Van ZoerenTHANK-YOU for your support!

More good news. The last step of trail development work has been completed. We accepted a bid that was actually 6% below our engineers' estimate. So as soon as the snow disappears, our construction crew will begin moving the earth. Phase II Saugatuck Township (North Sector) construction is set to start at Blue Star Highway off North Avenue. To link with the existing trailway in township which now stops at Holland Street we will propose to the City of Saugatuck Council members next month that North Avenue be striped, and that the trailway proceed on to Blue Star Highway. And then continue south to Old Allegan Road, and then south on Maple Avenue (also proposed to be striped) to link back to Blue Star Highway and Lake Street. This trail stretch is about 1.1 miles. Look for upcoming announcements of our dedication ceremony this Spring.

Meanwhile, we will resubmit and expanded MDOT TAP application on May 1, 2017 and the DNR Trust Application on April 1. This section called the Saugatuck Township (South Sector) is to be constructed from the Overpass to 126th Avenue. With luck these grants can really maximize our community dollars as we move toward completion of Saugatuck Township at 124th Avenue (M-89).

At the same time, the City of Douglas has been granted MDOT 2017 CMAQ money. The City has proposed that the trailway move north along Blue Star Highway from Center Road to Lake Street by creating a designated bike lane across the Bridge. And south from the existing trail at Wiley Road to the City of Douglas/Saugatuck Township border north of the I-196 Overpass at Exit 36.

Three of our board members and their spouses participated in the newly-formed West Michigan regional planning process on November 17th. The purpose was to develop a nonnotarized transportation plan for the 13 county-West Michigan Grand Region as it is now called. The MDOT document is now drafted and ready for final review. The Blue Trail in its 20-mile entirety is included as part of this visionary plan for West Michigan that will guide public and private initiatives in the years to come.

We continue to work with Casco friends and neighbors to obtain the signed easements we need for construction in Casco Township. We have most of the easements we need for the trailway's first two miles. It is a slow grind but we are committed to getting all the signatures we need for the Right of Way certification as required for all of our state and federal grants.

Expect a BIG make-over for our annual Lakeshore Harvest Ride this year. The event is scheduled for Saturday, September 9th from 9:00AM-3:00PM. The 100-mile route option is being eliminated. Instead we plan to offer 12, 25, 45 and possibly 62 mile routes.

This year our farm tour locations will be providing snacks and water only. Based upon our experience, this was a burden to those farms as it requires additional setup and takedown plus it exposes the farm and our volunteers to weather hazards. Instead lunch headquarters will be in Glenn at the Community Center and also at our starting points in Douglas at Shultz Park and the Kal-Haven trailhead in South Haven.

We will continue to have our volunteers at all the snack/water stops, and at stops where only water is offered to the riders if requested for that stop. And as always we will continue our concierge service for purchased items. We will be optimistic about sunshine this year as we enjoy our beautiful orchards and farm lands.

Please let us know your thoughts and questions as we continue to make our trailway a reality. We value your opinion. Contact us at Info@FOTBST.ORG.

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