Preliminary design of the Traverse City ↔ Charlevoix Trail launched this summer for the Acme through Elk Rapids trail segment. The goal of preliminary design is to identify a preferred trail alignment and the costs associated with its construction and maintenance. Community input is a key consideration in the process for identifying this preferred alignment, and a number of engagement activities have taken place with landowners, the public and local agencies over the past few months. Below is a summary of these activities followed by a project update and next steps.
Landowner Listening Sessions: A series of four Landowner Listening Sessions were held in August 2018. Invitations were sent to property owners adjacent to the proposed trail routes in Elk Rapids Township and Acme Township in July 2018 (over 500 postcards were mailed). The first two sessions were held at the Williamsburg Event Center in Acme on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. The second two sessions were held at the Lighthouse Community Center in Elk Rapids on Thursday, August 9, 2018. In total, sixty people attended the sessions.
Each meeting included a presentation on the history and current status of the proposed TC ↔ CHX Trail project and an introduction to the trail route alternatives identified between Acme and Elk Rapids. Attendees were asked to share their input using comment cards and large maps.
The listening sessions were a first step in the preliminary design process. Based on input received from Elk Rapids Township residents, the study area was expanded following the sessions to include alternative routes along the east and west side of US-31 between N. Bayshore Dr and Williams Rd. As follow-up, a meeting summary and information on how to stay informed and engaged was sent out to participating land owners. TART Trails staff has also been meeting with adjacent land owners upon request.
Public Open House: A Public Open House was held on August 22, 2018 at the Elk Rapids Harbor Pavilion. TART Trails provided a presentation on the proposed TC ↔ CHX Trail and the preliminary design process for the Acme through Elk Rapids Segment. Attendees were invited to provide input using comment cards on the trail and the proposed alternative routes. Large maps of the alternative routes were placed around the room and TART Trails staff and engineering consultants were on hand for questions and discussion. Close to 200 people attended.
Following the Open House, public comment was accepted through an online comment form through September 7, 2018. The form included the same questions as the comment cards from the Open House. Around 200 hard copy and online forms were submitted between August 22, 2018 and September 7, 2018. A summary of the public input collected will be posted online this month.
Local Agency Group Meeting: Representatives from Antrim County, Grand Traverse County, Antrim County Road Commission, Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Acme Township, Elk Rapids Township, Village of Elk Rapids, MDOT and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians were invited to attend a Local Agency Group meeting on September 5, 2018 at Acme Township Hall. The meeting included a project update from TART Trails and discussion around decision-making, permitting authority, approval processes and project communications. Representatives from the local agencies have since been invited to participate on a Stakeholder Advisory Group over the coming months.
Next Steps: A Stakeholder Advisory Group is currently being formed to provide input and expertise throughout the trail planning and development process. Representation on this working group will include local units of government for the Acme through Elk Rapids segment, MDOT, MDNR, and organizations representing business, agriculture, conservation, transportation, recreation and social services.
An assessment of the proposed alternative routes is currently being completed by the engineering firm. The assessment will identify the physical challenges and opportunities associated with each alternative route as well as considerations identified through the public input received to date. Participants on the Stakeholder Advisory Group will be asked to help identify additional issues and opportunities related to the proposed trail route alternatives. Different trail route scenarios will then be presented to the public for review and comment later this fall at a public open house.