Major Detroit trail and park grants get the nod

The Dequindre Trail abuts the historic Globe Building

Yesterday was likely the biggest day in Michigan history for greenspace grant decisions largely due to a recent windfall in gas and oil leases on state land.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board of Trustees today recommended to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm that 117 recreation projects and land acquisitions totaling $102,098,400 be funded in 2011. The board this year had considered 165 applications for development and acquisition projects totaling $140.4 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the MNRTF board.

“Michigan’s remarkable natural resources help to make our state more appealing to residents and visitors alike,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “The important work of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund makes it possible to acquire and safeguard some of our most beautiful natural and recreational areas for the enjoyment of current and future generations.”

Of course these grant decisions are not final and are subject to a review by the Governor before the Michigan legislature actually appropriates the money sometime next year.

So, how’d this area do?

City of Detroit

Clearly the biggest winner was the Detroit RiverWalk, Milliken State Park, and Dequindre Cut. These three projects were recommended for a whopping $34.4 million for land acquisition.

Here’s how that funding breaks down. Note the the DNRE was the applicant for the first three, while Detroit applied for the Dequindre Cut expansion.

  • William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor (Wayne County) – $20 million. This funding will be used to acquire three to six large private inholding parcels and trail easements along the Detroit Riverfront as additions to the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor in downtown Detroit.
  • Globe Building Adventure and Discovery Center Acquisition (Wayne County) – $9 million. This funding would be used by the DNRE to acquire 48,000 square feet of built-out space in the Globe Building for the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor Adventure and Discovery Center in downtown Detroit.
  • Detroit Riverfront Easements and Acquisitions (Wayne County) – $5 million. These funds would be used by the DNRE to acquire public use easements and land acquisitions along the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge to the MacArthur Bridge as part of a 5-mile-long public greenway.
  • Dequindre Cut Expansion, City of Detroit (Wayne County) – $375,000. These funds would be used to acquire a 0.7-mile section of abandoned rail corridor in downtown Detroit that continues the Dequindre Cut north, connecting the Detroit Riverfront to the historic Eastern Market.

A million dollars in Detroit Recreational Department projects were also recommended, both of which include trails. These grants  along with the Dequindre Cut grant would not have been possible without the city’s recreation plan being approved earlier this year — a basic requirement for this funding source.

  • City of Detroit (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop the Balduck Park In-Town Youth Camp and Family Picnic Area. This will include restrooms, picnic shelter, play area, nature trail, walking path, camp activity areas, pathways and interpretive signs.
  • City of Detroit (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $500,000 for improvements to Patton Park, including construction of two softball diamonds, lighting, comfort station, picnic shelter, parking lot improvements, connecting pathways, and an asphalt trail linking the Greenway to the sidewalks.

Wayne County

Four other projects in Wayne County were recommended:

  • Northville Township (Wayne County) – $3,053,700. These funds would be used for Phase II acquisition of 51.01 acres to create a linear park connecting the former Northville State Hospital property with the Wayne County Hines Parkway system and also preserve 200-year-old growth forest and link to the Southeast Michigan Greenways Network.
  • Wayne County is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop the Refuge Gateway Boat Dock/Fishing Pier for the Great Lakes Schoolship and associated recreational features.
  • City of Flat Rock (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $447,900 for the Flat Rock-Oakwood Metro Park Connector. This project will develop 1.93 miles of trail linking the Flat Rock Greenway to the Oakwood Metro Park Greenway to create a contiguous 23-mile greenway system in southeast Michigan.
  • City of Inkster (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $408,000 to develop a 4.5-mile Inkster Park Greenway Trail through the city along Wayne County parkland adjacent to the Lower Rouge River.

Oakland County

Five projects in Oakland County were recommended, but perhaps the biggest news was the one that wasn’t, the Wixom, Commerce, Walled Lake rail-trail, part of the Michigan Air Line. It was rejected last year due to a lack of matching funds. This year the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) spoke against it since the original plan would have negatLively impacted a local rail customer. That plan had been updated to remove that impact but MEDC was apparently unaware of it and no one was at the meeting to address the update. This is very unfortunate given the large amount of funding available this year.

  • West Bloomfield Township (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop a 2.5-mile, 10-foot wide aggregate path; road crossings; benches; interpretive signs; native seeding along the West Bloomfield Trail, which is part of the Michigan Airline Trail system.
  • City of Novi (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $437,500 to develop a trailhead for Landings Park for the existing and future non-motorized regional pathway system within the 11-acre Landings parkland, with an accessible waterfront park with 835 feet of naturalized shoreline.
  • Oakland County is recommended to receive $308,000 to develop universally accessible amenities at Highland Oaks, Lyon Oaks, Red Oaks and Rose Oaks parks.
  • Oakland Township (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $154,900 for the improvements at the Lost Lake Nature Park, including renovation of existing residence for nature center use, a fishing dock, non-motorized boating, nature observation/education, accessibility improvements to parking lot, pedestrian routes, interpretative signage and storm water buffers.
  • Village of Leonard (Oakland County) – $22,500. This funding would be used to acquire 0.28 acres of property adjacent to the Polly Ann Trail.

Macomb County

Only one project was recommended in Macomb County. The county had submitted a grant request for the Lake St. Clair Shoreline Trail between Selfridge AFB and the lake. That was rejected since the land was already in public ownership. The case was being made that although it was in public ownership, it hadn’t been open to the public. Apparently that argument didn’t win out.

  • Macomb County is recommended to receive $205,000 to develop the Nicholson Nature Center, including a restroom facility, classrooms, boardwalk, trails, stream crossings, wetlands enhancement and signage.

Link: Complete list of all funding recommendations

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “Major Detroit trail and park grants get the nod”

  1. J. Applegate Says:

    So, since these are recommendations, can Granholm exercise any Executive powers with respect to re-evaluating the application of the Air Lines trail acquisition since the plan was rejected on false pretenses? (aka BAD INFORMATION/ASSUMPTION?)

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    I believe either the governor can or the legislature can. I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before. It’s circumventing the process so the Trust Fund members might not look favorably on those who do that. This probably won’t be the last Trust Fund grant request for the project, so I’m not sure it’s worth risking it. The more sure fire route is to re-apply in 2011. One thing that’s for certain though. This is both disappointing and frustrating. It seems this issue should have been resolved *before* the big decision day.

  3. Andrew Mutch Says:

    Dennis Muchmore, who just finished his term as Chair of the Trust Fund Board, is heading to Lansing to be Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff. That makes it very unlikely that the incoming Governor is going to tamper with the Board’s recommendations. Knowing that, I think the chances of the Airline decision being changed are nill. Plus, I personally think it would be a terrible precedent. The last thing we want is the state legislature mucking around in the list and playing favorites. It’s unfortunate that the Board didn’t fund the Airline trail project. But someone should have been there to represent that project. Those of us who have gone through the process in the past know that you can never take these grants for granted. When you are up for a multi-million dollar grant, send someone to sit in the audience just in case there’s a problem that comes up. It’s not the first time the Board has dropped a highly-ranked project because of some last-minute objection.

  4. Hannah Says:

    I’m with Andrew, it would be a terrible precedent, better to wait until next year and do a better job of applying…also “taking a grant for granted” made me chuckle. *grin*

  5. J. Applegate Says:

    Thanks for the political perspective Andrew. I am a bit disappointed that the Commerce/Walled Lake/Wixom city planners all thought this wasn’t worth monitoring. Seems West Bloomfield didn’t ignore their end though but that probably had more to do with the fact that the American Plastic Toys Co isn’t in their area and they can close that section of rail without any issues. I just hope that by missing this grant we don’t lose matching funds or the city funds aren’t redirected to another project…..

  6. Andrew Mutch Says:

    In defense of the communities, I should point out that when communities are notified of the Trust Fund Board meeting, they are also told that there’s no requirement that they attend. Also, DNR grant staff that I spoke stated that the concerns that were raised weren’t a real issue. But I think having the state economic development people show up and speak against it probably tipped the issue in the Board’s view. Let’s hope that they reapply and that this is just a minor setback. The project had a great score and would have been funded if this issue hadn’t come up.

  7. Chris Says:

    I see, so it wasn’t so much that CT/WL/W failed to show, but that MEDC did show actively sabotaged it based on a misunderstanding that the plan had been amended to preserve rail access. I hate to ask, but was MEDC’s intervention a genuine mistake, or malicious?

Leave a Reply