2017-10-12 / News

Atlas celebrates trail opening

Photo provided Photo provided ATLAS TWP. — When a 1.1-mile section of non-motorized trail in Atlas Township opened recently, a group of kids stopped in front of the Atlas Township offices and applauded the public officials for completing the trail.

Amy McMillan, director of Genesee County Parks, told that story during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Sunday afternoon (Oct. 1) to celebrate the opening of the trail.

“You can see this is money well spent,” McMillan said.

More than 100 township and county officials and members of the public attended the ceremony on a beautiful sunny day. The new section of trail, which passes in front of the Atlas Township office, is a collaborative effort between Genesee County and Atlas Township and was spearheaded by a grassroots group formed in 2013 called “Atlas Township Walk, Bike, Run.”

It also has another connection on the biking portion of the statewide Iron Belle Trail, which extends from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and passes through nearly 50 counties and more than 200 municipalities in the state.

The 1.1-mile paved trail in Atlas Township is along the Gale Road right-of-way and ties into the Genesee County Non-Motorized Trail Plan. It provides access to Oaktree Elementary School at the southern end and heads north along Gale Road into the existing sidewalks in the Village of Atlas on the northern end. It also connects into an existing non-motorized trail that travels west from M-15 in the Village of Goodrich to Gale Road. There will be benches, signage and trash receptacles included on the trail.

Iron Belle Trail Coordinator Kristen Bennett applauded all of the groups who came together to make the trail happen.

“This is what the Iron Belle Trail is all about,” she said. “This trail is all about the community.”

Members of the Walk, Bike, Run committee surveyed and petitioned residents advocating development of non-motorized trails to improve health, create a sense of community, increase property values, attract new residents and increase safe routes to schools in Atlas Township. Voters supported a 0.125-millage request in 2014 to help with matching funds and support trail maintenance.

The Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission aided with funding through the Transportation Alternative Program in the amount of $300,000. A grant through the DNR Trust Fund in the amount of $300,000 was applied to the project. The remaining cost came in the form of local matching funds from Atlas Township. The entire project, upon completion, is expected to cost approximately $713,600.

Joe Krapohl, president of the Genesee County Parks, said the project was a great example of a team coming together.

“We always look for partnerships to bring recreation opportunities to the county,” he said. “When they brought this opportunity to us, it was a no-brainer. This is exactly the type of project we were looking for.”

Derek Bradshaw, Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission Director-Coordinator, said more non-motorized trails are coming to the area and that this piece of the trail is just the start.

“If you stay tuned, you’ll be amazed to see where this takes us,” he said. — P.S.

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