Garfield votes to request $228K for trailhead

By Rosemary Horvath
Correspondent

Garfield Township will request $228,400 from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to help establish a trailhead at the Lake Station Depot to serve yearround users of the Pere Marquette State Trail.

The application contains a 30 percent local match of $98,000 as the township’s share. This will come from money raised from foundations, corporations, individuals and in-kind contributions. The township board has the option of turning down a grant, postponing or scaling back the project if the pledge is unobtainable.

A trailhead is a resting place for cyclists in warm weather and snowmobilers in cold weather. Plans include shade areas, benches, universal-access picnic tables, restrooms, parking and a loading ramp for snowmobilers.

Township volunteers already have refurbished the depot and erected donated signs.
The township board on Monday authorized the grant submission in a vote 3 to 2, according to township Supervisor David Byl. Trustees Mark Irwin and Lisa Roland dissented.

Contacted afterward, Irwin explained he doesn’t oppose either the project or the township’s responsibility for subsequent maintenance. He does question, however, the township’s pledge of $98,000 as a local match. He said wording in the application “tells me if they don’t get enough sponsors the township is responsible to come up with the money.”
Other officials disagree that would happen.

Voting in favor of the grant application were Byl, clerk Joan Farwell and treasurer Robin Yarhouse.
The township board held a public hearing on March 23 to answer questions related to the project. A major snowstorm that day prevented a DNR official from attending, but a large group from the area attended. Byl said there was overwhelming support except for one audience member.

“Last year, the township entered into a no-cost lease with Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the property that connects to township-owned property,” explained Byl.

This combined area designated as the future trail head extends from Lake Station Avenue to Gibson Avenue.

“This is a golden opportunity to promote tourism and the health of the township,” added Byl.
A parks committee has spearheaded the development plan along with a 5-year recreation plan completed in 2015 that assesses and makes plans for all township parks. Rowe Professional Services of Mt. Pleasant facilitated the master plan.

The state trust fund is a reimbursement program. No funds are provided upfront. Grant recipients are announced in December.

Since the fund was established in 1976, Clare County has received nine grants and Osceola County has received 11. Money in the trust fund is derived from sale of oil, gas and mineral leases and royalties from their extraction on state lands.

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