Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

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Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

Postby chris_werth » March 9th, 2017, 11:47 am

From the Ortovnille Citizen paper.


Village, Iron Belle Trail project draws debate


By Susan Bromley

Staff Writer

Ortonville

– A public hearing at which information will be presented regarding the proposed Iron Belle Trail and the village council will accept input from the community is planned for 7 p.m., March 27, at the township offices, 395 Mill St.

The public hearing, which is necessary for two grant applications for property acquisition, was narrowly approved in a 3-2 vote at the village council’s Feb. 27 meeting.

“This will help us achieve future goals for a village that is more walkable, bikeable, and accessible,” said Village Manager David Trent, who noted the grant application deadline is April 1. “Anything related to the Iron Belle gets higher priority and 100 percent funding from the state last year. This is a golden opportunity to strike while the iron is hot.”

The Iron Belle Trail is a proposed statewide trail system with two routes— both of which would extend from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. The state has offered grants to help communities on the proposed routes connect into existing trail systems in order to make a continuous trail possible. The village, as well as Brandon, Atlas, and Groveland townships, are part of the proposed bicycling route for the Iron Belle Trail, which would extend 774 miles in total.

In January, the village applied for a $35,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources to establish a new trailhead at the juncture or curve of Church Street, across from the post office that would include a bike rack, bike fix station, benches and signage.

The trail segment itself in the village would be approximately 700 feet along the ITC corridor and 500 feet extending south from Church Street at the trailhead.

The council’s Monday motion, for which Council President Wayne Wills and trustees Tonja Brice and Keith Dylus voted yes, and trustees Mark Butzu and Karen Sleva voted no, authorizes Trent to proceed with developing two DNR grant applications to acquire property owned by the Brandon School District as well as a private parcel for sale at 25 Church St. Both would be incorporated into the 43-acre village owned property west of the Crescent Hill subdivision. This property, mostly wetlands, was donated to the village in 1984 under the stipulation it only ever be used as a park or recreation area. The looping trail is planned for this land.

The Church Street parcel that Trent would like to pursue grant funds to purchase is currently for sale for $100,000 and is also known as the “red barn property” as it comes with a historic barn. It is less than an acre and the village would retain the barn.

Trent also hopes to acquire with grant funds two parcels currently owned by the Brandon School District for which only one grant application is necessary. One parcel is three acres along the ITC corridor, and the other parcel is 5 acres in size and fronts Church Street. Trent said a market analysis has not yet been done on these parcels, but because they can not be built on due to wetlands, he expects they can be attained “at a very reasonable price.”

Concerns about possible costs surrounding the Iron Belle Trail were cited by Sleva and Butzu prior to their no votes on the motion authorizing a public hearing.

“It looks like a project that will be more of a drain on our budget,” said Sleva. “There will be public safety costs and maintenance costs. I don’t understand how the Iron Belle Trail will generate revenue to pay for itself. This is something we need to think about carefully.”

Butzu noted that he has lived in the community for 30 years and he didn’t know the village had a 43-acre recreation area.

“This is part of a 5-year plan,” said Brice of the proposal to expand trails in the village. “This is a goal, it’s not spur of the moment.”

“Maybe not for those already on the council,” responded Butzu, who, along with Sleva, was newly elected in November.

Trent reminded the council that their vote on the motion to develop the grant applications in no way committed them to going through with applying.

At the March 27 public hearing prior to the regular council meeting, Trent said he would make a presentation in which he will have more answers to questions about the grants, the trail, and potential costs.

“Concerns cited by citizens and council members will be addressed during the hearing, regarding the trail identified as a possible route, how it ties in with trailhead application and also tied in with (the grant), the possibility of using the Kearsley Creek as a kayaking opportunity for the months of June through August… I don’t have concerns of trail maintenance costs because we have the luxury of a DPW. To the best of my knowledge on other communities that have trails adjoining neighborhoods, there has been little or negligible crime issues associated with trails.”
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Re: Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

Postby Dark-Fx » March 9th, 2017, 2:00 pm

“It looks like a project that will be more of a drain on our budget,” said Sleva. “There will be public safety costs and maintenance costs. I don’t understand how the Iron Belle Trail will generate revenue to pay for itself. This is something we need to think about carefully.”


Luckily the government is not a profit generating institution and should be focused on the health and welfare of its citizens.
Butzu noted that he has lived in the community for 30 years and he didn’t know the village had a 43-acre recreation area.


Maybe you should do a better job of knowing the area you're being paid to represent!

Who votes for these clowns?
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Re: Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

Postby SloMo » March 10th, 2017, 6:20 am

Ya those are the points that jumped out at me too.
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Re: Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

Postby b_b » March 10th, 2017, 10:39 am

Well they can't print money and sell unlimited notes to China like the feds. :) But I'd think the maintenance costs would be low relative to the value to the community. Perhaps the 43 acre swamp has been just sitting for 33 years not developed not discussed and pre-dates the councilman's tenure.
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Re: Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

Postby chris_werth » March 28th, 2017, 7:33 am

I attended the meeting last night and unfortunately the outcome was not a positive one. The room was filled to capacity with probably a 50/50 mixture of people for the trail system and village residents opposed of it. Like I have heard in the past when a rail trail is coming to an area the misinformed residence came out to voice their concerns about all the crime and graffiti they will need to deal with. I can't remember how many times the unfortunate death of April up in Armada was told to the council. One resident even had the nerve to say that "every resident she spoke to heard about it starting down from Detroit"....you could hear the air leave the room when this stupid comment came out of her mouth. Really, people are freaking out because the trail starts in Detroit, God forbid a family from Detroit rides their bike north.
There were other residents of the village that were told "trails bring no money to the cities / villages they go through", another couple was upset they were not able to disrobe from the shower because people might look into their house and now this trails system will cost them out of pocket expense for blinds on their windows and a large fence they need to build to keep people out of their property. The wife again made mention of the death in Armada.

I waited my turn to have a chance to speak to the council. I approached them and made my points.
*The council needs to stop by CJ's café in Lake Orion on a Saturday or Sunday morning to see all the PCT traffic that utilizes the trail for breakfast.
*Same with Lipuma's in Rochester, both of these establishments have guest standing and waiting to spend their money.
*I forgot to mention the Village Café in Richmond at the end of the MOT. Love their food.
*Housing, I made the point of multiple homes worth 1/2 million dollars or more on the PCT within 50 feet of the trail. Most don't have blinds on the windows or fences in the back yards. They build these mansions purposely on the PCT to be close to it.
*The trail staring in Detroit. I would love to ride my bike to visit my son at Wayne State University.

After 4 hours of hearing the pros and cons about the trail and some guy talk about septic tanks. The council made their last remarks and I could tell they had all made their minds up within 10 minutes of the actually meeting starting. They voted 7 to 0 to not continue with any trail system in the village at this time. It is really too bad, the village manager David Trent had a great presentation and I could tell he could see how beneficial it would have been for the tiny little soon to be ghost town of Ortonville to be a part of this new trail system.
I did have the pleasure of sitting in front of 3 older gentlemen that were pushing with all their might to get the trail accepted in the village, but with me, they had no luck.

The Iron Bell trail is coming to our area, but I guess it will be going around Ortonville. No problem for me, I can spend my Payday and can of Coke money in any little city / village.
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Re: Iron Belle trail meeting in Ortonville.

Postby SloMo » March 28th, 2017, 7:50 am

Thanks for the update. The ignorance of the residents does not surprise me.
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